Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trying something...

Pardon this very unbloggy thing to do. I've just spent the day consolidating several lists of things to do in the Twin Cities with kids. I'd like to memorialize the list (and perhaps edit/add to it later) somewhere where it can be linked for easy reference. If you're local (or if you just know the Twin Cities), feel free to add comments to add to the list, or to comment on items already on the list.

Great Things to Do with Infants, Toddlers and Kids

Move Your Baby/Body and Other Athletic Adventures:

If you are looking for any type of exercise, dance or enrichment class for your infant, toddler, preschooler, or young child, St. Paul Community Education gets my vote for the most variety and affordability. They offer SEVERAL classes. To see the latest catalog go to http://commed.spps.org/ (See also St. Louis Park Community Education: http://www.slpcommunityed.com/, Edina Community Education http://www.edina.k12.mn.us/community/ and Minneapolis Community Education http://commed.mpls.k12.mn.us/). Eden Prairie Community Center (http://www.edenprairie.org/vCurrent/live/article.asp?r=5691) has a play stucture, open gym times, ice skating, and open swim.

Baby Ballroom Dancing


The Dancers Studio
99 Snelling Ave. North St. Paul

Offers mommy/baby dance lessons. Hold your baby and learn the mamba, salsa or some swing moves. I am embarrassed to admit I actually did this…I still have two left feet! Contact person: Meghan Gordon. Cost: $50 for a 5 week session.

FREE Open Gym for Toddlers

Many local community centers offer a free indoor parent/toddler time.

http://www.stpaul.gov/facilities.aspx?page=list&search=1&CID=2 (See “Parent and Tot Playtime,” p. 2: http://www.stpaul.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=9912)


Blooma Yoga Studio


Yoga classes (child care available, some classes are for mom and baby together)

Rolly Pollies



11283 Eagle View Blvd.
Woodbury, MN 55129

$144 for a 9 week 45 minute class

Music, art and motor skills classes for children 6 months -6 years

St. Paul Community Education Swimming Class

Kiddos must be 6 months to attend. The cost is about $45.00 for 8 sessions, which is a bargain compared to FOSS swim classes. They offer water baby classes all around town, but the best pools are Como and Bridgeview, as they are therapeutic pools and they keep the water and air temps super warm. The classes are GREAT fun and are 30 minutes in the evenings, but they also offer Saturday classes. To see the latest catalog go to http://commed.spps.org/

Parks and Recreation



These organizations do more than sports. Visit the site to register for tons of kid-friendly activities and class, many of which are FREE! Classes are available for kiddos and adults of all ages from 0-101! There are several service areas, and each host holiday parties for kids throughout the year with free food, games and crafts.

Stroller Strides


Stroller Strides is a total fitness program for new moms that they can do with their babies. It includes Power Walking and intervals of body toning using exercise tubing and the stroller. Taught by specially trained instructors, it's a great workout for any level of exerciser.

YMCA, YWCA, Lifetime Fitness, and LA Fitness also offer classes for children and child care.

Other Exercise Resources:

Gleason's Gymnastic Gyms - (open gym time)


2015 Silver Bell Rd. Suite 180, Eagan: 651-454-6203

9775 85th Ave N., Maple Grove: 763-493-2526
5500 Cottonwood Lane, Prior Lake: 952-447-9633

Gymboree Play and Music

Many MN locations

Go to www.gymboree.com for a free class pass!

JW Tumbles a Children's Gym

Minnesota Valley Gymnastics Center

8103 W. 126th Street
Savage, MN 55738


My Gym


956 Prairie Center Dr.
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Pump it Up


Check the website for toddler/preschool “bounce time” a few mornings per week.

Tags Gymnastics


The Little Gym


multiple Metro locations

Indoor Playgrounds:

Bacon & Egg Soft Play Area

by old Montgomery Ward’s – Northtown Mall

The Blast: Indoor Playground

1501 Central Parkway
(Eagan Community Center)
(651) 675-5552

This 2-story indoor children’s play area is painted like a gigantic galaxy, adding to this one-of-a-kind play odyssey. Kids can burn energy and get exercise while pretending to be astronauts on their very own International Space Station. Socks are required to play in The Blast and no outside food or beverages are allowed. Snack bar on site. Admission is $5 for children ages 18 months-15years. All others are free (including adults). Preschool Open Gym (ages 1-5) runs every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. through the school year. The cost is $3 per child.

Eagle's Nest Indoor Park

Family Service Center of New Brighton


400 10th Street NW, New Brighton, 651-638-2130
Call for hours, directions, typically $4.50 per kid, no charge for adult or under age two

Eden Prairie Center

lower level by Kohls


125 Eden Prairie Center, Eden Prairie 952-941-7650

Edina Family Center/Community Center

Offers Open Gym time in their big gym a couple mornings a week in the late fall through early spring. They put out tons of ride on cars, balls, hoops and other toys for the kids to play & get exercise. Check the website for updates in October- http://www.edina.k12.mn.us/community/familycenter/index.html

Edinborough Indoor Park


7700 York Avenue S., Edina 952-832-6782

Child’s admission is $5.00, adults are free.

Newly remodeled, open gym space, and play structures as well. Free indoor concerts every Tuesday & Thursday at noon.

Extreme Fun Zone


7406 Washington Ave

Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-943-0052

(Family Play Time from 10-11:30 Tues/Thurs, $6.00 a kid, kids must be 5 or younger)

Lookout Ridge Indoor Playground – Central Park Building


8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury


Maple Maze Indoor Park

Maple Grove Community Center


12951 Weaver Lake Road, Maple Grove 763-494-6500

$4.00 non-resident (adults free)

Maple Grove Community Center has two great features in the winter. One is the Maple Maze, a giant climbing structure with a special area for little ones. Plus it gets cleaned well at least once per week. And they have open gym a few times per week. Plus, the pool there is fantastic in the winter. It is zero depth, so even the little ones can play. The temp is always good and they have a great wall of windows, so the sun shine is helpful! And it is very empty during school hours.

Northwoods Play Area - Rosedale Mall

Lower level by Herberger’s

www.myrosedale.com 10 Rosedale Center, Roseville 651-633-0872

Plymouth Creek Center

Has a toddler/preschool playtime a few mornings a week. They have a dome covering a grass playing field. They put out a bounce house, balls, tunnels, mats, etc. for the kids to play with. Cost is only $2.

Plymouth Creek Center

14800 34th Ave. N.

Plymouth, MN 55447


Fax: 763-509-5290


Radio Disney Room

by Applebee’s - Northtown Mall


398 Northtown Drive, Blaine, 763-786-9704

Radio Disney Room has monthly KidsClub events with free craft activities, snacks, etc. Call for more info.

REI Store Indoor Small Play Area

Bloomington store


750 West 79th Street, Bloomington

Good for about 30-45 minutes of indoor play. Can get crowded.

Ridgedale Mall


Play Area by Sears Lower Level

St. Louis Park Rec Center

Little Tot Playtime

Ages 1-5, $2/session at the door

September 8, 2009 - April 23, 2010

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

(No sessions 10/6, 10/20, 10/23, 11/3, 11/25, 11/27, 12/25, 1/1)

The Rec Center Banquet Room, 3700 Monterey Drive, St. Louis Park

Outdoor Parks with Pools, Aquatic Centers and Water Parks:

For Public Swimming Venues in St. Paul:


(Check the website for hours and rates under Parks and Recreation)

Como Pool (open during the summer)
N. Lexington Pkwy. and Horton Ave

Highland Pool (open during the summer)
1840 Edgcumbe Road

Phalen Beach

(beach and activities center open during the summer)
1530 Phalen Drive

For Public Swimming Venues in Minneapolis:

Wading Pools in Minneapolis


Minneapolis has an abundance of FREE wading pools that are GREAT for small kiddos (wish we had them in St. Paul). Check the website for specific directions, pictures and a complete list of amenities offered at each park. Our favorites are Longfellow and Linden Hills.

Armatage Park 2500 W. 57th Street Southwest Minneapolis

Audubon Park 1320 29th Ave. NE Northeast Minneapolis

Beltrami Park 1111 Summer St. NE Northeast Minneapolis

Bethune Park 1301 10th Ave. N. Northside

Bohanon Park 900 50th Ave. N. Northside

Bossen Park 5657 28th Ave. S. Longfellow/Nokomis

Bottineau Park 2000 2nd St. NE Northeast Minneapolis

Brackett Park 2728 39th Ave. S Central/Phillips

Bryant Square Park 3101 Bryant Ave. S. Southwest Minneapolis

Bryn Mawr Park 1905 Mt. View Ave. Northside

Central Gym Park 3400 4th Avenue South Central/Phillips

Cleveland Park 33rd & Russell Ave N. Northside

Corcoran Park 3334 20th Ave. S. Powderhorn/Pearl

Currie Park 1419 5th Street South Central/Phillips

Dickman Park Main St. & 7th Ave NE Central/Phillips

East Phillips Park 24th & 17th Ave S. Central/Phillips

Elliot Park 1000 E. 14th St. Central/Phillips

Farview Park 609 29th Ave N. Northside

Folwell Park 1615 Dowling Ave N Northside

Franklin Steele Square Portland & E. 16th St. Central/Phillips

Fuller Park 4800 Grand Ave S Powderhorn/Pearl

Hall Park 16th & Aldrich Ave N. Northside

Harrison Park 503 Irving Ave N Northside

Hi-View Park Main St. & 34th Ave NE Northeast Minneapolis

Hiawatha Lake Park 2701 E. 44th St. Longfellow/Nokomis

Hiawatha Park - School 4305 42nd St. E. Longfellow/Nokomis

Holmes Park 414 3rd Ave SE Central/Phillips

Jackson Square Park 23rd Ave & Jackson St. NE Northeast Minneapolis

Jordan Park 29th & Irving Ave N. Northside

Keewaydin Park 3000 53rd Street East Longfellow/Nokomis

Kenny Park 1328 W. 58th St. Southwest Minneapolis

Linden Hills Park 3100 W. 43rd St. Southwest Minneapolis

Logan Park 690-13th Ave NE Northeast Minneapolis

Longfellow Park 3435 36th Ave S Longfellow/Nokomis

Loring Park 1382 Willow St. Northside

Luxton Park 112 Williams Ave SE Northeast Minneapolis

Lynnhurst Park 1345 W. Minnehaha Parkway Southwest Minneapolis

Marshall Terrace Park Marshall St. & 27th Ave NE Northeast Minneapolis

Martin Luther King Park 4055 Nicollet Avenue South Central/Phillips

Matthews Park 2318 28th Ave S Central/Phillips

McRae Park 906 E. 47th Street Longfellow/Nokomis

Morris Park 5531 39th Ave S Longfellow/Nokomis

North Commons Park 1801 James Ave N Northside

North Commons Water Park 1701 Golden Valley Road Northside

North Mississippi Park 4900 N Mississippi Ct Northside

Northeast Park 1615 Pierce St. NE Northeast Minneapolis

Pearl Park 414 E. Diamond Lake Rd. Powderhorn/Pearl

Peavey Park 730 East 22nd St. Central/Phillips

Pershing Park 3523 W. 48th St. Southwest Minneapolis

Phelps Park 701 E 39th St. Powderhorn/Pearl

Powderhorn Park 3400 15th Ave S Powderhorn/Pearl

Riverside Park 2830 Franklin Terrace S. Central/Phillips

Sibley Park 1900-40th St. E Longfellow/Nokomis

Stewart Park 2700 12th Ave So Central/Phillips

Van Cleve Park 901 15th Ave SE Northeast Minneapolis

Victory Park 4414 Upton Avenue North Northside

Waite Park 1810 34th Ave NE Northeast Minneapolis

Webber Park 4400 Dupont Ave N Northside

Whittier Park 425 26th Street West Central/Phillips

Windom Park 2251 Hayes St. NE Northeast Minneapolis

Other Wet Venues:

Apple Valley Family Outdoor Aquatic Center


14421 Johnny Cake Ridge Road (between 140th St & County Road 42)

(952) 953-2390 Weather Hotline: (952) 953-8701, for public open swim information.

