Free and Cheap Entertainment for My 1 1/2 Year Old.

Updated on January 23, 2006
B. asks from Minneapolis, MN
18 answers

I'm a single mom on a TIGHT budget but want to take my son out to do stuff. Know any places that are low-cost or free that are age appropriate? We're just west of Minneapolis on 394, so I'm looking for ideas in that area.

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M.K.

answers from Duluth on

You could take him to the Eden Prairie Center. They have a cool, soft playland, completely free, by Kohl's in the lower level.

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S.

answers from Minneapolis on

Have you been to Edinborough Park in Edina? It's located east of France and just north of 494. It is an indoor park with a gym area for riding toys and ball play, and a small playground, trees and paths. A fee is charged for a larger playground and the pool. Great for wintertime playtime!

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A.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hey B.,

I'm also a single parent on a tight budget, so I can relate. Here are a few ideas

* Children's Museum offers free memberships to low-income families

* Science Museum offers free memberships to people who receive ANY type of public assistance (you just have to bring in a copy of your assistance... even WIC or MA qualifies!)

* ECFE - contact the local school district, these classes are lots of fun & free/low cost to low-income families

* Edenborough (?spelling) - this is an indoor play park in Edina; it costs around $3 to get in

* YMCA offers discounted memberships to income qualified families (they usually offer parent/child classes, like swimming, tumbling, etc.)

Good luck!!!!

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N.

answers from Minneapolis on

B., I would look into story time at the library. For sure the Ridgedale library offers weekend ones for working parents. Also the Children's museum offers free days every once and awhile. You can check thier website. I took my son to the Rainforest cafe in the Mall of America on night recently. Kids eat for 1.99 on Wednesday nights and my 1 1/2 year old son loved it there. We walked through Camp Snoopy after watching the rides that are all lite up. I hope this helps.

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H.

answers from Minneapolis on

well, the malls have playlands that my son (just turned 2) really enjoys running around, different malls have different themes that are pretty fun, but our favorite spots are edinborough park in edina (huge indoor park, cost $5 for child and an adult is free) and since he loves trains, there is an awesome train store in st paul, has a bunch of models set up and four tables in the back with thomas and brio for the kids to play on (we spend hours there) there are tons of things out there, but that's on the top of my head right now (probly going to the train store today) and they all have evening and weekend hours too!! =)
H.

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R.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi. I live right off 394 also and have a 9 month old and watch a 17 month old so we're also looking for activities. I have a couple suggestions but they're mostly for summer. Have you ever tried French park? Kids love their playground and it's just up on Rockford Road off of 494. Also, the Minneapolis Farmers Market is great fun on a Saturday morning. Even if you don't plan to buy stuff, it's fun to walk around and look at everything. It's also a great opportunity to teach your child about all the types of fruits and veggies. But, again, that's not till summer. Have you gone to the Maple Grove Community Center? They have a great pool and also an indoor playground with a special part for the little ones. Could you please let me know if you find out of other fun stuff? You can e-mail me at [email protected]____.com. Thank you.
-R.

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C.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi B...... here are a few things that might help:

Try babyzone.com.... they have a local calendar that you can search on for free events that you might not otherwise find ie. Kite Festival at Lake Harriet (who knew?~!?), free concerts at the Basilica, etc.

Some quick cheapy thoughts:

Toddler Tuesdays at Mall of America -- you can take a lunch, enjoy a walk and they have kid-focused entertainment (Ralph's World, Clifford Big Red Dog, My Little Gym, etc.). If you feel like splurging you can pay $9.95 for 3 hours of unlimited kiddie rides at Camp Snoopy on Thursdays.

Como Park Zoo is always great for a free day walk around (they have a donation jar at the entrance and you can donate a buck or something if you like).... cages are small, but it is fun for little ones. WARNING: be careful NOT to go during summer when the adjacent ride area is open if you are looking to save money!

ST. PAUL WINTER CARNIVAL -- Ice Carving/snow sculptures, Vulcans, etc. (pay for parking only).

PUBLIC LIBRARY -- have toddler storytimes at the libraries that you can participate in (check library schedule.... http://www.hclib.org/BirthTo6/Storytimes.cfm

Also at Ridgedale Library... my kids LOVE to go hang out cause they have toys, puppets, videos, etc. (and a place to buy a cup of coffee for me!) ;)

Hope that helps. C :)

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B.

answers from Minneapolis on

Dear B.,

I would consider having your child
play with an autistic or child with cerebral palsy or something.

Often those parents would pay you to play with their children....

Maybe take the kids on an outing.

I would contact the Minnesota Autism society, or the Frasier development center to see if anyone is looking to match your child with a buddy.

