5 Tips for Twin Cities must visit Can Can Wonderland

On Friday night, we went to Can Can Wonderland for the first time. I’ve been wanting to check it out since it opened. Can Can Wonderland is a must visit in the Twin Cities. Here are a few tips:

1.Mini-Golf

An indoor, artist designed, 18 hole mini-golf course. The holes were very cool and the course was a lot of fun. If you bring kids, pay for them to Mini-golf and you can chaperone for free. We didn’t do this and it got pretty expensive. $10/per kid 14/per adult

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2. Get the pizza

I was so excited that they offered something I could eat (health reasons make it so I can’t eat dairy or gluten). I was able to order a gluten free/vegan pizza. It was delicious. My kids got a cheese pizza. My husband eats everything and said both were good (although, he preferred the gluten free/dairy free over cheese).  We also got the kids some mini donuts. I almost sprung for the Loaded Mini-donuts, but we had already ordered pizzas. A few more fun food options, include: Cotton Candy, Popcorn, and Nachos.

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3. Adult Beverages

They have a huge variety of beverages at a 36-self-serving tap wall. I only saw one cider on tap, but was happy they had one. You get a card, fill your own glass, then pay when you’re done having beverages. They also have a full bar, including Boozy Malts and Themed drinks.

4. Arcade Games

There are tons of old arcade games. From what I understood, the games are quarter games right now, and have a card slot (like Dave and Busters), but I wasn’t sure where or how to get the cards. We only played a few games because we had very few quarters that I found in my wallet and no cash. We plan to return to try out more games.

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5. Karaoke

On Friday evenings, they offer all ages Karaoke. My kids had a ton of fun watching this, and my daughter wanted to go on stage so bad. Unfortunately for my very extroverted daughter, my husband and I are both pretty introverted. She wants to be in the spotlight. She loves the stage. My five year old daughter walked up to another little girl (whom she never met before) and asked if she could go on the stage with her. This little girl, we learned, is a regular at All ages Karaoke. My daughter can’t read yet, but she was very willing to get up with a microphone and pretend she knew what she was doing. AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE WATCHING HER.Image-1(13)

We had a ton of fun at Can Can Wonderland, and my kids now want to become regulars at Friday night Karaoke. We plan to return to check out more of what they have to offer. Maybe we’ll see you there!

 

A Warm Day in September may be the Best Time to go to Valley Fair!

When I was 19, I lived in Virginia Beach, VA. My friend, Carlos, and I both loved theme parks, so we both bought a season pass to Busch Gardens Williamsburg & Water Country USA. The day I got my pass (I had the day off work, he didn’t) we were having so much fun he decided to call into our work sick. The bad news was… our BOSS was also at Busch Gardens. Oops… Well, 14 years later we are still friends, and when he came to Minneapolis, this past weekend, we both decided to get new theme park passes. I purchased 3 GOLD passes, which includes unlimited admission for the rest of the 2018 season and ALL of the 2019 season. The pass also gives you FREE parking, and FREE admission to ValleySCARE, Dinosaurs Alive, and Soak City. In addition, I was able to sign my daughter up for the Pre-k pass, a FREE pass for kids 3-5. My friend, who is visiting, signed up for the Cedar fair Amusement parks Platinum Pass; this pass allows him entry into 13 parks around the country; his lifestyle allows for him to travel frequently, so this pass was perfect for him.

Our day at Valley Fair was not preplanned, at all. We literally decided at 10am to go and were there with preregistered passes at roughly 11:30am.

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We immediately stopped at Dinosaurs Alive. My 5 year old is fascinated with dinosaurs and currently wants to be a paleontologist or a professional skateboarder when she grows up. I had zero expectations of anything we were doing, and I hadn’t been to Valley Fair in over 3 years so everything was new and fun. The moving dinosaurs were a bit of a surprise. The kids and I pretended we were in Jurassic Park. I personally liked all the dinosaur signs through-out the exhibit.

 

We made our way through Planet Snoopy, and were sure to get my daughter on as many rides as she was tall enough. She is a daredevil. So she was pretty bummed her brother got to go on bigger roller-coasters, but she wasn’t tall enough. 48in seemed to be the height requirement for most of the rides (outside of Planet Snoopy). Luckily, for my daughter, she is roughly 45 inches and is growing like a weed (we are giants in our family). I told her she may be tall enough by next summer. My son was only brave enough to try the High Roller roller-coaster; he did it twice.

