The North Pole now tilts toward the sun, which lingers in our sky for over 15 hours every day. Its glow remains on the western horizon well past 9 o’clock, and daytime highs skyrocket into the mid-to-upper 70’s. It must be summertime in the Twin Cities! Here are some free or low-cost adventures you can share with your family over the next few fabulous fortnights.

Monday, June 16

Let’s be honest. On the “Spectrum of Awesome Moments” during any given week, Monday mornings tend to anchor the “Not at all awesome” end of said spectrum, right? But that just might change this summer thanks to Bloomington’s “Monday Morning Kids” series! At 10:30 am every Monday, entertainers including musicians, yo-yo masters, and DJ’s will be on hand to start your week off on the right foot. Today the Minnesota Zoomobile brings its “entertaining environmental experience” to Moir Park. All programs in the series are free! So, while Monday mornings may never occupy the “Most awesomest thing ever!” spot, they might at least trump nose-hair-plucking day.


Tuesday, June 17

Remember the song "99 Luftballons," later recorded in English as "99 Red Balloons?" It tells the story of a nuclear war that breaks out when a bunch of floating balloons are mistaken for missiles. The song was recorded over 30 years ago, but its Wikipedia page was last modified two weeks ago. Apparently we, as a species, are fascinated by red balloons. Or maybe we're fascinated by stories. You're covered either way at the Red Balloon Bookshop. If you visit today at 6:30 pm you can meet Jacqueline West, author of the "Books of Elsewhere" series. If Elsewhere isn't your thing, you are invited to fold dragon origami, sign up for one of several summer reading programs, or secure a ticket to meet Chris Colfer on July 16. He's known as Kurt Hummel on Glee, but has several titles to his credit as well. When you're done at the bookshop, take a stroll along Grand Avenue. It's got a bit more personality than most streets, and you just might find yourself a real red balloon.

Wednesday, June 18

If you're an American Idol fan you're familiar with this scene: A camera focuses in closely on Ryan Seacrest's face as he reveals the city they're in holding auditions. He holds nothing back on the big finish, "This . . . is American Idol!" while the camera pans back to reveal thousands of Idol hopefuls crowded around Mr. Seacrest. At these words the crowd breaks into wild applause and those close enough to the host get their 15 seconds of fame. That scene will be shot here, today, at Mariucci Arena! But that's not the Daily Adventure. Idol just hasn't been here for eight years, so I thought I should mention it. The adventure for today is Cromulent Shakespeare Company's performance of The Comedy of Errors on Maple Grove's Town Green. The performance is free and begins at 7 pm, rain or shine. Right before the show starts stand up and say, with feeling, "This . . . is A Comedy of Errors!" I dare ya.

Thursday, June 19

There's been debate recently about a new legislative office building near the capitol. Some say the proposed design is too expensive and a new building is unnecessary. I'm sure there were similar debates back in 1892 when construction on the Landmark Center began, but what a building it turned out to be! Soaring spaces, marble and intricate woodwork abound. Take a free, hour-long tour of this castle today at 11 am. The history of the place tells like a good story - grand beginnings eventually muddied by gangsters and bureaucracy until its destruction seemed inevitable. I'll let your tour guide finish the story but > spoiler alert < the Landmark still stands.  

Friday, June 20

I'm a teacher. I've witnessed first-hand what can happen when two kids who are just learning to play the violin decide to perform a duet on talent day. I've also witnessed first-hand what happens when the MacPhail Center for Music gets ahold of budding musicians. It's pretty amazing. So I feel like I can fully endorse the free MacPhail Allegro Orchestra Festival performance in Mill Ruins Park today at 1 pm. There's lots to see and do before or after the concert as well. The memorial to the victims of the 35W Bridge collapse, Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum are all right there and open to the public, not to mention Mill Ruins Park itself. And, while you're down there, consider leaving a blanket on the hill to save your spot for one of the best Fourth of July fireworks displays in town. I'm sure it will still be there when you come back.

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Daily Adventures: Toddler Flicks, IndiVisible, Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, and Universe in the Park