Author: Fran Falkin
Tags : Baby, City Break, Couples, Kids, Minnesota, Multigen, Museums & Culture, North America, Teens, USA
There's twice as much for families to do in Minnesota's Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Whether the weather drives you outdoors or indoors, there's so much to see and experience that we have broken down the top activities with kids by age-appropriateness. For general information about lodging, dining, and current events, visit Minneapolis tourism (888/676-MPLS) and Visit Saint Paul (800/627-6101, 651/265-4900).
Great Fun for the Kids
(Toddlers to Age 8)
The Children’s Theatre Company
2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Considered by many to be the pre-eminent children’s theater in the country, in 2003 CTC received the first Tony Award for Regional Theatre ever given to a theatre for children. Recently expanded it now offers a second stage for performances designed for both teens and pre-schoolers. The repertoire includes children’s classics, tales from around the world and original works written in-house. Plan ahead and be sure to order tickets well in advance for this very popular venue.
Minneapolis Children’s Museum
10 West Seventh Street at Wabash
Saint Paul, MN 55102
A museum whose slogan is “Playing is Learning,” is the perfect place to bring your babies, toddlers and young school-age children. Seven areas including the "Habitot" Gallery and Family Resource Room, The Waterworks Gallery and Earthworld will keep the whole family engaged in interactive fun.
13000 Zoo Boulevard
Apple Valley, MN 55124
Home to over 4,300 animals of 539 species, this is a great place to meet and observe animal friends. Your family can enjoy paddle boat rides and a monorail will give you a bird’s eye view of the grounds. Highlights include the Tropical Reef Dive show, penguin feedings, a sea otter encounter, an IMAX theatre, and a program of summer evening outdoor concerts.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
726 Vineland Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403
While the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis' world-class modern art museum might bore kids of this age, fun awaits directly across the street at an extension of the museum - the fabulous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Open from 6am to midnight, and free of charge, over 40 sculptures, including Minneapolis’ iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” are on display in the largest outdoor urban sculpture park in the country. Here you will find a huge lawn encircled by trees and flowers – perfect for running around, a pond and a huge glass greenhouse. Kids really respond to the many whimsical and curious forms by famous such famous artists as Claes Oldenburg, Frank Gehry and Alexander Calder. Check the garden’s site for a schedule of family activities, and pick up a WAC Pack with free family activities for both the museum and the garden at the Walker.
109 West 4th Street
Saint Paul, MN 55102
Even more child-friendly sculptures are on view in Rice Park, not far from the Children’s Museum and Science Center. Here you will find a tribute to Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” and a native of the city where your kids will delight at the bronze statues of the "Gang" and you will want to have plenty of film or flash cards handy to document this stop. At Christmas time in Rice Park, enjoy St. Paul's famous Winter Carnival, one of the county's largest, featuring a skating rink and many holiday activities for children and families.
Fun for Older Children
(Up to Age 18 )
Science Museum of Minnesota
120 West Kellogg Boulevard
Saint Paul, MN 55102
Here, hands-on activities welcome young scientists and their moms and dads to have fun and learn about biology, paleontology, anthropology, meteorology and conservation by experimentation and investigation.
Segway Tours of Minnesota
125 East Main Street SE
St. Anthony Main
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Families with kids over 13 up folks collecting Social Security can try a new mode of transportation on a three-hour guided city tour. Begin at St. Anthony Main and see the St. Anthony Falls, Stone Arch Bridge, Mill Ruins Park and Mill City Museum, plus other riverfront sites on two wheels. Not by bike, but by electric personal assistive mobility device, commercially known as a Segway. You can master it quite quickly, and it's great fun. The company's Magical History Tour along the historic Mississippi riverfront is a favorite. Before you rock 'n' roll, note that safety is paramount, so beginner tours include Segway training, refreshments and a helmet.
Hiking, Biking & Boating
Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake and of the Isles and Cedar Lake make up the Chain of Lakes in Uptown Minneapolis. These spots are popular for boating, swimming and fishing, and throughout the city, lakeside paths draw joggers, bicyclists and roller bladders. Lake Minnetonka is located in nearby Wayzata and offers swimming, boat rentals, cruises and entertainment.
The Three Rivers Park District offers facilities for every season from hiking to cross-country skiing and Minnehaha Park and Falls is a favorite spot where family-friendly activities are available for residents and visitors.
Baseball, Basketball & Hockey
Target Field (1 Twins Way, Minneapolis, MN 55403; 612/375-1366) is the home of the AL World Series Champion Minnesota Twins.
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (900 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415; 612/332-0386) is the home the NFL Minnesota Vikings.
The Target Center (600 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55403; 612/673-0900) hosts both the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Lynx (women’s basketball).
Across the way at the XCEL/Rivercentre (199 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102; 651/265-4800), families can catch the NHL Minnesota Wild hockey team and the Minnesota Swarm Lacrosse Team.
Fun for the Whole Family
Mall of America
60 East Broadway
Bloomington, MN 55425
Opened in 1992 as the first destination mall combining shopping and entertainment, the Mall of America is not to be missed. After or before you shop at over 520 stores and eat at over 80 restaurants, the fun is about to begin.
You can’t miss Nickelodeon Universe, which, at seven-acres, is the largest indoor family theme park in the country. Other attractions for kids include Sealife Aquarium with a play area and interactive activities, a Build-A-Bear Workshop where your child can create his/her own cuddly pal, an American Girl Store for shopping, dining and taking your doll to the hair salon, and the fabulous Lego Imagination Center where your kids can create and select their own combination of Legos to buy and bring home. Older kids and teens will enjoy the Amazing Mirror Maze and the A.C.E.S. Flight Simulation, while the whole family will find something to see at the large AMC Movie Theatres. In keeping with the theme, the largest indoor water park in the country is located across from the Mall at the Grand Lodge hotel. While hotel guests have guaranteed access, others can purchase day passes. Visit Waterpark of America (952/853-8700) for details.
The Fitzgerald Theater
10 East Exchange Place
St. Paul, MN 55101
If your family is like mine and enjoys listening to A Prairie Home Companion, and you’re in town during its season, you can get tickets to see a live performance with Garrison Keillor and the entire cast here at the Fitzgerald, Saint Paul’s oldest theater. Built in 1910, the Sam S. Shubert Theater was a vaudeville house re-named in 1933 as the World Theater, a venue for foreign films until 1980. At that time, Minnesota Public Radio purchased and renovated it for PHC. In 1994, the World was re-named in honor of F.Scott Fitzgerald, one of Saint Paul’s most famous native sons.
Twin City Touring
When your feet get tired, there are many other ways to experience Minneapolis and Saint Paul that all ages can enjoy.
Minneapolis RiverCity Trolley
Hop on and off the trolley for transportation and an entertaining commentary on Minneapolis’ past and present.
The Minneapolis Queen
700 Sibley Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Board this paddlewheeler at Boom Island Park in the Riverfront District for a cruise on Ol' Man River. Lunch and dinner cruises are available.