Thursday, February 7, 2013

Things to do in the twin cities with your little ones.

WINTER GIVEAWAY: For a chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets/admission to the Minnesota Zoo, comment below (along with your first and last name, and city), telling us your favorite place (free or not-so-free) to take your kiddos in the Twin Cities. One winner will be randomly selected on Friday, February 15th! Good luck everyone.

Winter in Minnesota can be such a drag! Seriously, the days seem to drag on and on because we're all cooped up inside with the kiddos. However, Linna and our friends have been getting out to discover all that the the Twin Cities has to offer this winter, and we've found some pretty fun activities. Not everything will cost you some cash. Some of the FREE activities are actually our favorites! We'll continue adding to this list, and if you have an activity that you'd like us to add, please let us know!

*** Please check websites or make a phone call before you attend one of these activities, to make sure it's still on-going and that there are no cancellations. ***

Linna, playing with her friends Clark and JJ at Southdale's Play Area.

FREE (or almost free) Activities:

Wee Wednesday - Linna and I checked this out in January with a couple friends, and we enjoyed every minute. There's live music, little activities for the kids, lots of lunch options, and the adults can get a little grocery shopping done. It's every Wednesday from 10:30 - 11:15 a.m.

Free Playtime at Rainbow Play Systems: I got this tip from Lollipopolis (great blog by the way!), and had no idea that Rainbow Play Systems in Bloomington offered FREE playtime every Tuesday and Wednesday through February, from 10 a.m. to noon. You're indoors, the kids are having fun... sounds like a great place to me!

Toddler Tuesdays at the Mall of America - Yes, there's always a crowd, but if you're looking for ways to get your little one socialized, while having fun at the same time, Toddler Tuesday is the place to be. There's live music, activities for the kids, and you're surrounded by so much to do and see at the Mall of America.

Southdale Center's Play Area - This Edina play area recently underwent a complete renovation, and it's one of our favorite spots! As a mom with a toddler, I can always appreciate a place where I can run a few errands, and let my kid run around an play for a little bit before or afterwards. It's a nice place for parents to sit and just watch the kiddos run around!

Ridgedale's Play Area - Similar to Southdale's Play Area, this is another play area that we've tried out, and it's perfect for the little ones.

Ridgedale's Play Area.

Hennepin County Public Library Baby Storytime - Storytimes at public libraries in the Twin Cities are FREE and a great way to stimulate little ones' minds. We started bringing Linna to Baby Storytime at the Minnetonka Public Library, and have since attended Baby and Family Storytime at the Chanhassen, Excelsior, and Hopkins Public Libraries. There's singing, group reading, dancing, and games. Since Linna isn't two-years-old yet, we haven't checked out Toddler Storytime, Preschool Storytime, or World Language Storytime, but if they're anything like Baby Storytime, we'll be signing up in the coming years! Some Storytime locations request that you register your little one(s), but others are completely open. This is a great thing to do in the winter, and if there isn't one in your neighborhood, I'm sure there's one pretty close to you.

Hopkins Public Library Children's Area - I can't say enough about this library's play area. It's brand new to the Hopkins Library, and we could spend hours there learning and playing!

Dunn Brothers in Linden Hills - Technically, yes, you should make a purchase before you plop down in a seat, but a $1 or $2 is well-spent money for a treat and a "break". We've been to this location, and it's small, but it's enough to give mom/dad/caregiver a little break during the day. You still have to watch your little one(s), but my little one keeps herself entertained with the change of scenery, new toys, and other kiddos.

Minnesota Lanscape Arboretum - Every Thursday between November and March, admission is FREE at the Arboretum. They also have Storytime for preschoolers on most Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at the Arboretum's Andersen Horticultural Library. We have yet to check this out, but it sounds fun!

Como Zoo - Free storytime every day at 1:30 p.m.

Children's Museum of Minnesota - We checked out the Dora & Diego Exhibit last week, and had a blast! There was so much for the little ones to get their hands on and explore. Plus, there's FREE admission every third Sunday.

Little Tot Playtime - We have yet to go to one of these playtimes, but for $2/session, or $40/30-sessions, your 1-5 year-old can bounce in the moonwalk, ride four-wheelers, play with other kiddos, while you enjoy some adult conversation at the St. Louis Park Rec Center. Check the website, but this runs November through March, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Ice Skating Rinks - Check the Minneapolis and St. Paul schedules, but most rinks stay open through the end of February, and some offer free skate rentals! Thanks for the tip Lollipopolis.

Linna on her first ride EVER at Mall of America's Nickelodeon Universe.

Activities that Cost a Little Cash:

Kindermusik - I could go on and on talking about how great this place is, and Linna's teacher Miss Kim is one of her favorite people. I am so happy we bring Linna to this class every Tuesday morning. Kindermusik offers discounts on classes, so make sure you check the website!

The Little Gym of Edina - For almost a year, Linna and I look forward to her "Birds" class at The Little Gym Every Wednesday. There is SO much for the kiddos to climb on, explore, etc., and with all the music, singing, and dancing involved, the cost to attend class is totally worth it!

(Linna and Teacher Tracy at The Little Gym of Edina)

Sea Life Minnesota - We have a annual membership to Sea Life at the Mall of America, because an annual membership pays for itself in a couple visits. This is a fun place to stop after Toddler Tuesday, or just a great way to spend a gloomy Minnesota morning or afternoon.

Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America - We took Linna on her first ride here at 17-months, and had a blast spending our morning at Nickelodeon Universe. If you purchase an unlimited ride wristband online, you can save $6!

Minnesota Zoo - Even in the winter, the animals are still at the Minnesota Zoo, doin' their thang! The zoo offers storytimes, bird shows, and other activities for the kids to do throughout the day. Bring a bagged lunch, and make your trip to the zoo an all-day event!

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) - We are involved with Minnetonka's ECFE and LOVE it! Our ECFE tuition program is on a sliding-fee scale, so no one is ever turned away. We attend class every Friday, and I love that it's preparing our 17-month-old for "real" school when she's older. Look for an ECFE in your community!

Where is your favorite place to take the kiddos in the Twin Cities???


  1. Edinborough Park in Edina is a great option too. It's only a few dollars and has play spots for toddlers through elementary aged kids!

  2. I need to check that place out! I've heard great things. How much is it, do you know????

  3. I have a 14 mth old and the toddler area at Eagles Nest in New Brighton is SO much better than the one at Edinborough. Edinborough is better for older kids I think. My little guy spends at least 2 hours at Eagles Nest and loves every minute. And it's $5.50 (same with Edinborough).

  4. For something easy and free in winter, we like to pop into Como - parking and admission are free. Sometimes we just like to check out the nice tropical area and then head over to the attached Conservatory - there's a children's room there with some fun exhibits, too. Warmth and humidity is key this time of year. ;)

  5. I love taking my kiddos to the story times that they have at the libraries as well as to the play areas that they have at the malls. I also am part of a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group where every other Tuesday I get to have some adult mommy time with other mommies in the same season of life as myself and the kiddos get to have play time with kids their age in separate rooms. The kids get to go on buggie rides, do crafts, have gym time, and just open play time and the mommies get a breakfast buffet, speakers, crafts, and fellowship with other moms for 2 hours.
    Pamela Stoltenberg, Prior Lake