The pool has 18,000 square feet of pools and slides (some that are 3 stories high)! They also have a sand and water playground and volleyball courts. The pool is zero entry, so great for little kiddos. Admission is $6.00 per person and $4.00 after 5:00pm. Children 1 year and younger are free. Concessions are also available.

BattleCreek Waterworks Family Aquatic Center


2401 Upper Afton Road, Maplewood, 651-501-6340

Bunker Beach Water Park and Wave Pool


Parkway Road A Bunker Hills Regional Park
Coon Rapids
763-767-2895 info line & group reservations

This outdoor park has a wave pool and adventure pool. Tube rental is available at the Wave Pool. The Adventure pool is great for tots, as it is zero entry with a maximum depth of 2 feet. It also has a large play structure. A sand/picnic area (no outdoor food beverage allowed) is also present. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for 48 inches and under. Children under 1 are free.

Cascade Bay Outdoor Water Park


1360 Civic Center Drive Eagan, MN 55122
Hotline: (651) 675-5577

This huge park has admission fees that range from $4.50-$8.00 per person depending on the time of day and your height. Kids 18 months and younger are free

The Depot


225 Third Avenue S., Minneapolis


This hotel has an indoor water park and skating rink.

Edina Outdoor AquaticCenter at Rosland Park


4300 W. 66th St. Edina 612-928-4582

Outdoor Pool with water slides, kiddie pool, playground, concessions.

Admission is $9 per person.

Jim Lupient Water Park


1520 Johnson Street N.E. Minneapolis 612-370-8900

$6.00 - 48'' inches tall and over $5.00 - Less then 48'' inches tall Free - Under the age of One
Enter after 6:00 p.m. and save $2.00 per person!! (Monday - Friday ONLY)
Minneapolis' newest water park features three large water slides, including a tube slide. Additional features include a log water walk, many interactive spray features, water volleyball, lap swimming lanes, and zero depth entry at one end for accessibility. The park theme is a rock quarry and featured items are designed to look like a quarry by incorporating stone, foam play quarry equipment and foam logs. There is also a new separate spray pool for the younger kids that is completely accessible as well as new colorful shade structures, outside shower towers, concessions, lots of seating, a grassy sun-bathing area and outside lockers. Covered shelters are available for reservation.

North Commons Water Park


1701 Golden Valley Road, Minneapolis 612 370-4945

3.50 - 48'' inches tall and over $2.50 - Less then 48'' inches tall Free - Under the age of One

Enter after 6:00 p.m. and save $2.00 per person!!

This awesome water park features speed and loop slides that are three stories tall. They also have a shallow water pool, with water playground features, geysers and gadgets that will thrill any toddler! Funbrellas let you escape the sun and stay cool on warm summer days

Oak Hill Park Splash Pad

3400 Rhode Island Avenue, St. Louis Park


St. Louis Park’s FREE splash pad offers tots the equivalent of running through the sprinkler and playing with the garden hose on a grand scale. Kids can activate bubbling hoses, water nozzles and sprinkler arches. The pad is open from 10am-8pm daily from the end of May through the end of September. For specific dates see the website.

St. Louis Park Aquatic Park


3700 Monterey Dr., St. Louis Park 952-924-2540

(952) 924-2567 (daily recorded messages about rain or crowd capacity-related closings)

The pool is open from early June to late August and features: 20,000 square feet of water,

A water playground with geysers and splash toys, a 25-meter lap pool, a zero-depth entry to allow visitors to wade into the water, two drop slides, two winding water slides that are nearly four-stories high, a wet sand playground area and a picnic gazebo. Admission rates range from $4-$8. Kiddos under 1 are free.

Tropics Indoor Water Park


4600 Victoria Street N., Shorview 651. 490-4700

This indoor pool with water slides is great for tots and has a zero entry area. Concessions available. Adults $7.50, Children $6.50 Children under 1 are free.

Water Park of America



The Water Park of America is one of the country's biggest indoor water park hotel resorts. Located across from the Mall of America, it houses a 70,000-sq.-ft. indoor water park with a 10-story tall water slide complex which guests access via an elevator. Clear acrylic tubes send riders zooming down 100 feet outside a lighthouse and back into the indoor park. In addition to typical water park attractions (water play structure with tipping bucket, lazy river, activity pool, etc.), the huge facility features some unique attractions like a kayak course and a current channel. The resort also features over 400 rooms, many of them suites, plus an arcade and restaurants. Admission is open to the general public if space is available. Water passes start at $19.95 a person.

Wild Mountain Outdoor Water Park


Taylors Falls 651-465-6315 800-447-4958

A full service water park for all ages. Prices range from $10-$30 per person depending on the package you choose.

Whitewater Country Outdoor Water Park at Valley Fair


The 3.5 acre waterpark is free with general admission. Adults $35, Children $10, 2 and under are free.

Parking is an additional $8.

Hotels w/Water Parks:

Grand Rios Hotel and Indoor Water Park

www.grandrios.com Brooklyn Park

This is currently Minnesota’s largest indoor water park. Rooms start at $159 per night but daily admission is also available. Check the site for rates and availability.

The Depot (Hotel, Indoor Pool, Skating Rink)


225 Third Avenue S., Minneapolis


Owatonna Holiday Inn

2365 43rd Street NW, I-35 Exit 45, OWATONNA, MN 55060


At the Owatonna Holiday Inn: The Great Serengeti Indoor Water Park with 2 waterslides, one tube slide, 1 body slide, lazy river, activity pool with water basketball and waterfall spa. Also has "Kid Suites."

Water Park of America


Bloomington (See info in previous section)

The Great Outdoors: Parks, Nature Centers, Zoos and Fresh Air Outings:

Centennial Lakes Park

7499 France Ave. S., Edina


Ice skating and warming house.

Chutes and Ladders Outdoor Playground

Hyland Lake Park Preserve

10145 Bush Lake Road , Bloomington, MN 55438 952-941-4362


If you have kids who love to climb and explore playground equipment, you have to check this Bloomington park out! Adjacent to "Chutes," is a play area for kids 5 and under. Both provide lots of climbing and sliding fun. Swings are available at the smaller children's play area. Parking is free every day for family vehicles.

Como Park Conservatory/Como Zoo


1250 Kaufman Drive N., St. Paul

24-hr. info line 651-487-8200 / Customer Svc. 651-487-8201 - free

Free but Donation of $2.00 per adult suggested

An excellent family field trip when it is cold or rainy outside. The conservatory has been expanded and they even have a half decent restaurant in the adjacent visitor center if you want to make a longer day of it. No food/beverage are allowed in the conservatory…not even a bottle or a Cheerio, so eat first! Finn loves the sparkly sticker displays in the gift shop. If baby is in a good mood continue on to the Como Zoo and the Cafestjan’s Carousel ($1.50).

Dodge Nature Center

365 West Marie Avenue, West Saint Paul 651.455.4531


This beautiful nature preserve offers myriad outdoor activities for families and kids. Monthly hikes are offered by naturalists each Saturday from 10:00-11:30. Activities are designed for kids ages 3-7, but all are welcome. Under 3 and grandparents are admitted free. Check out the site for maple syruping times and other fun activities!

Farmers Markets

  • Minneapolis Farmers’ Markets


1) Minneapolis Farmer’s Market

312 East Lyndale Ave N, Minneapolis 612-333-1737

This is the largest open-air, covered market. They are open for the 2005 season on April 23rd and will be open 7 days a week, from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. until December 24th. The Minneapolis Farmers' Market is open rain or shine, is wheelchair accessible, and is a WIC participant.

2) Downtown Nicollet Mall Farmer’s Market is open April 28th until the end of November from 6:00am -6:00pm each Thursday. This is a great Light Rail destination!

  • St. Paul Farmers’ Market


Located at the corner of 5th & Wall Streets in downtown St. Paul This market is open year-round and only sells local produce and goods. They are open every Saturday and Sunday from 6am until noon. For winter hours, check the website.

Lake Elmo Preserve


This is an excellent park to go to for the day or for your first family camping trip. The site is very clean and very kid friendly. A man-made, chlorinated lake with sandy beaches is a great place for your tot to wade (depth of lake is only 6 feet). There are ample picnic tables, a playground, heated showers and new restroom facilities. Canoes and equestrian trails are present. No animals allowed. Caribou and Subway are only a short drive away if your well intentioned plans go awry.

Lake Harriet Rose Garden


4125 E. Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis 612-370-4900

Best time to visit is between mid June – late September

Lake Minnetonka Regional Park


Lake Minnetonka Regional Park is the perfect place for families to enjoy a long afternoon. The 292-acre park has everything a kid could want on a hot summer day, including a 20,000-square-foot nautical-themed creative play area and crystal-clear swimming pond which is chlorinated and complete with sandy beach. There are ample trails and picnic tables as well. Dogs are allowed on a leash.

Mill City Farmers Market


Minnehaha Falls


4801 Minnehaha Avenue S., Minneapolis 612 230-6400

A perfect picnic destination.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden


726 Vineland Place, Minneapolis 612-370-3996

Minnesota Grown∫


A directory of farmers’ markets and locally grown resources throughout the state.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum


Free Thursdays after 4:00 pm / 952-443-1400

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is located about 4 miles west of Chanhassen on State Hwy. 5, just one quarter-mile west of the intersection of State Hwy. 5 and State Hwy. 41.

Peapods Preschool is held every Wednesday (thru April 19th) from 9:30-11am. Geared for kids ages 2-5 accompanied by an adult. Enjoy crafts, a snack, stories and hands-on planting activities. Call for fees.

Minnesota State Park System


The Minnesota State Park System is a great place to teach children about the great outdoors. A season pass for the entire family is only $25.00! The parks offer many programs and events for families and kids, many of which are free. Our favorite activity was a candlelight snowshoe and cross country skiing event at Fort Snelling Park around Valentine’s Day (you could also just hike in your boots or pull kids on a sled). The event was free and they offered complimentary cider and cookies for all in the lodge. Click on Kid’s Programs and Events when you get to the site.

