For you, dear readers, we’re laying bare our secret treasure map, so that you, too, can enjoy our area’s hidden treasures.
Go, See, Do
The Bakken’s Family Science Saturdays
Housed in a mansion overlooking Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, the Bakken Museum is a unique setting for families to explore electricity and magnetism. Each weekend, the museum hosts Family Science Saturday. Visitors enjoy hands-on activities and special presentations based on the Bakken’s current exhibit. Past projects have included the chance to build a wind turbine and demonstrations by Great River Energy. Totally electrifying!
3537 Zenith Ave. S., Minneapolis
Circus Juventas Classes for Adults
So, your kids aren’t interested in running off to join the circus, but you still are? We all know about Circus Juventas’s spectacular annual shows and their classes for kids, but did you know that adults can also work off stress and get back in shape with circus arts and flying trapeze classes? Well, now you do.
1270 Montreal Ave., St. Paul
Franconia Sculpture Park
This rotating collection of 75 sculptures offers a unique experience to families looking for artistic entertainment opportunities. One Saturday each month features a Kids Make Sculpture workshop: Franconia’s artists guide young sculptors-to-be for an afternoon. Children will also be dazzled by Franconia’s iron pours, and the summer ends with a spectacular daylong arts and music festival that boasts puppet shows, dance, food, and plenty of modern art.
29836 St. Croix Trail, Franconia
Freewheel Midtown Bike Center
The Midtown Greenway itself is a very un-hidden treasure to families who bike, but the newly installed Freewheel Midtown Bike Center may need an introduction. Located behind the Midtown Exchange on Lake Street, near the 10th Avenue exit on the 20-mile paved bike route, the Bike Center offers a place to get a tire changed, rent bicycles, access a bike locker, take a shower, or just pause in your ride for refreshment.
On the Midtown Greenway, Minneapolis
Nestled in the middle of Lakeville is Lake Marion, small enough for lazy days on a small fishing boat, or large enough to tube or water-ski to the heart’s delight. The two parks here — Casperson Park, which is a sunny day reading hotspot, or Antler’s Park, where kids can have fun in the water or on the shore — will be backdrops for golden memories of summer fun.
9470 201st St. W., Lakeville
Lake Minnetonka Regional Park swimming pond
Visiting the sandy-bottom pool is just like being at the lake. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, kids can come swim and play in the sand for just $2 a head.
4610 County Road 44, Minnetrista
Sometimes a trip out of the hustle and bustle of the metro can be just the recharge one needs; it can also be an opportunity to show little ones how beautiful Minnesota can be in the summertime. Old Frontenac and New Frontenac do just that, offering some of the most beautiful views of the Mississippi River Valley and Lake Pepin. Old Frontenac, which is the only community in Minnesota entirely on the National Register of Historic Places, offers the charm of a town without retail businesses and close proximity to Frontenac State Park.
Padelford Mississippi Riverboat Tours
This hour-long cruise takes you down the Mississippi River and through the Great River National Park. The narration educates the participants about the history of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Kids will see St. Paul and the river as they never have before
Harriet Island, St. Paul
Tucked inside Theodore Wirth Park, signs point the way to the magnificently named Quaking Bog. The short trail leads to a thick grove of tamarack trees shading a five-acre acid bog covered with sphagnum moss. Kids will love the floating walkway and dearth of dragonflies while parents will appreciate the easy accessibility (Wirth Park is wedged between Golden Valley and Minneapolis).
1339 Theodore Wirth Pkwy., Minneapolis
6 a.m.–10 p.m.
Saturdays for Jungle Kids
Listening to books read aloud not only entertains but also helps children with their vocabulary. The Wild Rumpus Bookstore and the Jungle Theater team up to bring fantastic children’s books to life on the stage.
2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Saturdays (dates TBA)
Sidewalk Superintendent Talks
The new I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River is going up so fast that builder Flatiron-Mason expects to complete it this fall. Before the last bit of concrete is poured, however, curious families can participate in a Sidewalk Superintendent Talk. A project representative describes the building process and answers questions ranging from those about bridge engineering to inquiries about the crew. Those who prefer a DIY experience can follow the descriptive signs that are mounted along the railing on the 10th Avenue bridge.
Meet at Grandma’s Restaurant
1810 Washington Ave S., Minneapolis
11 a.m. Saturdays
There’s something about wheels turning on tracks that just thrills a little kid’s — and a big kid’s — heart. You can experience a little piece of Twin Cities history at the two remaining pieces of the old trolley system, operated by
the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. Days and times change seasonally.
Lake Harriet: 2330 W. 42nd St., Minneapolis
Excelsior: Between 3rd and George Streets Excelsior
Wildlife Science Center
The Wildlife Science Center needs only two words to convince families to visit: wolf puppies. This nonprofit offers a variety of educational programs surrounding Minnesota’s wildlife. Wolf Camp is a popular summer program for young animal lovers that lets kids get up close to lynx, black bears, foxes, and several types of wolves. Events run throughout the year and include bonfires, Howl-o-Ween in October, and a Canine Carnival that lets kids bring their own pups to visit.
5463 W. Broadway, Forest Lake
Wabasha Cave Tour
Test your geology skills and learn a little history while touring the sandstone caves of Wabasha Street. There are a variety of themed tours, ranging from ’70s history to Scandinavian heritage.
215 S. Wabasha St., St. Paul
Cupcakes in dozens of flavors, sizes, and styles — a treat for little ones or a reward for their tired caretakers. You’ll also find breakfast, lunch, and a full espresso bar.
3338 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis
The smell of waffle cones is almost as sweet as the ice cream itself. Loaded with colorful decorations, Licks Unlimited is kid-friendly and has some of the best ice cream around. Be sure to get your picture taken with your cone so it can be put up on the bulletin board.
31 Walter St., Excelsior
A family-friendly restaurant does not have to serve mac and cheese with a side of chicken fingers. One of our favorites is Trung Ngyuen and Van Vo’s Lotus Restaurant, serving up fabulous Vietnamese food just a block off Loring Park. Lots of options for a picky child, culinary satisfaction for the parents, and an environment that clearly loves children. Little ones will learn to embrace tofu, spring rolls and pho, and you will feel like you’ve been a guest in a generous home.
113 W. Grant St., Minneapolis
Patrick’s Bakery and Café
Minnesotans can get a taste of authentic French pastries at Patrick’s Bakery and Café. Be it a meringue or a delicious strawberry tartlet or a French-style breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Patrick’s offers a sweet slice of France to small world-travelers-to-be.
2928 W. 66th St., Edina
612-861-7570Bachman’s, 6010 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis
331 Broadway Ave. S, Wayzata
Nostalgic for the days of the drive-in? No need to dust off your time machine, a tray of corn dogs attached to your car’s window is just a drive to St. Louis Park away. Wagner’s features the classic malts, homemade cherry Cokes, and greasy cheeseburgers. What makes Wagner’s so special? It’s just a hop from the Midtown Greenway bicycle trail (it’s easier to justify eating burgers if you’re burning calories). It’s also easy to toss pre-bed pajama-wearing kids into the car for a late-night snack delivered right to your window. Closed in the winter.
3712 Quebec Ave S., St. Louis Park