17 Secrets to Winter Family Fun in the Twin Cities Gateway
When winter sets in, don’t sink into a boring routine. Don’t let flurries send you into a fury. The surest way to prevent cabin fever is to get out! Even when thermometers dip below freezing, you and your loved ones can build warm memories. Whether cold temperatures push you indoors or out, these 17 attractions prove that even when it’s cold, smiles can shine bright enough to melt hearts. The communities of the Twin Cities Gateway, located just minutes away from downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul, offer inviting reasons to bundle up and venture out to laugh and play, together.
Bowlero is big bowling in Blaine: 38 black-light bowling lanes are flanked by massive HD video walls and plush lane-side lounge seating. Bowling is fun for all ages: Bring Grandpa (he might win)! Bowlero also offers a giant arcade with more than 50 games, a state-of-the-art laser tag arena equipped with cutting-edge technology to ensure each blast is accurate, billiards and balladium. What’s balladium? A fast-paced, interactive ball-blasting game played in an eye-popping black light arena: Load your air cannons with soft foam balls and race to outscore the other team before time runs out. Between games, a retro-inspired sports bar satisfies hunger with oversized made-to-share dishes like a two-foot Mega Dog, eight-pound Beast Burrito, and five-pound Behemoth Burger. Grown-ups might sip on craft beer or a signature cocktail.
Cheap Skate Roller Park in Coon Rapids invites families to lace up and race around the rink in roller skates, roller blades, light up razor scooters and even special walkers on wheels. Bring your own skates (subject to inspection, to protect the floor) or rent equipment with rates starting at $3. Cheap Skate hosts many special events including “Tuesday Night Family Night,” during which the rink’s mascot Ricky the Raccoon has been known to take a few laps around the rink, as well as “Dice It Up” on occasional Saturday evenings that’s aimed at older kids. The calendar also offers open skate sessions. Fuel up at the snack bar and, when in stocking feet, burn off energy jumping in a bounce house.
Eagles Nest Indoor Playground, located in the New Brighton Community Center, recently reopened after two months of reconstruction. Aimed at children age 12 and younger, it now boasts a triple-level slide, a quadruple wave slide, a tornado slide, walk-on piano keys player, two ball pits, hanging foam forest, and a three-story climbing structure up to the ceiling that is designed to look like a tree with an eagle’s nest near the top. A new toddler area offers a tree slide, foam play pieces, a lily pad walk, toddler ball pit, plus an area staged to look like a neighborhood with a small carousel.
Glow in One Mini Golf invites you to grip a putter and sink a golf ball into 18 simple-yet-challenging holes on this black-lit miniature golf course. Bright neon and upbeat music set a festive mood at this indoor course that’s located in Blaine. Fun for all ages…just don’t tell the kids that miniature golf encourages the use of math skills. The facility also offers several arcade games.
Mermaid Entertainment Center in Mounds View is the largest entertainment and event center in the upper Midwest. Its state-of-the-art bowling center offers 32 HPL synthetic lanes—a surface described by bowling aficionados as harder than wood to facilitate higher scores…perhaps you’ll set a new personal high-score record. In the game center, try your skill at dozens of arcade games including pinball, plus darts and billiards. The on-site Bar & Grille serves favorites like pizza, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, chicken nuggets and more deliciousness.
Tropics Water Park at the Shoreview Community Center offers pools with floating sea creatures to climb on, twisty slides, an interactive splashing palm tree, the zero-depth Shipwreck Beach play area with a boat slide, a challenging water walk, water volleyball and more. The three-story “Shark Attack” water slide boasts a one-of-a-kind jukebox-type system that lets riders choose from over 100 songs and enjoy a custom light and sound show during their ride. For family members age 18 and older, there’s also a relaxing whirlpool. Pool wristbands also grant access to the Tropical Adventure indoor playground, basketball and volleyball courts, fitness center and indoor track.
