For us Minnesotans, check out ExploreMinnesota.com
Free Movies - Kid Flicks
* Muller Family Theatres - Summer Free Movie Series every Wednesday at 10am
FREE Kid Vids: Coborns & Cashwise Grocery Stores
Stop by the Movie Rentals at your grocery store and pick from hundreds of kids movies for free!
KidsBowlFree.com is a great link to sign up for FREE summer bowling in your area. Many lanes have free days for the whole family too!
PARKS and PLAYGROUNDS
INDOOR PLAY ROOMS: Many McDonalds and Burger King Restaurants have very fun indoor play areas. Grab a McCafe coffee or a meal, and let the kids wear off all that energy.
*Favorite McDonalds: Elk River (Hwy 169), Rogers (I-94/101), Ramsey (Hwy 10), Coon Rapids (Round Lake Blvd/Bunker Lake Blvd), St. Cloud (Hwy 10).
Ikea in Bloomington, MN: Has Smaland, a supervised/sign-in play area with a ball pit, movie theatre and activities for them to enjoy while you shop for 1-2 hours. Free of charge! Children between 37" - 54" tall and potty-trained are invited to spend up to an hour in Småland. Visit their cafe upstairs, with children's area with little tables and movies. They also have a play area to test out their kids toys and beds.
Menards of St. Cloud, MN: Yes, I said Menards. They have a demo swingset and playhouses setup, which is the perfect hangout while Dad shops.
Crossroads Center of St. Cloud, MN: Between Macy's and Target, they have a toddler-kid soft-play area that my kids just adore. It's setup like a campsite with bridge, fish, flowers, dragon fly, campfire, truck slide, and tent and log tunnel. All are foam coated and padded floor, with ample seating for parents. Family bathrooms, complete with changing stations, nursing room with rocker, and tiny toilets for tots. Just beware the popular quarter rides just outside the playarea. Also head over to the food court to view their waterfalls and family bathrooms. Great for ages 6mths-7yrs.
For some incredible OUTDOOR PARKS, check out these links and places!
*Three River Parks District: Our favorite being the Otsego Prarie Park. They have 3 Playgrounds, a shelter, baseball and soccer fields, basketball court…
*St. Cloud Area Parks: Our favorite is the climbers and swings at Lake George Municipal Park, with a fabulous Splash Pad and Walking Path around the lake. Riverside Park also has a fun playarea and splashpad, outdoor pool and trails. Quarry Park has trails and a granite quarry pond for swimming. Head west to Waite Park and you'll find two parks on 10th St near the baseball fields. Their playareas are fun and there is an excellent splash pad.
And a garden I must endorse, just down the street…. the place where Tom and I first said "I Love You" and where he proposed to me:
Munsinger Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud, MN.
Many kisses under that gazebo and on the swings!
* Lake Wobegon Trail: 46 miles of biking, walking and nature adventure. It's home is in Central MN, and worth a try. We hiked 12 miles with the kids one day, sunburned and stranded because we kept on walking... but a lot of fun. View their website for much more details! Beautiful paved trail with stops in cities full of shops, parks and more to visit.
Cabela's: A sporting store in Rogers, MN (and many other locations) has one of the largest taxidermy displays of hunted animals from Minnesota to Africa! Arrive on time, and you can watch them feed the live freshwater fish! Go upstairs to check out all the tents, cafe and candy store where you can sample some homemade fudge. Upstairs you'll find the ultimate hunting arcade!
Lowes Build and Grow: Check out this website from Lowe's home improvement store to sign up for free projects for your kids to build each month. Earn an apron and patches for each project completed. Limited number of attendees, so act quickly.
Home Depot Kids: Ages 5-12 on the First Saturday from 9-12. Contact your local HD to sign up your children for a number of fun projects they can build at a workshop! Earn a apron and pins for projects completed.
GARDENS and GARDEN CENTERS
Spring is the best time to teach your kids about growing, gardening, and other outdoor adventures. Your first stop should be a visit to this website for a list of Public Gardens of Minnesota.
Explore Minnesota.com has a substantial list of gardens and farms.
Landscaping companies we've visited and recommend to bring your children along...
* Plants and Things in Anoka, MN off Hwy 10 has the biggest selection of playhouses and playground sets I've ever seen. Some makde like castles, trucks, trains and ships. Go and have fun testing them all out like we did!
*Scenic Specialties in St. Joseph MN has a great selection of plants and waterfall displays on their 14 acres. They repurposed an old farmhouse and outbuildings in such a great way. Occasionally they have a kids jumphouse. But our favorite is the Koi (goldfish) pond where you can feed the fish (that act like puppies). Just a quarter for lots of giggles!
*At Thomsen's Greenhouse & Garden Center they have a very beautiful display. They have an expansive selection of flowers, plants and trees. I absolutely love their helpful and knowledgeable staff. Visit their pond out back with a walking path that displays (labeled) growth all season long. They have a tiny, but nice playground for the kids. In the fall [Sat Sept 24 2011], they host a pumpkin painting party for free, complete with maze and jumphouse. CLICK HERE for their event calendar.
I consider Farms to be another hotspot to learn about gardening and much more. So here are some local Farm's you may want to visit this summer/fall in Minnesota:
*Snake River Farm in Becker, MN
We had a wonderful time at the Snake River Farm. Learned about horses before we rode them, played on the playground, ground up corn cobs for the chickens, at lunch by the campfire, and took a hay ride out to the old school house. It was such a fabulous time!
Historical Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River, MN (Hwy 10)
"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.
CLICK HERE for Events at the Kelley Farm
Carlos Creek Winery in Alexandria, MN
Take a tour of the winery and horse stables, play a game of giant chess, listen to the music and more!
-Complimentary tours of our production facility are offered at 1:00 and 3:00 each day, with an additional tour at 5:00 on Saturday. No reservations are needed for our tours unless you are bringing a group of 20 or more. However, tours are limited to 35 people, so you may want to come early, especially on weekends. Wine sampling, which is available anytime we're open, is $5 and includes a souvenir Carlos Creek wine glass.
-From Memorial Day through Labor Day we have live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 to 6:00. Live music continues every Saturday all year long. We rotate artists and styles of music so check out our listing on the left of this page to see what is playing each week. Our craft barn is open Saturdays from Memorial Day - Labor Day.
-We have two festivals each year. Our Grape Stomp and Fall Festival is held annually the third weekend of September. Featuring 7 live bands, 150+ artists, traveling belly dancers, comedians & magicians and over 200 grape stomping teams. This festival attracts over 15,000 people over the three day celebration. Lamont Cranston leads off the fun on Friday night with a barn dance. Over MEA weekend we celebrate the end of the apple harvest with our annual Applefest. In 2010 we are adding a Catapult Contest to this festival which will be held on Saturday & Sunday.
*Going to the Twin Cities?
Be sure to stop at the U of M Arboretum/Conservatory?, Como Zoo, Cathedral of St. Paul, Walker Art Garden and State Capitol - all free. There are a hundred places or more to visit there!