Fun Things To Do This Summer -- Updated for 2017!

resources compiled by ConnectWC

Discover family-friendly activities in Washington County and around the Twin Cities.  Both indoor and outdoor places are listed, along with things you can do to have fun right at home!

Amusements Parks

Nickelodeon Universe, Bloomington.  An indoor amusement park in the Mall of America.Call ahead to find less busy days and times to visit attractions.

Valleyfair, an amusement park located in Shakopee. Information for guests with disabilities can be found here. Helpful hints to plan your day can be found here.

Water Park of America, Bloomington. The largest among indoor water parks in Minnesota.


White Bear Center for the Arts, Imagine Art Kids Summer Camp, A variety of classes for kids held all summer long.  With advance notice, every effort is made to accommodate individual needs.

Community Education - Adults with Disabilities Program, The Community Bridge Consortium facilitates the partipation of adults with disabilities in all aspects of Community Education by providing reasonable support and accommodations.  Consortium members:  North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Schools, Roseville Area Schools, Whie Bear Lake Area Schools, Mahtomedi Schools, and South Washington County Schools.  Various activities and dates.

Adults with Disabilities - FRIENDS,  The Adults with Disabilities program offered through Stillwater Community Education enables adults with developmental or psychological challenges to have social, recreational and educational opportunities and experiences. Programs include trips to local parks, attending theater performances, cooking and craft classes, and making new friends.

Joann Fabrics, various locations.  Classes for all ages at participating stores.

Michael's, various locations.  Take a class and discover your creativity.

Fun at Home

Art and Craft Projects -  Here are some links for ideas and inspiration: 

Gardening - is both fun and helps build skills.  There are many resources devoted to help individuals with special needs enjoy gardening.  Here are some resources to get you started: 

Music time! - Turn up the music and dance or liisten to different types of music together.

Water Fun  - Get wet!  Here’s some ideas for water activities at home:

Have Fun Keeping Up School Skills

Reading Programs  - Keep up literary skills over the summer break with these fun reading programs:

Activities at Home and Around Town - Ideas to have fun while keeping kids learning over the summer.

Museums and Tours

Free and reduced price Target events - Events include some local museums.

Museums on Us – Bank of America and Merrill Lynch card holders can have free pass to select museums  on the first weekend of every month.Membership to the Minnesota History Society gives you access to 25 museums and historical sites throughout the state.

Alexander Ramsey House Tour, St. Paul.  Explore the unexpected at the Alexander Ramsey House, a Victorian-era home filled with thousands of original family items and furnishings.

Crystal Cave, Explore the passages more than 70 feet below ground. 

Historic Courthouse in Stillwater, Open to the public weekdays and Saturday mornings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an important cultural, economic and historical resource for the St. Croix Valley.

Historic Fort Snelling, St. Paul. Built in the early 1820’s, Historic Fort Snelling is a great Place to learn about military history. 

Ironhorse Railroad Park, Chisago City.  The park offers train rides, museums, a petting zoo and more. 

KSTP Studio Tour – The tour includes a behind-the-scenes look at the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS control rooms and newsroom, a live viewing of a newscast plus a question-and-answer session with the news anchors and meteorologist (pending breaking news and availability).

Minnesota Children's Museum   - Is dedicated to providing children with a fun, hands-on and stimulating environment to explore and discover.  Check out information on Target free 3rd Saturdays and special membership options.  On the second Saturday of the month, you can ride Metro Transit or light rail to and from the Minnesota Children's Museum for free.  Plus each visitor who shows their downloadable ride pass will receive $2.00 off same-day Museum Admission that is good for the whole family!  You can read the details here.Many places allow PCAs to attend for free.  Ask ahead of time and get the name of the person you spoke with.

Minnesota History Center, St. Paul.  An interactive museum with both permanent and changing exhibits, the Minnesota History Center hosts concerts, lectures, family days and other special events throughout the year.

Minnnesota State Capitol, Free Guided Tours.  Take a free guided tour to view the restoration effort up close and get an overview of Capitol history, art, architecture and state government.

Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul. This museum is known worldwide for its interactive exhibits, dynamic traveling exhibitions, and internationally distributed large format films.

Other Fun Activities

Ashland Productions, Maplewood.  Attend  summer theatre camp, and try out for summer plays, or attend performances.

Kids Oasis, Stillwater Kids Oasis is a creative play environment where parents can bring their children to explore their imaginations during open play. We are also the perfect host for birthday parties and group rentals. Stillwater Kids Oasis was designed with all parents and children in mind. We’ve created an enchanting space where all children, including the very special children with disabilities, can enjoy playing with one another. This space is equally awesome for hosting special events, such as your child’s birthday party!Be curious -- ask businesses if they offer tours.  Places like hospitals, grocery stores and manufacturing often welcome people interested in what goes on behind the scenes.

Library activities, Washington County. Washingon County Libraries offer a variety of programs for kids.

Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson. Take a class, audition for a theatre production or attend a performance.

Reel Movies for Real Needs, Oakdale.  Reel Movies for Real Needs creates a welcoming and comfortable environment -- lower sound, lights up -- where families with children who need accommodations will be able to share the experience of seeing family friendly films at a theatre

Sensory Friendly Films, Roseville. The auditoriums dedicated to the program have their lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing!

Valley Friendship Club, Stillwater area. Having fun making friends!  Valley Friendship Club creates safe, accessible social opportunities. 

Outdoor Fun

An outdoor concert every day this summer?  Yes, really. St. Paul Pioneer Press - Minnesotans love spending the summer outdoors, so we've compiled this list with at least one outdoor concert every day in June, July and August.

Aamodts Apple Farm, Stillwater. In addition to many apple varieties and products, Aamodts has fun kid activities including wagon rides, a goat farm, and hay bale maze.

Afton Apple Orchard, 190+ beautiful acres producing delicious Minnesota grown strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins and thirteen different varieties of apples. 

Campfire Programs, held at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park.  Join area naturalists at outdoor park amphitheaters for a variety of engaging nature programs.

Como Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul. In addition to animal and garden exhibits, Como offers a variety of summer programs and family classes. 

Farmers Markets, various locations. Directory of farmer’s markets in Washington County.

Goodrich Golf Dome and Mini-Golf, Maplewood. The outdoor mini-golf course boasts 18 scenic holes – challenging even the most seasoned players. 

I Can Camp! - MN Dept of Natural Resources,  A one or two night I Can Camp! overnight program is your chance to introduce your kids to the fun of camping -- no experience necessary!

Let's Go Fishing - St. Croix Valley Chapter.  Provides no cost fishing and boating excursions in the St. Croix Valley area serving seniors, persons with disabilities, military members and families and inter-generational youth.

Miniature Golf - Putt’er There Miniature Golf, St. Paul.  Putt’er There has an 18-hole course located within Como Park. 

Minneapolis Music and Movies in the Parks.  Enjoy more than 250 FREE concernts and movies in Minneapolis parks this summer. 

Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley. Cutting Edge exhibits provide exciting experiences with animals and their habitats introducing guests to species from around the globe.  The Minnesota Zoo is committed to making the Zoo accessible to everyone.  

Oakdale Discovery Center. A unique place to learn about nature, including rotating exhibits and hands-on wildlife exhibitions.

Ordway's Summer Dance Series.  A weekly social dance event offering free dancing and live music in Rice Park on Thursday nights during the summer.

Pine Tree Apple Orchard, White Bear Lake. Pine Tree has many different apple varieties, bakery products, scenic wagon rides and entertainment on weekends.  

Stillwater River Boats -  They offer meal cruises on the St. Croix river with a variety of boats, including paddlewheels.

Starwatch Parties with Mike Lynch, held at Big Marine Park Reserve and Lake Elmo Park Reserve.  Visit Washington County Parks this Summer to watch the great celestial show in the sky. 

Vali Hi Drive In Theatre, Lake Elmo. Attractions include a concession stand, vintage photo booth and arcade. 

Walker on the Green:  Artist-Designed Mini Golf.  To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Minneapolis Sculture Garden, the Walker delivers a fresh round of mini golf.  Garden gnomes masquerading as foosball strikers, a scale model of a French chateau, mazes, gopher holes, and contours mapped from the course at the legendary Augusta National Golf Club are just a few ingredients going into the 2013 edition of the artist-designed course.

Warner Nature Center, Marine on St. Croix. The center provides programs that teach environmental respect through knowledge.  They also offers summer programs.

Summer Festivals & Outdoor Events

Grand Old Day, June 4, 2017.  St. Paul. Grand Old Day is one of the best Minnesota festivals for people of all ages and interests , and includes a parade, music and over 150 food vendors. 

Manitou Days, June 15 - July 4, 2017, White Bear Lake.  Manitou Days is a three-week summer festival showcasing some of the greatest things about this lakeside community.  For 49 years this annual summer ritual has been a favorite of locals and visitors.

Big Bugs, June 18 - October 2, 2017, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska.  A 1,200 pound praying mantis, a dragonfly with a 17-foot wingspan, three giant ants, each 10-foot high, are "normal" bugs in the vivid imagination of sculptor David Rogers, the creator of Big Bugs.

Summer Tuesdays,  July 11 - August 22, 2017 (Tuesdays), Stillwater. Summer Tuesdays is celebrating 11 years of family fun in downtown Stillwater’s scenic and historic business district.  Lowell Park will again be the place of seven weeks of a local food and merchant market, free live music and free movies.

Ramsey County Fair, July 12 - 16, 2017, Maplewood.  A small town county fair in the middle of the big city.  Free admission, $3.00 parking.

