Take a Break: Spend MEA Weekend in Minneapolis Northwest
Fall is here, the school year has begun, and it’s already time to start thinking about MEA break. Minneapolis Northwest is the perfect family getaway destination for the four-day weekend with a number of attractions and activities sure to entertain and even educate your whole family. Stay in one of our cozy family friendly hotels, such as the Holiday Inn & Suites with a Venetian Waterpark, and spend your days and evenings enjoying all the area has to offer. Make MEA a weekend to remember.
Taking advantage of the outdoors is a must during MEA weekend. While most orchards and pumpkin patches are only open Saturdays and Sundays, Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton is open Thursday and Friday of MEA weekend and is offering Wristband Days, as well. For $7 each, your kids receive a wristband that grants them access to several activities that otherwise have separate costs, such as the pumpkin slinger, corn seed pit, and the giant slide. Dehn’s has some of the biggest and best pumpkins around, too, so it’s a great time to pick out pumpkins as a family and then have a carving party once you get home. Don’t forget to roast the seeds after for a little treat.
Another wonderful way for your family to enjoy the fall weather is on horseback! Gallop to Bunker Park Stable in nearby Andover for hour-long guided walking tours on their majestic horses. Trot through the beautiful woods on an Appaloosa or Percheron, breathe the crisp air, and listen to the leaves crunch as you go. If any family members are apprehensive about riding, Bunker Park Stable offers several non-riding activities, too. Kids can schedule a Meet N’ Greet where they spend time grooming a horse or pony, go for a hayride on a flatbed wagon led by gentle draft horses, or take an interesting tour of the barns. Bunker Park Stable has horses and ponies to suit almost every size, shape, age, and ability; they can also accommodate special needs riders. All tours and activities require reservations, so hop in the saddle and call Bunker Stables today!
After spending a day at the pumpkin patch or stables, experience a haunting mix of history and folklore on one of the famous Ghosts of Anoka Walking Tours. Anoka, also known as the Halloween capital of the world, is no stranger to strange happenings. Suitable for ages 6 and up, your family will walk the city’s historic streets with a costumed guide and hear the eerie encounters and unexplainable events that have occurred throughout the years: a house where a rocking chair rocks while no one is in it, doors that lock and unlock themselves, displays that change on their own, and more. Reservations are required. All tours start at the Anoka County History Center and Library and cover a 15-block route around the city, lasting about 1.5 hours.
If a walking tour isn’t in your family’s wheelhouse, check out Anoka Halloween’s Paint Night on Thursday, Oct. 19., 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Rumriver Art Center (RRAC). Enjoy a relaxing night of food (and wine for the adults!) and painting, and take home an exclusive seasonal image created just for Anoka Halloween. Everyone who signs up is provided a canvas, paint, brushes, and apron. Paint nights are a special way for family members to display their individual creativity. Though everyone starts at the same point, at the end of the class everyone’s canvas is a little different. Reservations are required and this event is best suited for children 10 years old and up.
For another cool mix of art and Halloween, visit the Monster Show at the Maple Grove Arts Center. Local artists have submitted their spooky sculptures, paranormal paintings, and morbid metal objects for your enjoyment throughout October. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
If “party” is your kids’ middle name, be sure to reserve spots at Maple Grove’s one-of-a-kind Spooktacular Halloween Carnival and Dance, Friday, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Twin Cities Party Princess comes to town for this fun-filled, non-scary event that is sure to be a howlin’ good time for your whole family. Boogie to a live DJ, get competitive with carnival-style games, enjoy appearances by your kids’ favorite superheroes and villains, participate in the costume contest, and oh so much more.
Kids’ costumes not quite ready for the events over the weekend? Have no fear because Minneapolis Northwest is your Halloween shopping headquarters. With stores like Spirit of Halloween, Party City, and Michaels all nestled close together, you can grab the makeup, accessories, and materials needed to turn your kids into ghoulish monsters, pretty princesses, and everything in between.
After partying, go for a late-night (or perhaps early morning) swim when you stay at the Holiday Inn & Suites Maple Grove – home to the spectacular indoor Venetian Waterpark! Open on weekends, the 25,000 square foot waterpark provides a taste of the Mediterranean and endless entertainment with its two waterslides, floating obstacle course, basketball hoops, and nearby arcade and concession stand. There’s also a toddler area for your young ones. The park is open 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. on Fridays, and 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The hotel is located in the heart of Arbor Lakes, so you’re only steps away from great restaurants, shopping, and even Dave & Buster’s.
Sometimes nothing is better than making your own way through one of Minneapolis Northwest’s parks. Elm Creek Park Reserve is the perfect spot to savor the remaining fall colors and get down and dirty outside. Play a round of disc golf, take a shot at the archery range, or, if you have a four-legged family member, let ‘em lose in the off-lease dog area. Visit Eastman Nature Center for opportunities to enhance your experience along the trails, such as cell phone audio stops, trail guide sheets, and exploration kits.
Create nature Bingo cards and head to the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park to explore the beautiful Mississippi waterfront. You might see swans, wild turkeys, hawks, bluebirds, and other creatures preparing for the winter ahead. The person with the most Bingos gets a special treat…perhaps a festive cupcake from Nadia Cakes! Don’t forget to stop by the Visitor’s Center for hands-on exhibits, live animals, an interactive Mississippi River kiosk, and year-round nature programming.
We’d love to hear how your family takes on MEA weekend. Share your photos and stories with us by posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #WeLoveMNW, and you could even be featured on our website!
For more ideas on how you can spend MEA weekend with your family, check out our Fall Itinerary for Family Fun in Minneapolis Northwest.
About the Author
- Minneapolis Northwest CVB
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