Adventurous Parenting: Enthusiast
Photo by Eliesa Johnson
Twin Towns Guitars
Get Ready to Rock
The Twin Cities is lucky to have music educators ranging from MacPhail Center for Music to a School of Rock, but when it comes to learning how to rock, don’t overlook your neighborhood guitar shop. Twin Town Guitars on Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis, for instance, isn’t just an amazing browse of new and used guitars and other instruments, it’s also a front for some serious music learnin’. Classes vary from U is for Ukulele (for 4- to 6-year-olds) to Teen Band (about being in a rock band), plus it offers private parent/ kid lessons (Band Buddy Duos) on instruments running the gamut from guitar to trombone.
Post-Picking pastries Feeling hip post-indie guitar shop hang? Walk up Lyndale for a Patisserie 46 cookie and a coffee/hot cocoa at Vicinity Coffee Shop.
Photo by Dan Norman
Join the Circus
Run away to St. Paul’s Circus Juventas for a high-flying education.
In case you’ve been living under a clown car, St. Paul has its very own circus school, permanent big top and all. And, while Highland Park’s Circus Juventas is primarily known for its high-flying, high-spectacle spring and summer shows, it’s the thick curriculum of classes spanning toddlers to adults that is really the bee’s knees. The spring session for non-performing classes begins February 20 (registration’s open now) with spectrum-spanning options from Intro to Vault Mini. Afterward, head deeper into Highland Park for a glass of wine and some strawberry shortcake at 40-seat wine bar Joan’s in the Park.
Photo courtesy of Leonardo's Basement
From books to glass art, you can learn how to make almost anything in the Twin Cities. Here are some of the niftiest options (and ideas for caloric post-learning treats).
BUILDING Southwest Minneapolis maker space Leonardo’s Basement is somewhere between your high school shop class, your crafty grandpa’s workshop, and a mad scientist’s lab, and it’s more than happy to have the whole family come out and swing a hammer. It offers a bevy of after-school classes plus birthday party deals and gnarlier stuff like metalworking for the teens. Reward yourself for learning how to use a plunge router at Kyatchi for Japanese. There’s a great happy-hour menu from 4 to 6 pm and a kids menu with options like plain ramen bowls for $6 and Japanese-style hot dogs for manga-loving middle schoolers.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota Center for Glass Arts
Glass Blowing at Minnesota Center for Glass Arts
GLASS The area’s premier glass arts studio and resource is the Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts in Northeast Minneapolis. It doesn’t have stuff for the wee-est of wee ones, but the public-access glass-working facility offers a by-appointment molten glass-working primer to anyone 9 or older and demos for families with kids aged 5-plus. One of the last great throwback greasy spoons, Ideal Diner is just down Central Avenue Northeast. Built in 1949, Ideal has 14 stools, no restroom, and burgers for between $4 and $6.50.
BOOKS Be it through papermaking, letterpress printing, or bookbinding, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in the Mill District celebrates books as holistic art beyond the ideas they contain. Every month there’s a handful of ways to get in on the bookmaking action. This month, the Valentine’s-themed class Sweet Books for the Sweet features a reading of Michele Malkin’s Pinky’s Sweet Tooth, and then attendees bind their own books using candy. Candy books in hand, go to nearby Zen Box Izakaya for a bowl of the best ramen in the Twin Cities.
TEXTILES Prospect Park’s Textile Center is about all things fabric, from embroidery to dyeing to sewing to felting to weaving to you name it. For older kids (9-plus), there are summer camps and a Youth Fiber Arts Guild. Kids 6 and older can have a birthday party like Mad Lab (designing and crafting monster stuffed animals) or Weaving (creating a bracelet or bookmark with weaving basics). A straight shot down Malcolm Avenue Southeast, Surly Brewing Company is a beer-loving parent’s paradise. There’s the kid book nook (across from the host stand) and snazzy $8 kids meals like brisket served with baked beans, lemonade, and a sundae with housemade fruit compote.
CERAMICS Seward’s Northern Clay Center isn’t just a studio space for accomplished artisans, it’s also an educational outpost for budding craftsmen of all skill levels and ages. Class options range from the two-month-long Throwing Together (for parents and kids 9-plus) to more informal weekly workshops for parents and kids as young as 6 like Too Hot to Handle (mug-making) on February 18. Celebrate your ceramics skills with hand-dipped ice cream just down Franklin at Seward Co-op Creamery Cafe.
Barely a block off Lake Calhoun in a castle-like mansion, Earl Bakken’s ode to the history of electricity, the Bakken Museum, is worth a visit. Headlined by exhibits like the current re-creation of Frankenstein’s laboratory (monster, Mary Shelley, and all), it also has a slew of ways for the family to engage, including a Lego robotics program, an Inventors Club, birthday party options, and all-ages science studios most weekends. As Nikola Tesla once said, “A solid afternoon of electrical experimenting deserves a donut,” so meander over to Bogart’s Doughnut Co. for a raised glazed after.