Fall is here, and it’s already time to start thinking about MEA break. Minneapolis Northwest is a great family getaway destination for the four-day weekend with its attractions and activities that are sure to entertain and even educate your whole family. Stay in an affordable, cozy, family-friendly hotel, and spend your days and evenings enjoying all the area has to offer. Make MEA a weekend to remember.

Pick A Pumpkin

Two little girls carrying a large pumpkin

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 Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of MEA weekend and is offering Wristband Days, as well (kids receive a wristband that grants them access to several activities that otherwise have separate costs, such as the gourd slinger, corn seed pit and the giant slide). Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze in Brooklyn Park, home of Minnesota's largest corn maze, is also open Thursday and Friday of MEA weekend and offers endless fun with its straw bale maze, corn seed pit, inflatables, giant slide, hayrides, live music, and classic fair foods! It also has endless pumpkins for sale - pumpkin for carving, pie pumpkins and other decorative squash and gourds. 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.


Kids in Halloween costumes

Take your kids' Halloween costumes for a test drive at the family-friendly Halloween Party on Friday, Oct. 22! Kids are invited to trick-or-treat along a designated trail in beautiful Centennial Park, collecting goodies as they go. Then, the whole family can head over to the amphitheater for a little BOOgie-woogie from a kids' DJ. Costumes are encouraged but not required. If you want to pick up a costume or put the finishing touches on one, head to the local 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. Check out all of the area's Halloween happenings: Minneapolis Northwest Thrills and Chills This Halloween

Go Horseback Riding

Two young girls riding horses at Bunker Park Stable

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 can also accommodate special needs riders. 

Explore Nature

Trees covered in fall-colored leaves along the water in Elm Creek Park Reserve

Sometimes, nothing is better than making your own way through one of Minneapolis Northwest’s parks to catch the last of the fall colors. Elm Creek Park Reserve offers nearly 5,000 acres of space to stretch out over MEA weekend. Explore the hiking and biking trails throughout the woods, prairie and wetlands, or play a round of disc golf. If you have a four-legged family member, let ‘em loose in the off-leash dog area.

Also, head to Mississippi Gateway Regional Park to explore the beautiful Mississippi waterfront. Bring a picnic and watch for swans, wild turkeys, hawks, bluebirds and other creatures preparing for the winter ahead. Kids can get creative in the park's outdoor place space near the visitor center, and check out the views from atop the Coon Rapids Dam. On Sunday, Oct. 23, Mississippi Gateway Regional Park is hosting a Spooky Spiders event for families! Kids will learn about spiders, search for ones in nature and make some cool spiderweb art to take home.

Take a Tour

House and yard decorated for Halloween in Anoka, MN

After spending a day at the pumpkin patch or hiking in the woods, enjoy 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 six 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, and displays that change on their own. 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. 

Have A Sleepover

Venetian waterpark at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Maple Grove, MN

After a fun night out, 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 hotel is located in the heart of Arbor Lakes, so you’re only steps away from great restaurants, shopping and even Dave & Buster’s. Check it out: take a virtual 3D tour of the waterpark!

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. For more ideas on how you can spend MEA weekend with your family, check out our Fall Itinerary for Family Fun in Minneapolis Northwest.