Minnesota Zoo


12101 Johnny Cake Ridge Rd., Apple Valley

Customer Service - 952-431-9200 / 24-Hr. Info. 952-431-9500

This is a great outing for all types of weather. A household membership is $75.00, so this might make sense if you are a “frequent flyer” or have lots of kiddos.

Ramsey County Parks and Recreation


Raptor Center

1920 Fitch Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108

612-624-4745 (main number)


Located on the St. Paul Campus of the U of M, this is a great museum/zoo of sorts for kids. You can see raptors that are being nursed back to health in an effort to release them back into the wild. Many of these events are free. The site also offers special story times for kids. The session costs $5.00 per child and includes a raptor appearance and craft project. Reservations are required. Call for more details.

Teddy Bear Park

Stillwater, Minnesota


Located at South 2nd Street and Nelson Street near downtown Stillwater, MN, this amazing park, designed for children younger than 8 years of age, opened in June of 2006 and families love it. It has giant teddy bears children can climb on, a tree house, a river boat and a train in the play equipment area. The park also offers wonderful, FREE programming at the amphitheater. In the summer there are children’s activities nearly every day. The park was built by private funds and the word around town is that it cost around 4 million to develop. Then, the donors gave it as a gift to the city. The park is open to the public from 8am to 8pm.

Three Rivers Park District (formerly Hennepin Parks)


I’ve featured the Three Rivers Park District before, but if you have not checked out their programs, do so! I’m amazed at all of the fun, family programs they offer…maple syruping, sheep shearing, basket weaving, nature hikes, etc. I love their programs, as they are one shot classes and are usually held on weekends. The fees are minimal. Activities are best suited for families with kids 3 and older. The website is a bit hard to navigate, but it’s worth the effort (I found that I had to search individual classes to see ag

recommendations). Check it out!

Westwood Nature Center


8300 W. Franklin Avenue, St. Louis Park


Farm Tours:

Brooklyn Park Historical Farm


4345 101st Ave. N Brooklyn Park 763.493.4604

This is a ten-acre living record of farm life in Minnesota during the years of 1890 to 1910. The farm recreates the physical surroundings in which the Eidem family lived their daily lives. Interpreters at the homestead carry out the tasks of farming and related household activities using the tools and techniques of the late 1800's. The farm consists of a number of buildings (farmhouse, barn, outhouse, outbuildings, chicken coop and windmill, period farm equipment and crop land). The barn and barnyard have horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese and cats. The purpose of this restored farmstead is to preserve and portray 19th century farm life through guided tours, displays, pioneer craft demonstrations and hands-on activities. Every visit encourages a hands-on approach whether it be woodcutting, cracking corn or sampling baked goods. Adults: $3 Children 16 and under are $2.50. Call for special events.

Farm Animal/Insect Tours at the University of Minnesota


Farm Animals: 612.624.3435 Insects: 612.624.1254

College of Agriculture and Department of Animal Science

305 Haecker Hall 1364 Eckles Ave. St. Paul

Groups of 10 or more can arrange for a tour guided by a U of M staffer or undergrad student. The tours last about 30 minutes in length and include a view of the animal barns to learn about sheep, beef cattle, dairy cows and calves. The insect museum is also interesting! If you’re “lucky” you’ll get to hold a scorpion or a New Guinea cockroach.

Gale Woods Farm


Part of the Three Rivers Park District, mentioned above.

Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life

2097 West Larpenteur Ave. Saint Paul 6 5 1. 6 4 6 . 8 6 2 9

Regular tour fees: Adults $6.59 Children $3.75 2 and under are FREE

Tour a 19th century farm house, sod house, Dakotah tipi, bark lodge, barn, one room school house and more! The site also has a medicinal garden. The museum offers many special family events including harvest festivals, as well as ice cream socials and bonfires. Kids ages second grade and older can attend an all day one-room school house experience. Reservations for this experience are required ($30). Special tours which include corn husk doll making, ice cream making or candle dipping can be arranged. Check the web for family events.

Hugo Animal Farm


9441 180th St N Hugo, MN 55038 (651) 433-4455

Spring tours are offered Monday through Saturday April through June 23. Fall tours are also available. All tours are guided by people who are familiar with farm operations and farm animals to provide a safe, enjoyable, and educational experience for all visitors. All tours include touching or holding animals, and a hayride. Price per person is about $6.25.

Oliver H. Kelley Farm


15788 Kelley Farm Rd. Elk River, MN 55330 763-441-6896

“Step onto a working 1860s farm. Pick heirloom vegetables from the garden, visit the farmhands and animals at the barn, or churn butter and see what's cooking in the farmhouse. Costumed guides work the fields with oxen and horses. At different times throughout the season, you'll see plowing with oxen, horse-powered threshing, haymaking and other harvest activities. The gardens and fields are filled with many of the same plants the Kelley farm grew over 130 years ago. Animals similar to those raised by pioneer families fill the barn and outbuildings. In the house, try your hand at domestic crafts like making straw hats and soap.” Adults are $7,Children 6-17 are $4 and children under 6 are FREE! The farm has MANY special events like baby animal days, barn dances, festivals, etc…Check out their site!

Poplar Hills Goat Farm


Scandia, MN 651-442-2506

Take a tour of a family run goat farm business, see baby goats and pet them, too! You can also observe staff milking the goats, and you can sample and purchase their products afterward. They sell goat milk and chevre cheese as well as some other products. They charge about $50 per tour group.

Orchards: Apple, Berry and Pumpkin Patches:

Aamodt’s Apple Farm, Inc. – Apples


Stillwater, MN. Phone: 651-439-3127.

If you like Disneyland, you’ll love Aamodt’s Orchard. Seasonal hours, Aug - Dec. Throughout the season Aamodt’s takes on a festive (I think somewhat obnoxious) atmosphere. They have pony rides and a petting farm with an occasional fiddler strolling the grounds. Hay ride and hot air balloon ride are available. Pick your own apples or buy pre-picked. Visit their website for info & coupons.

Afton Apple Orchards Afton Raspberry Company -Raspberries, Strawberries and Apple in Season


Afton, MN. Phone: 651-436-763. Open daily 8am - dark. End of August to first part of Oct. Pick-your-own raspberries end of Aug ‘til frost (first part of Oct).

This is our favorite orchard. It’s gotten a bit more commercial over the years but you still feel you are in the country. It’s a great orchard to enjoy a picnic lunch. Hayrides and a petting zoo are available in the fall. They also have a great playground and hay bales that the kids can climb on. They charge a nominal admission fee on weekends. We love that we can bring our dog with us! They also have a corn maze in the fall (pricey admission charged) and a pumpkin patch. Great photo opportunities.

The Berry Patch - Strawberries, raspberries & blueberries
2408 Ronald Avenue, White Bear Lake, MN, 55110. Phone: 651-433-3448. Pick-your-own & pre-picked strawberries in June and pick-your-own & pre-picked raspberries & blueberries in July. Orders for tree-ripened Michigan peaches and sweet cherries also taken. Five miles east of Forest Lake on Hwy 97. Turn south on Cty Rd 15 (Manning Trail) for 1 3/4 miles, then turn right onto Cty Rd 50. Supervised children welcome. Containers provided. Open daily, June - Sept., weather & crop permitting.

Deardorff Orchard http://deardorffllc.com/do/

Apple picking, free tractor rides, animals, etc. Admission and tractor rides are free; pay for apples after you pick them. Containers provided.

Minnesota Grown


A directory of farmers’ markets, orchards, etc. throughout the state.

Pine Tree Apple Orchard – Strawberries


651-429-7202. 450 Apple Orchard Road, White Bear Lake, MN 55110.

Strawberry Season - Mid-June through Mid-July, PYO Berry Line, 651-429-8026. Pre-picked and Strawberry Bakery 651-429-7202. Apple Season. August through February, Weekends in March, Seasonal Hours. See the website for Tours or Schedule of Events or Maps and Directions.

Withrow Berry Farm - Strawberries
Withrow, MN. Phone: 651-439-4481.

Open 7am until picked out. Mid-June through Mid-July. They’re located between White Bear Lake & Stillwater on Keller Avenue North. From St. Paul: East on Hwy 36 to Washington County 15 (Manning Ave). North on 15 to Washington County 7 (122nd St N). Follow signs to farm. Call for daily information.

Living History Tours/ Historical Sites:

Alexander Ramsey House

265 S. Exchange Street St. Paul 651.296.8760


Visit the mansion of Minnesota’s first territorial and second governor. The house is open for guided tours but also hosts many special events for children such as cookie baking, candle dipping, learning about Victorian Christmas traditions, etc. Adults $5. Children 6-15 are $3. Call for special events.

Fort Snelling


Hwy 5 and Hwy 55 near the International Airport 612.726.1171

This restored 1820's military outpost offers a full living history program with costumed guides. Tours are presented daily during the summer, and on weekends in May, September and October. In addition, they are open on Mondays and Tuesdays in the summer . Enjoy the sights and sounds of the past. Hear musket fire, the cannon's roar and the fife's shrill tunes. Take part in the fort's everyday life. Shoulder a musket, mend clothes, smell the stew, scrape a hide or sing along with the soldiers. Take tea with Mrs. Snelling or sample the soldiers' bread ration or swing a hammer in the blacksmith. The Fort's costumed guides also demonstrate crafts, present historical skits and practice military drill and weapons firings. Admission: $8 adults, $4 children ages 6-17, free for children age 5 and under and MHS members.

Gammelgarden Museum


20880 Olinda Trail Scandia, Minnesota 651-433-5053

Visit an 1850’s Swedish farmhouse, parsonage, barn, corncrib, and work shed. The museum’s mission is to educate and preserve Swedish immigrant history. The museum also has a visitor center, classroom and gift shop. The museum hosts many special events throughout the year, such as a Dahlapalooza Festival for kids and an American Girl Doll tour. Check their website for current events. Adults $4 Children 12 and under are free!

Minnesota State Capital

Educational Programs: Pre-school to 6th Grade

Reservations are required for all educational programs.

Call 651-296-2881 or e-mail statecapitol@mnhs.org

You might be surprised to know that the state capital hosts tours for children as young as three years old! Check out some of the kid-friendly tours, below:

Piece of the Puzzle
Pre-schoolers role play architectural forms, hear and see the rhythm in the architectural designs, search for shapes and symbols and see the preservation of the capitol as a puzzle that they will be part of solving. Maximum group size is 15.
3 - 5 year olds
, Tuesdays, June – December Fee: $2 per child, 40 minutes

Grand Tour
Designed especially for K-3 grade Scout and Youth using interactive techniques, students become visually alert to the beauty of this grand old building. They hear stories about Minnesota history and the work that goes on in the capitol.
K-3rd grade Fee: Free 45 minutes

Art Treasure
Search and discover the art in the capitol using a self-guided brochure. Students become a junior art historian after finding each of the treasures.
8 years and up Fee: $2 per person 45 minutes

Murphy’s Landing


2187 E. State HWY 101 Shakopee 852.445.6901

This is really a fun outing for kids 4 and older. The museum hosts more than 40 historic buildings and are arranged to show how settlers established their lives on the early frontier and farmsteads in Minnesota circa 1840. Costumed interpreters will guide you through many buildings and activities. Visit a school house, church, railroad depot, general store, blacksmith shop, newspaper printing office and individual homes. Farm animals run free and a horse drawn trolley ride will get you from place to place. Demonstrations on candle making, butter churning, soap making and weaving are some of the activities you might see. This summer they will have a new Pioneer kid's play area. The museum also hosts a special event during the holidays which focuses on ethnic traditions of Christmas and Hanukah. The museum is open on weekends from Memorial day through October and again in November and December. Adults $8.50 Children $7.00 and kids 5 and under are free.

