Jun 16 2011

Review of Dad’s Eye View: 52 Family Adventures in the Twin Cities

Families looking for fun outings in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have a new resource available to them.  Dad’s Eye View: 52 Family Adventures in the Twin Cities, by Michael Hartford, is now available from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, and it offers activity suggestions for families, at a rate of one per week.

Included in each two-page spread is a description of the location or activity, price estimate, quick tips, and location of the nearest restrooms.  Many pages include photos taken with vintage cameras, a hobby of Hartford’s.

For the most part, these are not day trips, but two- to three-hour outings that are family friendly.  The Como Park area, for example, which could be a full day’s worth of activity, is broken into the zoo, Comotown, and conservatory as three of the 52 entries, and then suggestions are given for “making a day of it.”  The book ranges from the obvious (Minnesota Zoo, Mill City Museum) to the more obscure (Hmongtown Marketplace, Lock and Dam No. 1).  I’ve always wondered if I could take my kids to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, and after reading Hartford’s entry about it, I know the answer.  I love that libraries are included as fun places to visit.

The book is arranged by season, as some of the activities are time-sensitive, such as festivals that are held annually, seasonal activities such as outdoor swimming, or water towers that are only open to the public once per year.  (And, speaking of water towers, Hartford likes climbing these with his kids, as three are included in the book.)  I like the map that is included at the front of the book to show where each of the sites is located.

Our family has been to half of the places Hartford included in Dad’s Eye View, and I agree with his assessments of the ones we’ve visited, leading me to add the rest of his sites to our to-do list as good family options.  The book is about the size of a thin toddler’s board book, making it easy to keep in a glove compartment or backpack for easy reference while on the go.  It’s quick to read it from cover to cover, yet the arrangement of the content and index make it useful as a reference as well.

A unique feature of the book is its free companion iPhone app, which includes all of the information from the book, along with the ability to check in and rate the sites.  Those who have an iPhone or iPod Touch may wish to forego the book and download the app instead unless they like the idea of paging through a physical book.  For those who can’t use the app, however, the $15.95 cover price may be worth it for the memories created by going to some new places as a family.

Parents looking for family fun may also wish to follow the Dad’s Eye View Facebook page for additional ideas.

Overall, I find Dad’s Eye View to be useful for some new family fun ideas in the Twin Cities.  The blurbs in the book are short but informational, and it includes a variety of activities that families will find helpful the next time they think, “What family fun can we find today?”

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press.  All opinions are my own.

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