Fall is by far the best season—who’s with me on this one? The sticky summer heat is finally giving way to cooler temperatures, the leaves are exploding into spectacular sunset colors, and apples are ready for picking and pie-making. Now is the time to take your girls to experience everything the Midwest has to offer. From corn mazes to time travel (see below!), here’s how to make the most of the fall.
- Go Birding
Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center
Minnesota campus: 12805 St. Croix Trail S. Hastings, MN 55033
Wisconsin campus: 300 East Cove Road Hudson, WI 54016
Soak in the sights and sounds of the outdoors (and maybe take a forest bath while you’re at it) at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center. The Nature Center has over ten miles of hiking trails (three and a half of those miles are paved to accommodate people with mobility limitations) for girls to explore and learn about the natural world. Sign up for one of the bird hikes or their owl banding (they’ll be banding the Saw-whet Owl—the bird on last year’s Early Bird patch!).
- Visit an Apple Orchard
Did you know that the science of fruit growing is called pomology? The University of Minnesota started their apple breeding program in 1888 and since then, has released almost 30 apple varieties, including my personal favorite, SweeTango (sorry, Honeycrisp!). We’re in apple country, so there’s no shortage of orchards (find one close to you).
- Venture Back in Time
Dakota City Heritage Village
4008 220th St. W, Farmington, MN 55024
Step back to the 1900s in Dakota City, a fully operational village and museum connecting people to the rural past. Girls can get a firsthand experience and glimpse of what life was a hundred years ago. The village includes 22 buildings scattered throughout the five-acre site with costumed interpreters and demonstrations to show girls how people used to grow their food, make their own clothes, and connect with one another. There are also tours designed for Girl Scouts working on badges!
- Make Your Way Through a Corn Maze
Severs Fall Festival
1100 Canterbury Rd. Shakopee, MN 55379
Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze8001 109th Ave. N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445Get lost (and find your way!) in an a-maize-ing maze. Both of these options are on family-run farms and include plenty of other activities for girls to enjoy like obstacle courses, petting zoos, and giant corn pits. Be sure to check their hours before you go—the festivals are only open on the weekends and select MEA days.
- Explore American Indian History and Culture
Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
43411 Oodena Dr. Onamia, MN 56359
One of the Minnesota Historical Society’s network of 26 historical sites and museums, the Milles Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post is dedicated to telling the story of the Milles Lacs Band of Ojibwe. While the trading post is open year-round, the museum is only open from May through October. Check out the museum’s Four Seasons Room, which highlights traditional Ojibwe life and activities. Girls can learn about how the Ojibwe followed the earth’s changes to gather and preserve food through each season in order to survive and thrive in the frigid Minnesota climate.
Can’t make it to any of these activities—or looking for more options? Check our website for a list of other field trip opportunities!
Lily Yu – Lily is a Volunteer Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. In her free time, Lily enjoys going for long runs, reading, and spending time with her family (including her five-year-old daughter who’ll be a Daisy this year!).
- Go Birding