Eden Prairie, Minnesota, placed third in “Money” magazine’s 2012 list of Best Places to Live because of its job growth, good schools and natural setting that offers opportunities for children to explore their world. Parents will find activities for all interests in this growing Twin Cities suburb.
The nearly 200 miles of sidewalks and trails in Eden Prairie allow hikers, walkers and bicycle enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors all year. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department publishes a guide to its programs on its website (edenprairie.org). Day camps include playground camps for toddlers, a nature photography camp for 8- to 14-year-olds and a camp for those who play pickleball, a low-key version of tennis using paddles and a whiffle ball. Other outdoor activities include a series of movies shown outdoors in August. Children can bring a blanket and popcorn to Staring Lake Amphitheatre to watch popular kids movies under the summer stars. Round Lake Park recently underwent a renovation that added a new splash pool and a skate park for skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX bikes.
Temperatures get cold in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean you keep your children home. The Eden Prairie Art Center offers 24 camps and workshops for children up to age 18. Safari Art, Fiber Art, Clay and Flame Worked Glass Sculpture are just a few of the available classes. The charge for classes varies and registration is required. The Eden Prairie branch of the Hennepin County Library is one of the largest in the system. Baby and family story times are scheduled several days and evenings each week. Guys Read book clubs are designed for middle and high school boys and are led by a librarian during the summer months.
Eden Prairie is a 20-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis and just a few more minutes from St. Paul. Both cities have museums and attractions designed around children. One of those museums is the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis built over the ruins of a flour mill with interactive exhibits showing the city’s history as a mill town powered by the Mississippi River. In the summer, sports lovers can watch a pig bring out the game balls at a St. Paul Saints baseball game.
The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley will fill a day with scavenger hunts, classes and even a sleepover with the animals. Visitors can tour the zoo with a zookeeper to see animal feeding and exhibits being designed. Just north of the Twin Cities on the St. Croix River, Taylor’s Falls is the perfect getaway for active children and families. The trails in Interstate State Park are varied and scenic and Wild Mountain/Taylor’s Falls Recreation (wildmountain.com) can fill a day with boat rides, water slides and camping. For a treat after a busy day, go to the Drive-In Restaurant on Bench Street for juicy hamburgers and house made root beer.