River Rendezvous


Pond-Dakota Misson Park, Bloomington 952-563-8877

This wonderful outdoor festival is a chance to experience living history at the Pond-Dakota Misson Park in Bloomington. Its goal is to demonstrate the lifestyles of people living in Minnesota between 1830 and 1870 through story-telling and interactive, hands-on demonstration! View a medicine show, wash laundry by hand, throw a tomahawk, and more. The park is set up with multiple stations and costumed docents who actually camp in the park for the duration of the festival. It’s a hoot! River Rendezvous usually takes place in mid-September. Check the web for current dates.

Behind the Scenes Tours at Local Factories and Businesses:

Many local business will arrange a free tour for your small group and often offer samples, too! Give your favorite business a call as many stores are willing to accommodate you.



6010 Lyndale Ave Minneapolis, MN 612-861-7600

Bachman's store on Lyndale Avenue offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the fresh and permanent design areas, the delivery area-which houses Bachman's large and instantly recognizable fleet of purple trucks-and the phone order center, where approximately 800 incoming orders are processed daily. Tours are free of charge for groups of 10 to 50 people and are offered by appointment only between 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tours are not available during the weeks preceding holidays, including New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, Secretaries Day, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Allow 45 minutes for the tour and an additional 30 minutes for shopping and exploration. All tour members receive a complimentary rose and a discount coupon.

To schedule a tour or for more information, call (612) 861-7692.

Byerly’s Food Stores

The Roseville store will host children free of charge. To organize a tour contact Hildy Shank at 651-735-6340. A treat is also provided.

Ford Motor Company: Saint Paul Plant Tours
Tour Hotline (651) 696-0642

There are currently no tours available, but more are planned for the fall of 2006. Call the hotline for further/current details.

Great Harvest Bread Company


534 Selby Avenue St. Paul 651.534.221.1057

The St. Paul store offers tours for kids on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Stop in and fill out a tour request form. They will process it immediately and send you off with a time and date that fits their requirements

Lunds Food Stores

Contact the Highland Store at 651.698.5845


Contact the main office in Bloomington at 952.884.4355

Police and Fire Station Visits

Most police and fire stations welcome arranged visits from children. The officers and firefighters usually address safety issues and give the children a tour of the facilities and their vehicles. Occasionally children are allowed to dress up in a fire suit, etc. If you want to arrange a tour for a small group, call your nearest station to see if they host an open house. Fire stations, for example, host open houses in October, which is Fire Safety month. Officers and fire fighters will also arrange to stop by your neighborhood block party or National Night Out party (provided they are not too busy). Keep this a surprise for the kids in case they can’t show. In St. Paul for a police tour call 651.292.3639. In Minneapolis for a police tour call your specific precinct: Precinct 2: 612.673.5702 Precinct 3: 612.673.5703 Precinct 4: 612.674.5704 and Precinct 5: 612.674.5705. To arrange a Fire stations tour in St. Paul, contact Paula Peterson by email at Paula.Peterson@ci.stpaul.mn.us or by telephone at 651-228-6203 during normal working hours.


The Museum Adventure Pass


This is SO cool! You already know about the Passport to Play which allows you and 5 others to attend the Children’s Museum for free. In a similar fashion, the Museum Adventure Pass can be checked out at your local library and will admit up to 4 people or children to the participating museum of your choice for FREE! Here are the details:

  1. Passes are available on a first come, first serve basis and can not be reserved.
  2. If available, the pass can be checked out up to 2 times per month and is valid for one week.
  3. When you check out the pass, you will need to let the librarian know which museum you plan to attend. He/she will print you out your free entrance pass.
  4. Passes are good for general admission and do not include special events.
  5. You are eligible for many special deals with your pass, such as 2 for 1 meal deals, free ride tickets at Como Zoo, etc, so check out the website for complete details.

Participating museums include: the American Swedish Institute, The Bakken Museum Bell Museum of Natural History, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life, Historic Murphy’s Landing (Three Rivers Park District), Mill City Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota History Center, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota Zoo, The Museum of Russian Art, Science Museum of Minnesota and the following Twin Cities Historical Sites: Alexander Ramsey House, Historic Fort Snelling, James J. Hill House, Oliver H. Kelley Farm, Sibley House, Walker Art Center and the Weisman Art Museum.

American Swedish Institute


2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 871-4907

The Bakken Library and Museum
3537 Zenith Ave., Mpls., MN


Bell Museum of Natural History

10 Church St. SE Mpls.



On the 1st Thursday of each month, the museum hosts Nature Tots, a program for 3 and 4 year olds from 9:00-10:30. The children learn about a variety of animals in station-based activities. Adults are $5.00 and kids are $3.00. Reservations are required.

On the 2nd Saturday of each month, from 1-3pm the museum hosts a drop-in Nature Play Day complete with nature crafts and activities for families with children ages 4 and older. The museum also hosts puppet shows and other special events. Check out the website for what is current. The touch and feel museum is always a big hit with kids!

Children's Museum


10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul

24-hr. info. 651-225-6000 / Customer Service 651-225-6001

*The Third Sunday of each month is FREE!

Habitot® Tuesday at the Children’s Museum

Museum Admission
Ages 1 - 101: $7.95
Members are FREE

Children 4 years and younger get special treatment at the Museum on the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of every month! No groups are scheduled on
Habitot Tuesdays, so the environment is especially friendly for little ones. The museum is located on the corner of Seventh and Wabasha streets in downtown St. Paul. Discounted parking is available at the parking ramp, kitty-corner from the Museum on Wabasha and 7th Streets. Pick up a parking coupon at the Museum Box Office. Call 651–225–6000 for 24-hour information. To reach a staff person, call 651–225–6001 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Museum Hours
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Monday (Memorial Day through Labor Day):
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Passport to Play

Go to the Minnesota Children’s Museum for FREE!

Passport to Play allows you to check out a free admission pass for your family to play together at the Minnesota Children's Museum. Children ages 6 months through 10 years and their adult guests can touch, climb, splash, crawl, push, pull, and press it all in six galleries packed with extraordinary hands-on adventures.

How Does it Work?

1. Check out a Passport to Play at any Saint Paul Public Library location

Adults 18 and older may check out a passport with a registered library card. One passport may be checked out per family. The Passports are very popular! Please call your Library to check availability.

2. Bring your family to Minnesota Children's Museum and present the Passport to Play at the box office for free admission for up to six people.

There must be at least one adult for every five children.

Leave the Passport at the Museum box office. It will be checked in and returned to the Library for you.

3. The loan period for the Passport to Play is 1 week.

Overdue fine is $1.00 per pass per day with a maximum fine of $10.

Mill City Museum

704 S. 2nd Street, Mpls. 612.341.7555


“An attraction for all ages, Mill City Museum chronicles the flour milling industry that dominated world flour production for roughly a half-century and fueled the growth of Minneapolis, recognized across the nation and around the world as “Mill City.” Built within the ruins of a National Historic Landmark — the Washburn A Mill — the museum provides a multi-sensory, interactive journey. The story of flour milling — and its impact on Minneapolis, the nation and the world — comes to life through the eight-story Flour Tower and other hands-on exhibits.”

Minnesota History Center/Historical Society

www.mnhs.org 345 Kellogg Blvd. West, St. Paul 651-296-6126

Explore Minnesota's past through museum exhibits that feature large-scale objects, hands-on experiences and multimedia presentations.

Minnesota Transportation Museum - Twin City Model Railroad Club


651-228-0263 Many interesting train museums and depots open throughout the Twin Cities

Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Family Days Sundays)


2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404

The museum is free and they have a great family room for nursing babies and letting toddlers explore the eye-level art work and soft sculptures. Snacks are even allowed! Free kids’ activity day on the third Sunday of the month.

Science Museum of Minnesota and Omni Theater


120 W Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul

Twin City Model Railroad Museum

1021 Bandana Blvd. East, Suite 222 Saint Paul, MN 55108 651-647-9628.

The Museum is a non-profit organization composed of over 100 members who volunteer their time, money and skills to bring you a scale model panorama of railroading in the United States during its heyday in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. They also have two Thomas the Tank Engine tables that the children can play with. Kids 5 and under are FREE and admission for older folks is $3 per person. Avoid Tuesday evenings, as this is when repairs are done and the trains might not be in motion! Closed Mondays.

The Walker Art Museum


Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis

The first Saturday of each month is FREE for kids and families and there are many family activities planned on these days. http://families.walkerart.org/index.wac You’ll find crafts, story times, demonstrations and other family-fun activities on these days. Also, check out their Arty Pants program on Tuesdays from 11am-1pm for parents and children ages 2-5. The ongoing program offers art projects, tours, films and story readings. Regular admission rates apply.

Free Thursday night admission, 5 p.m. - 9 p.m., sponsored by Target

The Works - a technology discovery center


Edina Community Center, 5701 Normandale Road, Edina (952) 848-4848

This is a “hands-on, minds-on” museum that makes learning about science & technology interesting, understandable & fun.

Children’s Theater and Fine Arts Venues:

The Children’s Theater

2400 Third Avenue S. Minneapolis 612.874.0400


Hands down the best quality children’s theater in town, but also the most pricey. Call the theater, as they offer “Pay What You Can Afford” performances on special dates. Rush tickets are also always an option. Did you know? Target is hosting 2-for-1 matinees for selected performances. Check the website for complete details.

Circus Juventas

1270 Montreal Avenue, Saint Paul 651.699.8229


Does your kid want to join the circus? This is one of St. Paul’s best kept secrets. Circus Juventas is a performing arts youth circus school. Think Cirque du Soleil for kids. You can enroll your kids in lessons or buy tickets to a performance. Shows are elaborate, tickets are a bit pricy, performances are long (2 hours plus) but you will be impressed! I think shows are best geared for kids ages 6 and up unless your child is really adept at sitting for long periods of time. I remember they had a special event where the whole family could attend a performance for $25. Call for details.

Guthrie Theater


Stop by the theater just to look around. The building is generally open to the public, and there are great views of the river from the upper level.

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre


1500 East Lake Street Mpls. Tickets: (612) 721-2535

The masters of puppetry offer specially priced family Saturday shows at 10am for $3 per person! If you are a resident of Central, Phillips, Powderhorn or Whittier neighborhoods, admission is free! How cool is that? A Make and Take Puppet workshop after the show is $8 per child/caregiver pair (ages 3-12). The workshop requires pre-registration. The shows are open to kids of all ages.

*The 33nd annual May Day Parade and Festival at Loring Park will be held in early May beginning at 1pm. This is a free event!

