Family Favorites Editors' Picks

Once a year, it is open for exploration. During Prospect Park's neighborhood June Ice Cream Social, the doors stand open for those who dare to begin the ascent. There's something soothing about climbing the shallow circular stairs as other voices and footfalls drift and echo about. The 360-degree view is well worth the climb. While it's high enough to be exciting (you can watch planes in a landing pattern as far away as the airport), it's not so removed that little ones lose perspective, because streets and houses are easily distinguished from feet. Walking around the top of the tower and looking out over the neighborhoods and the city, you have a sense that we are all a part of one community.



Best Living History

Historic Fort Snelling

Highways 5 and 55


(612) 726-1171


A walk around the restored fort provides a peek into once upon a time. While everyone in costume holds fast to their historical context, they welcome visitors and invite them to be a part of a regular day at the fort. A chat with the blacksmith might require some bellows pumping or fuel gathering. Mrs. Snelling uncomplainingly shares the challenges of raising a family so far from home. The infirmary is an especially informative place to visit, although the medicine and dentistry practiced then may seem a tad gruesome! Few things are better for reinforcing good teeth-brushing habits than the display of tools used for extraction.

Watching the soldiers drill and fire the cannon is a highlight, and it might be a way to bring perspective if there is a fascination with guns at your house. Marching in formation takes practice, and rifle drills require a great deal of concentration.

Sometimes fur traders and other characters drop by. On rainy afternoons, they have been known to invite oddly attired strangers (a.k.a. fort visitors) under their shelter to share a hot meal and hear a story or two. Pig's Eye himself has even appeared!

While Fort Snelling offers regularly scheduled family events, games, dances, and even archeological digs, it's also a place where you can spend a "there's nothing to do" afternoon by simply drinking in the atmosphere, climbing the towers, and enjoying the scenery.



Best Place to Find a Family Pet

Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley

845 N. Meadow Lane

(Highway 55 and Meadow Lane)

Golden Valley

(612) 522-4325


Arf, arf, arf!

"What's that, Lassie?"

Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf!

"Timmy fell down the well? Again?"


There was a time when every kid wanted a collie. And dalmations were the rage for a while. But they, like all purebred dogs and cats, are breeds with specific strengths and needs. If, after researching the pedigree, there is only one kind of animal that will make you and the family happy, by all means locate a reputable breeder and invite a special friend into your home.

But if you are looking for a simple and all-encompassing family pet, go to the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley. The third largest humane society in the nation, they receive 23,000 animals each year. Here, guided by staff and volunteers who can help you match your needs with an animal's temperament, you can adopt a companion who will never forget that you chose them above all the others. (And don't worry about the fate of all those others; they have a place to stay until the right match is made.)

With the feel of the happiest pet store around, the Humane Society of Golden Valley allows children to scratch ears and rub noses--not particularly hygienic, but almost inevitable--with all those who wag and purr. Visitation rooms provide a quiet spot away from distractions to see if the fit is right. Some animals are attracted to children, some prefer the company of adults. Some play, some cuddle, some do a bit of each. Doing a bit of homework will help you find just the right pet for your family, so take the time to read up on selection and care. Some books that might help include The Perfect Match: A Dog Buyer's Guide by Chris Walkowicz, The Right Dog for You by Daniel S. Tortora, and The Complete Cat Book by Richard H. Gebhardt.

Health certificates and adoption agreements help ensure everyone's future happiness, including financial assistance with the required spaying or neutering process. Animals have all shots except rabies, and all are implanted with microchips, helping to ensure that lost animals will be returned safely home. And there are supplies for sale so the new furry family member can go straight home with you to begin the process of becoming part of the gang. Adoption hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.



Best Place to Dream Big Dreams

Along Post Road


There are those children and adults who just love watching planes take off and land. Take the Post Road exit off Highway 5, follow the road around to the clearing at the side of the runway, and pull over with the other dreamers to watch the air traffic come and go. Bring a book from the library to help identify the different types of aircraft that venture through the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport every day. Northwest Airlines' equipment includes the DC-9 (two engines mounted on the tail), DC-10 (one engine under each wing and one on the tail), 727 (three engines on the tail), 757 (one under each wing), A-320 (one engine under each wing, shorter than the 757) and the 747 (two engines under each wing). Fridays and Sundays, various military aircraft on cross-country trips journey through regularly. And once in a great while, a Russian cargo plane flies in!

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