Everywhere around us is history. Sometimes that glimpse into the past is even closer than we think. For the Twin Cities one of these special spots is Minnesota’s Historic Fort Snelling. Established in 1819 to protect the fur trade, it later transitioned into a military training and operations site from the Civil War through World War II.
During the lush summer months this historic fort is easy to miss as it’s practically hidden by big green trees. Once you’ve been though you’ll never miss it again. This summer we made our first venture to Historic Fort Snelling and what an interesting experience it was. Minnesota history is something I’m wasn’t familiar with considering we’ve only been here a few years and my kids are still young, so they’ve barely tapped local history in school. But this experience changed that.
We’ve always been the type of family who loves to stop at historic sites on road trips, and even though my children weren’t always old enough to understand the significance of each location, they did absorb bits and pieces about the places we visited. A joyous moment for any parent is seeing your children take an interest in something that isn’t a video game or iPad app, and that’s what I witnessed with both of my children during our Fort Snelling visit. They asked the costumed men and women questions and participated in any hands-on opportunities. It’s fun watching their little minds analyze and learn. Here are some of the highlights of our day at Historic Fort Snelling — and the best part is they’ve already asked when we can return.
Soldiers’ Gardens. In the early 1820’s soldiers were on their own for for growing their own produce. You may even catch a glimpse of soldiers working in the garden.
Round Tower. As the state’s oldest building this structure has plenty of history. It has served as a museum, defensive post, apartments and even a beauty parlor!
360-degree views. And on a clear day you will see the Minneapolis skyline.
Sutler Store. My kids loved the Sutler Store. This was the on-site shopping mall if you will. The old-fashioned checkers board game was quite a hit as was the classic rock candy sold at the counter.
Games. And the kids learned how to play old-fashioned games. There were no buttons to press on these…
Soldiers in action. The soldiers perform drills and shoot riffles throughout the day.
Partake in the fun. Visitors are invited to participate in the march.
The costumed men and women and their deep insight and knowledge make the experience feel authentic.
Finally, don’t forget to visit the gift shop for a nice selection of Historic Fort Snelling memorabilia, souvenirs, books and maps. When you visit be sure to pack your camera, a bottle of water and your inquisitive mind and you will enjoy every moment!