Monday, July 14
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game takes place tomorrow at Target Field. It's been 30 years since the Twin Cities played host to this mid-summer extravaganza, so it's kind of a big deal. The game itself is sold out, and the home run derby would run you about $200 each, but there are opportunities for families to get a taste of the big game. Today and tomorrow you can get FanFest tickets for $10 each. You can't purchase these online, but I was told they are available in person at the Convention Center. For a literal taste of baseball, visit the Block Party in Butler Square. Today from 3-7 pm four celebrity chefs will compete in a quest to create the best ballpark hot dog. I'm most excited to try Graham Elliot's entry, mostly because I'm a fan of Master Chef. Maybe I can get him to sign it? The block party is free to enter, but food tickets are five for $20. At those prices he'd better sign it. Tomorrow at 1 pm the All-Star Parade makes its way from Nicollet and 13th to Target Field.
Tuesday, July 15
Tuesday is the day to visit the Minnesota History Center if you're ever going to. Admission is free from 5-8 pm. The current featured exhibit, "Toys of the 50's, 60's and 70's," affords you the opportunity to reunite with Stretch Armstrong, Mr. Potato Head and the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. Speaking of robots, Robot Mania is the theme of History HiJinx, a make-it and take-it craft program offered from 11 am to 3 pm on weekdays. If you stay into the evening you can learn and practice a new dance to live music during "Nine Nights of Music," which now might be more appropriately called "Seven More Nights of Music." If you do go when admission is charged, consider purchasing a family membership. For $75 you gain access to Mill City Museum, Fort Snelling and 23 other museums around the state as well as numerous activites sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society. After two visits, history will repaid itself. Sorry, that was a stretch.
Wednesday, July 16
I like construction cranes. Those tall, skinny structures hovering over a new building make me feel alive. Well, they make me feel like I live in a vibrant place anyway. So I'm excited that the third-largest crane on the planet is in Minneapolis right now. The crane itself takes three weeks to assemble and will be used in building the new Vikings stadium. You don't need to be a fan of the Vikings, or the stadium, to enjoy a visit to this site. It's got lots of stuff kids love - dirt, giant trucks and hundreds of workers scurrying about their business. We stood and stared for a good 30 minutes. It's tough to get a good glimpse from street level, but if you make your way to the top of the parking ramp at 1010 S. 7th Street (also known as the Metrodome Square Building) you get a nice birds-eye view of the action. Don't forget your camera (like I did), your Viking horn or your Hilda hat. You know, if you've got one.
Thursday, July 17
Have you ever had a nightmare where you're trapped in a maze and can't find your way out? You might after you visit the hedge maze at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It's that good. I've been through it twice and still feel like I should bring a flare gun with me next time, just in case. The sculpture garden gives the Walker a run for its money, too, and I haven't even mentioned the gardens. Well, I guess I just did. They also currently offer a butterfly exhibit (for an extra $3), 32 temporary glass sculptures spread throughout the gardens, and up-close bug and butterfly photos in the Restaurant Gallery through this weekend. Live music can be had on select nights, and hands-on activities (focused on nectar sippers in July) are set up on weekends throughout the summer. The Arboretum is a nice way to spend a day and it's free today after 4:30. That'll save you $12; kids 12 and under are always free. Sweet dreams!
Friday, July 18
Normally hiking in a Louisville swamp wouldn't appeal to me. Makes me imagine bugs bigger'n my pooch and twice as mean. But this Louisville Swamp is actually a floodplain in Shakopee along the Minnesota River, and today's hike is led by a ranger from the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, so I figure they'll probably steer us away from the worst of the bites and rashes. The five-mile hike passes old farm and homestead sites as well as a climbable glacial boulder. The adventure is scheduled from 9 am to 1 pm, and you're supposed to bring water and a snack along with your bug spray and hiking boots. Sounds serious . . . seriously fun! The hike is free, but register here so they know you're comin' to the swamp.
Saturday, July 19
Check out an authentic moon rock brought back by Apollo 15 astronauts at the Minnesota Astronomical Society's Star Party tonight. This party will be hoppin' from 7-10 pm at the Eagle Lake Observatory in Baylor Regional Park near Norwood Young America. Quick Trivia Time: Two towns merged in 1997 to create this city. One of their main businesses is processing mail-in rebates, so they have lots of zip codes. One of NYA's zip codes is 55555. Now back to the party - there will be photos, illustrations and maps of all the Apollo missions and, I would assume, you can look at stars if you want. It is an observatory after all. Party on!
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