School is out, which means plenty of free time for the youngsters. Instead of playing video games all summer, consider checking out some of the places listed below. Not only are the locations inexpensive, but they’re also fun for the whole family. Nothing beats an inexpensive day trip to a new place.
4801 S. Minnehaha Park Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Minnehaha Park is one of the most popular parks in the Minneapolis area, and with good reason. A scenic creek and waterfall runs through the center of the park. In addition, visitors can spend hours among the trails and gardens that run throughout the park. There is no entrance fee at the park and there is a restaurant on the grounds. Parking is metered.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive
St. Paul, MN 55103
The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory has been a mainstay in St. Paul for more than 100 years. The property features much of what you would expect at a zoo, including birds, polar bears, monkeys and seals. The conservatory area includes many exotic plants and trees, including bonsai and seasonal flowers. The zoo is free to visitors, though a small donation is suggested.
21899 County 118 Road
Preston, MN 55965
Located roughly two hours from the Twin Cities, Historic Forestville transports visitors from 2013 to 1899. The town, which was originally a rural trade center, lets families glimpse into an earlier time. During the 1800s, Forestville had a population of about 50 people. Today, reenactors dress in period attire and help visitors to picture what life would have been like more than 100 years ago. Guided tours last about an hour and cost about $7. Visit the Forestville tours page for more information.
29842 County 30
Harmony, MN 55939
Niagara Cave is filled with a waterfall, stalactites and several fossils, many of which are more than 400 million years old. In order to traverse the cave, visitors should be able to walk a mile and climb about 250 stairs. The hour-long guided tour is not wheelchair accessible. Adult fees begin at about $12, and tours leave roughly every 20 minutes.
Hyland Lake Park Reserve
10145 Bush Lake Road
Bloomington, MN 55438
Located in Bloomington, the Hyland Lake Park Reserve has an 18-hole disc golf course for older children and an extensive playground for younger children. In fact, the playground consists of 16,000 feet of slides, tunnels and towers, according to kidsplayparks.com. In addition, the park is home to the Richardson Nature Center. The reserve is maintained by the Three Rivers Park District.
Kristyn Gansen is a freelance writer covering all things Minneapolis. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.