1. Splash Pads
My sons love the Nicollet Commons splash pad in the heart of Burnsville. They can run all over and there’s shade to sit and eat a packed lunch. It is basically a trail of running water and a few fountains. It is never very busy and some evenings they host a movie in the park.
Rosemount splash pad is another splash pad we like to visit, its a little bit of a drive for us but right in downtown by the Rosemount city hall. It has a water track that the children can watch balls and matchbox cars float down and there is a playground near by. You can sit in the shade or sun and watch the children run around.
Our favorite beach to visit is in Prior Lake, Watzl’s Point Beach. It’s never crowded and you are allowed to drink alcohol as long as it’s in a can (no glass). There is a nice bathroom, great view of prior lake and a big sandy beach. It is a short paved walk to get to.
Schulz Beach in Eagan is great as well. It’s usually pretty crowded during the day. They do offer large umbrellas to sit under, trails to go hiking and if you like to get out on the water they offer paddle boards, kayaks and canoe rentals.
3. Hiking Trails
Lebanon Trails off off Pilot Knob Road in Eagan. It offers a nice trail around the lake with bridges and mud (if it just rained). There is a playground and a park shelter with bathrooms. We can usually find crayfish (picture below), turtles, and other fun creatures.
There are some great trails by Schulz beach, we like to hike to the beach (sometimes you may need to bribe the kids) so bring swimsuits. There are so many trails through the woods and over the pond nearby. We always stop by the nature center where the kids can play. The kids can learn more about the animals, insects and plants you may see while hiking.
4. Como Zoo
Como is a free zoo (suggested donation) to visit in St. Paul. Most of it is outdoors, they also have a big area of rides if you want to spend money. We love to walk around and see all the animals. They offer a wide variety animals that you wouldn’t see at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. The carousel is a big hit with my boys if they were well behaved. Parking can be crazy on the weekends and you may need to walk quite a distance.
We, well I, get sick of the playground down the street. We like to venture out and find a playground we have never visited before. Some of the best finds are in neighborhoods nearby and there’s usually no one else at them. We like to pack a lunch and find a new playground at least once a week.
Every Library offers something a little different. The one we visit the most is Dakota County Wescott Library in Eagan. There is so much for the kids to do. They have toys to play with, Scavenger hunts, and we check-out books to read before bedtime. Some libraries offer story time for the kids at certain times. We got a chance to attend a halloween dance party last October.