Saturday Mornings at the Gale Woods Farm

One of the best ways to enjoy spring is by heading to the farm, Gale Woods Farm.  Each Saturday from April 7th-May 26 you can enjoy various farm activities, meet some baby animals and explore the barn.  There’s a small admission fee of $5 per person, More information can be found on the Three Rivers Park District website.  Don’t forget to dress for the weather but also for being on the farm.  No fancy clothes needed for this fun adventure.

Outdoor fun on a real working farm. Located on picturesque Whaletail Lake in Minnetrista, Gale Woods Farm features a unique educational opportunity where visitors of all ages gain an understanding of agriculture, food production and land stewardship.

Free or Low-Cost I Can! Outdoor Skill-Building Programs through Minnesota State Parks and Trails

I know it’s only March, but it’s never too early to be thinking about your summer plans, right? One option for Minnesotans (or those willing to travel to Minnesota) is the Minnesota State Parks and Trails popular I Can! series of outdoor skill-building programs.

Registration is now open for these beginner-level programs, all of which are either free or very reasonably priced. Instruction and essential equipment will be provided. Please note that a vehicle permit is required to enter all Minnesota state parks ($7/day or $35/year), but this permit is included in the cost of some of these programs.

Options include:

I Can Camp! These one- or two-night overnight programs are your chance to introduce your kids to the fun of camping—no experience necessary. ($60 for 1 night or $85 for 2 nights)

I Can Paddle! Your kids will discover the kind of amazing views only seen from the water during one of these programs designed especially for first-time paddlers. (cost varies by trip)

I Can Mountain Bike! Remember your kids’ joy and triumph when they first learned to bike? Take that joy off-road with this exhilarating program. ($15/child, $25/adult)

I Can Fish! Share the fun of casting into the water and the excitement when there’s a tug on the line. This program is all about the anticipation and thrill of your kids learning to catch fish. (free for children 12 and under, $7/adult)

Archery in the Parks Be your own action heroes and go beyond video games! This program lets you share the exact moment when your child first aims for a goal and hits it. (free, but you do need a vehicle permit to enter)

These classes typically fill up quickly, so sign up ASAP if you’re interested. Head to the MN DNR website to get started!

Maple Syrup Events at MN State State Parks

This weekend is the start of maple syrup events at the MN State Parks.  The begin tomorrow March 17th and continue until April 7th.  There’s workshops, family events, demonstrations and more.  All with a maple syrup theme.  Check out the full schedule here on their website.  Hopefully you can find an event close by or take a road trip on a nice spring day.

It’s quite a process to get delicious maple syrup from the tree to your table each spring. Come to a maple syruping event and check it out for yourself. You’ll enjoy some hands-on experience, and we know you’ll enjoy your sample of the fresh syrup!

When does the sap run?

Maple sap runs best when daytime temperatures are in the high 30s to mid-40s and overnight temperatures are below freezing. This cycle of above-freezing days and below-freezing nights needs to continue for several days, although nature occasionally has been known to provide a good run under less perfect conditions.

Sometimes sap flows as early as January or as late as May, but in Minnesota, sap usually runs from about March 15 to April 20.


Northland Arboretum

Northland Arboretum

For those of you who are lucky enough to live in the Brainerd area, the Northland Arboretum is probably a familiar place.  To those of us that might visit the Brainerd area, the Northland Arboretum is a hidden gem.  This wonderful place encompasses over 500 acres and offers activities year round.

With this fresh snow it would be great time for snowshoeing or cross country skiing.   The Arboretum also offers a unique fitness trail, where you can journey through 12 different fitness stations.  The Arboretum offers a wide range of activities and events, with an easy access calendar on their website to spotlight everything.

There’s a small fee to use the trails or you can purchase a membership and access is included.   You can find more information about this hidden gem on their website.

Northland Arboretum is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting the community involved in and aware of nature.  We have a wide, beautiful area for you and your family to explore.   Have a peaceful walk on our nature trails.   Winter time?  We’ve got that covered too!   You can cross country ski on our spectacular groomed snow covered trails.   Snowshoe or winter hike on non-groomed trails.

Free First Tuesday @ Washington County Parks

We love to get outside and explore different parks and trails in Minnesota.  We discovered a thrifty way to explore Washington County Parks.  On the the first Tuesday of the month (non-holiday) you can get in free, with no vehicle permit required.  Although it’s actually quite reasonable to enter the parks on other days as well, it’s nice to save money when we can.  

With over five different parks to choose from, there’s plenty of exploring to do.  Check out the full list of parks here, a chance to fill up the calendar with hiking, biking, camping, swimming and more.

