Monday, July 15
We’ve just returned from a trip to Toronto and, contrary to what I’ve been told, Canada does not feel just like the US. For example, they have taken the plunge and eliminated the penny. Prices are simply rounded up or down to the nearest five cents, so now might be the time to start that Canadian penny collection you’ve been thinking about. Single dollars do not come in paper form, either. A dollar coin is nicknamed a “Loonie” after the loon that graces one side, and their two-dollar coin is therefore nicknamed a “Toonie.” You can save several Toonies at Cafesjian’s Carousel today because the rides, normally $2 each, are free! Once you dismount your steeds, Como Park is your oyster. The zoo is always free, and a mini golf course and new pool stand ready for your amusement. You might also consider visiting the nearby Humane Society for a little face time with the furries.
Tuesday, July 16
I maintain that Lego is the greatest toy ever invented. I spent countless hours imagining and creating everything from sea monsters to interplanetary landing modules. And that was just yesterday. Today you are invited to Lego Mania at the Linden Hills library from 1-4 pm. The library supplies the Lego; you supply the design + build expertise. Once you’ve created your masterpieces, explore the Linden Hills neighborhood. There’s a nice park nearby as well as chic shops and restaurants. Visit the Wild Rumpus Bookstore for a unique experience, and enjoy lunch or dinner at Tilia. It’s one of my favorites.
Wednesday, July 17
If my childhood memory is accurate, I learned what a bicentennial is in 1976 with Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” playing in the background on my parents’ car radio. For the last 37 years, I have believed that song was about the US bicentennial. It’s not. Sir Elton recorded it for his friend, Billie Jean King, who was a member of the Philadelphia Freedoms tennis team. I kinda feel like I just found out about Pluto. One thing we can count on, however, is that the Minneapolis Aquatennial really is “The Best Days of Summer.” Today is jam-packed with free events. You can watch pro tennis downtown, visit the Bakken or Hennepin History Museums, or attend the pre--party and Torchlight Parade tonight.
Thursday, July 18
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to tell your kids that you actually saw a real, living dinosaur? Tonight you have the chance to experience a living dinosaur of another sort – a drive-in theater. Minnesota has seen 87 drive-ins in its history; we’re now down to five. And only one theater remains in the Twin Cities metro area – Valley-Hi in Lake Elmo. A family of four can experience this endangered species of Americana for under $20. If you take advantage of the $1 hot dogs or the mini Harley in the arcade, it’ll run you a few dollars more, but it might be worth it to see a dinosaur.
Friday, July 19
There is something cool about a bow and arrow. I mean, technology has advanced well beyond this weapon, and yet it maintains its appeal with hunters and recreational archers alike. You don’t see knife or spear-throwing ranges around town, so what’s so special about the bow and arrow? You can find out for yourself today during “Archery in the Parks” at William O’Brien State Park from 1-3 pm. This is a free program, but you will need a vehicle permit ($5/day or $25/year) to enter the park. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Saturday, July 20
We don’t normally consider raves to be family-friendly, but this RAVE might change that. In this case, RAVE stands for River Action Volunteer Event. These events are part river adventure, part service project. Today you can join a National Park Ranger on a river raft to explore the Coon Rapids Dam, visit an island, and search for mussels. While you’re there, you’ll work to restore habitat near the dam and on the island that you visit. This free adventure takes place from 10 am to 3 pm, and you will need to register ahead of time. If rafting isn’t your thing, check out these other events offered by the National Park Service today.
Monday, July 8
It’s been said that power is intoxicating, and that may never be more true now that the Minnesota Legislature voted to allow beer and wine sales in the Capitol Cafeteria last May. Come walk the chambers where this and numerous other laws of the land saw their humble beginnings. Guided tours of our state capitol are offered hourly 10 am to 2 pm Monday-Saturday. The tours are free, but a donation of $5 per person is suggested. Watch Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” before you go, dress your child(ren) like Bill, and recreate some scenes from the video. It could be the next big YouTube sensation.