Kids Night on Broadway

Orpheum Theatre


Dying to see a Broadway performance but can’t stomach the price of tickets? The Orpheum Theatre hosts Kids Night on Broadway for certain performances. For example, a child’s ticket to Annie is free with a paying adult. Call the theater for more details and future participating shows.

Minnesota Orchestra


1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis 612-371-5600

In addition to traditional concerts, the Minnesota Orchestra offers Young People’s Concerts, an Adventures in Music for Families series and Kinder Konzerts.

The Minnesota Sinfonia

901 North Third Street, Minneapolis Suite 112

The Minnesota Sinfonia was created with the intent to establish a top quality orchestra that would gear the majority of its services to families, children, inner city youth, seniors, and those with limited incomes. They hold several FREE concerts every month for families.

Music in the Parks


Check out this website for free weekly family concerts, many of which are located at the Como Park Pavillion. Think next summer…

Music in the Park-Family Concert Series

St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
2136 Carter Ave St. Paul

This organization includes three performances in their family series each season. At $12 for a season ticket pass, it’s a bargain. You can also buy single tickets or tickets at the door ($5/$6). Each performance has two concerts each evening at 6:15 & 7:30 PM Admission is free for babes-in-arms. This season featured an Indonesian Gamelan performer, a Norwegian folk group and a string quartet. Performances are geared towards kids and encourage audience participation. Storytelling and puppetry are also a part of some shows.

Music, Movies and Market on the Waterfront


Lowell Park, Stillwater, MN
Every Tuesday after July 4
th in Lowell Park (located near the Stillwater bridge) from 3:30-8 PM, there's an open air market with all kinds of booths--vegetables, flowers and the usual farmers' market things but also art displays, children's art activities, live music and great food choices featuring a different chef every week. The cost of dinner is around $3-5 per person for dinner. Then, at 7 PM, there's live music on the stage (ranging from an Elvis tribute to an Irish band). When it gets dark, they show a movie and sell popcorn. It's very much a family affair and folks bring their picnics and lawn chairs. For more info look at the website or contact the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce at 651-439-4001 for more information.

Native American Pow Wows


The American Indian Magnet School, 1075 East Third Street in St. Paul, hosts monthly Pow Wows that are free and open to the public. Dates vary, but the time is usually from 6-8pm. For a current schedule, visit their website.

Old Log Theater


5185 Meadville Street Excelsior


While most performances are geared towards the older crowd, the theater always showcases a fairytale before the holiday season. The theater is fun in and of itself…it’s situated in a log cabin and I love the gal who plays corny Christmas songs on an old organ before each show.

Stages Theatre Company

1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins 952.979.1111


This company gets my vote for the most family-friendly theater around. The prices are very reasonable, and it you cannot attend a performance for ANY reason, you can exchange you tickets for another available performance at no additional cost! The atmosphere is very casual…the kind of place where you’ll find nursing mothers. Performances are usually less than 1 hour and no intermissions. The characters will greet you in costume after the show in the lobby to sign your stage bill.

*If you are an MPR member they offer a free child’s ticket for each paying adult!

Steppingstone Theatre

Landmark Center

75 West 5th St. St. Paul 651.225.9265


Planes, Trains and Automobiles:

The 261 Train Ride


A great trip for the train kids of the world - this is a bit pricey and more for the 5-8 year old group to ride as some of the rides can take all day, but fun for those under age 5 to go and just look at... there's an old steam engine that does periodic journeys called "The 261".

Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store

2050 Marshall Avenue St. Paul 651.646.5252

A great store for your little train enthusiast! The store is very child-friendly, with many train tables that young kids can play with, while you browse their extensive collection of train related toys and items. If you are lucky the owner will be wearing his engineer outfit! They also offer a birthday party room and an occasional Saturday morning story hour.

Excelsior Steamboat


328 Lake Street, Excelsior 952-474-2115

Call for ticket info. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Excelsior Streetcar


In operation: May 24 - October 12 / Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.. Board the streetcar in downtown Excelsior on Water Street between First Class Car Care and Lyman Park. Fare is $1. Children 4 and under are free. No reservations needed. Note: Streetcar does not operate in the rain.

Ford Motor Company: Saint Paul Plant Tours
Tour Hotline (651) 696-0642

There are currently no tours available, but more are planned for the fall of 2006. Call the hotline for further/current details.

Jackson Street Roundhouse

193 Pennsylvania Ave E., St Paul (651) 228-0263

Train rides and fun for the whole family! The Jackson Street Roundhouse hosts a classic collection of railroad rolling stock, memorabilia, and exhibits. See the "Casey Jones" steam locomotive undergo restoration. Plus, watch one of the nation's last surviving operational turntables. The roundhouse is open year round for visitors and groups of any size. $5 general admission per person. $2 additional for caboose ride. Open Wednesdays 10a-4pm and Saturdays 10a-4p.

Jonathan Padelford Packet Boat Co., Inc


Harriet Island, St. Paul 651.227.1100

Take a narrated cruise along the Mississippi River. Various boats highlight different locals, but tours are about 90 minutes in length from May to early September at noon and 2pm. Bring jackets and sweaters as the river gets cold, even in the summer. Snacks can be purchased on the boats. Adults $10 Kid 5-12 $5.50

Lake Harriet Trolley Ride


42nd & Queen, west side of Lake Harriet 651-228-0263

Minnesota Transportation Museum - Twin City Model Railroad Club


651-228-0263 Many interesting train museums and depots open throughout the Twin Cities

Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railroad –Historic Train Rides


Historic Osceola, WI Train Depot 715-755-3570

Take a vintage train ride along the St. Croix Valley railway. Take a 90 minute tour to Dresser, WI or a 50 minute ride to Marine on St. Croix. Tickets range in price from $5-$15 dollars for a basic ride. Upgrades with snacks/beverages run about $25 per ticket. Children 4 and under are free. Special themed rides are also available such as fall color tours, brunch rides, kids’ pizza rides and more. Click on Special Events to see what is new.

Twin City Model Railroad Museum

1021 Bandana Blvd. East, Suite 222 Saint Paul, MN 55108 651-647-9628.

The Museum is a non-profit organization composed of over 100 members who volunteer their time, money and skills to bring you a scale model panorama of railroading in the United States during its heyday in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. They also have two Thomas the Tank Engine tables that the children can play with. Kids 5 and under are FREE and admission for older folks is $3 per person. Avoid Tuesday evenings, as this is when repairs are done and the trains might not be in motion! Closed Mondays.

Book Store Favorites and Local Story Hours:

Auntie Em’s Book Shop for Young Readers

5 West Diamond Lake Road, Mpls 612.798.1827

Story times on Monday and Wednesdays at 10:30am

Books and gifts, as well as coffee, smoothies and baked goods. Yum!

Barnes & Noble Bookstores

Go to www.barnesandnoble.com to find a store near you and click on Store Locator.

Galleria Location

Of all of the local Barnes and Noble stores, I am partial to the Galleria location. They have a very large children’s area with tables and a stage for story time. Story times at the Galleria are on Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:00am. They also have costumed characters once a month. The Starbucks counter is about 15 steps away, and if you are a Barnes and Noble member, your discount applies on coffee purchases as well! Can you say Pumpkin Chai Latte? This location also offers many special events, like a Halloween costume parade.

Highland Park Location

Story time each Wednesdays at 10:00am

Bookstore of the Americas


3020 27th Avenue S. Minneapolis (in the Resource Center building) 612-276-0801.

Explore the myths, stories and songs of the Americas through stories and singing in both Spanish and English. This free event for children and their parents happens the first and third Saturday of the month at 11:00 a.m.

– The first Saturday of each month is a story selected for children ages 5–9. Children of all ages welcome.
– The third Saturday of each month is a story selected for children ages 2–6. Children of all ages welcome.

Red Balloon Bookstore


891 Grand Ave St. Paul, MN 55105 651-224-8320

Infant story time is every Tuesday at 10:15am. It is great fun and super crowded…get there early…the store opens at 10:00am. Stories are read, but the woman who runs the 30 minute session also has puppets, plays the violin and sings all kinds of songs. They also host a Toddler Story time on Tuesdays at 11:00am. Preschool story time is on Wednesdays at 10:30am. They also have many special events and occasional weekend story times. Check out the website for more details.

St. Paul Public Libraries


Hennepin County Public Libraries


A treasure! Story time, great selections of board books and baby music on tapes and CD’s.

The Highland Park Library has a wonderful collection of board books that are perfect for small kids. Story times as follows:

Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. - Preschool story times

Tuesdays at 5:40 p.m. - Lap sit story times

The St. Anthony Park Library gets the award for the most beautiful children’s wing. Story time is every Friday at 10:30 a.m

The Central Library

Story times are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m

Live Entertainment for Kids every Saturday at 11:15am (reservations sometimes required)

Merriam Park Library

Story time is every Friday at 10:30 a.m

Rondo Community Outreach Library

Daily story times and tons of books in foreign languages. Underground indoor parking, too!

Sun: 2-4pm, Mon: 3:30, Tues: 10:30, Wed:3:30, Thurs:7pm, Fri:10:30, Sat: 11am

Wild Rumpus Book Store


2720 West 43rd St. Mpls 612-920-5005

Story time is on Mondays at 10:30am. Not quite as fun as the Red Balloon, but they do have all kinds of animals that roam the store, including real chickens that lay eggs. It’s a hoot! Be prepared for cats to sleep in your empty infant seats!

Brain Boosts: Local Art, Music, Sign and Enrichment Classes:

*Check your community ed brochure as they offer great classes at reasonable prices, too!

Art with Ellen


If you’ve ever taken an art class with your kiddo at Articulture, you know how much fun it can be! Teacher Ellen (formerly of Articulture) is venturing out and starting her own business. Art classes are for kids from 12 months to kindergarten. Classes are held at Immanuel Lutheran Church on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. Ellen is a fantastic way to introduce your tots to the world of art. She combines storytelling, music and quickly paced art activities that perfectly match the developmental skills (and attention spans) of young ones.


3745 Minnehaha Avenue South, Mpls. 612.729.5151


This non-profit organization offers weekly art classes for ages 1-101. Check out their art class for toddlers called Art Sprouts! The organization also offers programs on school release days and weekend family classes. Members get a 15% discount.

Baby Sign Language-Signing Smart Classes


This class is a sign language play class for hearing infants and toddlers.

The cost for an 8 week session is $125. Classes are held weekly and are 45 minutes in length. Both day and evening classes are available. They are held at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Highland Park. Contact Jennifer Malek at 651.698.1368 or jenpedmalek@aol.com

Cooks of Crocus Hill


877 Grand Avenue, St. Paul 651.221.1333

3925 W 50th Street, Edina 952.285.1903

This high-end cooking store occasionally offers cooking lessons for young children ages 6-10. The classes are usually 2 hours in length and run about $40. They offer classes on pizza making, etiquette, retro desserts, etc. Click on Kids in the Kitchen when you enter their website for their class calendar.

