12 Things to Do with Family in Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Coon Rapids is a northern suburb of Minneapolis located in Anoka County, Minnesota along the Mississippi River. With a population of over 62,000 residents, it is the seventh largest city in Minnesota and offers plenty of fun activities for families of all ages.

From outdoor recreation like boating, fishing, hiking and sports to cultural attractions like theaters, museums and historical sites, Coon Rapids has something to delight every member of the family. The city also hosts various festivals, events and farmer’s markets throughout the year for families to enjoy.

This article will highlight 12 of the top attractions and activities in Coon Rapids that are fun for the whole family, ranging from free parks and trails to popular paid venues. With ideas for outdoor adventures, indoor entertainment, seasonal events and more, families can easily fill a weekend or longer vacation exploring everything this dynamic community along the Mississippi River has to offer.

Sand Creek Park – Hiking, Biking and Cross-Country Skis Trails
Nestled along the rumbling BNSF railroad tracks, Sand Creek Park spans 225 acres filled with 4 miles of scenic wooded trails perfect for hiking, walking, running or biking in the warmer months and cross-country skiing in winter. Families will love exploring the peaceful trails that meander through prairie grasses and wildflower meadows, as well as a marsh pond that attracts various bird species.

The northern trailhead offers a larger paved parking area and is located at 109th Lane NW and Round Lake Boulevard NW. The southern trailhead has a small gravel parking lot and is accessed at 133rd Avenue NW, just north of Main Street. The trails allow mountain biking and in winter the park staff tracks certain trails for cross-country skiing. With restrooms at the south parking lot and proper etiquette, leashed dogs are also permitted at Sand Creek Park.

1.Anoka County Riverfront Regional Park – Picnics, Fishing and Events


Stretching over 100 acres along a peaceful bend of the Rum River, Anoka County’s Riverfront Regional Park offers a perfect green space for families to spread out a blanket or set up lawn chairs for a picnic. The park also features a large covered picnic shelter with electricity available to rent for gatherings and events.

Families with kids who enjoy fishing will love casting lines from the shore and docks to reel in crappie, sunfish, bullhead and even northern pike. The park stocks the river with catfish and rainbow trout during the fishing opener. CANOCO and battered canoe rentals are available on-site seasonally so families can paddle the winding Rum River.

In addition to picnics and fishing, Riverfront Regional Park hosts a variety of events year-round for families such as races, festivals, live music and seasonal activities. The expansive wooded park filled with oak trees makes an ideal spot for photography shoots or simply tossing a Frisbee on the wide, inviting lawns.

2.Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park – Trail, Dam Overlook and Fishing


Built in 1913 to supply power to Minneapolis, the iconic Coon Rapids Dam spans 700 feet across the Mississippi River and also forms one end of a popular regional park. Families can access a paved 1.3-mile walking trail from a small lot on 99th Avenue NW that leads downstream to a scenic overlook on top of the dam itself.

Standing above the dam provides excellent views looking up and down the Mississippi River as massive amounts of water tumble over the spillway gates. Bold visitors can walk down a path from the overlook and stand a few feet above the raging spillway, although the deafening sound and strong mist makes raincoats a smart choice!

In addition to the dam overlook, families also flock to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park for the shore fishing opportunities around the fast-moving water at the base of the dam. The park also connects to nearby Sand Creek Park trails via a pedestrian bridge. Seasonally, the park offers kayak rentals below the dam so paddlers can cruise around the whirlpools spun by the gushing currents.

3.Snowshoe Trails at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park


Every winter when snow blankets the landscape, families looking for outdoor adventure strap on snowshoes to trek along nearly 5 miles of designated trails at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park. Located minutes from downtown Coon Rapids, the generous 250 acres of wooded park along the Mississippi provide the perfect Nordic playground right in the heart of the city.

Snowshoers of all ages and abilities will enjoy breaks along trailhead kiosks with trail maps before venturing into the peaceful snow-covered woods filled with a surprising amount of terrain. Most of the snowshoe trails are easy and flat but some short segments have steeper slopes. Families can easily spend an afternoon winding through the snowy forest and along the shores of the icy Mississippi River.

4.Buccaneer Bay and Pirates Cove – Year-Round Indoor Waterparks


When Minnesota’s brutally cold winters keep families stuck indoors for months, Buccaneer Bay and Pirates Cove provide tropical relief with expansive indoor water parks open all year round. These side-by-side whimsical venues allow parents and kids to enjoy wave pools, winding lazy rivers, thrill slides, toddler play areas and hot tubs regardless of the freezing temps or snowfall outside.

