Saturday, May 14, 2011

{Budget Family Fun} FREE Admission to the MInnesota History Center

Where: Minnesota History Center- St. Paul MN

What: On Tuesday nights from 5-8 pm the Minnesota History Center is offering FREE admission for everyone. 

More Info:

"An interactive museum with both permanent and changing exhibits, the Minnesota History Center hosts concerts, lectures, family days and other special events throughout the year. The building is also home to the Minnesota Historical Society library and archives, a research destination for schoolchildren, family historians and academics."  ~MHC Website.

Outdoor Fun With the Little One

I have been recently surprised by something: a couple people have asked me how I find things to do in the Twin Cities- specifically how do I find places to go to explore the natural world around our home here in Fridley. 

This has kind of shocked me; I am used to being the newbie here, and often find myself at a loss as to locations of cities and attractions people are talking about, even after three years here in Minnesota.  However, I think that we transplants to the are have a surprising advantage over  native Minnesotans or long time residents.  We are forced to work to get to know our new home, and we often find ourselves simply driving around and looking at the abundant parks, museums, cities, libraries and other amenities that are perfect for families in the Twin Cities.

It seems that many local residents don't realize just how good they have it.  The sheer number of bike paths and parks is a striking contrast to our former home in MI-- even before the current budget and housing issues there.  When you are from an area, you often forget or overlook a lot of the fun things to do, simply because you have visited them in the past, or don't have the incentive to learn new places and people.  It is only now that we have moved away that we have come to appreciate several of the museums back home and have visited them on vacations. 

So-- my astonishment aside from being a source for things to do in the Twin Cities caused me to take a few minutes to write down where I really do look for events and activities, and I was surprised at the number of things that I do when I am antsy to get out of the house.

Facebook Pages:

Eastman Nature Center-- This Nature Center is a part of the Elm Creek Park Reserve in Dayton, MN and has a wonderful nature center (currently closing to build a new facility) and has great family programming and miles of trails. Their Facebook page is often updated with new activities and photos quite often, and it seems that there is always something going on up there in summer and winter.

The National Eagle Center, which is about an hour south of the Twin Cities in Wabasha,  is also near the home of Red Wing pottery.  I have never been that far south along the river, but a day trip is soon in the works.  Their Facebook page has abundant photos, links to live webcams of bald eagle nests and flooding along the Mississippi and although there is a charge to get into the center, the prices appear reasonable. 

A lot of the stuff I find otherwise is through the Three Rivers Parks District website, which I have used to find a lot of my locations for  photo sessions when my clients live in areas that I'm not familiar with.  There is a wonderful clickable map, a page that lists activities by a wide variety of criteria and there are events geared for kids as young as 2-5, photos and maps of trails and features in each of the parks.Some I am really excited to visit this summer are the Gale Woods Farm, as well as another visit to Norenburg Gardens on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. 

In a couple weeks I am also having a session at the nature center down in St. Louis Park-- Westwood Hills. I've never been there either, and I found it by visiting the city's website and looking at their map of parks and my knowledge of the general area where my client's live.  This is one area where I have had something forcing me to venture out of my comfort zone here in the north metro, where otherwise I might never have visited some really lovely places.

Other places we've been and like is the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge's Bloomington Visitor's Center and trails, which is a nice contrast to the Mall of America down there in Bloomington, and was first visited driving around a sleeping baby while waiting to pick up the Hubby from the airport. 

State Parks:  Us Minnesota Westons make it a policy that every year we try to visit a Minnesota State Park on National Get Outdoors Day on June 11th when all 72 Minnesota State Parks and Recreation Areas have FREE admission.  Yup-- free. We typically head to Ft. Snelling State Park to see the recreationists and hear the cannon fire.

Other places we love include Minnehaha Falls, Hidden Falls Regional Park, and we've driven the all the way from our house to Minnehaha on East River Road, which takes you to some really great scenery and makes me want a river-going boat. :)

As Noah grows and matures, so many new adventures have opened up for us, and I am so excited to see what we will discover next.  I'm so happy to get to share these adventures with anyone who reads here!

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