Etiquette 101: Lady Elegant’s Tea Room


2230 Carter Avenue St. Paul 651-645-6676

A fun mother-daughter experience (children 6 and up)! Go and have a scone and a pot of hot tea in this very frilly and feminine tea room. The English-style tearoom offers special teas for children, including an annual American Girl Doll-themed tea. The site also offers birthday parties which include tea, scones and other sweet treats as well as a dress-up trunk, craft and etiquette lessons. Birthday parties are $23 per child. A three-course child’s tea is $12.00 and includes miniature sandwiches, a small pot of PB&J tea, bread and cream, scones with Devon cream and preserves , sweets and a frosted cupcake. Ala carte menu items are also available. Special themes teas run about $22. To view pictures and more specifics, click on “Lords and Ladies” when you enter their website.

Family Village


4000 Winnetka Ave N, Suite 300
New Hope, MN 55427

This is a one-stop family dream come true. Visit this venue for food, fun, entertainment and education. First and foremost, family village offers classes and events for infants, children, and parents. A sample of classes and workshops for kids include: multiple craft workshops, Russian and Spanish language classes for kids, open gym, Musikgarten, Kindertots (motor skills), Art Dabbler classes and Kinderdance classes. Classes for parents include: cloth diapering, yoga, baby sign language, toxin awareness, scrap booking and spa nights. If you need a break, check out their WAHM program (for Work At Home Moms). This “babysitting service” gives moms a chance to catch up on bills, emails, scrap booking reading, etc. while the staff watch your kids. Little ones play, make crafts and eat treats while you have an “office space” complete with Wifi! They even serve you coffee or tea and a treat. WAHM nights occur on Wednesdays from 3:30-6:30pm. Space is limited. The cost starts at about $15 per mother/child pair. Family Village also offer special services like their Café Play (have coffee while your kids play), Party House Birthday Party programs, a high quality Toy Lending Library, and Village Shop. My only concern…when will you come to St. Paul?



Piano and Kindermusik
All 12 Notes
2057 Randolph Avenue St. Paul
(651) 699-2924


Leonardo’s Basement


4301 Nicollet Avenue S Minneapolis 612-824-4394

Leonardo’s Basement is a workshop where girls and boys ages 6 to 16 can design and build their creative ideas, mixing art, science and technology. Leonardo’s Basement provides a stimulating environment by providing workspace, tools, interesting materials, knowledgeable facilitators, and the freedom to discover and invent. The ever-changing choices include: arts and crafts, sewing and fiber arts, woodworking and metal working. Options include: after-school classes, a Saturday Open Shop, school release day classes and a Lego League. Birthday parties are also an option and start at about $20 per guest.

MacPhail Center for the Arts


Early Childhood Arts Program

Ages 6 weeks – 8 years

MacPhail’s Early Childhood Arts classes use an integrated arts approach that reinforces musical concepts for children through singing, rhymes, creative movement, creative dramatics, literature, visual arts, and instrument exploration.

Mannerly Manners



Mannerly Manners® Teaches the importance of respect, good manners, and social skills in a fun, relaxed and interactive environment. They offer classes for adults and children of all ages.

Mr. McGroovey’s Cardboard Box Creations


If you have a child who loves to build things, check out this awesome website. You’ll find multiple FREE patterns to make castles, ships, cars and other creations out of large boxes. They even suggest where to find the boxes for free. The do sell box rivets on their site, but if you don’t want to splurge you could improvise with duct tape.

Music Together Classes

For local locations, go to:


Highly enjoyed music classes for infants, toddlers, young children and their parents (the cost is about $150 for a semester, which includes 2 CD’s and additional learning materials). The classes are mixed-age, from birth up to kindergarten so siblings/families can participate together. The program also offers discounts for additional siblings. Free trial classes by appointment.

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA)


1011 Washington Avenue South, Suite 100 Mpls. 612.338.3634

The center offers classes in bookmaking, papermaking and printing. Classes are designed for children ages 4 and up. Classes are usually held on Saturdays and vary in price from free to $25 per session. Check the web for their latest offerings.

Way Cool Cooking School


16544 W. 78th Street Eden Prairie

The Way Cool cooking school offers cooking classes for adults and children. They offer a Little Chef Class for Age 4-9 (with parent) And themed classes for ages 10 and up ($40 for a two hour session).

Birthday parties start at $250 for 8 guests


Good Enough Moms

FM 107.1


Good Enough Moms™, is a radio show on Sundays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, on FM107.1. The show addresses topics ranging from the daily life of moms to society’s views on motherhood. The only downside is having to choose between this or The Splendid Table on MPR.

Radio Disney

Forgot your CD case in the house and baby is fussy? Turn your dial to AM 1440.

Overstimulating Entertainment:

First Friday Nights Free Family Movies

Visitor Center, Lebanon Hills Regional Park

860 Cliff Road, Eagan 651-554-6530


Attend a different FREE family friendly movie on the first Friday of each month. Movies are usually from 7-9pm. Gentle Ben 2 and Black Stallion Returns were two of the recent showings.

FREE Summer Film Festivals for Young Children

Many cinema complexes offer free children’s movies during the summer. Check out your local theatres during the summer months for more info.

Movies for Moms

Crown Block E 15
600 Hennepin Avenue Mpls
Tel: 612.338.5900

This is not my style, but Block E in downtown Minneapolis offers Movies for Moms every Wednesday. You can catch a first run matinee flick while baby sleeps in their car seat. Lights are dimly lit in case you need to nurse or give a bottle. I’ve never been, but a great activity for movie buffs. Better suited for moms of infants…not toddlers! Babies are free with a paying Momma.

Valleyfair Amusement Park


One Valleyfair Drive, Shakopee 952-445-7600

For the Shopper in You:(or outings to escape inclement weather; art classes and events)

Artscraps Art Supply Store

1459 St. Clair Avenue, St. Paul 651.698.2787


A great art supply store with all sorts of odds and ends for your next craft project. The store also offers a variety of classes for kids!

Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store

2050 Marshall Avenue St. Paul 651.646.5252

A great store for your little train enthusiast! The store is very child-friendly, with many train tables that young kids can play with, while you browse their extensive collection of train related toys and items. If you are lucky the owner will be wearing his engineer outfit! They also offer a birthday party room and an occasional Saturday morning story hour.

Creative Kidstuff Stores


1074 Grand Ave, St. Paul 651-222-2472

There are several metro locations. We frequent the St. Paul Store. A great place to let the kids play while you shop for birthday gifts. They have awesome gift wrapping.

Edina Art Center


Hanky Tanky: Clothing with a Cause


This local stay at home mom just started her own business making t-shirts and tanks for women and girls. They are super cute - they are basic t's or tanks w/vintage scarves sewn at the bottom of the shirts. They are a unique gift idea and it's also for a great cause too, as part of the proceeds go to finding a cure for Leiomyosarcoma, a rare, but very aggressive and deadly form of cancer that the owner’s mom passed away from earlier this year. The pictures on the website really don't do the shirts justice, but take a look.

Home Depot


Every store offers Kids Workshops for children ages 5-12. The workshops are offered on the first Saturday of each month between 9:00 a.m. and noon. Children accompanied by an adult construct projects from pre-fabricated kits. The kits are designed to be both educational and practical (i.e. a toolbox, fire truck, mail organizer, birdhouse, bughouse or Declaration of Independence frame kit). In addition to the kit, each child receives a kid-sized orange apron, similar to The Home Depot associates' aprons, and an achievement pin.



8000 IKEA Way Bloomington (952) 858-8088

Open every day 10 am - 9 pm

They have a great play area for kids. Check out the kid-friendly restaurant, too!

It’s Play Time


3100 W. 50th Ave. Mpls. 612.927.7529

This kid-friendly store sells myriad craft and activity sets. The unique thing about the store is that after buying a kit you can either take it home or sit at a table and do the activity in-store…they clean up the mess! The store also hosts birthday parties (which are rather pricy). On Wednesdays they host an intro art class called Little Picassos for children 18 months thru 5 years old for $5 per child. The projects can be done between 10am and noon.

Jen Rusch Photography


Beautiful photographs, wonderful woman (and mom) behind the camera. She comes to your home and takes the most incredible photographs.

Joann Fabrics-Free Crafts for Kids

Superstore locations ONLY


Free Jo-Ann Creative Kids Events occur on the third Saturday of each month from 10am to noon, led by one of our talented Creative Kids teachers. Register your child and then arrive between 10 and 11:30 am so that your child can make the craft of the month. The projects are seasonally focused and feature a variety of techniques and craft products to stimulate your child’s curiosity and creative talents. Advance registration required. Parents must accompany child. This is a free event with supplies included.



4400 Excelsior Blvd.

St. Louis Park, MN

A high-end store selling designer toys, furniture and creative materials. They also offer art and knitting classes. Birthday parties start at $250 for 8 kiddos. Drop-in play time and art classes. Profits go to charity.

Lakeshore Learning Center


5699 W. 16th St. – at Park Place Plaza 952-541-0991

Free craft activities every Saturday from 11-3 for children age 3 and up. Visit their website to see their craft schedule. Go to the St. Louis Park store under the store locator and then click on store events.

Mall of America



Toddler Tuesdays from 10 AM-12 PM
FREE entertainment, discounts and events including arts and crafts, storytime and special character appearances especially for toddlers. Check the online Event Calendar for a complete listing of events. Toddler Tuesday - kids eat free.

McHugh Photography


I have to give a plug to my very talented photographer friend, Andrea McHugh. If you are in need of an excellent photographer for your child or family, give her a call. She specializes in documentary-style photography and will shoot both color and or black and white. The pictures she takes with kiddos outdoors are especially awesome. Check out her website!

Michael’s Arts and Crafts Stores


The art supply super store offers craft classes for kids every Saturday from 10:00-noon. The craft activites are $2 per child and are geared for children ages 5-12. Check out the website for a location near you.

Paint a Pot


Paint your own pottery in Plymouth.

Paint Your Plate

5009 France Ave. S., Edina

(952) 929-6666

Peapods Store (Natural baby toys and gifts)

251 Snelling Ave S St. Paul, 651-695-5559
Mon-Sat 10am-6pm

The store also has a great play area with fun music. A great option on a rainy day.

Rainbow Play Systems of Minnesota
900 W. 80th St.
Bloomington (952)884-4040

Toys R Us Funday


Stores often host FREE activities, crafts and more for kids 3 and older with an adult on Saturdays (usually from 11am-1pm) Check the web to see your local Toys R Us for a calendar of Geoffrey’s Funday Events.

Underwater World (east entrance, level one)

M-Th 10-8, Fri/Sat 9:30-8:30, Sun 10-7

Check their website for coupons!

The Wonderment Shop


4306 Upton Ave South Minneapolis 612-929-2707

The Wonderment Shop is a mother-owned store offering natural toys and creative pastimes for children and their families. Items include soft wool and cotton dolls, tree branch building blocks and colorful wooden nesting shapes, natural fiber craft materials and kits, plus classes and demonstrations to help parents create with and for their children. They also offer toys for the older child too—intriguing games, science kits, high quality art supplies, circus activities and more.

Children’s Consignment Stores:

Kiddo Ditto-

Consignment of European and Boutique Children's Clothing and shoes on EBay!

