The annual MEA conference will be held October 19-20 in Missoula. With the kids out of school, this presents the perfect opportunity for the whole family to enjoy a long weekend in Montana’s Basecamp for Art & Adventure. Great Falls has ample learning opportunities to keep your kids engaged and entertained, while giving your family authentic Montana memories!

The Hi-line Climbing Center provides unroped climbing on walls shorter than 15ft. only found in Great Falls, this form of climbing packs a lot of punch into a short amount of space. Although it takes place close to the ground, ‘pebble wrestlin’ is sure to get your blood pumping. Skilled instructors teach the delicate craft of scaling vertical walls using only your wits and your strength. Instruction is tailored for each kid’s skill and ability. Balance and agility make a great climber, and our instructors will show your kids the tricks that make it look easy. Kids are set up with shoes, an intro to bouldering, and games to make the lessons fun and engaging. Parents can drop off their kids or climb with them.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center offers hours of entertainment, learning, and history for kids of all ages. Housing the largest collection of artifacts, information, and displays on the Lewis and Clark expedition, your kids will come away with a better understanding of how this expedition changed the course of history for the United States, and how Lewis and Clark’s stay in the region shaped the city’s history.

The Children’s Museum of Montana offers children as young as 2 an exciting place to learn, and they will be opened during the conference, and all weekend. The museum serves Central Montana as an educational and community resource dedicated to the notion that children learn best by doing. The Museum provides children with the opportunity to learn through hands-on exploration of science, math and culture.

The Applestem Corn Maze is a great way to celebrate fall, and get the kids out of the house! This year, the maze is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Curious George. The maze provides family-friendly entertainment, including a pumpkin patch, train rides, giant jenga, duck races, and other great attractions! This is truly a one-of-a-kind event that kids will love, and authentic Montana memories will be made! Haunting Nights let your kids navigate through 20 acres of towering corn stalks at night! Visitors will find clues as they find their way through the Maze in the blanket of darkness. There might be ghosts in the maze, so bring your flashlights! 7-9:30pm

The Giant Springs Fish Hatchery is located in Giant Springs State Park. As the most-visited state park in Montana, it is also the only state park in Montana with a fish hatchery, making this a great place for children to learn about the life cycle of native Montana trout. A pond outside allows children to feed the fish, a memorable experience for all kids! Walk through the display to learn about how the fish are raised and released into the Missouri, then walk around the grounds to view the fish in their natural habitat. The hatchery is open 8-4pm daily, and tours can be arranged.

The CM Russell Discovery Room is a great way to help your child engage in the mission of the CM Russell Museum. The family-friendly Discovery Gallery is free with paid admission to the CM Russell Museum. Children can play dress up and imagine they are in a tipi village or cowboy camp. Art materials such as watercolor paint, crayons, markers, and paper are available for use in the adjacent classroom when art classes are not in session.

The Great Falls IcePlex is a great place for kids that are experienced skaters, or just beginning to learn. The weekend of the MEA conference, the Great Falls IcePlex is offering a free skating session!

Flippin’ Family Fun provides kids and their parents with a fun, safe, and healthy environment to bounce around and burn off energy. Found only in Great Falls, Flippin’ Family Fun provides a variety of trampolines, foam pits, rope swings, and climbing walls to encourage activity and fun away from a screen. Go Karts and Mini Golf round out the fun. Your kids will be bursting with energy, fly high, and leave wanting more!

Jumping Monkeys and Escape the Falls share a building (511 Central) in downtown Great Falls. Bouncing Monkeys is an exciting family entertainment center! With bounce houses, indoor playground equipment, arcade games, and concessions, it is the premier location for open play for children 1-9 years old. Escape the Falls, a local escape room, is a new attraction that takes guests on a trip of puzzles, mystery, and fun. Escape the Falls offer kids of all ages thrilling adventure in an ever-changing setting.

Wheels of Thunder is a fun indoor skating rink that gives kids a fun, safe, and energetic place to skate year-round. Everyone can enjoy the thrills of skating fast, racing, and enjoying time with friends and family. The weekend of the MEA conference, Wheels of Thunder is hosting an all-night skating event complete with food, fun, and prizes!

All weekend, there are several family-friendly events that celebrate Halloween! For older kids, or kids interested in poetry, spoken word, and writing, the Open Mic night at Great Falls College MSU is a great way to build their creative skills; this event’s them is Halloween, scary stories, and Urban Legends! Whether they want to just listen or participate, they will come away with a better appreciation of the creative arts. On October 20th, Malmstrom AFB is hosting a fall festival for kids of all ages. The fall festival will include a costume contest, so your kids can dress up before Halloween for a chance to win prizes. Come and have a ‘ghoul’ time! On October 20th and 21st, The Sparkettes of Montana will host the Trail of Terror! All weekend long, the Scream at Centene will give brave kids (and adults!) a chance to enjoy an amazing fright house. Bring your jacket and whits! October 22nd, Gibson Park becomes an epicenter of the undead with the Zombie Walk. Dress up in your favorite Zombie costume, and make your way to the Great Falls Public Library to enjoy prizes, food, and photo opportunities.

If your family wants a learning adventure rather than a scary adventure, two great events in Great Falls offer a unique opportunity for your entire family to expand their knowledge.

The first is the Betty LaDuke closing reception at Paris Gibson Square. Betty is an internationally-acclaimed artist who has been creating for over 7 decades. This exhibition will show the audience her colorful wooden panels, focused on the diversity of culture. This series explores her travels in Tanzania, Mexico, Cambodia, India, Syria and beyond. Additional themes include agriculture, social justice, human rights, women in art, agriculture and art in the 3rd World. Kids and parents will walk away from this exhibit with a new appreciation of the world around them.

The Tour de Fleece shows attendees the art of taking wool from a sheep and spinning it into the yarn we use everyday to keep us warm. Kids will be amazed at this ‘farm-to-table display at Gallery 16.

Enjoy a long weekend with your kids while keeping them engaged in history, physical education, science, art, and adventure. Make it a perfect autumn weekend in Great Falls your whole family will remember!