Fall is my favorite time of year for Minnesota family adventures! With such a small window the season always seems to be packed with seasonal activities. Farms are open for visitors, orchards have special events going on and the changing leaves make for the trickiest games of eye-spy of the year! We had a great adventure day last Sunday. It was an exceptionally warm day in October. Warm temperatures, fresh air, blue skies, and yellow leaves – does it get any better? After perusing the sKIDaddlers Fall Family Festival list, my kids picked Tweite’s Family Farm. Tweite’s is in Byron, an area I am not familiar with. I typed “Byron, MN” into sKIDaddlers search engine, and Voila! a full itinerary was at my fingertips…
1. Tweite’s Family Farm
Tweite’s has been in operation for 27 years. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. My kids thought it was like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, while I was left feeling like I spent a lot of money for a playground.
- Pros – My kids LOVED it. There are tons of climbing structures, oversized board games like checkers and connect four, wagon rides and a nice concession stand.
- Cons – The cost; at $10/person felt like it was a little overpriced. It was busy! Granted it was the warmest October day on record and it fell on a weekend so I am sure any outdoor seasonal activity was busy,but still. Finally, I was expecting more of an ‘on a farm feel’, but instead it felt very commercial.
2. Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo
LOVED IT! This was the surprise hit of our trip. Oxbow Park is a park in the Olmsted County park system and it is gorgeous. The three areas we explored there were the nature center, imagination play area and the Zollman Zoo. The parking lot is in the middle of all three.
- Our first stop was the Imagination Play Area – it rocketed to the top of my favorite nature play areas immediately. The space is large. There was so much to explore and do, and my kids loved all of it! There is a large sandbox where they can bury bones and be archeologists digging for fossils. They have a frog pond, a great solar system display, and a number of fun musical instruments to play on. The area is surrounded by very tallt pine trees and is very picturesque.
- Our next stop was the Nature Center. They have some nice displays and some animals in there. The day we were there was a pumpkin decorating event and that was really fun. My favorite park of the nature center were the volunteers working there, every single person we met was so kind and welcoming, it was a real treat.
- From there we walked through the Zollman Zoo. The zoo is small but so clean and nice. The grounds were immaculate. We saw a black bear, wolves, porcupines, and a number of birds of prey including eagles, hawks and owls.Our favorite part of the zoo is the park you have to cross the street to see. The first thing you see is an old farm house. You can go inside the farmhouse and see some displays. The house is beautiful. Then there is the deer area where they have an albino deer. Next come the big, beautiful Elk. Across from them are the majestic Bison. Make sure not to miss that park of the zoo.
3. Northwoods Orchard
Northwoods Orchard is a beautiful orchard. We had already had a pretty full day so we didn’t do much at the orchard except to walk around the barn and buy some pre-picked apples so we could fuel up for our last stop before home.
This park is incredible. The playground structure is cool – a unique wooden playground. My four year old is begging to go back because they had monkey bars that were just her size. They were a few feet off the ground so she was able to get across them all by herself for the first time! There are volley ball courts, horse shoe pits and bathroom facilities. The real gem in the park though is the covered bridge. The Zumbrota bridge is Minnesota’s only original functional covered bridge and it is beautiful!
Do you want some help planning your next weekend getaway? Leave the planning to us! sKIDaddlers offers a Weekend Getaway Planning Package.