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Unlike my daughter, I am a chicken and have a serious fear of heights, but lately I have been working on going on higher things. I made it on the High Roller, Renagade, and even the North Star Swing. There are a lot of rides at Valley fair that can continue to scare the crap out of me. Honestly, getting on the rides was almost scarier to me than the actual rides themselves. As my friend and I walked to get on the North Star, we both were wondering what kind of crazy things we were doing in our 30s. My husband was bummed he missed watching how scared I was getting on (he was with the kids on another ride). Chains, a metal-bar and a seat-belt were the only things holding you on this swing which took you 230 feet into the air. It went way faster than I anticipated, 40mph is what I’ve now learned.

The Great Pumpkin Fest was an awesome surprise to me. I have only been to Valley Fair 3 times before (once when I was 13, 23, and 30). So deciding to go the weekend Halloween festivities started, on a 75 degree day, with barely any lines anywhere was AMAZING. Our family LOVES Halloween! The Great Pumpkin Fest was a huge hit for both of my kids. While my daughter was singing and dancing on stage with Sally Brown, my husband had allowed my son to enter Pigpen’s People Washer. Once my son was out…. I asked him what his plans were with his very wet everything. Our friend took him to the bathroom to stand under a hand dryer. I was very thankful for the warm weather because he dried out pretty quickly. The rest of the Great Pumpkin Fest had mazes, games, and trick or treating (many of the kids wore costumes).

 

Seriously, going to Valley Fair on a weekend in September was an awesome choice. If you plan to go more than 1x in the year, I absolutely recommend getting a season pass, but make sure you sign up on line before you go so you aren’t charged $17 in parking.

 

Minnesota on a Stick: Surviving the MN State Fair With Kids

We braved our annual trip to the Minnesota State fair, on a Saturday, this year. My son was very concerned about getting there before it was crazy busy and wanted to be to the bus by 8:00am. I am glad we went early. The attendance record was broken for the 1st Saturday of the fair at 222,194 people (you can see all the attendance records at mnstatefair.org). We didn’t get home until 7pm and we logged 17,000 steps according to my husband’s apple watch. We were smarter this year and brought our collapsible wagon. Last year, my kids entered the gate and complained immediately they were tired and we sprung for a fair rental stroller. I was amazed of how many different types of wagons there were. Weird things you start noticing when you are a parent… when you get jealous of the parent who has a push wagon instead of a pull wagon.

Here are 15 recommendations from our experience:

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15. Take the bus. Avoid Parking.

We parked at the Dunwoody/Parade parking lot, and paid $5/person (round trip) to ride the express bus, as we normally do, instead of looking for parking. The express bus drops you off at the gate entrance and picks you up in the spot. It truly is the easiest way to get to the fair.

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14. Buy Tickets Early and Save

I was smart this year and bought discounted tickets at Cub foods. We pre-purchased gate admission tickets, ride tickets, and a $5 coupon book (which offered a $5 cub coupon in it so that pays for itself). With pre-purchasing, we were able to bypass the ticketing counter.

13. Kids Identification Tags

Our first stop was the Information Booth. I find it very important to put one of the identification wrist bands they provide on my kids. My kids know my phone number, but if they are lost… I don’t want them to get scared and forget. I love that this is an option at the MNSF and I suggest to all parents/grandparents/guardians to make a brief stop and put one on your kid. That or just tattoo your number on your kid.

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12. News and Price is Right Wheel

A stop at the WCCO booth, we managed to be briefly seen on TV while they were taping; I was excited to see Mike Augustyniak in person, a local weather man. That’s when you know you lead an exciting life, when you are excited to see the weather man in person! The Price is Right wheel was also at the WCCO booth, for the first weekend of the fair. We did get in line, but after not moving for the first 10 minutes in line and discovering the prize you got for hitting 1.00 was a tote bag and entered into a drawing, we took a photo and skipped waiting hours in line.

