CAN CAN WONDERLAND
ST. PAUL, MN
The Can Can Wonderland website says that their “social purpose is to be an economic engine for the arts.” And they’re doing that in a crazy, wild, ridiculously fun way for families and friends to spend time together – mini golf. Yes. I said mini golf.
But not just any mini golf…think ferris wheels, tornadoes, bridges, loop-dee-loops, musical instruments and the “world’s longest hole.” So basically, this artist-designed course is a child’s fantasyland.
Oh, wait…I’m not done. They have vintage pinball machines, photo booths, live stage entertainment, ping pong, trivia nights, carnival food, and liquor-infused malts. Sooo, yeah, it’s also an adult’s fantasyland too. And, as an adult, this makes me very happy!
What is it?
Can Can Wonderland was concocted by the artistically brilliant minds behind the Soap Factory Haunted Basement, Walker Art Museum’s miniature golf course, and the Ten Second Film Festival (not a bad track record, eh?). The founders took a 100-year old metal can factory in the Hamline Midway neighborhood and turned it into a haven of attractions and amusements perfect for everything from date nights to live music to comedy to family outings.
When you walk into this warehouse building, you’re surrounded by nothing more than brick, mortar and murals. But when you turn into the Can Can Wonderland room, you’ve entered a huge, brightly-colored space with a whole lotta wacky going on! 18 holes of artist-created miniature golf spans the entire left half of the room, while the right half is filled with tables, bars, stages and old school amusement games (think a Stanley Cup wooden hockey board and a black-and-white State Fair photo booth). I feel like everything about this place is unique – from cereal-infused malts to the mini donut boats (um, yum) – the food, the drink, the servers, the space, the concept in its entirety…unique.
As far as the mini golf goes, don’t pass this up. You’ll be amazed at the creativity of all 18 holes. A couple of my favorites were “Natural Disaster” (hit your ball past the spinning tornado and over the bridge into the vibrating floor under a volcano); “Catchin’ A Wave” (land your ball in a spinning wheel and watch it flow down a riptide); and “Music Mountain” (whack your ball hard enough that it flies to the top of the tower of instruments, playing a funky tune all the way down). And of course the “State Fair” hole because, duh, its themed after the MN State Fair!
Fit for what ages?
I mean, we brought our clumsy one-year old, so it CAN be done, buuuuut…I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. The family crowd was big the morning we went so kids can and should definitely partake in the experience. But I would suggest ages 5+. Our baby was like a bull in a china shop on the golf course, tipped the dining tables over (in his defense, they were a little wobbly), and had nowhere to sit (no high chairs in sight). So I’m not lying when I say 5+…unless you’re far more patient than me (which is actually highly likely).
The mini golf is art and art can be hazardous (sharp corners, metal structures, narrow paths). Also, the holes are quite close together and, while the more difficult holes have netting to protect one group from whacking another group with a hard-hit ball, if you bring a child too young who wanders or can’t control where they’re swinging, it could get ugly.
Can Can has their own rules for minors too, most importantly that they must be off the course by 8pm, when the place is designated for ages 21+. The younger your kids, the earlier I’d recommend going. We were there as the doors opened (10am) on Sunday morning and walked right in to golf. By the time we left two hours later, it was packed with families. Thankfully, our early arrival time allowed us the freedom to putt at our leisure and take many (MANY) “one more tries” when we couldn’t quite hit the ball where it needed to go. Note that some holes can be incredibly frustrating for little people who aren’t able to accept potential defeat well. Some holes are damn near impossible for even adults to complete!
If your kids are smaller, let them “cheat” a little (throw the ball up ramps, place it in the ferris wheel with their hands, and so on). Do what ya gotta do to prevent a meltdown and just enjoy the round! Then finish up with a cereal-infused malt and some cotton candy…ya know, for the kids (wink, wink).
Oh, and please keep children off the putting surface for the “World’s Longest Hole”. Such a long hole means harder swings. And harder swings have potential for greater injury. Just keep them off the purple carpet, ok?
How much are we talkin’?
While there is no “admission” fee to enter Can Can Wonderland (so you can come check it out for free), you’ll spend enough on food, drinks, games and golf. If you’re coming to Can Can to play mini golf, you’ll be spending $12/adult (ages 12+) or $9/child or senior (under 12 or 62+). Veterans also receive the $9 rate.
