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Fall Fun: Good Enough Stuff

By Erin Garner

Fall is the perfect time of year for fun with the family. Whether it's a spooky hayride to get into the Halloween spirit or chasing (and possibly losing) your kids in a corn maze, the greater Twin Cities has lots to offer families with kids of all ages. Here are some great places to visit on your next family outing:

Afton Apple Orchard has it all. Visit the orchard to pick apples or check out their pumpkin patch - find your perfect carving pumpkin-- then take a free hayride. They even have a corn maze set up in three phases, so the inexperienced can stop at phase one, but brave souls can continue on. This is a great place for an inexpensive family afternoon. Visit www.aftonapple.com for more information on fun at their orchard.

The Minnetonka Orchards provides many of the same activities as Afton Apple Orchard, but on the other side of town. They have a barnyard and nature trails as well, so plan to spend some time at the Orchards. Visit www.minnetonkaorchards.com for more details on all that they have to make your family outing enjoyable.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a great place for an educational outing. You can take a long stroll through the gardens or go to the "Please Touch" greenhouse, which is open year-round. On weekends they have family activities in their Learning Center from noon to 3:00 p.m. And, children age 15 and younger enter free. For more information on the Arboretum visit www.arboretum.umn.edu.

One of my favorite places to visit on a cold fall day is the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in Saint Paul. Even my toddler loves exploring their indoor gardens. This is the perfect place when time is limited. You can walk through the entire conservatory in a matter of minutes or take the time to smell the flowers. Admission to the Conservatory is free, although they ask for a donation. Visit www.comozooconervatory.org for more information.

And, if you are really interested in that haunted house and haunted hayride, visit Zywiec's Landscape and Garden Center in Cottage Grove. They offer a "low-scare matinee" hayride for younger children. Their nighttime ride is much scarier - I wouldn't recommend it for young children (unless you enjoy being up in the middle of the night with a terrified child). Visit www.hauntingexperience.com for more information.

On a final note, if you plan to enjoy the lovely fall colors, you'd better hurry - pretty soon the leaves will be on the ground under a foot of snow!

Erin Erickson Garner is a writer and a specialist in maternal and child health. She currently is home with her two young children except for Saturdays, when she and her mom co-host the Good Enough MomsTM radio show on WFMP-Radio, FM107.1 in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Categories: Activities, Twin Cities Picks,

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