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11. Minnesota Twins

The Twins batting area was a highlight because both of our kids tried batting. My 7 year old son has been too scared to play t-ball or baseball because he has been afraid to bat. However, getting to do it with Twins baseball logos all over gave him the courage to try it. And he hit the ball. They both hit the ball. Every time my daughter hit the ball, the crowd cheered. Something about seeing a 5 year old do anything makes random people always cheer for her.

10. AARP and Music Trivia

The AARP was surprisingly fun. The kids love stopping to spin the wheel … EVERY SINGLE wheel they see they want to stop at. While there my husband and I both tried our knowledge at music trivia. I got on the leading score board, in 3rd, but was probably quick to get booted off. However, I beat my husband so that’s all that matters, right?

9. More Minnesota Sports

One of our favorite stops is always the MN Sports tents. Again, the kids like to play the games and spin the wheel with the MN United. My daughter won a free ticket to the MN United 50K to Midway game, October 21, against the LA Galaxy. We’ve been planning to go to a game anyway, so we decided to buy three more and head to our first professional soccer game, this fall. (Good marketing on their part.) We also stopped by the MN Vikings tent and got this super awesome 3-D photo.

8. Kemp’s Little Farm Hands

The kids had a blast in the Little Farm Hands exhibit. Here they got to collect [play] eggs, milk a cow, and pick vegetables along the way. I think they had the most fun riding the little tractors.

7. MN National Guard and Cub Scouts

The MN National Guard Booth was definitely worth a stop. Not only did I chat with one of the members about my dad’s military background, when he asked if I was interested in joining, but my husband talked me into this punching game. Although, I woke up with a sore arm, I would seriously consider a punching bag in my house.

Near the MN National Guard Booth was the Cub Scouts exhibit. Our kids waited in a really long line to do a ropes course. My poor son is afraid of heights, but completed every challenge (with the help of volunteers). My daughter was a little small and decided the obstacle courses weren’t something she wanted to try, so she just bypassed to the pole. They both said they had fun.

6. Pet Pavilion

We had to stop by the pet pavilion. My son is a diehard dog lover. We picked up a few treats for our dog, and stopped to watch the Minnesota Disc Dog Club do their tricks.

5. Adult Beverages

Both my husband and I are fans of ciders. We were stoked to find $5 cans of Sociable Cider Werks at the The Hangar. I’ve since learned there are 7 different locations with their local ciders, including the MN Craft Brewers Guild.

4. CHS Miracle of Birth Center

This is my husband’s least favorite because it is always so crazy busy, so I braved it with my daughter. She was only able to pet a bunny, which was exciting for her. I felt bad for the mama pigs, laying there on display waiting to have babies in front of a bunch of people…. I could only imagine myself pregnant, as an exhibit, waiting to give birth. My 5 year old says to me as we are leaving the Farm Babies building, “So where do you think all the daddies are? At work? I wonder what they do for jobs?”

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3. The Rides

Of course, the kids had to ride rides. We pre-purchased 3 sheets of tickets and told the kids once they were done, we weren’t buying anymore. Our kids are still little enough to stay in the little kids area of rides, so we didn’t [have to] venture to the bigger rides. Make sure to check the coupon book, it has a few coupons for rides.

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2. Parade

I was not expecting the parade to be one of my highlights of the fair, and honestly probably the funniest part of my day. We happened to be walking around Math on a Stick when the parade was beginning so we grabbed a spot to watch. Roughly the 3rd “float” to go by was a bunch of horses. And they all pooped. For the rest of the time, the whole crowd was waiting to see who would step in that poop. The roller skaters missed it. The many marching bands, missed. The clowns, pom poms, people getting thrown into the air… all missed. Dancers, missed. Every single time a new group would come up or almost step in the poop, the whole crowd would laugh, hold their breath, and you would often hear the entire crowd groan at each near miss. A mom, standing next me, and I were the commentators during the entire parade, guessing which person or vehicle would meet the poop. I swear, I was tempted to put a missed connection in craigslist telling the mom how I wish we could be friends because our back and forth commentary seemed so natural; we parted in our separate ways like it was completely normal commenting about horse manure with a complete stranger for 10 minutes. (So if you were this mom, please message me.)

