This week has been abuzz with sports finales! From the NCAA Basketball Championships in San Antonio to this week's Master’s Golf Championship at Augusta National. But if your family is big on ice hockey, then you know the “coolest” final of all starts Thursday, April 5. That's when the Frozen Four — the NCAA Men’s College Hockey Championship Semifinals — will take the ice in St. Paul, Minn., at the Xcel Energy Center, with the finals following close behind on Saturday.
If you're in Saint Paul, the capital of the State of Hockey, for the finals and looking for ways to get in on the action, here's a rundown of all the fun.
Frozen Fest This free family-friendly “festival within a festival” is hosted by the NCAA as the official lead-up to the big games. Open from 2:30-8:30 on Thursday, and 2-6:30 on Saturday, Frozen Fest is a great place to go see the teams before they hit the ice, and take part in festive pep rallies, giveaways, local food, live music and much more.
Red Carpet Arrivals: If your kids are big hockey fans, they won't want to miss this chance to see the athletes behind the hockey masks walk the "red carpet" from the Frozen Fest across West 7th Street into the arena at 2:55 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. for Game 1, and 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. for Game 2. The Hobey Baker Award ceremony will take place at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium connected to Xcel Energy Center, and the Mike Richter Award will be announced at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub.
2019 Final Four Fan Jam: Die-hard sports fans know, it's never too early to start thinking about next season. And if your kids are already missing the excitement of March Madness, we've got good news. Since Minneapolis will host the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, they can get a jump on the fun by stopping by the Final Four Fan Jam booth. On tap are a variety of fun, basketball-themed activities as well as information about 2019 Final Four tickets and volunteer opportunities.
Talk a Walk: Saint Paul has a winding stretch of riverside trails and trees, plus ample parks throughout its neighborhoods. Raspberry Island Regional Park, Saint Paul’s last true island, has a lovely Riverwalk pathway that's fun for a family stroll, day or early evening. Mears Park, which plays host to the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in June, is a another beautiful spot. Check out the flowing stream carved through this green space, which is located in the center of a vibrant arts community.
Talk with the Animals: In addition to hosting this year's Frozen Four, Saint Paul is also home to one of the last FREE zoos in the U.S. The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory offers a wide array of animals and plants and is open 365 days a year. Located right next to Como Town Amusement Park, Cafesjan's historic carousel, and Como Park, the zoo and conservatory are great fun for visitors of all ages. Want to get out on the water? Rent a canoe or paddle boat from Como Lakeside Pavilion and take a trip around the lake.
Minnesota Children’s Museum: Great for younger children, Minnesota Children’s Museum is designed to spark kids' learning through play as they explore 7 unique & fun-filled galleries. Parents will have fun tapping unleashing their inner child too! Get the entire family to climb to the top of the life-sized ant hill, let the toddlers in the group run free through a gallery designed just for them, and enjoy the magic of watching your kids craft their own adventures in a ninja-training course and a carpet skate park.
This year Michigan Tech and the NCAA Frozen Four return to Saint Paul'sthe Xcel Energy Center. Photo by Tony Webster from Flickr.