It might be hard to believe, but soon the snow will melt and give way to buds and shoots of green grass. The official first day of spring is March 20. While our weather may not feel like it yet, spring-like temperatures will slowly arrive in the Twin Cities, along with a number of fantastic family events and activities to enjoy.
25th Annual Sugarbush Pancake Brunch and Maple Syrup Tours
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318
This is event is sure to become a family tradition and is not to be missed. The brunch, complete with pancakes topped with butter, pecans and last year’s maple syrup, sausage links, coffee or juice is served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27. After filling up on the pancakes, stroll through the Maple trees where the kids or adults can tap a spile into a trunk, dump sap from the blue bags attached to many of the trees into the large vat of sap, and see the huge “oven” that cooks down the sap, eventually turning it into thick, sticky, sweet goodness for next year’s pancake breakfast. And don’t forget to look for all the little bulbs pushing their way up through the dirt and snow; a sure sign of spring. Tours are free with paid admission. Admission is included in cost of breakfast.
Hyland Lake Park Reserve
10145 Bush Lake Road
Raptor Release Event
Each May, the University of Minnesota Raptor Center releases rehabilitated raptors back into the wild. The event takes place in beautiful Hyland Park, a part of the Three Rivers Park District on May 7, 2011, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to the actual release, there is music, educational activities for children and live eagles, hawks, owls and falcons with docents nearby to answer any questions. Of course, there’s also the fantastic playground at Hyland Park, affectionately dubbed, Chutes and Ladders. Free event.
Prior Lake Egg Hunt
5000 Kop Parkway
Prior Lake, MN
Egg Hunt Info
If you are looking for a fun-filled egg hunt, Prior Lake’s egg hunt at Lakefront Park is the one for you. The egg hunt is divided into three age groups. So, no one has to worry that a 9-year-old is going to plow over a 3-year-old to get to that pink, plastic, candy-filled egg. Besides the egg hunt, there’s fun family music and entertainment, pony rides, inflatable bouncy structures, and police cars and fire trucks to tour. The event takes place on April 16, 2011, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Free event.
Minnesota Zoo Farm Babies
13000 Zoo Blvd.
Apple Valley, MN 55124
Farm Babies Website
From April 1 through April 30, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can enjoy spring on the farm, the Wells Fargo Family Farm at the Minnesota Zoo, that is. See just born baby chicks, goat kids, piglets, lambs, calves and bunnies. Is anything cuter than a tiny, pink squealing piglet? On the weekend of April 22 and 23, there will be children’s activities, as well. It may be a hike out to the farm, but the Zoo’s farm is full of interesting learning opportunities, including milking demonstrations. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, you and the family can catch a ride on a trailer, pulled by a tractor, which runs back and forth from the farm to the grain elevator from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Free with paid admission.
Cinco de Mayo
Riverview Economic Development Association
176 Cesar Chavez St.
Saint Paul, MN 55107
District Del Sol Website
Cinco de Mayo, or May 5th, marks the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It’s largely celebrated in Puebla and the U.S. The Saint Paul celebration is one of the top 10 Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the country. Families with children of all ages are sure to enjoy the brightly colored floats and costumes in the Fiesta Parade. It’s a great opportunity to explore a new culture, tasting various Mexican foods, listening to music, viewing traditional costumes and dances. The parade will take place on Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to Noon. For the car enthusiasts, there’s even a low-rider car show from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Event is free.
Flint Hills International Children’s Festival
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
345 Washington St
Saint Paul, MN 55102
The Flint Hills International Children’s Festival is an amazing event. At this celebration of culture, which takes place in the beautiful Rice Park, Landmark Center Plaza and the Ordway, there isn’t much left out. You’ll find food, music, costumes and performances from many cultures, but there’s also science, art and history. Everything but the food and a few select performances in the Ordway are free. The many hands-on activities are great for children of all ages, and the butterfly house never fails to delight both the young and the old. The four indoor performances cost a mere $5 per person and sell out quickly, but you can see a number of interesting performances outside for free.
Model Railroad Show and Hobby Sale
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Twin City Model Railroad Museum
1021 Bandana Blvd E, Suite 222
Saint Paul, MN 55108
Railroad Museum Website
If you have train-crazed kids, you will enjoy this event. There will be over 200 tables of new and used scale models. Antiques, collectibles, toys, books, anything and everything you ever wanted to know about model trains will be on display and/or sale on May 14, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $6, but children under 5 are free. Plus paid admission from the sale gets you in free at the Twin City Model Railroad Museum on the same day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Art in Bloom
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA)
2400 Third Avenue South,
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Art In Bloom
The event where art imitates art; that is to say, where flower arrangements made to look like a piece of art in the MIA. It’s beautiful, creative and smells lovely, but it’s also crowded. So, if large groups of people maneuvering around exquisite, expensive, one-of-a-kind pieces of art with kids in tow unnerves you, this is not the event for you. If you’re alright with this scenario, by all means go and enjoy this fabulous event. Regardless, the MIA is a wonderful place to go with the kiddos, especially when nothing special is going on. There’s a glassed-in Family Center with creative toys, books, computers, a bathroom, a nursing room, big pillows, couches, chairs, tables and high chairs. And it’s located directly across from a small D’amico & Sons outpost where you can grab a bite to eat and drink, then slip into the family room to eat it, while the little ones snack and play. Be sure to try the age appropriate scavenger hunt when there. Ask the Information desk across from the Family Center for more information. Art in Bloom runs Thursday, April 28 to Sunday, May 1, 2011. The MIA is always free, unless you go to one of the scheduled events.
Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law. Originally a Texan, Anna now resides in the Twin Cities with her husband, two young sons and a menagerie of pets. You can find Anna at www.motherlylaw.com, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.