MEA Weekend is the colloquial name for the no-school days, and long weekend at the end of October, created by the Education Minnesota Professional Conferences.
The Education Minnesota union holds a two-day conference in St. Paul in the third weekend of October. Classes are cancelled for students at schools and colleges across Minnesota, to give teachers the opportunity to attend the conference.
(Why isn't it called MEA Weekend any more?
Education Minnesota was formed from a 1997 merger between the Minnesota Educators Association, MEA, and Minnesota Federation of Teachers. Even though it's obsolete, the name 'MEA Weekend' has stuck with many families and schools.)
In 2013, MEA Weekend is Thursday October 17 and Friday October 18. Some schools also cancel classes for students on Wednesday, or Wednesday afternoon.
Staying in town? Things to do for MEA Weekend in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Apple orchards are open, and if it's a good season, there should still be plenty of apples to pick. Local farms and apple orchards like Minnetonka Orchards, Afton Apple Orchards, Apple Jack Orchards have apples, other produce and lots of other kid-friendly entertainment like play areas, tractor rides, farm animals to meet, apple cider and lots of things to do. Here's a list of Apple Orchards in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area.
Done apple picking already?
Visit a pumpkin patch and go pumpkin picking. MEA is perfectly timed for this, right before Halloween. Here's where you can take your kids to pick pumpkins, go on a hayride, climb a hay mountain, pet farm animals, get lost in corn mazes, and more fall fun. Many pumpkin patches arrange special Halloween entertainment for MEA weekend, and Halloween weekend.
Spent all your cash on back-to-school supplies? You can still have fun with your kids for free. Check out this list of free things to do with kids in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Go to a museum for free, visit Minneapolis' coolest bookstore, movies, entertainment at malls, and more.
And for low-budget children's entertainment, here's a list of cheap and good value places to take your children in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with art and craft activities, indoor playrooms for rainy days, movies and more.
Get ready for Halloween. If your kids love Halloween, there's plenty of Halloween events this weekend all around the Twin Cities. And, here's a guide to everything else Halloween related - costume shops, pumpkin patches, and more.
See the annual BareBones Halloween Extravaganza Puppet Show at Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul. This isn't your usual puppet show - monsters and pyrotechnics and circus tricks, live music, singing and dancing are all part of the show. Anyone who likes the MayDay Parade should enjoy this too. For 2013, the production is called Chicka-BOOM!, and there's a show on October 26 and 27 this weekend, and then three more shows on October 31, November 1 and 2.
The show is free, donations are gratefully accepted.
Pretend it's still summer with a trip to a water park. You don't need to make the journey to the Wisconsin Dells - use the money you save on gas and hotels to go to one of the indoor waters parks right in town. Whether you want to go to a huge water park like the one at the Mall of America, or the one at your local community pool, here's a list of water parks in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Getting out of Town For MEA Weekend
Heading north is a popular MEA Weekend choice. How bad will the roads be? The heavy summer construction on I-35 has mostly wrapped up for the winter. Check on the Minnesota Department of Transportation website for the latest on road construction.
And what about the weather? It's normal to be 10F colder than in the Twin Cities and snow is not out of the question, so bring the winter gear!
Duluth is a family-friendly destination, with almost unbelievable numbers of tourists. The famous lift bridge, attractions and amusements in Canal Park, an aquarium, water parks, children's museum, railroad museum, ship tours, a zoo - plenty to keep the kids busy all weekend.
And even further north, if you make the trek all the way to Grand Marais, almost to the Canadian border, you can visit the annual Moose Madness Festival, where the whole town is taken over by moose-themed activities from October 19-21.
The Wisconsin Dells are a classic destination, and you won't be the only one with the idea to head east to the Dells. Traffic congestion on Interstate 94 on MEA Weekend is legendary. But, if you are determined, the water parks are better than anything here in the Twin Cities, together with a load of other things to do, and your kids will have a blast when they get there.