It may put cash in your pocket to pay for some museums, zoos etc. and it can help socialize the children with disabilites and help your child to learn sensitivity to others with differences. Just a thought, B in MN

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L.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi B.,
I would look into any story times that your local library has. I know our library did have evening ones. Mt twins LOVED going to have stories and sing. Also, you should check out the indoor play area at the Ridgedale Mall. It is a great place to let kids climb, slide, run in the winter!
L.

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S.

answers from Minneapolis on

hi B.,
i know it can feel boring sometimes with not much funds. i too am pretty broke being a single mom of a 1 1/2 year old. we go on sled rides, discover nature, pretend things, the arbortium in bloomington is nice in the summer, my mom works as a social worker and once in a while she gives us "tickets for tots" we have been to the circus, many plays at the childrens theater comp., disney on ice twice, maybe you could look into getting some tickets from them. we go bike riding in the summer, there are a lot of free games on the internet sesame street website, bbc website, playschool website.... libraries, even walking around MOA without spending money. one year olds are easily entertained. parades.

i hope this wasnt too many ideas. if you have any questions write back:)

S.

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T.

answers from Minneapolis on

Have you checked with the public library in your area. Most of them have story times, and special things that go on. They also are a good resource on what you can do free or cheap.

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M.

answers from Minneapolis on

Look into your area MOMS club,Golden Valley and Minneapolis lakes are strong clubs. Membership is around 25.00 for a year. They offer lots of free and low cost outings. Me and my son who is now 8, loved being a part of MOMS club.

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J.

answers from Minneapolis on

Dear B.,
I can understand. We are in a faily tight budget so here goes:
The Como Zoo often is low to no cost to take a child to during good weather. The Eden Prairie Center has a very nice indoor children's exercise and slide area that many enjoy. It is free except any food or rides on the periphery that cost now just 75 cents!
Other thing is certain days of the week the Mn Arboreteum offers free entrance days, contact them to learn about that! Also try to find a local Play Group where other Moms and or Dads share each others homes to watch over and let kids meet eachother to play.Hopkins Theater offers low priced movie tickets just a couple of dollars we have attended there for many years when we moved up here and bought our first house. The Fine Arts museum across from the Childrens Theatre downtown is usually enjoyable for even a 1 -2 year old to see all the bright colored pictures and images of Children and Moms
You can also find on the internet many almost very low cost projects to do with a young child like using cups to compare big and small sizes. Also the Salvation Army you do not have to be beyond hope to go there and buy something. So there you could find very low cost some clothing and carefully find toys also garage sales. Becareful of Soft Plastics that contain Phthalates

http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/pvctoys/index.html

Sincerely, Steven
Founder BabY-CooP CluB (for selling and buying new and resold children's items with care on the web)

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L.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

The best resource I've found for this kind of information is the event calander section on the website babyzone.com. I can't think of the URL for the twincities location, but if you get on the main site you can click on the twin cities to get a calander of activities...many free of charge.
Other ideas:
The play area at Ridgedale
Sledding
Programs geared towards toddlers
at the Ridgedale library (can find on their website)
Puppet shows at Heart of the Beast theater every Saturday morning (I think it is $2.00 per child) (can find on their website)

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K.C.

answers from Kansas City on

B.,
I have found the Ridgedale library off of Plymouth Rd and 394 is really fun. You can take him there and read books, listen in during storytime or play on the computers.
I hope this helps,
K.

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L.

answers from Minneapolis on

B. -

We are penny pinchers, so I know a few good deals over our way (we live in the midway area of St. Paul), if you have transportation.

Minnesota History Museum (free admittance and they have many parts of the exhibits that are child friendly)

Como Zoo - open all year long

Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum at Bandana Square on Energy Park Drive, between Snelling and Lexington (they ask for a couple buck donation for each child and adult) I have a 3 year old and 10 year old - both boys - and they never get sick of that place. it's very cool!

The New Brighton Community Center has a "mega-playland" type place where you can just buy a wristband for your son. It think it might be about $4. It's nice because you can go in with him, but adults don't have to pay.

Good luck!

L.

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C.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

The Red Balloon Bookshop on Grand Ave in St Paul has an awesome free storytime for toddlers on Tues mornings at 11 and on the first Sat of the month (can't remember the time). The Wild Rumpus bookstore in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Mpls is also great. They have all kinds of real animals to see in the store. I think they have story times too. Also, check out the activities offered through the Mpls Parks and Rec board. They offer pretty inexpensive classes and activities--not a ton of stuff for toddlers, but some fun things. A lot of the parks often have open play times too.

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J.C.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi! Storytime at the library is PERFECT - It is free and the kids love it! It is a great place to meet other parents too. They have family storytime on Monday nights at 7 - no need to register just go to Ridgedale library. They have storytime just for toddlers during the day at Ridgedale if you are interested pick up a schedule while you are there. They do such a nice job. Good Luck!

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