Buccaneer Bay covers an impressive 85,000 square feet packed with every aquatic amenity imaginable spread over three stories. Highlights include the Treasure Chest play structure with tipping bucket, Shipwreck Island wave pool, Rip Tide tube slide, family raft rides and an adults-only level called Captain’s Quarters. Meanwhile, Pirates Cove opens access between the water parks to expand the enjoyment across 150,000 combined square feet of pools and slides!

The venues sit adjacent from the National Sports Center’s colossal soccer complex in northwest Coon Rapids, which also owns both water parks. Families seeking an active adventure escaping Minnesota’s harsh winter weather can purchase individual passes or affordable memberships allowing year-round tropical relaxation at Buccaneer Bay and Pirates Cove.

5.Anoka-Hennepin Community Education Youth and Adult Enrichment Programs


From art and dance to sports and STEM, Anoka-Hennepin Community Education offers an astounding array of youth and adult enrichment programs perfect for family participation or dropping kids off during school breaks. The low-cost classes range from seasonal one-day workshops to months-long programs spread across schools and community centers countywide.

Dozens of age-specific options for elementary, middle and high school students over school breaks include athletics like basketball and volleyball along with fun activities like babysitting training, cooking, photography and woodworking. Families can also sign up for the same adult classes in topics like financial planning, foreign languages, health and technology.

The expansive catalog of Anoka-Hennepin Community Education classes changes every season with new topics also available online along with summer youth camps. By participating together, these classes create perfect family bonding opportunities while still keeping parents and kids engaged based on their own personal interests and hobbies during the sessions.

6.Green Haven Golf Course and Event Center – Golf, FootGolf, Events and More


From hitting the greens on perfectly manicured fairways to renting space in elaborate banquet halls, Green Haven Golf Course offers plenty to delight family members of all ages beyond the links. The 18-hole course spreads across 210 acres just minutes from downtown Coon Rapids with dynamic elevation changes and water features like lakes and creeks throughout the layout built along the Rum River.

In addition to regular golf, Green Haven also offers unique FootGolf courses on the property where players kick soccer balls into enlarged holes. Juniors golf programs help build skills for kids while the entire facility provides an ideal backdrop for group events, weddings, conferences, meetings and celebrations in the spacious event spaces.

Families needing a break from putters and FootGolf balls can also enjoy tasty meals with scenic views outside on the Bunkers Bar & Grill patio or inside the River Room restaurant while browsing the well-stocked pro shop. Lessons, leagues and clinics are available for all skill levels along with equipment rentals to experience everything Green Haven’s premier golf and event venue has in store.

7.Theatres and Performing Arts – Comedy, Concerts and Productions


Coon Rapids native, comedian and radio personality Louie Anderson brings plenty of laughs to the historic Anoka Theatre with scheduled shows throughout the year that families can enjoy together. The downtown theatre built in 1900 also hosts several community theatre company productions, musical acts, illusion shows and children’s programs families can catch onstage most months.

Additionally, the Coon Rapids Civic Center downtown provides space for local performing arts groups to present full-scale plays and musicals in an intimate setting a few times each year. Families seeking a harmonious experience can check performance schedules for the Anoka Area Community Band playing free concerts or the Northern Lights Chorus women’s a cappella singers.

For spectacular Broadway-style productions, the nearby Main Street Theatre in Anoka also delivers lavish musicals families love like The Little Mermaid along with seasonal concerts and children’s shows. With this variety of local theater groups and venues, Anoka County offers plenty of inspiring arts performances for parents and kids to attend together most months of the year.

8.Springbrook Nature Center – Trails, Exhibits and Programs


A wooded oasis within Coon Rapids city limits, the 150 acres of tranquil wilderness spanning Springbrook Nature Center gives families access into natural habitats usually more distant. Five miles of trails wrapped through prairie, wetland and forest ecosystems provide visitors of all ages up close encounters with Minnesota plants and wildlife across paved and rugged dirt trails.

The center also houses small and large animal exhibits in the Chickadee Cottage and Big Woods area along with natural play spaces like a log cabin and treehouse kids love to explore. Interpretive nature displays in the lobby highlight features families might spot on the trails while regular programs occur year-round like story time, animal meet and greets plus craft activities.

Parents wanting to educate kids on nature or look into upcoming summer camps for children should visit Springbrook Nature Center, which requires no admission fees but welcomes donations. The trails, hands-on animal encounters and regular family programs offer many memorable ways to learn about Minnesota’s wildlife just steps from your own backyard.

9.WhirlyBall – Bumper Cars Meet Lacrosse


Blurring family fun between bumper cars and lacrosse, WhirlyBall offers fast-paced matches for all ages and abilities to enjoy. Participants ride electric scooters equipped with bumpers around a court and use special lacrosse sticks to handle a whiffle ball they must throw into a small goal to score points.