Do you have a favorite county park in Minnesota?  Would love to hear about it so we can add it to our list of places to check out.  A bonus for us if it has camping or hiking.

Maple Syruping Day at the Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center

One of my favorite signs of spring; all of the maple syrup events.  There’s nothing quite like the taste of real maple syrup, on breakfast foods or on ice cream.

This Saturday (March 3rd) is Maple Syruping Day at the Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center.  Located in the beautiful Marine on St. Croix area.  The event is $5 for age 3 and up and admission is pay at the gate so cash is appreciate.  Hours are 12-4 with activities for the whole family.

Celebrate the syruping season by spending an afternoon in the Warner sugar bush! Learn about the history of maple syruping and see the whole process first-hand from sap to syrup. Enjoy ongoing family-friendly activities such as demo tree tapping, sap boiling, maple syruping sampling, crafts, refreshments, and more!
$5/person (children 3 years and under FREE). Please plan to pay in cash at the gate–exact change is appreciated!

Minnesota Fire Towers and Scenic Views

Photo courtesy of the MN State Park System

Regardless where you live in MN you can most likely think of a place you’ve visited, one with a memorable view.  Was it the color of the leaves, the water or perhaps how you got to the view?

I recently learned that the Minnesota State Parks have five different fire towers, all open for climbing and viewing.  I’ve climbed just one of them, Itasca State Park, the other four are now on our summer bucket list.  Have you climbed all of them?  Which had the best view?

If heights aren’t quite your thing, there are overlooks, hikes and cliffs at some of the State Parks that also have great scenic views, just without all the steps.

Would love to hear where your favorite view is in Minnesota, we could add it to our bucket list of spots to check out.



Winter Photo Hike -Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

it might still be winter but there’s still plenty of wildlife to photograph.  Are you new to winter photography or just want to learn more?  You can join others on Saturday (March 3rd) at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge for a few hours of learning.

Photographer Don Tredinnick will lead a photography hike starting at the Bloomington Ferry Bridge parking area to explore and teach techniques for outdoor photography of winter landscapes and wildlife.

Conditions will dictate the path, but typically the group will cross the bridge and explore the wooded area on the other side. During some March programs the group has been lucky enough to see several eagles hanging out by the bridge.

It can still be pretty cold in early March so be sure to dress for the weather.

Bloomington Ferry Bridge, 11255 Bloomington Ferry Road, Bloomington 55438



Snowshoeing at Springbrook Nature Center

With all of this fresh snow, it’s the perfect time to go snowshoeing.  State Parks are a great option if you live outstate. If you live in the metro the Springbrook Nature Center offers snowshoe rental for $5.  Located near Fridley, this hidden gem has over 125 acres of land, including 3 miles of trails.  Snowshoe rental is available during open park hours.

They also have a special event coming up, Chicks in the Sticks.  The event does have a small fee and they ask for registration as snacks and refreshments are included.  The next one is March 9th.

Chicks in the Sticks

$5 per class, per person
$5 snowshoe rental
Minimum of 12 participants required to run each program.

It’s time for a little adventure with your favorite women.  Join the naturalist staff at Springbrook for classes developed just for women.  Each program will include a relaxing campfire and refreshments.  Pre-registration is required for these programs. Please call the nature center to reserve your spot.  3/9/18 Snowshoe Hike* 6-8 pm

*(3 inches of snow required for use of snowhoes, if there is not sufficient snow, we will hike the park instead)

Ice Skating in Saint Paul

This time of year is when winter can’t quite make up it’s mind.  Will spring arrive early or will another snow storm show up on our doorstep?  It’s still important to get outside and have some fun.  Ice Skating is a great outdoor activity.  Saint Paul has some great rinks to skate on.  Not quite sure which ones are still open?  Check out their website or call ahead.

Saint Paul has fourteen general skating rinks, as well as the WinterSkate refrigerated general rink at Landmark Plaza and three additional refrigerated hockey rinks located at Phalen Recreation Center, North Dale Recreation Center, and Palace Recreation Center. McMurray Field has four rinks used exclusively for broomball and Groveland Recreation Center has a large oval rink. All hockey rinks have boards and nets. Non-refrigerated rinks are typically ready by the end of December and stay open through February, weather permitting. Refrigerated rinks may be open earlier in the season and stay open longer in the year.

  • Cold Weather Policy: Rinks will close if temperatures reach -25F.
  • Warm Weather Policy: In order to prevent extended closures due to damaged ice, rinks will close if meltwater is visible on the surface.