Moving downtown with kids has been incredible. Staying at a hotel or coming for a day trip, you can repeat the day I’m about to tell you about with the itinerary at the end of the post.
On 12-12-2014, I swear on my grave we did the following (in no particular order):
- Walked 4 miles.
- Danced to a live rock band.
- Cheered on the MN Roller Girls at our first roller derby.
- Heard a bagpipe band, live.
- Watched a karate show, live.
- Hugged Santa.
- Got a face painting.
- Listened to folk songs and hokie-pokied with the live musicians, Ten Penny Tunes, demonstrating:
- the accordion, regular and mini bagpipes, ukulele, saxaphone, clarinet, and a penny whistle.
- Did some art.
- Brought home tons of library books and dvds.
All this and we:
- Slept in
- Ate 3 meals at home
- Watched dvds, ipads, or computer screens and/or napped for 5 hours in the afternoon
- Got home before 10pm
- Spent under $50
- Oh, and NEVER WENT OUTSIDE! (It’s cold here in December.)
I’m left gobsmacked at what’s possible living downtown.
We walked to the Central Library and back in the morning and to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium at the River Center for the Roller Girls event in the evening. The bill for the day could have been $26 for all four of us, but $7 beers and concession popcorn took us over. The day was relaxing, healthy, fun, inexpensive and enriching.
Incredibly, this kind of day isn’t an anomaly. The Central Library has awesome entertainment for kids every Saturday at 11:15am and the Roller Girls play once a month on a Saturday evening.
If you can’t join us,
Here’s a cheat sheet to do it on your own:
1. Take the Green Line into Central Station. There is a well lit public entrance to the skyway right there. It will be a 10 to 15 minute walk from there to the Library which opens at 11am. It’s all indoors, follow signs to the River Center. Print out a map of the skyway before coming. If it’s nice outside, walk outside. It’s less disorienting and more scenic.
2.a. Across the street from the Central Library and the River Center is the Science Museum of Minnesota. It is an incredible place for all ages and will make a lovely home for the 5 hours in between events. There are lots of food options (at least 3 restaurants and cafes within the museum) or you can eat a packed picnic in the spaces provided. Throughout the museum are comfortable chairs and couches to relax on, lockers to store your stuff in, and of course 5 floors of world class exhibits, interactive learning and entertainment at your disposal. You will have to walk outside for this, but it’s just across the street. They have special pricing for low income families, so be sure to ask if you qualify.
2.b. The Children’s Museum is a good option if you have toddlers or young kids. They will be in heaven, but I do wish they had more places for parents to rest while the kids play. There is a place to eat if you bring your own food, or order pizza from the Dominos around the corner on St. Peter Street. There is a small grocery store around the other corner called Rivertown Market on Wabasha Street (if you go to Candyland you’ll pass it on the way). Other kid friendly spots include Subway in the skyway, or Mickey’s Diner a block down on 7th Street.
2.c. An alternative afternoon in St. Paul with no out of pocket expenses is to spend it walking through the parks along the Mississippi River and/or Rice Park and through the Landmark Center. If you go to the Landmark Center, go to the upper floors to explore the judges chambers and the Wood Carver’s Museum. Don’t forget the free ice skating in December and January. There are many sit down restaurants in the area. For less fancy fare see the suggestions above for the Children’s Museum.
3. At 6:30pm walk back to the River Center. You’ll avoid the lines because you walked there instead of drove.
4. When you are filled to the rim with high impact entertainment at the Roller Derby, walk back peacefully, easily and quietly to Central Station avoiding all the traffic jams and delays large events create.
5. Plan a day of rest on Sunday–you’re going to need it.