1. Everything on a Stick

We ate our way through the MN State Fair, like most people there. I was impressed with the people who brought their own coolers and strapped them to a stroller, instead of using it for a kid, probably saved them a fortune. We, instead, began our morning letting our kids eat deep fried cookie dough on a stick and bacon on a stick. The coupon book was extremely helpful, for me who for health reasons am gluten and dairy free; I was able to find places I could eat, and use a coupon to save money. Win, win! Pronto Pups, Turkey legs, Bacon Ice Cream, Burritos, Taco Salad. And of course… my kids needed their dad to push his way through the RIDICULOUSLY long line to get their Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We were bummed to miss one of our favorite events, 3rd Lair Skateboarding and BMX Biking, but we showed up as it ended, and we weren’t braving the crowd to make it back to that side of the fair again.

My least favorite part of the fair was when my husband was getting cookies on our way out of the fair, my phone died. I seriously was starting to think he got on the bus and went home without me, it was taking that long. My daughter and I waited and waited and waited (roughly an hour). THEN I did the unthinkable. I approached a stranger and asked if I could borrow her phone. She looked at me like I was a scammer. I was like, “look, I’ll show you my phone, it’s really dead.” Luckily, my husband and son showed up and we were able to go home without me continuing to creep out strangers. Who would think human interactions would be so hard. Maybe a phone booth or charging station by the exit would be helpful!

We will definitely return again next year, as our family tradition. Every year we try different things. Hopefully next year we can make it to a concert!

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Checking Off Our MNHS List: City Kids Visit the Farm

Growing up in north central North Dakota, it was super common to know someone who lived on a farm. My great-grandparents had a farm and 16 kids to help with that farm. I have cousins who are farmers. I had friends who milked cows before school. It was common to go to the Ag Expo, the Midwest’s largest Agriculture Expo at the All Seasons Arena, as a school field trip.  My kids do not have these same experiences. My children have visited petting zoos. My son went on a field trip to a farm in Kindergarten. We have visited the Farm Babies exhibit at the MN Zoo. We frequent farmers markets. That about sums it up.

This summer, we purchased a MN History Pass. I am a lover of History, and I wanted to take my myself family to see all of the Historical places in our state. There are 26 Historical sites in the state of Minnesota. Today, we visited our 3rd place: Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River, MN. We arrived at the farm shortly after their 10:00am opening. We checked in and received our Member stickers. We were given a map and a brief overview of what to do. We started off in the kitchen where the kids learned to make corn bread. While it baked, we crossed the hall and watched a 10 minute video on the history of farming at Oliver Kelley Farm. We returned to the kitchen and the kids got to try the cornbread with cucumber mint jelly (both the corn and cucumber were grown at the farm).

 

We took a quick lunch break. We typically bring a lunch while we explore to save on costs; you’ll need to bring your own food if you visit Oliver Kelley Farm because they do not sell food there.

 

After lunch, we made our way to the main house. While in the house, my 7 year old got to clean the butter; a lot different than just buying butter from the local co-op or supermarket. The kids got to try pumping water at a well. We got to visit the farm animals and go through the barn. My son almost got peed on by a pig. They also enjoyed freely playing with sticks and logs in a wooded area. Before we left, the kids gave it a go at trying to build their own windmills.

 

The three of us all had a great time. It’s worth a drive from the metro to check out. They are open Memorial Day – Labor Day, from 10am to 5pm; however, they are closed on Mondays. I recommend getting a MN History Society Pass because our pass has already paid for itself.

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We still have a LOT to Visit:

Split Rock Lighthouse – Duluth
Fort Snelling – St Paul
Oliver Kelley Farm – Elk River
Folsom House – Taylors Falls
For Ridgely – Fort Ridgely State Park
Alexander Ramsey House – St. Paul
Harkin Store – New Ulm
Forest History Center – Grand Rapids
James J. Hill House – St. Paul
Mill City Museum – Minneapolis
Minnehaha Depot – Minneapolis
Minnesota History Center – St. Paul
Minnesota State Capital – St. Paul
Sibley Historic Site – Mendota
Birch Coulee Battlefield – Morton
Charles Lindbergh House and Museum – Little Falls
Comstock House – Moorhead
Historic Forestville – Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park
Jeffers Petrogylphs – Comfrey
Lac qui Parle Mission – Montevideo
Lower Sioux Agency – Morton
Marine Mill – Marine on St. Croix
Snake River Fur Post – Pine City
Traverse des Sioux – St. Peter
W.W. Mayo House – La Sueur
Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post – Onamia

