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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer In The City Suburbs

After hearing more than a few people say (In person, comments left here, sent emails/messages to me and update facebook statuses) that they are looking for inexpensive, fun summer ideas in Minnesota, and how the heck do we do the things we do without breaking the bank, I decided I would share some of our favorite things and ideas to do in the summer.

My list is definitely not comprehensive of all the things that one can do, so if you know of an idea that I haven't listed, please share it in the comments. I'm always up for new summer adventures.

*Wherever you live there are always parks! Drive around your area or go online and look for some new fun parks to try out. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. We are big park people around here.

*Another thing we like and I'm not so sure I should be admitting this is; McDonalds playlands. Go for lunch and playtime OR better yet, save a few dollars and go for just a snack.

*Your local community center: This might not be considered inexpensive, but most Community Centers have a very reasonable membership rate and some may even allow you to pay monthly rather than a huge up front expense. We belong to the Maple Grove Community Center and from our experience the memberships are so reasonable. For our family, if we all go one time a month we've basically paid for it and we can use anything in the building. Indoor, outdoor pools. Maze. Gyms.

*Minnesota Children's Museum: Again, buy a family membership. $80 for the year. Free admission for your family all. year. long. Parking is $3 for three hours. Can we say cheap day?
Another alternative is waiting for the third Sunday of the month where Target sponsors admission for all. Free Third Sundays. Be prepared for BUSY!

*Three Rivers Park District: Elm Creek and Lake Minnetonka have man-made swimming ponds. What's better than a beach with no fish, seaweed or icky, ouchy rocks? Annual family passes are $20 or the daily rate is $2/person. Elm Creek also has an awesome play area (Chutes and Ladders-esque.)

*Rogers 18 Theater: Summer Festival of Free Movies. Every Wednesday morning at 10am they show free movies. For a schedule see their website. New this year is that you have to pick up your free tickets at a local Subway.

*Monticello Community Center: Splish Splash Summer Swim Sundays and Wednesdays 11am-4pm $2/person Epic Mondays (Climbing Wall) 4pm-8pm $2/climber

*Museum Adventure Pass: Go to your local Hennepin County library and 'check out' a museum pass. Some passes offer free admission for two, some for four. This is a great way to see new places without having to fork over a ton of money.

*Speaking of the library, most libraries have a summer reading program for kids of all ages. We do this every summer and it is one of the ways our kids are encouraged to keep reading throughout the summer.

*Find out when your "city days" are and find out what free events they have. Some cities do storytimes and crafts in the park for preschool kids and parents for free throughout the summer. Some cities offer free concerts. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. I used to hate having to pack up snacks and lunch for the day but now I've got it down to a science and I love it.

*Parades: I love parades and there a couple select ones that we plan around each summer. Check your local paper, online or your city for when parades are. Kids LOVE parades, and so do I. (My two favorites are the Aquatennial and the Northeast Parade.)

*The lakes: They don't call Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes for nothing. My personal favorites are Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. We love to pack up a picnic (There's me going on about packing lunches again.) and head to the lakes. Walk, bike, run around them. Play at the park. Feed the ducks. Then between both lakes you can go to Wild Rumpus book store. A very fun book store with a small door for kids and real live animals roaming around. Walk up the road to Sebastian Joe's and end the day with an ice cream cone. Yum! If that's not enough excitement in that area, there's another park just beyond Dunn Bros. Coffee with a wading pool. Remember the good old days of wading pools?

*Speaking of bookstores: Check with your local bookstores about when they do storytime. Some bookstores even have a craft and activity along with storytime. Some that I know do it weekly: Northwestern Bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn Kids.

*Shoppes at Arbor Lakes: Camp Arbor for kids 3-10 (younger kids can tag along too, I know from experience) including free crafts, free concerts and other fun events each Tuesday morning through the summer. Other shopping centers may also do this, but this is the one I know of.

*The Light Rail: Go downtown, buy a ticket and hop aboard the light rail. Ride to the Mall of America (get off and look around and shop if you'd like) and ride back.

I'm sure I'll have more to offer up as I think of them but please share some of your own ideas in the comments, whether you're a Minnesotan or not, I'm certain you've got some great inexpensive summer ideas to share.


Blogger GMS said...

On your pack a lunch theme...pack a picnic supper and head to the Lake Harriet bandshell and hear GREAT free music. Our kids always loved riding the trolley when we were down there too. Or for a cheap date night...Stevie Ray's Comedy Troupe: Improv in the Park at the Lake Harriet Rose garden. They say it is family friendly, but that would be your call. I think there is Shakespeare in the park somewhere too. I love "thrifty" fun!

June 11, 2009 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

What a great list, Samara. Now I need to find one for the Chicago suburbs so I can actually use it!

June 11, 2009 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know here in green bay and from my many long visits to minnesota as a kid, there is the park and rec that offers games, crafts and cheap trips for kids to go on!


June 11, 2009 at 5:17 PM  
Anonymous dadio's said...

Yes, don't tell me ur board there is always something going on.

Love to all.

June 12, 2009 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

S, you seem to love garage sales as a summer activity. Still not sure if this activity is inexpensive, but that is what I am told. J

June 13, 2009 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Jon, Sara, Tyler, and Sophie said...

Awesome suggestions, S! I can't wait to try some (like the Wild Rumpus because we have never been there). Thanks friend!

June 13, 2009 at 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the list and can't wait to add a few to our summer calendar. Thanks!

June 24, 2009 at 8:18 PM  

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