Up to 10 family members across two teams can play simultaneously while music pumps through speakers to amp excitement. Games consist of four, eight-minute quarters with running time clocks so the high-energy action never really stops. Players must pass the WhirlyBall back and forth between teammates before attempting shots, much like lacrosse rules.

The arena sits adjacent to Green Haven Golf Course just across the Coon Rapids Dam bridge in Brooklyn Park. WhirlyBall staff keep matches safe and fun for ages 5 and up with specialized kid scooters available so families can play together regardless of size or mobility differences. The sport molds fast, playful competition with a completely unique experience perfect for birthday parties, corporate team building and family gatherings.

10.Youth Athletic Associations – Sports Programs and Events


From recreational kickball to competitive traveling baseball teams, Coon Rapids offers athletic programming for youth of all ages through community associations focused on particular sports everyone can enjoy. Kids can learn fundamentals and build skills over seasons while bonding with other community members on town teams.

Baseball fanatics have Little League, Babe Ruth and Legion divisions to play ball on dedicated complex diamonds across the city. Soccer leagues run recreational and competitive seasons on the spacious pitches surrounding the National Sports Center facility. Hockey players can join the Coon Rapids Youth Hockey Association to skate at local rinks and basketball lover find hoops fun through the Coon Rapids Athletic Association.

For something different, Coon Rapids Blast offers boys and girls baseball, kickball and flag football leagues each summer. With so many sport-specific programs tailored to different commitment levels, families find no shortage of ways for kids to participate on Coon Rapids teams building athletic skills and lasting memories together.

11.Touch-A-Truck – Popular Annual Event Climbs Aboard Big Machines


Families who like things that go vroom will not want to miss the annual Touch-A-Truck event held each June at the Anoka County Fairgrounds featuring incredible displays of massive machinery kids can explore up close. Hundreds of cool commercial trucks, public service vehicles, construction equipment and interactive exhibits from community vendors climb onsite welcoming kids and adults to sit in drivers’ seats and activate loud horns and flashy lights.

Unique photo opportunities abound clambering around cement mixers, fire engines, dump trucks, tractors, ambulances, police cars and many more trucks of every shape and size. Some favorites often include the rock-climbing wall, helicopter landings and the fan-favorite monster trucks crushing vehicles in arena shows throughout the day.

In addition to all the incredible trucks, Touch-A-Truck also offers fun zones with inflatables, carnival games, obstacle courses, food trucks and more family entertainment. The event draws thousands of awestruck future truckers crawling over big machines they can only typically see from afar but now with incredible behind-the-wheel access.

12.Anoka County Fair – Livestock, Rides, Music and Funnel Cakes


Each August brings a much-anticipated community tradition filled with thrill rides, talented performances, sweet treats and family fun as the Anoka County Fair arrives for a five-day run. While kids love zooming around the midway on carnival rides and winning stuffed animals playing games, the fair offers entertainment parents also appreciate.

Beyond sugary snacks like funnel cakes and curly fries, the fairgrounds fill with talented bands rocking free shows, agriculturally focused exhibits and competitions recognizing skilled craftsmanship. Families can support local 4H children proudly displaying livestock projects or catch high-flying motocross stunt shows tearing up the race track.

Nightly fireworks burst colorfully over the fairgrounds located in Anoka but essentially serving as Coon Rapids’ hometown county fair too. Over 300,000 visitors enjoy the Anoka County Fair every summer with affordable tickets available daily or the full run allowing families unlimited rides and entertainment all week long.

Conclusion


With incredible waterparks like Buccaneer Bay and Pirates Cove to trails ideal for winter snowshoeing at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, Coon Rapids truly offers year-round fun the entire family can enjoy together. Outdoor playgrounds at spots like Sand Creek Park and Anoka County’s Riverfront Regional Park give kids room to run and explore while parents unwind on picnic blankets.

Families find both athletic and artistic outlets for kids through local community education programming or vibrant theater performances at venues like Anoka Theatre and Coon Rapids Civic Center. Seasonal favorites occur annually like admiring massive trucks at Touch-A-Truck and catching daredevil shows at the Anoka County Fair. And places like Springbrook Nature Center and WhirlyBall blend education with interactive family participation across their unique attractions.

From toddlers to seniors, Coon Rapids provides enjoyable activities tailored to all interests, ages and abilities throughout the community. Families looking for convenient adventures close to home or Minneapolis getaways welcoming kids need only explore this eclectic Mississippi River suburb where memorable experiences await around every corner.

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