Can I call it Nordeast if I’m not a craft-beer-brewing, farm-to-table eating, counter-culture loving hipster? What if I’m a mini-van driving, mom-jean wearing suburbanite? Either way I’m definitely not cool enough to hang out in Nordeast on my own. This neighborhood is home to art studios, craft breweries, exotic foods…a hundred and one reasons to visit but none of them for “soccer moms” like me. Or so I thought.
Fortunately, my son’s school is located in Northeast so I could scout out reasons to be there without feeling like a complete pretender. On one of my drop-off reconnaissance missions, I drove past giant Legos! Instead of riding around on my vintage bike until I saw them again, I googled Legos and Northeast Minneapolis. What I found was like the mom version of a organic, fair-trade beenie. I found Brickmania, a free, kid-friendly, uncrowded, off-the-beaten path destination for me and my kiddos on the weekend.
Brickmania Toyworks and Train Room is a wonderland of Lego greatness without the commercialism of the Mall of America. They have two amazing Lego train sets (courtesy of the Greater Midwest Lego Train Club and the Twin Cities Lego Train Club), large scale mosaics, displays of their own custom built Lego kits, building tables, lots of bricks, and more but I don’t want to give it all away. We started our first visit eyeing up the train displays. I could have spent serious time looking at the functioning mini-figure soccer pitch, but I did have to remind my boys to keeps hands off (a lot). Once they (we) started building, the time just flew by, something about building with someone else’s bricks.
This utopia of imagination holds open houses the first Thursday of every month from 5 to 9, Saturdays from 10 to 4, and Sundays from 12 to 5. Brickmania is housed in an old warehouse (super cool) at 1620 Central Ave NE. The entrance is located on 18th on the side of the building (next to the gigantic Legos). There is no parking lot, but usually plenty of street parking. IMPORTANT NOTE: I wanted to share this indoor, getaway during the dark days of winter, but they will be CLOSING AFTER JANUARY 31st to expand their displays. Brickmania Toyworks will reopen in May during Art-a-Whirl with new and exciting things to see.
If you don’t make it to Brickmania in January, and/or, like me, you’re always looking for someplace to wear your Goodwill Levis, Northeast holds another hidden treasure for kiddos. We visited Firefighters Hall and Museum for the first time recently and I’m already planning our next visit. The Museum is filled with shiny red trucks (some of which you can climb on and press buttons!) and loads of firefighter memorobilia. There are several driving simulators for wee firefighters, gear they can try on and even a firehouse pole. What boy mecca would be complete without a train table, so of course they have one, which kept my three year olds busy while their old brother explored in depth. This hotspot is only open on Saturdays from 9 to 4 and weekdays by appointment. The Firefighers Museum is located at 664 22nd Avenue NE, with a parking lot (where I shamefully parked my non-hybrid mini van).
Whether you’re a wanna-be hipster like me, need to get your clan out of the house, or are over all the usual kid-friendly suspects: Como Zoo, the Minnesota Zoo, the MN Children’s Museum, our local indoor playground (I’m not cool, I LOVE these places too), I highly recommend some time in Nordeast.