It’s about time to start wrapping up summer vacation and preparing for the new school year. However, there is still just enough time to squeeze in something fun. Check your last minute to-do list and cross off a few of the most important: five fun things to do before school starts in Minnesota.
Lady of the Lake Paddlewheel Boat Cruises
Docked in Excelsior
Excelsior, MN 55331
Price: $10 for adults/$6 children age 4 to 12/free for children younger than age 4.
Public cruises on the historic sternwheeler Lady of the Lake promise relaxing boat trips down Lake Minnetonka. The cruise begins in Excelsior and continues through the bays and harbors of Lake Minnetonka. Cruises take place from Memorial Day weekend through the end of the Minnesota fall color season. There is a full bar and snacks available as well as a boater’s box lunch that can be purchased (if requested in advance). The Lady of the Lake Cruises are also available for special events and catering. It is recommended that reservations are made in advance even for the public cruises.
Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
Minnesota Historical Society
43411 Oodena Drive
Onamia MN 56359
Price: $8 adults/$7 seniors and college students/$6 children ages 6 to 17/free for children age 5 and younger and MHS members
The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post is open through Oct. 31, and the trading post is open all year except for January. This museum features exhibits and original artwork of the Ojibwe culture. Arts, crafts and activities here include beading, games and puzzles. Take home authentic and original artwork, birchbark and quillwork products after you peruse exhibits that tell the story of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and their journey to settle in Northern Minnesota.
A maze’n Farmyard
57649 State Highway 55
Eden Valley, MN, 55329
In addition to being filled with cuddly farm animals, A maze’n Farmyard offers a ton of fun activities and features to keep parents and kids busy for the whole day. In addition to the hayloft, goat bridge and pigeon coop, explore a 20,000-square-foot maze of trails and towers and a mini-maze for younger children who may not be ready to be completely lost yet. Mini golf, a 150-foot-long giant slide and a snack bar guarantee a great end-of-summer day for kids.
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Bluffscape Amish Tours
102 E. Beacon Street
Lanesboro, MN, 55949
Price: $30 for adults/$20 for teens age 13 to 19/$10 for children age 6 to 12/free for children 5 and younger./$1 off the ticket if you mention the website/Groups of 10 or more are eligible for week-day discounts.
Bluffscape Amish Tours, part of the largest Old Order Amish community in Minnesota, are available until the end of November, which makes it a perfect before-school-starts activity. During the three-hour narrated tour, visitors travel to farms and retail shops in Lanesboro, Canton and Harmony as well as Austin’s Mohair Goat Farm. Take home Amish crafts, baskets, furniture, and canned and baked items. Call ahead for reservations to visit.
Paul Bunyan Land
17553 State Highway 18
Brainerd, MN 56401
Price: $14.95 for adults and children/senior citizens $12.95/free children age 2 and younger are free.
The 26-foot-tall Paul Bunyan statue has been greeting visitors by name for almost 60 years. Many Minnesotans that visited as children, carry on the family tradition with their own children. Explore tons of amusement park rides and attractions for small children, teens and adults from tilt a whirl to the ferris wheel, kiddie canoes to the climbing wall. Although the amusement park closes after Labor Day, there are special holiday events in October and December here.
Christina Majaski is a full-time legal assistant and freelance writer for online and print publications. She has an obsession for all things related to social media and invites you to follow along with her on Twitter @cmajaski. She currently resides with her daughter in central Minnesota. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.