In 1977, Mark and Joan Hemker began with a simple dream: to own a zoo. Starting with just a few waterfowl, they soon amassed a collection of animals from around the world. After Mark passed away in 2006, Joan and their four children took up his mantle, keeping his legacy alive through Hemker Park & Zoo. Today, the family-friendly park introduces visitors of all ages to global wildlife with more than 50 animal species. Residents include giant tortoises, an 8-foot boa constrictor, sleek kangaroos, and inquisitive monkeys and lemurs. There's also a Budgie Buddy House where tiny birds alight on visitors' shoulders and two New Guinea singing dogs who never, ever do autographs. Seasonal events, such as kids' zoo camps and the Close Encounters program, let visitors touch and feed certain animals under the guidance of professional educators for an even more intimate experience.
THE WORKS, an events company bringing together professional singles in Toronto for upscale social events, welcomes the season of warmer weather and roving biker gangs of bluebirds with its Spring Fling Social. Mingle with fellow lone wolves in Gossip Restaurant's elegant dining space or venture onto the patio for a breathtaking view of Exhibition Place. Music will be provided, and free appetizers are included with admission. THE WORKS' $5 signature cocktails will be available for purchase, as well as a number of other springtime cocktails. Leave the jeans, baseball caps, and sneakers at home and unthaw a colourful spring outfit from its deep-freeze chamber for a festive night on the town from THE WORKS.
For more than a century, the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory has inspired the local community with a multitude of winged, hooved, and furred beasts. From its humble roots of only three deer roaming inside a fenced-in pasture, the zoo has since expanded to include a slew of awe-inspiring animals and habitats, including a seal island, large-cat exhibit, aquatic life, primates, birds, African hoofed animals, and a polar-bear exhibit, as well as the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, a half-acre indoor and outdoor nursery blooming with bonsai trees, ferns, orchids, seasonal flowers, and trash-talking tiger lilies.
At the Minnesota Transportation Museum, the history of rail and transit comes to life. Guests can explore the Jackson Street Roundhouse, a former engine maintenance facility that now features in-depth exhibits on railway history, restored vintage steam engines and railway equipment, and one of the last operating roundhouse turntables in the country. After seeing the history on the page, visit the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway to feel the power of the rail underfoot as you take a scenic ride on a vintage coach.
More than 1,200 acres worth of gardens, prairies, and woodland trails grace the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Upwards of 5,000 plant species call the arboretum home, including trees, shrubs, and Minnesota?s state flower, the Showy Lady?s Slipper. Expert naturalists happily lead visitors through the verdant space via tram or on foot, though guests can also go it alone along the arboretum?s 12.5 miles of trails and walkways. Journeys can lead anywhere from the boardwalk running through Green Heron Pond's bog to Color Me Spring?s vibrant stretch of thousands of annuals.
Amongst these pillars of the natural world stand sculptures made by world-renowned artists. More manmade artwork awaits inside the arboretum?s two galleries, which host seasonal displays of watercolors, acrylics, and photography. Guests can also get involved with the arboretum by attending forums and symposia with scholars, or participating in classes that teach skills such as flower arranging or pruning magical beanstalks so giants can't climb down.
Fall is in the air at Minnetonka Orchards, where a corn maze is just the beginning of the autumnal adventures that await kids and families. After navigating the twists and turns of the maze, guests can wander through the apple orchard to pick a fresh juicy globe or marvel at how weird bugs look. Visitors can also shop for jams, apples, and other farm fare at the barn, or go on a leisurely stroll on one of the walking trails. Kids' entertainment comes by way of the climbable hay mountain, the corn crib slide, and barnyard friends including goats, sheep, and bunnies.