For an appointment call 1-651-269-7441 or tracymorrison@comcast.net

This local stay-at home mom buys and sells high-end and Euro boutique gently used and new clothing. Items must be stain and tear free. Desired brands are: Oilily, Cakewalk, Hanna Andersson, Naartjie, Baby Lulu, Kaboo, Deux par Deux, Le Top, Clayeux, Catimini, Indygo, Psketti, Soup, Cach Cach, Naturino, Elefanten, Primigi, Zaza Couture, Lipstik, Baby Nay, Sweet Potatoes, Gymboree sets...and many more!

She does all of the consignment work for you - all you do is drop off the items at her home in St. Paul– She does the listings, pays the fees, and packs and ships the items...you just collect your 50% of the selling price after the auctions have ended or she will also pay CASH IMMEDIATELY for your items and you will still receive much more than at local resell shops! To view Tracy’s current auctions, enter Ebay member number: 6965tracy


1830 Grand Ave St. Paul 651.699. 2900

Once Upon a Child


There are several metro locations. Check the web for additional sites. The following store is in Roseville:

1665 W County Road C Roseville (651) 628-0120

Events at your Local Place of Worship:

Your local place of worship is a great place to look for affordable and often free classes, events and outings for families with children. For example, St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church offers music classes for parents and children 2 and under each Wednesday at 9:45am. The cost is $35 per child for the school year. They also offer occasional nights where they offer free or low-cost baby sitting so parents can have a night off. Many churches/synagogues do not require membership for you to participate.

Outings with a Higher Purpose:

Donate Your Used Baby/Toddler Items

Many organizations will take your used goods. Consider crisis nurseries, elementary schools(books), children’s hospitals and ECFE programs. Here are some additional ideas:


1919 University Avenue Saint Paul, 4th Floor

AGAPE is the school for pregnant and parenting teens in the St. Paul Public School District. The school operates an on site store where girls can purchase needed items for their children. The store is stocked solely by donation. The only way girls can “buy” items is through “dollars” earned by attendance or personal improvement. Desired items are: baby clothes, bottles, diapers (partial packages accepted), baby wipes, baby shampoo, toys, household cleaning products, cooking utensils, toilet paper and paper towels, personal hygiene items and school supplies for high school-aged students. To donate contact Joan or Colette at 651.228.7746.

Epilepsy Foundation Minnesota

This organization will actually pick up used items at your home! No need to even get in the car! Call for a pick up date!

Good Will

2505 University Avenue St Paul (651) 603-1544


A great place to donate items AND find some great deals, too!

Round Again Maternity and Clothing Exchange

Pilgrim Lutheran Church

1935 St. Clair Avenue St. Paul 651-695-3790

Clean out you closets and consider donating to this great cause! Round Again is a free exchange for new and gently used maternity and infant clothing open to everyone(not just for low-income). Educational prenatal materials are also available. The program serves families in the Highland and Mac-Groveland neighborhoods. The "store" is located at Pilgrim Lutheran, corner of St. Clair and Prior. Donations of maternity and infant clothing are accepted. Volunteers to staff the store are always welcome. Consider volunteering once a month.

Humane Societies

Go visit the animals and take a furry friend for a walk while you are there!

Golden Valley Humane Society

www.animalhumanesociety.org/index.asp 763-522-4325

Minnesota Valley Humane Society

1313 East Highway 13


Humane Society for Companion Animals

1115 Beulah Lane St. Paul, MN 55108

Phone: (651) 645-7387

Community Service

Keystone Community Services and Food Shelf

1916 University Ave W, St Paul (651) 917-3939


Organize a neighborhood drive or buy an extra bag of grocery items the next time you are at the store. Deliver them with your kids.

Family Friendly Restaurants:

The following are a list of family friendly restaurants. They require no tip…save those for when you treat yourself to a grown-up night out at Lucia’s or Café 128.

The Bean Factory J&S Coffee Shop

1342 Thomas Avenue St. Paul 651.645.6466

While you may know about their store on Randolph in St. Paul, their newest sister store has a great play area for little ones with lots of clean toys and books. If you’re lucky you just might get to read the New York Times.

Day by Day Café

477 W. 7th St. St. Paul (612) 227-0654


This is a favorite breakfast haunt for Patrick and I. The food and atmosphere are awesome. The wait staff are extremely child-friendly. They have buckets of “happy meal” toys that they will bring to your table as well as a kids menu and crayons. They also have a great outdoor patio. Since we have an early riser, we appreciate that they open at 6am!

Cossetta's Italian Market & Pizzeria

211 7TH St W. St Paul (651) 222-3476

Great Italian, affordable food. Pizza by the slice or pie. Lots of salads, sandwiches and pastas, too. Casual seating and lots of background noise and music. Watch the workers toss the dough into the air if you’re lucky. Avoid days when you know there are big events downtown. The free parking in adjacent lot is a plus.

El Burrito Mercado

175 Concord St. Saint Paul, MN (651) 227-2192

Awesome, authentic Mexican food. Get ready to point to what you what unless you can speak Spanish. The food, people and market are all great. A fun, festive atmosphere. Lots of seating and highchairs. The kids will love all of the piñatas hanging from the ceiling. If you’re lucky (or unlucky my husband says) you’ll catch a Mariachi Band on the weekend.

IKEA Restaurant & Café

A BARGAIN! Breakfast for 99cents, a hot dog for 50 cents or a cinnamon roll for $1.00!
open daily 9:30am -8pm;

$ .99 breakfast served 9:30-11:00 a.m. A great place for little ones to enjoy pancakes, eggs and bacon!

McDonald's Playlands


Enter your zip code for a listing of McDonald's with Playland areas

YES, I did read Fast Food Nation, but all it did was make me want to eat French Fries. Sometimes you just have to go and do the whole dorky, Ronald thing. Bring your hand sanitizer.


1890 University Ave W. St Paul (651) 644-1790

Take a trip back to the 50’s! Look for the neon pig with a top hat and you’ll know you are there! This is a great drive-thru! They have the best burgers, onion rings and shakes in town at very affordable prices. Be prepared to eat in your car or on one of the few picnic tables outside, as there is no indoor seating. Go on a Saturday night in the summer and you will see tons of vintage cars.

The Riverview Café

3745 42nd. Avenue South, Mpls. 612.722.7234


This café has a wonderful children's play area to amuse the kids while you enjoy your mocha latte. I was impressed that the owner was actually putting the toys through the dishwasher while we were there. Great coffee and kid friendly snacks…juice boxes, too!

St. Paul Corner Drug Store

240 Snelling Ave S. Saint Paul (651) 698-8859
This family owned drugstore has an old-fashioned soda fountain. You can get generous ice cream cones for 75 cents! You no longer have to re-mortgage your house for a trip to Izzy’s. They also offer floats, sodas and sundaes and you can get a cup of coffee for 25 cents. The soda fountain shuts down 15 minutes before they close. Closed on Sundays.

Restaurants with Free (or greatly reduced) Kids Meals:

Every Day:

Bar Abilene
Kids 12 and under eat FREE with an adult everyday including Tuesday when they offer an all you can eat Fajita Bar and Sunday Brunch.

Lagoon & Fremont in Uptown, Minneapolis

Tejas Restaurant
12 & under are FREE with an adult (2 kids per 1 adult).
50th & France in Edina


Broders' Southside Pasta Bar
Kids 10 and under eat FREE on Monday evenings from 5 - 6 PM. One free kid’s meal per adult meal purchased.

5000 Penn Ave S Minneapolis

Q. Cumbers
Kids 3-12 eat for only 99¢ on Monday evenings from 4-8:30 PM. Limit two kids per paying adult.

7465 France Avenue S. (Centennial Lakes Plaza) Edina, MN

TGI Friday's
Kids eat FREE on Monday nights from 4-9 PM. One free kid’s meal per adult meal purchased. Plus kids get a free balloon as an added bonus! Blaine, Bloomington, Burnsville, Edina, Minneapolis, Roseville, St. Louis Park, Woodbury


Up to two FREE kid’s meals per one adult meal purchased. Tuesdays, 4-close at Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Richfield and Burnsville only

Tuesdays 4-10 pm, 2 free kids meals with purchase of 1 adult meal (age 10 and under)

Green Mill
Kids 12 and under. One FREE kid’s meal per adult meal purchased. Tuesdays from 4-7 PM Not all Green Mill Restaurants in the Twin Cities area participate. Call your locale.

Mall of America
Kids Eat FREE every Tuesday at the following participating restaurants:
One adult meal must be purchased for every child's free meal. Offer valid for lunch or dinner. Children must be 12 years or under. * These restaurants do not participate in the Kids Eat Free program during June, July and August.

Famous Dave's BBQ
Healthy Express
Nordstrom Cafe*
Kokomo's Island Cafe
P.B.Loco (E114)
Stadium Club Bar and Grill* (Camp Snoopy)
Stampede Steakhouse* (Camp Snoopy)
Tony Roma's
Tucci Benucch
Twin City Grill

Kids 12 and under. One FREE kid's meal per adult meal purchased. Tuesdays from 4-10 PM Multiple Twin Cities Locations


Old Chicago
Kids 10 and under eat free off the Kids Menu Wednesday 4-10 pm

Kids 12 and under eat free off the Kids Menu Wednesdays 4-8 pm. Plymouth, Maplewood, St. Louis Park


D'Amico & Sons
Kids 12 and under Sundays 2-9 p.m. St. Paul, Golden Valley, Eden Prairie, Wayzata, Edina, Minneapolis

The Sunshine Factory
Kids eat FREE Sundays from 4-10 PM 7600 42nd Ave. N., New Hope

Mommies’ Little Helpers: Meals to Simplify Your Life

Make, Take and Bake

These businesses allow you to come to their locations to create and make 6-12 meals which you can then bring home and heat for your family. Prices generally run about $125 for 8 meals that serve 4-6 people. I went to Let’s Dish 2 days before Finn was born and stocked our freezer…it was a great way for us to eat well during the first few sleep-deprived, post partum weeks. They do all the prep and clean-up and provide packaging. This is also a GREAT idea for a group baby shower gift to a new mom or couple. You can go as a private group or as an individual. There are some incentives for booking a large party.

Let’s Dish


Locations in Woodbury, Maple Grove, Eden Prairie and Apple Valley

They provide snacks while you work.

Prices around $135

Free molten chocolate cakes if you book a 12 person party.

Mix It Up Meals


Locations in Woodbury, Mall of America and White Bear Lake

Simply to the Table


Sociale Gourmet


Eagan 651.994.9000

Also locations in SW Minneapolis and downtown Minneapolis

Prices from $99-$159

They also provide drinks and appetizers while you cook.

Super Suppers

Eden Prairie www.supersuppersedenprairie.com

Lakeville, MN www.supersupperslakeville.com

Woodbury www.supersupperswoodbury.com

This is another one-stop meal assembly shop designed to save active parents the time and effort required to serve great meals. While at Super Suppers you will put together 6 to 12 delicious, healthy, "financially smart" entrees in their relaxed and fun studio kitchen setting. Each entrée serves 6 people. Unique features: This business does not charge anything extra for their pick-up only option, which similar businesses do. They have family nights where school-age kids are welcome in the kitchen and there are good incentives for hosting a private party. They also offer drop-in times where you can make your meals with no appointment necessary. New customers can come in and make one free complimentary entrée by appointment. Their KIDS IN THE KITCHEN program allows you to drop the kids off for 3 hours while you shop or go out to lunch. The staff will lead the kids in preparing 3 meals that the kids can take home to feed you (each meal serves 3)! Cost is $40 per child. Check the website for availability.
The also offer Toddler Tuesdays where you can bring in children of all ages. The staff will have an area set up just for them while Mom will be just eye sight away making meals for the family.