Community Ice Cream Social and Amateur Talent Show, July 20, 2017, at the Washington County Historical Courthouse in Stillwater.  Join friends and neighbors for 25-cent root beer floats, penny candy, food, petting zoo, children's activities and more.

Minneapolis Aquatennial, July 19 - 22, 2017, Minneaolis. The Acquatennial is the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis and includes activities such as a beach bash, parade and fireworks. 

Washingon County Fair, August 1 - 7, 2017,  Lake Elmo.  The Washington County Fair has been a traditional county fair for all ages to enjoy since 1871. 

Heritage Days, August 17 - 20, 2017, Vadnais Heights.  Events include a medallion hunt, movie in the park, photo contest, senior picnic, Lions pig roast, kiddie parade, children's games, carnival rides and games, bingo, car show, food and merchandise vendors, fireworks, live bands, Grande Parade, Booya, bean bag tournaments, softball tournaments, a water ball tournament between local fire departments, and more!

Bluegrass Festival, September 9, 2017, at Lake Elmo Park Reserve.  Fuses the community, the great outdoors and local musicians the Saturday following Labor Day.  It's a way of celebrating a successful summer season and a way to give thanks to everyone who supports Washington County Parks.

Parks in Washington County

*Swimming is available at these parks.

You can visit any Washington County Park for FREE on the first Tuesday of the month (non-holiday).*Big Marine Park Reserve, Marine on St. Croix.  Amenities include:  boat launch, cc ski trail, fishing pier, hiking trail, nature program, paved trail, picnic shelter, play area, and swimming.

*Lake Elmo Park Reserve.  Amenities include:  archery range, boat launch, canoe access, cc ski trails, equestrian campground, equestrian trails, fishing pier, group campground, hiking trials, modern campground, mountain bike trails, multi-use trail, nature programs, Nordic center, orienteering, paved trails, picnic shelters, play area and swim pond.

*Point Douglas Park, Denmark Township. Amenities include:  fishing pier, picnic area, restrooms, and a swimming beach. 

*Square Lake Park, Stillwater. Amenities include:  boat launch, fishing pier, scuba diving and swimming. 

Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park, Cottage Grove. Amenities include: cc ski trail, fishing pier, hiking trails, paved trails, picnic shelter and play area.

Hardwood Creek Regional Trail, Forest Lake. A 9.5 mile multiple-use trail.

Pine Point Regional Park, Stillwater. Amenities include:  cc ski trails, equestrian trails, gateway trial, hiking trails, picnicking and restrooms.

St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park, Hastings. Amenities include: basketball court, boat launch, cc ski trail, conference cottage, fishing pier, group camping, hiking trails, modern camping, nature programs, picnic shelter, play area and tennis courts.

Sports and Fitness

Batting cages, Directory for finding batting cages.

Bowling - An article on best bowling allleys in the Twin Cities can be found here.
- AMF – Summer:  Free bowling for kids all summer long! Kids registered for a Summer Games Pass can bowl three games per day, every day, all summer long! 
- Kids Bowl Free - Registered kids receive two free games of bowling daily all summer long.  Check website for program days and details at Pinz in Oakdale.

Courage Kenny Adaptive Sports & Recreation.  Offers a wide variety of recreational and competitive sports programs for youth, adults and families in the Twin Cities.  Financial assistance is available, and volunteer opportunities are available.

Gateway State Trail.  The Gateway State Trail offers 18 miles of paved trail for non-motorized use.  The trail begins in St. Paul, travels northeast through the cities of Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, through Washington County, and ends at Pine Point Regional Park, just four files northwest of Stillwater.

Let’s Go Fishing. Provides no cost fishing and boating excursions in the Stillwater/St. Croix Valley area. We serve: Seniors (55+), Persons with Physical or Developmental Disabilities, All Military Members & the Families of those deployed, Veterans, and Inter-generational Youth.  

Lookout Ridge Indoor Playground, Woodbury. A state-of-the-art indoor playground located on the lower level of Central Park. The playground complements the high quality and unique design of the Central Park building and is an exciting attraction for children age 12 and under.

River Valley Athletic Club, Stillwater. Offers summer membership special. 

Special Olympics Minnesota, 2017 Summer Games, June 22-24, 2017 at Eastview High School, Apple Valley

Wooddale FunZone, Woodbury. Activities include roller Skating, Inline skating, and huge indoor multi-level soft playground.  Includes Kids Skate Free Passes.  Check website for details.

YMCA White Bear Lake. Choose from a variety of summer program options.

YMCA Woodbury. Choose from a variety of summer program options.

Accessibility to Summer Fun Activities

Q & A from PACER Center -Information on how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impacts accessibiity to social and recreational activities for persons with disabilities.

More Fun Ideas

For more ideas, visit these pages on ConnectWC!

2016 Summer Camp Guide for Campers with Disabilites
Top Ten Summer Activities for Kids with Special Needs
Arts & Entertainment
Social Organizations
Camps & Camping
Fitness & Health