If you’re looking for something to do this summer, check out the Big Back Yard at St. Paul’s Science Museum of Minnesota. The Big Back Yard is a lovely place to visit during the summer months and features a mini-golf course, a prairie garden maze, a camera obscura, and other hands-on water exhibits. It’s a great place for families, teens, and first dates. Oftentimes, my family and I will find ourselves admiring it in the wintertime, but forget to check it out when the heat of summer rolls around.
Here is how the Science Museum of Minnesota describes it:
- In 9 holes of EarthScapes Mini-Golf, learn about the theme of ‘source to sink’—how landscapes erode, how rivers transport sediment, and what happens to sediment when it reaches the ocean.
- Walk into the Camera Obscura (Latin for “dark room”), and see an image of the outside world projected on the opposite wall.
- Learn how water and land can affect each other.
- Pan for gemstones and fossils in the giant sluice
- Walk through a maze of prairie plants native to Minnesota.
- Admire our Native American gardens and check out the Big Back Yard plant guide.
- Enjoy lunch at a picnic table.
There is no additional charge to visit the Big Back Yard if you are a member. A family membership to the Science Museum is highly recommended and will benefit you and your family all year long. If you are interested in the mini-golf course and/or the gemstone panning, the ticket prices are listed below:
Viewing the Big Back Yard is free with museum admission any time during your visit. Mini-golf is an additional charge: $3.00 for children ages 4-12 and seniors 60+, or $4.50 for adults. Members discount on mini-golf: 10%.
Golf for only $5 after 5 p.m.
Play mini-golf after 5 p.m. for only $5 without the purchase of museum admission. To do this, stop at the box office and pick up a special sticker.
At one end of the Big Back Yard exhibit there is a sandy hill where kids of all ages can build dams, create rivers and play in the smooth wet sediment. The experience of playing in the soft sand is almost Zen-like. On a recent trip, we saw a family of five where the father found playing in the sand to be irresistable. All the rocks in the Big Back Yard come from different places in Minnesota and the beauty of the surrounding flower gardens are sure to restore your spirit.
During your visit, you (and your kids) might learn something about water, solar panels, native prairie flowers and Minnesota geology while having fun in the outdoors. Put it on the summer bucket list and highlight it. This is one of those places that will bring out the kid in you. It’s a great destination if you are looking for something to do this summer on your “stay-cation” or if you just want to check out something new.
The Big Back Yard is open from 10 AM to dusk every day weather permitting in the summer months. The King Tut exhibit will be at the Science Museum until September 5. For more information about these exhibits and other happenings, click here.