Tuesday, July 9
I had a stuffed Smokey the Bear when I was little. I loved that bear. Smokey’s outfit resembled a park ranger’s uniform, which I think explains my urge to hug rangers when I see them. It’s not an overwhelming urge, mind you. I’ve never actually hugged one. I just kinda want to. Today a ranger will read a story at the Mississippi River Visitor Center, located inside the lobby of the Science Museum of Minnesota. After story time, borrow one of their ipods and take the 3.5-mile walking tour along the river. The walk takes you across the river to Harriet Island, up the bluff for views of St. Paul, and back down across the Smith Avenue High Bridge into Uppertown. Don’t miss Irvine Park; it’s so peaceful you might want to hug the ranger, too, when you return the ipod. Just make sure to ask them first.
Wednesday, July 10
I am an alum of the University of Minnesota, and I’ve never set foot in the Weisman Art Museum. It’s almost criminal. The building itself is a work of art; what a piece of sheet metal might look like if Pablo Picasso got a hold of it. One of the current exhibits, titled “The Youth/Dhallinyarada,” features photos of 13 Somali men working to make a positive impact on our community. This and several other exhibits can be viewed for free any day except Mondays. If you’d prefer a free tour with one of the “Weisguides,” stop by any Saturday or Sunday at 1 pm.
Thursday, July 11
John Dillinger was a Depression-era Robin Hood. He stole from the rich and gave the poor someone to root for. As you can imagine, the banks he robbed were not the most popular institutions at the time. His gang even robbed four police stations! That’s the kind of crazy one can get behind. Dillinger and other gangsters liked to hang out in St. Paul because the police protected them from the Feds, as long as they committed their crimes outside the city limits. One of their favorite haunts was a place called Castle Royal, a nightclub hidden in the caves along the Mississippi River. Tour the caves tonight, or any Thursday, at 5 pm. Tickets are $6 each, cash only, and sales begin 10 minutes before the tour.
Friday, July 12
When was the last time you went to a matinee? I’m not sure why, but to me there’s something decadent about going to a movie in the middle of the day. I mean, they’re only for rainy days and date nights, right? Today let’s throw our inhibitions to the wind and go the movies! The Northeast Library will show a feature on the big screen today . . . well, on a big wall anyway, at 1 pm. I don’t know what they’re showing, there might not be popcorn, and you’ll probably need to sit on the floor but, hey, it’s free! And you’ll be spending an afternoon at the movies. It’ll be like eating the whole bag of Doritos in one sitting.
This is not cheap, and may not be entirely family-friendly, but it looks like tons of fun! The Midwest Tomato Fest is Saturday, July 13 from 2-7 pm. Your $22 admission brings you dancing, live music, and the opportunity to throw rotten tomatoes at each other. It’s also loaded with antioxidants.
This isn’t exceptionally cheap, either, but if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to curl (and who hasn’t?) you have your chance on Sunday, July 14 at the Four Seasons Curling Club. The two-hour lesson costs $10 per person and begins at 2 pm.
Monday, July 1
My younger son has loved golf as long as I can remember, though my memory is not so good because he hit me in the forehead with a 3-wood about 5 years ago. I bled through my pores, but that’s a story for another time. It’s a beautiful day to hit the driving range! You should be able to get a bucket of balls for about $5 at your local golf course. Call ahead to make sure they have a set of kids clubs that you can borrow (our course loans them for free) and then swing away. Just make sure there’s plenty of space between your head and their clubs. Down the road, after you feel at home on the range, you can find a family course to take your skills onto the links.
Tuesday, July 2
Independence Day is something special in Richfield. It’s so special that it has its own website (richfield4thofjuly.com). A quick search for richfieldgroundhogsday.com and richfieldaprilfoolsday.com yielded no results, so I guess the Fourth of July tops their holiday heap. Today begins a three-day celebration commemorating our country’s independence from England. Tonight is family night with a kiddie parade at 5:30, a dollar picnic beginning at 6 o’clock, and a movie at 9 pm. Tomorrow brings a car show and street dance, and Thursday wraps it up with another parade, a concert and, of course, fireworks.
Wednesday, July 3
Jimmy Hill sounds like he could be a comedian; Jim Hill a political analyst. James Hill could be found on the bestseller list, while James Jerome Hill might be one of America’s Most Wanted. But James J. Hill is definitely a railroad tycoon. To prove it, he bought three lots on Summit Avenue, St. Paul’s most prestigious street, and built a 36,000 square-foot mansion overlooking his empire. My house could fit inside of his 30 times, so I gotta see this place. A 75-minute tour begins every half-hour beginning at 10 am Wednesdays – Saturdays, and Sundays 1-3:30 pm. They also offer a special “Nooks and Crannies” tour on Tuesdays at 6, 6:30 and 7 pm. Admission for children over 5 is $6; adults pay $9.
