As we start preparing for school, we seem to have more to do and less time to do it. Here are five sure-fire day trips in Minnesota so your kids will have something to remember about their summer experiences.
Climb A Fire Tower
Forest History Center
2609 County Road 76
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
(218) 327-4482

Guided Tour: Daily through Labor Day at 10:45 a.m., noon and 1:15 p.m. Open Saturdays only Sept. through April.
Price: $9 adults, $7 seniors and students, $6 children ages 6-17, free age 5 and under

Take a 60 minute guided tour of a 1900s-era logging camp. Learn to identify every tree commonly found in northern Minnesota from interpretive signs along the site’s trails. Climb a 100-foot fire tower and win a “Squirrel Card” signed by the “Tower Man.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Explore Petroglyphs
Jeffers Petroglyphs Historic Site
27160 County Road 2
Comfrey, MN 56019
(507) 628-5591

Guided Tour: Daily at 10:30 a.m., 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
Adventures in Nature program: Daily at 2:00 p.m.
Price: $7 adults, $6 seniors and students, $5 children ages 6-17, free age 5 and under

Witness first-hand historical evidence of man in Minnesota dating back to 7,000 years ago. You will find 5,000 petroglyphs preserved in hard rock outcroppings southwest of New Ulm depicting arrows, atlatls, buffalo, deer, elk, humans, thunderbirds and turtles. Visitors have the option of guided tours, family-friendly programming or self-guided tours along two nature trails of about one-quarter mile in length. Be aware that the center is open only on Saturdays after Labor Day.

Go Spelunking
Mystery Cave State Park and Forestville
21071 County 118
Preston, MN 55965
(507) 352-5111

Summer Dates: Sundays through Wednesdays, 9:00 a.m-8:00 p.m.; Thursdays through Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Sign up on-line.
Tour Price: $12 over 12 years of age, $7 children ages 5-12
Vehicle Permit Price: $25 yearly, $5 daily

Bring your junior spelunkers on a tour to discover stalactites, stalagmites and underground pools right here in Minnesota. Park naturalists offer a variety of Mystery Cave tours throughout the summer, but only on weekends this fall and next spring. The one-hour scenic tour covers three-quarter miles of walking on modern paved trails and bridges. Other tours involve flashlights provided by the park over longer, less developed and more physically challenging regions of the twelve miles of underground caverns. Bring proper shoes for hiking and clothes for a 48 degree Fahrenheit climate. There is more to see above ground at the historic Forestville, a village established in 1853 and restored to its original state by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Related:  Best Toddler-Friendly Activities For Minnesota For Summer

Go Fossil Hunting
Hill Annex Mine State Park
56956 Scenic Highway 7
Bigfork, MN 56628
(218) 247-7215

Date: Fridays and Saturdays at 10 a.m., now through the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend.
Price: $10 over 12 years of age, $6 children ages 5-12

Find sharks’ teeth, snail shells, clams and other Cretaceous creatures that lived in the ocean 86 million years ago when a sea covered the area. Wear old clothing and be sure to bring drinking water, bug spray and sunscreen depending on the weather. Buckets, shovels and even a screen to sift out the artifacts can be helpful. Park rangers are on hand to help you find and identify the fossils. You get to keep what you find, but you must call the park to reserve this tour.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Go Cliff Climbing
Tettegouche State Park
5702 MN-61
Silver Bay, MN 55614
(218) 353-8800

Dates: Sat., Aug. 29 and Sun, Aug. 30 at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Price: $10 per climber ages 10 and older

Start at the top of a steep stony cliff and then be lowered down. No experience required—only grit and determination. Parents or guardians must accompany climbers under age 18. The views of the North Shore are spectacular overlooking Shovel Point. Another stop has to be the High Falls of Baptism River as it cascades 60 feet down a rocky hillside. Hikers can enjoy beautiful trails overlooking Sawtooth Mountains and Palisade Valley. The park also offers many opportunities for fishing and bird watching this summer as well as this fall.

Related: Best Family-Friendly Museum Exhibits In Minnesota

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at