Parent Groups/Drop In Child Care:

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE)

http://efce.spps.org (or search for “ECFE” through your community’s public school system)

Hands down, the best family institution around! Classes are held at multiple metro locations. “ECFE is based on the idea that the family provides a child's first and most important learning environment, and parents are a child's first and most significant teachers. ECFE works to strengthen families and enhance the ability of all parents to provide the best possible environment for the healthy growth and development of their children.” ECFE classes include time for parents and children to learn and play together, as well as time for adults to discuss parenting issues led by a Parent Educator. Children are instructed by an Early Childhood teacher. Attending ECFE is a wonderful way to meet other parents and children while becoming a more competent and happier parent. Class fees are based on a sliding scale.

Kidspark Drop In Child Care


1961 Saint Clair Avenue Saint Paul 651.695.4008

KidsPark is a professionally staffed parent cooperative drop-in child care service sponsored by the Macalester-Groveland Community Council in cooperation with the St. Paul Division of Parks and Recreation. It has served families for over fifteen years.

KidsPark is licensed to provide care for children 6 weeks through 5 years old (not yet in kindergarten). The maximum child:staff ratio is 1:3 for infants 6 weeks to 16 months old, and 1:7 for older children. KidsPark offers child care from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on days that St. Paul public elementary schools are in session. Infant care is available three mornings a week. KidsPark is located inside the warming house building in Groveland Park. Because KidsPark has a co-op format, each family is asked to contribute nine volunteer hours per school year; opportunities are available for parents who want to exchange further work for free childcare. Duties may include shopping, administrative tasks, fundraising, or being an extra set of hands in the classroom. In addition, parents may serve on the KidsPark Advisory Committee. Each family pays a $50 annual membership fee as well as a $60 co-op fee, which is refundable upon completion of the nine hours of volunteer work. The hourly childcare charge is $5.25/hour for the first and second children in a family; new for the 2005-06 school year, any additional children in a family can attend for half price! Infant care is $18.00 per morning.

La Leche League International


Mpls. 612.922.4996

St. Paul 651.922.4996

Anyone who has breastfed knows it can be tough. If you need help, contact La Leche League. The mission of LLLI is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, education, information, and encouragement and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. You can call the local number for free advice and support. The website is filled with very useful and informative information.



Search for a local group that matches your interests (e.g., stay-at-home parents, attachment parenting, etc.). Some groups have a nominal fee to cover the cost of hosting the site.



MOMS Club (Moms Offering Moms Support) is an international non-profit organization providing support and activities during the day for moms who are raising their children full or part-time at home. The club offers monthly activities such as play dates, coffee dates, recipe exchanges, baby-sitting co-ops, book clubs and Mom’s Night Out activities. For more info call 651.864.0707.

Mothers & More Minneapolis Chapter


6:30 - 8:30 p.m. 2nd & 4th Tuesdays each month St. George's Episcopal Church, 5224 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park

For more info: 952-926-9133 or surban@mn.rr.com


Infant and Child CPR Classes

Many local hospitals offer infant and child CPR classes. The cost is about $40. Call Medformation at 651.697.3333 to register for a class.

Minnesota Department of Corrections


Use this site to do a search for Level 3 sex offenders in your neighborhood by name, zip code, city or county.

Missing Children Minnesota



This is a contact you pray you will never need, however it’s a great resource on educating parents and children about personal safety and provides action steps for families of missing children. I also like their Kids ID Kit, which helps you organize important data (dental records, finger prints, etc) about your child in the event of an abduction. It never hurts to be prepared. We just don’t like to think about these things.

St. Paul Car Seat Checkup Clinics

Minnesota Safety Council 651-228-7321
During these free clinics experts will inspect your child's car seat to make sure it is properly installed,, provide you with important installation tips, and check the seat for recalls. They'll also provide information on how to transport older children since many cannot wear an adult seat belt safely. Call for an appointment and for St. Paul locations.

FREE Stuff:

Birthday Cake for your Child’s 1st Birthday!



Celebrate Baby’s 1st birthday with this FREE 1/4 sheet cake decorated especially for your little one! Compliments of Lunds and Byerly’s. Celebrate this important family event with our signature cake. Simply bring in your child’s birth certificate a few days before the date you’d like your cake. Our talented decorators will recreate this charming cake especially for your child. Choose from white, marble or chocolate cake. We’ll personalize it with a special message.

Kowalski’s also offers a (smaller) free cake, personalized, for the baby’s first birthday. www.kowalskis.com

Blockbuster rewards students by giving free rentals for good grades. Students in grades K-8 with an A or B average on their report cards can present their report cards at a Blockbuster store to receive on free Blockbuster favorite rental. www.blockbuster.com FREE Tokens

Ask your local Blockbuster Video store about which children's videos are free to rent (older ones) even without purchase! They are usually older titles for children.

Chuck E. Cheese

Bring your child's report card into
Chuck E. Cheese and receive free tokens for good grades.

Cub Foods:

I’ve already told you about the free apples for kiddos at Cub Foods, but I also discovered that the cookies in the self-service area are also free for little ones. Take my advice and stick to the cookies unless you don’t mind your child hurling the apples out of your grocery cart on subsequent visits!

Davannis Pizza


Go to their website and check out their birthday club. You can enter the first names and birthday months of up to 4 family members. You will receive a coupon in the mail for a free solo, 1 topping pizza during your birthday month.

Office Depot
Bring your empty printer cartridge to Office Depot and they will give you a FREE ream of paper.

The Saint Paul FUN PASS


This is a FREE "pass" to great savings and discounts on lodging, attractions, dining and shopping in Saint Paul and throughout the Twin Cites. The Fun Pass is FREE and easy to use. Simply bring the Pass to participating locations to redeem your special offers. You can also download a version from the above website and redeem the offers with a printed copy at participating locations. The Fun Pass is valid for 15 months, so you can use it again and again. To download load the pass visit the above site or call 651.265.4900.

Wuollet’s Bakery


Several metro locations

Cookies are free for little tykes at all Wuollet locations. The bakery also offers kid-friendly activities from time to time which include baking activities and a story time. Call your nearest location for a calendar of activities.

Out And About: Traveling with Kids

Explore Minnesota

List of Festivals and Events


Moondance Ranch

Walker, MN


If you need a great venue for kids and adults of all ages, try Moondance Ranch outside of Walker, MN. They offer horseback riding for ages 6 or older, a wild animal zoo (many animals walk wild throughout the ranch), go cart racing, water slide, golf, etc. They also offer a large price cut for groups of 15 or more.

Planning a Road Trip?


This interesting site shows unique things in each state worth a visit.




Type in your zip code and it will list all types of local activities for tots…music classes…pony rides…harvest festivals…etc.

Birthdays Without Pressure


Concerned about the overindulgent birthday parties that are so prevalent in our society? Need ideas to keep things simple or just support from other like-minded parents? Visit this locally developed site for some great suggestions and interesting stories and statistics.

City of Saint Paul Website


This site has a great link to events and venues for families and kids. It also links you up with the department of parks and recreation.

City of Minneapolis Website


This site is a little harder to navigate than St. Paul’s site, but click on “leisure” for a calendar of events.

City Spin


Check out their calendar of events

Explore Minnesota


This site has a good calendar of events and great suggestions for places to stay/visit with kids

FM 107 2 for 1 Deals


If you’re thrifty like me, you’re a sucker for a good deal or coupon. Check out FM 107’s 2 for 1 spa and dining deals. Every week, the site highlights local restaurants and spas and salons. You can purchase a $50 gift certificate for $25! Purchases are limited and must be purchased online with a Mastercard or Visa and are sent to your home, usually within a week. You can also see what deals are coming up, which I love! Some certificates expire within a few months, so check the expiration dates before you make a purchase.

Get Free Stuff or Give Away your Junk


Log on to list items you have, browse the catalog of free stuff or place a request for an item you need.

The Green Guide


Environmentally friendly activities and events for families.

Go City Kids


This family-friendly website has a great search engine for family-friendly activities. You can search by indoor/outdoor activity, kind of activity, age of child, date or day of the week.

Mama Source


A great website to request information from other local moms. Reminiscent of Angie’s List or Craig’s list, you can view referrals of business/daycares, etc. You can also ask a particular question and local moms will respond. FREE.



Mom Talk


This local website offers an event calendar, coupons, recipes and a variety of interesting articles.

Moms Like Me


Sitter City


Search for a baby sitter by rate, availability and location.

St. Louis Park Community Events


Twin Cities Mom


The site has recipes, craft ideas, free stuff, articles, family-friendly restaurants and a great calendar of events


Books / Publications:

"A Parent's Guide to the Twin Cities and Minnesota" 2002 by Josh Roberts

“The Annual Manual”, published by City Pages, is a free comprehensive listing of more Twin Cities activities than imaginable! Also available online: www.citypages.com

“Minnesota Parent” – a free monthly publication usually available at your local library with parenting articles and an excellent calendar or local events for families and kids. www.mnparent.com

“Family Times” –Minnesota’s award winning news and entertainment journal. FREE


Thrifty Tips:

  • Buy a Happenings book. They run about $30 and are good for 1 year. You can purchase them from school groups or at Barnes and Nobles. They offer hundreds of 2 for 1 deals. Use it 1-2 times and it will pay for itself. Deals include: fast food, fine dining, theaters, Underwater World, museums, zoos, car rentals, etc. The book sells for $15 in about April of each year.
  • Check your memberships to see what discounts/perks they offer. We are members of MPR and PBS. Both offer excellent 2 for 1 discounts for members to local business and entertainment venues. My JCC card even gets me a discount at Breadsmith!
  • Call local theaters and ask when they have discounted or free theater events.
  • If you frequent a museum, ask about a family membership. These with often pay for themselves within 2 visits.
  • If you are a member of a museum, ask about their reciprocity programs. You may have access to discounted or free admission to several zoos/museums throughout the country.
  • There is never anything better than a walk outside. Enjoy the great outdoors.
  • Shop at local consignment stores or on Ebay for quality clothes at bargain prices. You can also sell your gently worn clothing and toys to raise some money for your college funds!

Happy Adventures!


  1. I should mention that the original list was compiled by someone else, so most of the first-person commentary is not mine. If you find any outdated links or information, please let me know. I did eliminate some outdated information, and I'm sure there are plenty of things that I missed.

  2. And, if my co-blogger has any gripes about my monopolizing our space with such a huge non-hippy post, he can get off his duff and start burying it with his posts. So there. :)

  3. Holy crap - nasty comments . . . did you do all that today? It would surprise no one . . . at least not anyone you knows you.

  4. Good post man, just looking around some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform you are using.