X Games MPLS 2018: 5 of My Favorite Things

When I was in elementary school, growing up in North Dakota, I spent a lot of time sledding. I would go off of jumps, and eventually I started standing on my sled. One year, I asked my mom for a snowboard for Christmas. I wanted one so bad, but I also knew it was unlikely that I would actually get one. When Christmas came around, we were opening presents, and my mom had indeed gotten me a snowboard. A fingerboard, I was crushed. I was enamored with extreme sports: snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX, motor cross, skiing, snowmobiling. My family didn’t have the money for me to do these sports, but I loved watching them. Not very common for a girl in the 90s. I loved the skill that came with landing tricks. I can even remember watching the  X Games on TV, by myself. When the X Games started, I was 10.

Imagine my excitement when hearing the X Games were to be in my town, as an adult. For FOUR years! The first year I missed it because I was out of state, but my husband went. So, when the X Games was to host their 2nd year of summer games in Minneapolis, I KNEW I had to go. My kids were thrilled as well. We chose to go Friday, the 2nd day of X Games. These are my 5 favorite things of the X Games (click here for YouTube video):

5. Affordable

Tickets to the X Games start off at $20 for General Admission. General Admission tickets include access to the competition, located inside US Bank Stadium, and X-fest, located outside of US Bank Stadium. In addition, taking public transportation keeps costs down. We took the Metro Blue Line light rail to US Bank Stadium, saving on the cost and chaos of parking.

4. X Fest

 

X-fest provided so many activities to keep everyone engaged. The kids won prizes, playing games at the booths. My husband and son got free underwear from Fruit of the Loom, and my daughter was given a hat from ESPN. My kids were so excited to try everything. We signed a few liability waivers, and they were able to try almost everything (a few activities they were two short or too young to do). The kids tried the American Ninja Warrior challenges and they biked on the ramps. ALL the people working were so helpful with the kids, I was impressed.

 3. Competition

I think my jaw was hanging on the floor for most of the stuff we saw. The tricks were AMAZING! My favorites were watching 11 year old Gavin Bottger in the Next X Skateboard Park Final, Dave Mira’s BMX Best Trick final, Moto X Quarter Pipe High Air Final, and The Real Cost BMX Big Air Final.

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4. Shred Hate

The X Games is serious of ending childhood bullying. The X Games teamed up with No Bully, a nonprofit to recognize the signs of bullying and put an end to it, forming Shred Hate in 2017. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to this booth because we were rushed inside when a storm was rolling in, but I 100% support this cause and am so thankful for the compassion of these organizations to work towards ending something so serious.

1. Role Models

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While my kids were waiting their turn to ride bikes on the ramps, professional athletes were sitting down at the table next to them to sign autographs. Everyone was wondering where the line of people to get autographs were, but then it was quickly realized the whole crowd of people were surrounding the water-skiing squirrel. My kids rode the bikes then wanted to get autographs. Every single athlete talked to my daughter. They asked about her skateboard shirt, if she skateboarded, found out she wanted a skateboard for her birthday, and she would be 5 on August 2.IMG_0910

 

During the time we were waiting in line for the wall climb, we were able to watch the filming of X Games hosts, former professional snowboarder, Jack Mitranti and professional snowboarder, Craig McMorris, attempt to climb the wall. They both made it! After filming, I asked Jack Mitranti if he’d take a photo with my son. Not only did he immediately agree, but he says, “Do you want a picture with both of us? Craig will be right back.” I told him it was up to him if he wanted to wait. He did. He sat and chatted with my 7 year old about the X Games, ensuring he was having a fun time, and what his favorite things at X Games were. As a mom, I was through the roof with admiration for this man. Craig McMorris returned and the three of them got a photo. Later, I tweeted a photo of my son to Jack Mitranti telling me how much respect I had for him. AND HE RETWEETED IT!!!

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                **We will definitely be returning to the X Games next year!**