Sunshine! Flowers! The absence of icicles! Get in the summertime spirit with these eight outdoor adventures the whole family will love.
1. Go Outside and Play
The area’s numerous nature centers offer hands-on, fun and free programs no matter the weather. Try maple syruping, birding and bird-banding, geocaching, paddling and guided hikes at places such as Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park, Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville, Richardson Nature Center in Bloomington and Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul.
2. Hit the Greens
Get ready for golf season with a trip to the climate-controlled three-story Topgolf driving range in Brooklyn Center, where players can score points by hitting a variety of targets using balls tracked with GPS chips.
Once the warm weather arrives, head to Edina’s redeveloped Braemer Golf Course, which consistently ranks among the country’s top public greens. Kids will have a great time learning to golf at the 18-hole putting course or trying a game of croquet at Centennial Lakes Park. Or if spring showers get in the way, escape the rain with a round of pirate-themed, indoor mini golf at Grand Slam.
3. Cuddle Furry Farmyard Babies
Kids will love getting up close with fuzzy farmyard newborns during Twin Cities Spring Babies Festival in Brooklyn Park. During three weekends in April and the first weekend in May, the place is crawling with fluffy bunnies, chicks, lambs, horses, calves and more. The event includes a corn seed pit, straw bale maze, hayrides and a play area. Need more animal cuteness? Head to the annual farm babies event at Apple Valley’s Minnesota Zoo (happening late March through April), or enjoy a dose of 1940s farm life with newborn animals at Eagan’s Holz Farm Spring Festival.
4. Feel the Rush
Valleyfair, the Upper Midwest’s largest amusement park, opens for the season in early May and runs through the fall offering thrills for all ages. Adrenaline junkies should head straight for the 70-foot looping Delirious, which was added in 2018 and anchors a Route 66-themed area. And don’t miss Valleyfair’s Soak City Waterpark, with its wave pool, rapids and water slides.
For weatherproof thrills, head to Mall of America’s indoor amusement park, Nickelodeon Universe; Bloomington’s indoor waterpark, Great Wolf Lodge; or Shoreview’s Tropics Indoor Waterpark, which features a three-story water slide with a pick-your-own music and light show.
5. Cruise the Mississippi
See the Saint Paul skyline from the deck of Padelford Riverboats, which is celebrating 50 years of cruising the Great River in 2019. Weekend sightseeing begins May 5, with daily cruises from Harriet Island beginning Memorial Day weekend.
Or round up your family and explore the Mississippi shoreline on foot or by bike via countless area trails. Check out downtown Minneapolis’s historic Mill Ruins Park and the picture-perfect Stone Arch Bridge or Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, soon to be renamed Mississippi Gateway Regional Park. Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area offers a new trailhead facility in Inver Grove Heights and rewards hikers with sweeping river valley views.
6. Stop and Smell the Flowers
Walk beneath the blooming cherry trees at Normandale Community College’s Japanese Garden in Bloomington or spend a full day exploring the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum near Chaska for the springtime spectacle of flowering trees and blossoming shrubs. In Brooklyn Park on May 18, kids can help plant the summer garden and potato crop at Historic Eidem Farm, a 19-acre living history farm that offers interactive seasonal programming.
7. Catch a Game
Got any baseball fans in the family? Take them out to a ballgame and watch the Minnesota Twins play at Target Field. Even non-fans will enjoy the gourmet eats and stunning Minneapolis skyline views. Or for a more playful and laid-back version of American’s favorite pastime, the St. Paul Saints play at CHS Field in Saint Paul’s Lowertown. Are you more of a soccer family? You can be among the first spectators to catch a Minnesota United professional soccer game at the soon-to-open Allianz Field in Saint Paul.
8. Wander as You Wonder at Art
Get a glimpse of area icons such as the Spoonbridge and Cherry and the giant blue rooster that rise from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center — little ones will marvel at their majesty and teens will appreciate the selfie possibilities. Eagan’s Caponi Art Park offers another popular spot to enjoy art, plus outdoor concerts and events.