SURVEY INSIDE: Thinking bigger for family attractions

It was Father’s Day – an extraordinary summer day in Fargo-Moorhead if you happened to miss it – and my husband and I were looking for something fun to do with our 15-month-old twin boys.

We couldn’t stand the thought of sitting inside the toy-cluttered house while the world around us frolicked in the sun. And since we don’t own a lake place or have family or friends who do (we’re an anomaly, I know), we found ourselves having the same conversation we’ve been having the last four weeks or so.

What should we do today?

So, like almost every other Sunday of late, we coerced the boys into the minivan (they aren’t a big fan of car seats these days), and headed for the zoo.

I love the zoo. Always have. But as our luck has had it on recent trips, pretty much all of the animals were fast asleep in the shade. As we were leaving, I realized the only animals we really saw out and about (other than birds, which don’t really count) were the farm animals. The boys seemed to like them – especially when one of the horses stuck its face down by their stroller (frightening for me, but nevertheless exciting for them). Still, I have to say I left feeling a little bummed.

It’s not the zoo’s fault. They seem to be doing all they can with the resources they have. I applaud their hard work and support it, but I have to wonder, is that the best we can do?

I’m talking to you, Fargo-Moorhead.

For a city that touts itself as a great place to raise kids, I have to say we come up a little short in the cool-stuff-to-do-with-your-kids department. For a community this size, we should have more or at least bigger. Looking around, I’d say we cater more to the business man than to the bustling mom.

I’m not trying to pick on Fargo. I love this community, which is why I think discussion on this topic is good. Still, I’m sure many of you reading this are making mental lists of all the things there are to do with your kids so you can fire back at me. I know, I know. There are places to go. I’ve been to most of them actually. That isn’t really my argument, though.

My point: What if we really put our heads to work as a community and dreamed bigger … what if Fargo-Moorhead had a true family attraction capable of drawing people from all over the region. I’m thinking a really cool aquarium with elements for kids and adults, or a big water park/ amusement park with things for wee kids and big kids, too. Or what I’d really love is a full-sized children’s museum with state-of-the-art exhibits that changed from time to time and provided an interactive experience every time.

I brought this idea up with a group people when I got to work Monday. Several – even one or two without kids – agreed with me. One called me “high maintenance.” That’s fine. I’ll take that jab. I explained that I didn’t think it was too much to ask that family friendly attractions also be interesting enough to hold an adult’s attention.

Another co-worker joked that my kids have really high standards. No. They’re 1. They’re fine with a horse in their face. But, I explained that I have high standards for them and their future social and intellectual development. I don’t want to have to drive them to Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, or even my much-smaller hometown of Watertown, S.D. (which supports an ever-expanding zoo and an awesome water park) for a top-notch Sunday adventure.

I will say, though, I’m excited to see where this idea of an indoor, year-round playground in Fargo will go. It seems like the Park District is fairly serious about the idea, as was reported in this newspaper a few weeks back. That would be a good start. And I know other such ideas, including a year-round aquatics park, have been discussed before but always seem to fizzle out.

So I don’t know. Maybe I’m alone here. Maybe I am just a high-maintenance mom. But what’s so wrong with thinking big?

I’m curious what you think.

13 thoughts on “SURVEY INSIDE: Thinking bigger for family attractions

  1. F-M needs to focus more on family/kids things to do! I totally agree, there just isn’t much at all. Enough bars, restaurants and sports arenas for just a little while. They are fun but it’s time to focus on kids and family!

  2. My husband and I have been wishing/hoping/saying for years that the Fargo Moorhead area is large enough with more than enough surrounding towns to support a large indoor/outdoor waterpark and/or amusement park. The idea came easy, it’s the execution that seems to be the stumbling block.

  3. Totally agree guys! I have four boys, and there isn’t much to do on a rainy day. Dinoland and the library is about it. This town has plenty of young families to support anything new for kids in this area. At Just my two cents, Absolutely-We do have enough bars and restaurants, we need some indoor activities with this kind of weather! An aquarium, indoor facilities of any kind. The failed attempts we had before like Drivers were attractions for teens to hang out. We need family focused places.

  4. Agree. It’s been a big frustration for us too. We’ve lived in other cities that DO have options and it’s hard to see Fargo continue to be without (You can only do so much at West Acres’ Dinoland).

    Red Hawks baseball is fun and Fargo Force hockey is fun, but more oriented to older kids. I LOVE the idea of a Children’s Museum. We could also use a year-round, well kept indoor Games Galore type place. When we lived in Anchorage there was one of these that was operated very well and stayed quite busy. It’s great to have an indoor place where kids can play hard and get some exercise on a rainy (or snowy) day.

    Good to hear others have felt our frustration. Fargo is a WONDERFUL place to raise a family… but it IS lacking in activities (rain or shine) for families with young children.

  5. Totally agree. For the size of F/M, there should be some bigger, better opportunities!

  6. I agree! I once lived in Fargo but have since moved to Sioux Falls, which has MANY more kid-friendly attractions. We have an amazing zoo, waterpark, children’s museum (Washington Pavilion), awesome parks and pools, among other things. I have never run out of things for our family to do together. Fargo is not much smaller than Sioux Falls and is definitely capable of having such attractions. Get going!

  7. It would be great to get either a water park or an amusment park! I have a 15 month old and she too is happy anytime we get out of the house. That will change as she gets old, I guarantee it! I remember wonderful family trips, unfortunatley we blew right through Fargo and on to the cities. Just nothing to interest kids around here!

  8. I am 100% on your side with this blog! I have 3 sons who are teens and in high school. There is nothing to do here for them even at this age. Thank goodness that they play the most expensive sport in the world that doesn’t quit after 4 months! It’s year round but it keeps them busy. We do need attractions for tots to teens! What about a Dave & Busters for adults? There is nothing to do here but walk a trail or look at another park. Not high maintenance…just bored!

  9. I’m thinking back to when my twin boys were only a year old (they are 12 now) and I might agree that we need more for families with very young children. However, as the mother of a family of 3 near-adolescent boys, I’d say we’re pretty content. We keep pretty busy in the summer just tracking down all of the free Fargo Park District activities (last night we did the movie at Island Park). Winter time we do a lot of cross country skiing, sledding, and local sporting events. On the perfect Father’s Day in question, we were at the RedHawks game. I did, however, attempt to bring my twins to a RedHawks game at age 1 and it was rather a disaster! Plus, when I “think big” I think it wouldn’t be so much of a treat if we could do it every day. Yep, we’ve done a trip to Wisconsin Dells, to Twins games (even Twins road games), and to other things that seem fun. But they are special memories, not daily activities. From the comments posted, I guess I am the exception, and that is ok too! Everybody is entitled!

  10. An indoor Waterpark would be great! I also think that West Fargo should provide a building for their skate parks to be used in the winter. It wouldn’t need to be fancy, and it could possibly generate some income utilizing items that would otherwise be sitting useless under the snow. I think we should have more to offer so people would come to Fargo! I’ve always loved it here, but now with a child of my own I do see the need for more family oriented attractions.

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