Summer Activities, Exhibits, and Programs at the Children’s Museum

Summer Activities for Kids in Mankato at the Children's Museum

The weather is finally getting warmer after another long Minnesota winter, area farmers are busy planting their fields with this year’s crop, and kids are growing more excited by the day for the last day of school. With summer break just around the corner, you may be greeted with a tinge of hesitation – wondering “how will I keep my kids engaged over the summer?!

Fret not – the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota has your back! We have planned a Summer full of special events, new weekly programs, and both indoor and outdoor exhibits that will keep your kids begging to come back again and again!

Weekly Programming

CMSM staff has developed weekly programming for every age group, from babies through grade-school-aged children and their grown-ups. These activities are led by our team of Museum Educators and oftentimes early childhood experts too. Each week, we will explore a different theme to support growing minds and spark their natural curiosity! As always, these regular programs are included with Museum admission or membership:

Drop by anytime during these hours to participate in these fun activities for families!

Special Events

Special events are scheduled regularly throughout the Summer, starting this Thursday, May 26th with the Teddy Bear Band! We are super excited for their inaugural visit to CMSM, and if the weather forecast holds true, it looks like a beautiful evening for this outdoor event! Don’t forget to bring your own teddy bear for a spin on the dance floor!

Visiting Animals

Visiting farm animals for kids in Mankato

Farm animals are always a hit with kids, and they’ll have plenty of opportunities to see goats, horses, cows, and pigs in the Alltech Farm Animal Experience! We also have Louie the Therapy Dog visiting several times throughout the Summer, where children and families can learn what exactly therapy dogs do and meet one up close and personal.

Military Appreciation

CMSM is participating in Blue Star Museums again this year, which means active Military Service members and their families receive FREE admission from May 21 through September 4. In addition, CMSM’s bi-annual Military Appreciation Days will be held July 1-3, where all past and present Military Service members will also enjoy free admission to the Museum.

Fire Safety Day

Fire Safety Day for kids Children's Museum Mankato

The uber-popular Fire Safety Day is returning this August! After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this outdoor event is set to return on Saturday, August 20. In addition to several area fire trucks and other emergency vehicles open to exploration, there will also be many other activities for kids throughout the Museum grounds:

  • Sparky the Fire Safety Dog
  • Smoke Simulator House
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Giveaways

This is a great activity for children to learn about fire safety, meet firefighters, and become comfortable with safety equipment. And what kid doesn’t love climbing around in a fire truck or trying on firefighter gear?!


If you’ve been to the Mankato Children’s Museum before, you’re probably pretty familiar with the indoor exhibits. The Grow It Gallery, Mankato Clinic Tree of Forts, and Coughlin Quarry are all favorites among toddlers and beyond, and we can’t forget about the Infant & Toddler Play Porch for our youngest visitors! But if you’re new, or if it’s been a while since your last visit, you’re in for some new and exciting additions as well!

Dig It!

Dig It! exhibit for kids at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato

The Dig It! exhibit is our biggest exhibit ever, and it even has a real mini-excavator! And yes, the kids can even safely operate it too! But that’s not all – they can also fly a drone, operate a crane, mix their own batch of cement, and learn about building roads too. This seasonal exhibit is not to be missed!

Nature-Based Play in the Dotson Back 40

Children are naturally drawn to the outdoors, and for good reason. It satisfies their natural curiosity and is the perfect environment for creative play, and inspires a lifelong love for the outdoors and conserving our natural resources. The full benefits of nature-based play are much too long to list here, but I highly recommend checking out this article for further reading. At the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, creating a safe environment for nature-based play is a top priority. That’s why we’ve added to our outdoor exhibits, and even recently acquired additional land to expand it even further!

Butterfly House

Butterfly House monarch exhibit for kids in Mankato

Back for its second year, the Butterfly House is scheduled to open June 21. This immersive exhibit teaches children firsthand about Monarch butterflies, their migration, and the importance of pollinators to the environment. Kids love exploring the gardens while chasing after beautiful Monarch Butterflies!

Mud Kitchen

Mud Kitchen nature based play at the Children's Museum in Mankato

Do you remember making mud pies when you were a kid? Imagine that, but with a full outdoor kitchen filled with baking pans, cooking utensils, and all the ingredients (dirt, grass, sticks, etc) to make the most magnificent “meal” your child can dream up.

Water Play

Water play at the Children's Museum in Mankato

What’s better than splashing in the water on a hot summer day? CMSM’s water play area was expanded last year to include an Archimedes screw that teaches children to work together to move water from one place to another. And don’t worry – there’s also a sunshade to provide little ones (and mom & dad!) some relief from the sun.

Summer at CMSM!

We’re sure your kids will love Summers at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota as much as we do! So start planning your visits, join or renew your membership, and be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings at Mankato’s favorite place for kids!


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