Urban Air Adventure Park is the place for airborne fun. Located in Coon Rapids, the 30,000-square-foot space offers an indoor coaster, a ropes course with ten obstacles, a challenging climbing wall, a slam dunk track, and wall-to-floor trampoline arenas that provide several zones to jump, flip and fall into foam. An open jump arena invites you to test your parkour skills while a zone with air-bag technology is a safe space to try stunts and tricks. Ultimate Dodgeball combines the familiar game with trampolines, kicking it up several notches. At Urban Air, people of any age and fitness level can test the limits of physics.
Zero Gravity Trampoline Park in Mounds View invites you to leap as high as you dare. Find 11,000-square feet of leaping, jumping, bouncing and flipping fun here. In addition to an open jump arena packed with trampoline surfaces, the park offers a basketball slam dunk zone where you can live out your ball-sinking fantasies, a traverse-style climbing wall, an aerial court with net, rope and other challenges, a dodgeball zone, laser tag, plus an arcade. A tot spot ensures that little ones tackle challenges that are safe and sized right for their age, including a mini obstacle course and climbing wall. Your whole family can somersault in the air, flip into a foam pit, bounce off walls: There’s no excuse to sit still.
Rum River Art Center in Anoka encourages creativity and quieter play with its art classes and open studio sessions focused on drawing, acrylic and watercolor painting, clay, and mixed media. Free Family Art Days, hosted around the last Sunday each month, welcome the whole family (ages four and older) to learn a new art skill and include the chance to meet the center’s mascot, Buddy the Blind Shar Pei. All ages classes on various dates invite families to work together, whether you prefer to tackle individual projects or take an all-hands-on approach to one piece. Open studio sessions on select dates invite you to come to the center to work on projects with an artist at the ready to answer questions, give guidance and suggest materials.
Anoka County Parks & Recreation maintains a 3.2 kilometer stretch of trails that can accommodate fat tire bikes by the Chamonix golf course within the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve. The fast-growing winter sport of fat tire biking is an activity the whole family can enjoy. A fat tire bike features, as the name suggests, a bicycle with wide, low pressure tires that are ideal for pedaling over snow-packed hills and trails.
Bunker Hills Regional Park that weaves and loops for 12 kilometers through flat areas and up slight hills. The sport of skijoring combines cross-country skiing and dog sledding. It’s a physical challenge the whole family can enjoy, even the dogs! Though you’ll need to bring your own trained dogs, skis may be rented at the Bunker Hills Campground Visitors Center.
Bunker Park Stable offers sleigh rides, a fun way to snuggle up with loved ones while enjoying the great outdoors. Ride through snow-covered meadows and forests of the 1,600-acre Bunker Hills Regional Park in Andover. Several sleighs are available to ride, including an antique sleigh that accommodates two to four people, a red bench seat sleigh for up to 14 people, and two flatbed sleighs for groups up to 25. A ride on the antique sleigh lasts about a half-hour, while the other rides are approximately an hour long. Reservations are required and if there’s not enough snow to sleigh a flatbed hay wagon will be pulled by the gentle team of strong draft horses instead. Trail rides on horseback are also available.
Four Seasons Curling Club at the Ice House in Blaine is the only year-round, Official Olympic Training Center curling ice facility in North America. Each Learn to Curl clinic is a two-hour opportunity for anyone age seven and older to learn the basics of the sport. The emphasis is on hands-on engagement, so you’ll be throwing rocks and sweeping ice in no time. Clinics end with a mini game. Your family might also watch and cheer during scheduled match-ups and meets.
Green Haven Golf Course in Anoka is home to 3.2 miles of cross-country ski trails, maintained by the city and available when signs indicate that the trails are open. The one-way trail system includes double tracks for classic skiers and a nine-foot wide trail for skate skiers. You can also cross-country ski at Bunker Hills Regional Park in Coon Rapids, Coon Rapids Regional Dam Park, and the Anoka Nature Preserve.