I’m writing this now because you’re not supposed to be looking at the Internet on September 2. Believe it or not, there is a lot of cool stuff to do when you’re not staring at a screen. 

Question: What did we do before there was the Internet? Answer: Played outside with the three dimensional people.

There are so many wonderful parks and trails around Central Minnesota that I can’t even count them all and it’s a great way to get outside and unplug. Pack the bikes or your good walking shoes and head out. Not saying you have to do the whole Lake Wobegon Trail in one day, but doing a chunk of it can feel really good and very rewarding. If you get bored walking, you could jog, skip, hippity hop or run as well.

While I’m on the subject of getting out doors, you could teach your kids how to camp. If you haven’t been camping since the kids came along, you could learn how to camp, even if it’s in the back yard. Set up the tent and the air mattresses with sleeping bags just like you would if you were on a real outdoor adventure. If you don’t have a fire pit like you would at a campground, lots of stores are looking to get rid of their summer gear and you could probably get a great deal on a mobile fire pit. And what’s a camping “trip” without s’mores? Only switch it up and use peanut butter cups instead. It’s an unexpected taste, but it’s super good. You could also weasel your way to your friends’ cabin under the premise of “taking out the dock”. What have you got to lose and they’ll probably reward you with beer.

Renaissance Festival is in full swing this weekend and it’s not going to be cold or rainy. I did the Feast of Fantasy a couple of years ago and it was really fun. I ate like a king and there was a sampling of many of the entertaining acts you could catch all over the festival grounds. Valleyfair is another great spot and with the Great Minnesota Sweat Together going on, Valleyfair is darn near abandoned so if you’re a maniac for rides like I am, it’s a perfect time to go.

Speaking of fairs, the Minnesota State Fair is going on in St. Paul until September 3. I was there last weekend and there were a lot of people, but the food was still good. I ate a bucket of French fries at the big yellow Fresh French Fry booth and I also sampled the French fries from the World’s Greatest French Fries stand across from the Ball Park Café. If you’re a big fan of meat as I am, the giant turkey legs are always a treat, as is Big Fat Bacon. The line is always long, but it moves fast and it’s worth it for a hot juicy 1/3 pound strip of bacon. Famous Dave’s also has a booth out at the fair and they have chocolate covered bacon called Pig Lickers and that was an odd combination but still good. If you’re warm and full of bacon, try Dole Whip near Ye Olde Mill and grab a raspberry and pineapple twist. Very refreshing. Ye Olde Mill is also a great throwback ride as it’s been there for 100 years. It’s just funny and cheesy. I am also a big fan of the Sky Ride that takes you over the fair grounds. I made the mistake of riding in the enclosed gondola on a hot day. I thought I was going to suffocate, so if you’re not afraid of your legs dangling a couple of stories above ground, go for the open ski lift style. You get a bird’s eye view of everything. The space needle thingie is also very scenic and the DNR fish pond is an educational up close look at what lives in our lakes and rivers.

Since many of the kiddos went back to school this past week and many start on September 4, why not sharpen or expand their minds with a trip to Historic Fort Snelling and check out the Sibley House Historic Site for Life in the 1800s from Cradle to Grave and learn about how people relly lived before there was the Interweb. Way before. It’s crazy to think that this gem is hidden in the heart of a bustling city but it’s true. Minnehaha Falls is also nearby and that is cool. If you like fish, by the way, Sea Salt is a neat little food stand and you can hear the roar of the falls from where you sit.

If you’re an animal lover and don’t want to risk catching H1N2V in the swine barn, go to the zoo. Como Zoo in St. Paul has Como Town amusement park for the kids and tons of neat exhibits where you can get up close to the animals and admission is free. There’s also the Hemker Park and Zoo or the Minnesota Zoo. Are you more into aquatic creatures? The Sea Life Aquarium at Mall of America is a must. While you’re there, you can hit up Nickelodeon Universe and since you're at the mall you can always do some last minute back to school shopping.

These are just a few of the many things you can do with your friends, your kids, or just have some me time if you’d like. The Childrens’ Museum, Firefighters Museum, Science Museum, Waterpark of America, Vertical Endeavors, Wildwoods Waterpark, Wild Mountain, Franconia Art Park, The Depot, Airmaxx Trampoline Park, Skatin’ Place, Extreme Sandbox, ProKart Go Cart, Goony Golf, the Arboretum; the list goes on and on.

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