My family vacationed in Brainerd, Minnesota earlier this month. Brainerd is about 6 hours away from the Des Moines area so it's a very doable and pretty easy drive up North. Before our trip I did some research on the area for family activities. I knew our resort would have a lot to do, but we are used to vacations where we are on the go most of the time so I wanted to find some additional activities for us. One of the places that caught my eye was Paul Bunyan Land. My family loves amusement parks and rides so it became a must do on my list. Plus I think everyone that visits Brainerd needs to get their pictures take with Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox. Babe is right there to greet you in the parking lot.
Once you've entered the park through the admissions building Paul Bunyan himself is there to greet your kiddos by name. If it's not too busy you can take some time to chat and he'll answer some questions too. He's actually the worlds largest talking animated man.
Since our kids vary in age from 2 to 10 I wanted to make sure the park would have enough things to do to keep each one busy. Most rides worked out pretty well that the family could split up and have the big kids do one thing while our little guy did his own. The Dodgem' cars didn't work out very well though because both our oldest two kiddos were too short to drive on their own and our little guy was too small ride at all. We were still able to get our rides in but be sure to check height requirements on the website before visiting so you don't have disappointed kiddos.
My little guy loves rides and there were multiple things he could go on at Paul Bunyan Land. His favorite was Hampton. He rode it several times choosing a different vehicle to drive each time. I think he would have been perfectly happy just driving around and around all day. The major downside of the amusement park was that even though we visited on a weekday and it was not crowded at all the kids weren't able to ride as much as they would have liked because the park's ride operators operate multiple rides at a time and have to move back and forth between them. Most of the time though it meant just waiting through one ride's cycle before getting to ride another which is still nothing compared to waiting in lines at other amusement parks.
Check out the size of that shopping cart in the background!
I think he liked it best when his big sissy rode with him. It was nice that she was able to ride on some of the rides with him when he was too short to ride on his own.
I think this girl may have had the best time there. She loved that she was tall enough to ride things like the Tilt-a-Whirl and Mini-Himilayan on her own. She didn't have to wait for one of the adults to go with her which I loved too because I just don't love the spinning rides the way I used to when I was younger.
Since the park wasn't busy and everything is pretty much wide open visually she could go on several rides while we were with her younger brother and we could still have eyes on her.
The downside of the wide open space of the park meant there's not really any shade. We were fortunate that our August morning was overcast because by the afternoon the sun popped out and it got real hot real fast. Be prepared with plenty of sunscreen on. Hats and cooling towels could be nice too. All the rides are pretty close together so this park is nice for those who can't handle a lot of walking.
Little Miss and I enjoyed our Ferris Wheel ride together and laughed when brother was waiting a while on top for us to get on the ride.
I thought it was really nice that there was a ride that all three kiddos wanted to go on together. They all loved the Frog Hopper.
I have to say that I was personally thrilled about the climbing wall. Our local climbing wall is pretty expensive and the kids don't usually get a chance to climb without waiting in a long line so it was really nice for them to get a chance to climb while we were there. The wall has different difficulties on each side. T was able to make it to the top, but wasn't ambitious enough to try the tougher side. I wish we would have done the climbing wall first and came back to it later. Lesson learned.
We finished our visit to Paul Bunyun Land with a walk around the This Old Farm Pioneer Village. I liked the Bunyun sized Radio Flyer wagon and trike.
The Pioneer Village is made up of multiple buildings chock full of antiques. It looked like a picker's dream to me! I spotted a few things I grew up.
Paul Bunyun Land is open daily from 10am to 6pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. There are seasonal events as well so be sure to check the website. Be sure to connect with Paul Bunyun Land on Facebook for park pictures, updates and more.