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Family adventures: Creepy-crawly exhibition, Trains & Tots and ExploraDome

Even if you're sticking close to home during spring break this year, you can still explore some exotic locales. Here are a few things happening in the Twin Cities that might transport you to far-away places.

Monday, March 30: Thailand and Malaysia

Minnesota bugs are relatively innocuous. Our climate insures that they never really get too "meaty," and not many of them can kill you. But poisonous bugs tend to be pretty, so we generally end up with small, dreary critters in our neck of the woods. This is definitely not the case at the Creepy Crawly Exhibit at the Textile Center. This installation features big and colorful bugs, mostly from Thailand and Malaysia, pinned to the walls to evoke textile patterns and wallpaper. The show is free and open until May 16 from 10 am-7 pm M-Th, and 10 am-5 pm on Friday and Saturday. Don't worry, the website states that the artist, Jennifer Angus, is an insect advocate so I'm confidant no crawlies were harmed in the making of this art.

Tuesday, March 31: Sweden

IKEA started as a small furniture company in southern Sweden. Now they promise a "fun children's activity" every Tuesday at 1:30 pm, and kids 12 and under can get a free meal all day long with no purchase necessary! Now, I have no idea what this fun children's activity might be, so it's a bit of a gamble. Maybe this counts a detour to Vegas? At worst, we'll get a free plate of Swedish meatballs and the fun activity is trying to find our way out of the store without following the marked path. The best case scenario is that I refurnish my home office for $17.98. I'll take that bet. At 7 pm tonight, author Jane Yolen will present and sign books at the Red Balloon Bookshop. Her book, Owl Moon, is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, April 1: Seattle

James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway stretched all the way from St. Paul to Seattle. This railroad was so important economically that Hill was nicknamed "The Empire Builder," but his mighty engines of prosperity had trouble turning around on their own. That's where roundhouses came in. A roundhouse had a rotating platform that could turn an engine around or direct it toward a maintenance bay. The Jackson Street Roundhouse no longer serves this purpose, but it does host a Tots & Trains event today from 10am to noon. It's a little pricey at $10 for adults, $8 for kids 5-15 and $5 for 2-4 year-olds, but in addition to the displays they offer a play area, craft, story, snack and coffee. You might want to check out the video on their site before going to provide some context for what you'll see.

Thursday, April 2: France

You've probably heard of impressionistic painting - Monet, Renoir, and Degas painted in this style - but there was also an impressionism movement in music born about the same time, and all of it came out of France. The idea is the same in both disciplines: the artist suggests the theme of the work rather than clearly establishing a formal image for the audience. Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are considered the pioneers of impressionistic music and some of their work, along with a composition by Francis Poulenc, will fill Courtroom 317 during a free concert at Landmark Center today from noon to 1pm. I wonder if anybody ever does impressions of impressionistic artists? Maybe that'll be the next event series at Landmark Center. Maybe not.  

Friday, April 3: The Edge of the Universe!

This day of space exploration lasts well into the evening. Would you expect anything less for such a lofty journey? Start at 3 pm in the ExploraDome at the Bell Museum of Natural History. This trip titled, Zoom! From Earth to the Edge of the Universe does just that. Fortunately, it also brings you back. The ticket costs $6 per adult and $4 per child over 3 years of age. Then it's off to the Science Museum of Minnesota where you can catch Journey to Space in the Omni Theater on the hour from 3-9pm ($8 adults, $7 kids). If you're so inclined you can also check out the special exhibit, Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience. If you go that route look into a family membership to make it more cost effective. Finally, head to the Tate Laboratory of Physics and Astronomy on the U of M campus. There will be a short presentation on eclipses at 8pm in room 131 followed by the chance to skygaze with their telescopes.

Follow on Twitter @AColdOmaha for last-minute updates and unexpected discoveries. 

Daily Adventures: Candlelight & Ice, Sing-a-Long Sound of Music, Victorian Christmas and Belly Dancing

Tuesday, December 30

Is there anything that feels cooler than really getting your spin on at the rollerskating rink? You feel like you're  flying, swooping in and out of air traffic, the air gently rustling your finely feathered hair . . . Sorry, I think I flashed back to the mid 80's there for a second. Believe it or not, there is something even cooler than this, though. Getting your spin on at the rollerskating rink . . . while wearing a cape! That's right, it's Super Hero Day at the Roller Garden from Noon to 4 pm! Admission is $6 each - bring your own blades if you can to save yourself another $3 for skate rental. It's also Winter Fun Day at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge with both indoor and outdoor activities planned all day until 4 pm. Muppets Most Wanted is the free Toddler Flick at MOA at 11:30 am, and the Minnesota History Center is free from 5-8 pm tonight.

Wednesday, December 31

I really only remember a handful of New Year's Eves that I've experienced. I clearly remember the year we partied like it was 1999 because, well, it was. We hosted a party and, unbeknownst to us, one of our friends sneaked to the basement. At midnight he threw the master switch on our fuse box to simulate a Y2K power disaster. Haha. Other memorable NYE's have involved a walk around Wood Lake Nature Center they call Candlelight and Ice. Now, this is what we've done the last couple of years, so maybe it has more to do with proximity than anything else. But I'm thinking it might be the glow of the luminaries lighting the way, the bonfire on frozen Wood Lake, the marshmallow roasting and the hot cocoa around the roaring fire in the visitor's center that stick in my mind. Candlelight and Ice runs from 6-9 pm and costs $4 if you're not a member.

Thursday, January 1 

I've mentioned before that Riverview Theater is the best theater in town. It opened in 1948 and retains the vintage look of a 1956 remodel, it has the best popcorn out there, and movies are normally only $3! Today the Riverview is hosting The Sing-a-Long Sound of Music at 3 pm. Think of a cross between karaoke and Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tickets are $12 for adults, $7.50 for kids under 12, and should be purchased in advance. You'll get a bag of props to use while singing, and if you come in costume you might win a prize. Happy New Year!

Friday, January 2

Speaking of The Sound of Music, pizza and cookies are a few of our favorite things. We've become big fans of wood-fired pizza, and today we're going to enjoy wood-fired cookies as well at A Victorian Christmas at the Ramsey House. Today through Sunday, when you call on the Alexander Ramsey house, you'll step back in time 140 years to experience a Victorian-era holiday reception. Reserve your spot for the one-hour tour by calling 651-296-8760. Admission is $11 for adults, $7 for kids 6 and up. Minnesota Historical Society members get $3 off each ticket. 

Saturday, January 3

The holidays are once again in the rear-view mirror, but they might be hanging around my waist for a while longer. I'm afraid I may have given new meaning to the term "belly dancing" this year - my belly is now just sort of dancing on its own. If you'd like to give real belly dancing a try, check out Zenon Dance School's Winter Open House today. The free open house runs 10 am - 4 pm, with classes for kids ending at noon. An adventurous soul might also want to give "Inversion Dance" a shot at 2 pm. I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds like a guaranteed muscle pull to me. I'll just keep working to perfect my belly dancing.

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