Thursday, July 4
Happy Independence Day! Between grilling, watching parades, and lighting up some Sparklers, find some time today to visit the Sanneh Foundation’s website. Sanneh offers free, week-long soccer camps in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Richfield, and Columbia Heights. Included in the camps are three hours of professional instruction per day, snacks, and a t-shirt. I love free t-shirts. Registration is required, and there are four camps starting on Monday, so take a look!
Friday, July 5
I’m guessing that a lot of people have the day off, so it’s a good time to drive down to Red Wing and climb Barn Bluff. Maybe pick up a pair of famous and fashionable Red Wing boots in town, and then hit the trails. The bluff has a number of paths of varying difficulties and lengths that lead to the summit. Bring your camera because the bluff offers postcard views of Red Wing and the Mississippi River. It takes a little over an hour to get there, but you can sell the pictures you take and get rich. Or just enjoy the day with your family. That’s good too.
The Sibley House Historic Site is Minnesota’s first official historic site. Due to the present level of funding, the buildings are open to the public only a handful of days each year. July 6 is one of those days. A program titled, “Building Minnesota: From Territory to Statehood” is offered Saturday at 2 and 3:30 pm. Adults are admitted for $7, children over 5 for $5, and those 5 and under are free.
Also happening this weekend is Free First Saturday at the Walker. This month the theme is “Urban Green.” It looks like you can walk away with a mini compost bin, bee house, and a seed bomb (!). You can also catch a Break Dancing battle at 11 am and 1 pm.
Have fun out there!
You can find #DailyAdventures on Twitter @AColdOmaha.
Greetings, Regal Guardians! That was quite a weekend of storms, wasn’t it? I, along with hundreds of thousands of our neighbors, lost power for the better part of a day and spent Saturday cleaning up the mess in our yard. We are still without an internet connection, so I’ve stolen away for a few minutes to a local coffee house to make this post. More adventures are on the way, but this will get us started.
Monday, June 24
The Seward Café was one of the few places near us that had power on Saturday morning, so we stopped in for breakfast. I was a bit skeptical when I looked at the menu because the only meat available in the place was of the “loaf” variety on the overhead speakers. (Get it? Meatloaf?) Sorry. I got the Super Red Earth and, I have to say, it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Great flavors along with great coffee; just no meat. Two outta three ain’t bad. (Get it? Meatloaf?) Afterwards, we took a stroll down the nearby Milwaukee Avenue Historic District. The history of these few blocks is fascinating, and it’s a very pleasant stroll down its pedestrian mall. There’s a small play structure along the way in case your kids don’t find “the earliest planned workers’ community in Minneapolis” as interesting as I do.
Tuesday, June 25
Another jewel that I’ve visited several times with my family is the Caponi Art Park in Eagan. The park’s founder, Anthony Caponi, is a retired Macalester College professor, sculptor and author of two books on the subject. He reminds me of an uncle who loves to host huge family gatherings, but never says a word while you’re there. Caponi just buzzes around on a golf cart and takes quiet pleasure in the families enjoying his creation. “Family Fun Tuesdays” are offered all summer long from 10-11 am. The programs change each week; today features reptiles and amphibians from Dodge Nature Center, in case you didn’t get your fill of turtles last Monday. It’s technically free to attend, but they do ask for a $4 donation. Make sure you take a walk through the grounds before you leave, and say hello to Uncle Anthony for me.
Wednesday, June 26
My older brother, Randy, built a model railroad on the ping-pong table when we were kids. At the time, I was convinced that Randy was the coolest person who would ever walk the face of the planet, but I still never got into the railroad thing. A visit to the Twin City Model Railroad Museum changed that . . . sort of. The museum is kinda like an animated photograph, ala Harry Potter. There are myriad historical scenes frozen in time, with cool little trains trucking through the pictures to add some life. I ended up charmed. It costs $6 for anyone over 5, and the museum is open daily, except Mondays. Make sure to get your hands on the “Treasure Hunt” by the cash register to guide your visit.
