Thursday, February 27, 2014

Favorite Twin Cities Kid Spots: Cold Weather Edition

Last month Erin asked if anyone had questions for her to answer on her blog, so I asked about her favorite Twin Cities spots for kids.  We're always looking for new places to check out, and my work day is going to get a little shorter in a couple of weeks, giving Miss A, Little J and I even more time to explore.  I loved reading Erin's post (and the comments) and decided to do my own list of our favorite places in the Twin Cities to visit during the colder months (I'm planning to do another post this spring with our favorite warm weather spots).

This is by far my favorite place to take kids in the Twin Cities.  I volunteered at the MCM briefly in college, and loved it then, but I love it even more now with my own kids!  (This year I'm also a Smart Play Ambassador for the Minnesota Children's Museum, which I'm super excited about!  More to come on that soon.)  We are really close to the museum, so it's an easy spot for us to visit for even a couple of hours at a time.  My favorite times to visit are Friday and Saturday evening when the crowds are a little smaller.  You can see a few pictures from our last visit here when Creativity Jam was still going (I'm so excited that it will be back in May!).

This is also really close to our house, and free (there are boxes at the entrance to leave a donation, but everyone is welcome).  I've never been to the Minnesota Zoo, so I can't compare, but Como Zoo reminds me a lot of the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, where I spent many days as a kid (and teenager).  Como Zoo is just the right size for Miss A and Little J.  They're big enough now that we can go without a stroller, and explore for an hour or two before heading home.  The monkeys, big cats and bison are always big hits with my family.  In the winter, we all like the tropical rainforest area in the visitor's center... it's always nice and warm there!  

This is more of a warm weather thing, but Cafesjian's Carousel is also at Como Zoo.  My grandma loved carousels, and this is a fun one to ride when visiting the zoo.  Tickets are normally $2/person, but there is one day a month when rides are free (listed on their website).  

If you're home during the day, Lil' Explorer Thursday is every Thursday through the end of April from 10-noon.  We would go to this when I was home on maternity leave after Little J was born and it was a lot of fun!

3.  Public Libraries

Our favorite local library to visit is the Ramsey County Library- Roseville.  The Roseville library was recently remodeled, and it is amazing.  The children's area is separate from the rest of the library, and huge with many areas for kids to play.  I also love that the books are at just the right height for little ones to look through.  Plus there is a Dunn Bros attached to the library for times when Mommy needs a treat.
Roseville Library
There are also a number of libraries across the Twin Cities that have Smart Play Spots.  We've been to RCL- Maplewood and St. Paul- Rondo to check out Smart Play Spots, and the girls always enjoy the play areas.  The new Smart Play Spot in Woodbury is on our list of places to check out very soon!
Farmer's Market at the Maplewood Library

The MOA is not normally my favorite place, but Toddler Tuesdays are pretty great.  We've gone to these a few times when I have a day off work and the weather isn't great.  You can buy points for the rides for half price if you ask for the Toddler Tuesday discount (and the points don't expire, so sometimes I buy extra for weekend visits).  Kids also eat free at a bunch of the restaurants on Tuesdays, which is an added bonus.  We've been to play areas at a couple of other malls, but they aren't quite as exciting as the MOA.

5.  Sky Zone

This is another place to check out with little ones if you're home during the day.  The Sky Zone in Oakdale has Toddler Times on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9:30 to 11 for $4/person.  Basically Sky Zone is a trampolines, trampolines and more trampolines.  I think there are different activities for older kids, but Miss A and Little J just run and jump, jump, jump!  The last time we went, Miss A really enjoyed the foam pit, though getting out was tough for her.  This has been the most fun when we can get a group of friends to go, because it's more fun to run and jump with friends. 

This is the perfect place to visit for storytime, followed by Bread and Chocolate (or one of the other great Grand Ave restaurants) for lunch.  There's baby storytime on Tuesday, preschool storytime on Wednesday and toddler storytime on Thursday, all from 10:30-11am.  There are a number of other fun events scheduled every month if you check their website.  It's also a great place to find fun gifts for little ones.  

7.  Indoor Playgrounds

We've been to Eagles Nest in New Brighton, Lookout Ridge in Woodbury and Edinborough Park in Edina, but only visited each once.  Miss A tends to be a little timid, and doesn't really like the heights, unless someone will go with her. It's been about a year since our last visit, and Little J is quite a climber, so I think we'll have to make another trip soon.  I've also heard good things about Good Times Park in Eden Prairie.

8.  Family Days at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

I don't know that I would normally take my kids to the MIA, but the Family Days are a great time to visit.  Family Day is once a month, and there's a theme with each day.  Last year Miss A and I went to Rock the Cradle at the MIA, and had a great time.  The Rock the Cradle event for this year is on Sunday, March 2 from 11-5.  I'm looking forward to going with the girls this weekend!

For local friends, where are your favorite places to play when the weather is cold?  I'd love any suggestions!


  1. Love this list!! So many great options for places to take kids in this area. It's awesome!

  2. Awesome list! We have to get the kids together to check out some of these spots!!

  3. That would be so fun! Maybe this spring when it warms up we can plan something.