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.
As you navigate the winding paths through the corn maze, you hear the wind rustling the stalks of corn behind you. At least, you hope it's the wind and not something more sinister. But you press on, a little more quickly, past the strobe lights and fog machines, hoping that you find the exit before a chainsaw-wielding lumberjack or the ghost of a humorless SAT proctor finds you.
Shafer Corn Maze's Stalkers of the Corn is just one way to experience the three corn mazes spread across 12 acres. The mazes feature a Paul Bunyan–themed design that was cut into nearly half a million corn stalks by professional maze designer MazePlay. The largest maze winds through 3.1 miles of paths and the smallest maze winds through 1.1 miles of paths.
Families with young kids or those who don't want to outrun ghouls and goblins can check out the mazes during the daytime. Both the largest and smallest mazes have six checkpoints where explorers can punch a ticket to mark their progress.
After finding their way out, guests can head to the petting zoo, straw-bale jump, or obstacle course.
In the early 20th century, trains chugged along the St. Croix Valley Railway, rolling over scenic bridges and past rolling waterfront vistas lined with trees. Today, an old-fashioned locomotive still runs from Osceola, Wisconsin to Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota?a 10-mile route that transports passengers across state lines and into the past. Inside the period-accurate passenger cars, Minnesota Transportation Museum staff relay facts about area history and refute the wildly inaccurate science in The Little Engine That Could. Regular round-trip rides run twice every Saturday and Sunday from May to October, but special-event trains and rides with dining service often round out the schedule.