Thursday, June 27
Thursdays mean farmer’s markets in the Twin Cities. From St. Paul and Nicollet Mall to Centennial Lakes and Excelsior Bay, farmers set up their fresh produce for your perusal. Not only can you smell the dirt, you often have to brush it off your beets. If you head to the Excelsior Farmer’s Market, make a day of it. The market doesn’t open until 2 pm, so start with a picnic lunch in Excelsior Commons or at the Excelsior docks, then take a stroll through the picturesque town. Before shopping the market, take a ride on the Excelsior Streetcar Line for $2 each. If you go in August, you can cap the day off with a cruise on the Steamboat Minnehaha at 6 pm.
Friday, June 28
If you visited the Twin City Model Railroad Museum this week you saw a fairly accurate representation of mid-20th century Minneapolis, at least as far as railroad bridges go. Today, you can walk the Heritage Trail and see the real things. The trail takes you across the Stone Arch Bridge, with excellent views of St. Anthony Falls. The falls are roaring right now, thanks to our rainy spring. The path continues along the riverfront to the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, the first permanent bridge spanning the Mississippi River. Take a small detour from the trail on Nicollet Island and make your way to the pavilion. The decks offer enchanting views from the river’s edge. The trail wraps up on the old Main Street of St. Anthony, the original name of the settlement on this side of the river before Minneapolis swallowed it up.
May the road rise to meet you!
I spent the last 10 days on a road trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Here are three insights from the trip:
1) "Fireflies" by Owl City is kind of like an old joke. The first few times you listen to it, it puts a smile on your face. The next 10-20 times you hear it, you groan when the first line is delivered and plead, "Not this one again!" And then, after some time and distance pass, you perk up when you hear the familiar cadence and join right in vocalizing with the performer whether you want to or not.
2) The first 10-hour car ride is a fun-filled extravaganza of 20 Questions, Yellow Car, and The License Plate Game. The second consecutive 10-hour driving day teaches you how to effectively problem-solve with a group.
3) Never promise your kids they will swim when you get to the hotel. All it takes is one kid with a sweet tooth and a weak stomach to make you a liar.
Next week my kids and I go back to school, so this will likely be my last post for a while. Thanks for reading and sending your ideas my way!
Monday, August 20
I mentioned the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge a couple of weeks ago, but today's program is so unique I wanted to highlight it again. In an effort to demonstrate the ease with which you can access natural areas via public transportation, the MVNWR developed "Going Wild: Rail to Refuge." This program provides the chance to hang with Park Ranger Judy Geck as she escorts you on the train from the Nicollet Mall Light Rail Station to the wildlife refuge. Once you arrive, a scenic tour, ranger program, and guided hike are all yours for the taking. There is no charge for Going Wild (you can't say that every day), but the train will cost about $2. Meet Judy at the station at 1 o'clock, and you'll return about 4.
Tuesday, August 21
When was the last time you went rollerskating? Was there anything better than combing your hair back into a perfect feather before hitting the rink with your flashing wheels and almost holding the hand of that special skater you'd had your eye on for the last few weeks? Now you can introduce your kids to the thrill that is rollerskating, and do it on a budget. The Roller Garden in St. Louis Park hosts "Two Dollar Tuesdays" from 6-8 pm. Admission is $2 and skate rental is another $2, but "Four Dollar Tuesdays" doesn't sound as good or as cheap. If you can't make it today, there is also "Summer Skating Fun" scheduled Wednesday through Friday this week from noon to 3 pm, but that'll cost you $8 each.
Wednesday, August 22
My grandpa used to complain that rock & roll was ruining the future of this country. Today history is ruining rock & roll. Well, ruining bluegrass anyway. In a classic case of a win-win . . . win scenario, the Mill City Museum opens up its Ruins Courtyard to the Roe Family Singers for Mill City Live 2012. Not only will you catch some bluegrass in a sweet setting, the price of admission also opens the doors of the museum to you from 4-9 pm. And, as if that wasn't enough already, admission is discounted to only $5 per person. Win, win, win. Folk rockers Rogue Valley perform next Wednesday.
Have a great school year! See you next summer.