After you pay for mini golf, you can decide whether their food and drink fits your budget. All the menus can be found online so be sure to check out the rates so you know what you’re getting in to before you go. We spent $14 on two cereal-infused kids malts and, while they were delicious, they were expensive. You can snag some more reasonable options, such as sno cones, specialty sodas, cotton candy, pretzels with cheese, bacon on a stick, popcorn or vegetables – all for under $5. Funky nachos, unique hot dogs and their famous “toasties” (basically a grilled cheese with a twist) are also available for under $10.
Date nights could get pricey if you let them, with cocktails costing up to $13. But beer is $5…so there’s that. What will I get when we go back for a “mom and dad only” night? An “adult malt” of course! Those suckers looked delicious.
Then of course there are the games. These are just a bonus of fun after the mini golf and dining is complete. Pinball ranges from a quarter to a dollar per game and ping pong is free.
Coming out for one of their live shows or events? Many of those are FREE (so be a pal and buy a drink to show your support).
Want some tips?
When you arrive at Can Can Wonderland, you’ll follow the signs through the factory building to get to the entry. Bathrooms are located just outside the main room and coat racks are in that long hall as well. There is a changing table in the women’s room. Our family was in the parking lot at 9:55am Sunday morning ready for the doors to open at 10. This saved us from having to wait in line to golf or from needing to receive a specified tee time, which they will do when it gets really crowded. The manager told us the night before, a Saturday night, there was a three-hour wait to mini golf. Yikes!
If you’re mini golfing, there is a max of five people per group. You pay the cashier, grab your ball and putter and go to town enjoying the art and ingenuity of each of the 18 holes. All kids must be off the course by 8pm. At this time, you must be 21+ to enter Can Can. If you are bringing small kids, keep a close eye on them. The golf holes are playable art and should be treated from respect – no climbing, food or club-swinging on the course. Drinks are allowed on the course if in cups or cans, and each hole number has a drink holder attached to it, which is pretty clever and convenient if I must say so myself.
As you go through the course, take the time to read about each hole. The small introduction lists the hole name, the artist, and the store behind it. Our favorite hole (“Natural Disaster”) was actually created by two 7th grade boys. Now those are some smart grade schoolers! Jeez.
The food and drink selection is fair-tastic and the malt flavors are fun. It was slightly confusing to order because there are two separate “bar” areas and then a small food stand tucked behind the corner. Paper menus were sort of strewn about, so it was just complicated to understand how it worked. But basically, the bar by the big red-curtained stage is the “adult bar”, otherwise known as the “bar with all the alcohol.” The bar near the mini golf course that resembles more of a diner is where they make their ice cream treats and sno cones. And the small concession table tucked behind the wall is where they make the amusement park staples and other nummy food.
What we learned after asking was that you can order and pay from ANY of these three areas and, since the systems are all connected, you simply go to the place of pick-up and grab what you bought when it’s ready. I advise you go to the one with the shortest line and get your order taken care of that way. There are tables along the back wall near the pinball machines, but they get full fast so keep your eyes peeled for a table when one becomes available. There are no high chairs. I think the staff was still working out some of their food kinks when we went because our order got lost and we waited 20 minutes for two malts, which did not make for a happy mother. But everyone was thrilled with how delicious they were and the hanger went away quickly.
While taking the kids was a good time and all, I would really like to try a night out here with some friends or a few other couples. I imagine it at night and it just has such awesome potential to be magical. So, if any of you feel like babysitting three kids for a few hours some random Friday night, they’re all yours!
Hours and location
755 Prior Ave. N | St. Paul, MN 55104
Can Can Wonderland is closed Monday-Wednesday.
Thursday: 10:00am -11:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00am – midnight
Sundays: 10:00am -10:00pm
The parking lot was not spacious, but if it’s full, there is street parking for free.
Be sure to follow Can Can Wonderland on Facebook to see upcoming live performances, news stories, variety shows, hiring opportunities, some great photos, and more!
Disclaimer: I received complimentary admission to Can Can Wonderland in exchange for my time sharing this post and hosting this giveaway. All thoughts are my own.