It was rainy and cool in Minneapolis this past weekend, harbinger of an autumn that’s coming on much too fast. Fighting the doldrums and Early Onset Cabin Fever, my husband and I gathered our three kids Sunday afternoon and headed to the Minnesota Children’s Museum.
We hadn’t visited since spring. Summer is glorious in Minnesota, but short. Why waste a sunny day playing indoors? We have winter for that.
But if we must have winter and dreary weekend days, I’m glad we have a place like the Children’s Museum. It’s colorful and creative, imaginative and engaging. Our kids are partial to scrambling through the huge anthill in the Earth Works room and playing supermarket clerk and mailman in the kid-sized neighborhood of the Our World gallery. Teyla, at eight months, loves crawling around the padded Habitot room, which is full of textures, sights and sounds designed for babies.
It’s just one of the reasons I’m happy to be raising my family in the Twin Cities. And according to the results of the 2008 America’s Favorite Cities survey, even outsiders view my hometown as a good place to settle down. Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked second (out of 25 major U.S. cities) in the areas of cleanliness, intelligent residents and safety. We came in third for having friendly people and being an affordable place to shop and live. And we were in the top five for public parks and access to the outdoors, farmers and specialty food markets and ease of getting around town.
We didn’t do so well in the thriving nightlife area, ranking low for quality of singles bars and nightclubs. Nor did we score high on weather. (Only Chicago came in lower than us.) But that’s OK. When it comes to raising my kids, I’d rather have intelligent neighbors and great public parks than Las Vegas’ party scene or San Diego’s picture-perfect climate. (I will not remember saying this come January.)
The Twin Cities tend to be in the top ten of every “Best Place to Raise a Family” list out there. Chalk it up to great schools, low cost of living, tons of pediatricians, almost non-existent pollution and low crime.
Here are a few other reasons why I love living here:
Change of seasons. There’s something magical about watching the ebb and flow of nature through the eyes of a child. Natalie loves the snow. (Despite her father’s mantra that “winter is evil, winter is evil.”) Connor looks forward to our annual trip to the apple orchard. The seasons give our lives structure and variety and expectation.
Active lifestyle. Minnesotans are a resoundingly fit bunch. Even on the coldest winter days, you’ll see people jogging and ice skating and cross-country skiing and sometimes even biking to work. (Although I personally believe winter bikers are certifiable. As are people who ice fish.) During warmer months the trails and parks and lakes and fields can get downright crowded. The assumption is to get out and get moving, never mind the weather. Gotta love that attitude.
Water. I wasn’t born a Minnesotan, but I grew up here. Thus, I am a water baby. There are gorgeous, sky-blue lakes around every bend in Minnesota. (Which is also why we have mosquitoes the size of robins. But I digress.) I love swimming and spending lazy summer days at the beach. I'm proud that the sport of water skiing was invented here, that we have a pristine lake wilderness to canoe and yes, that those lakes freeze into hockey rinks each winter.
So now it’s your turn. Brag a little about where you live. What makes your city a great place to raise a family?
And if you can't think of anything? Feel free to move to Minnesota. Your first play date at the Minnesota Children's Museum is on me.
Kelly, who still misses San Diego, despite all evidence to the contrary, can also be found blogging at Love Well.