22 answers

Attractions in Minneapolis St Paul

Hey! I am taking my 10 yr old and 6 yr old daughter and 11 mo old son to Minneapolis St Paul. Wondering what is out there other then MOA, Zoos and the two museums... .which ones are better and what hotel would be the best for this age range of kids. All within a simple budget. Not looking at spending too much money, just good quality time with kids. They chose MN instead of the Omaha Zoo this time. Thanks in advance!

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There are several free wading pools you can lookup online. There is one in mineapolis that is not very deep but has lots of fountains spraying in the middle. Its perfect for todlers and older kids as is has the slanted bottom and only gets to be about 3 or 4 feet deep. They also have playgrounds there...
Good luck!

I've seen that the hotel that the Water Park of America is in has deals if you stay there you get a free pass to waterpark of America and discounts to nick universe and underwater world. Chutes and Ladders is a great HUGE playground at Hyland Park in Bloomington and that's free. There's also hiking and biking trails there. There's a museum called "the works" about Electricity in Edina that the kids go to on field trips and seemed to like. Local pools all over the twin cities, We're partial to Cascade Bay in Eagan - super fun! The Arboretum in Chanhassen is fun. Como zoo is free and has the restored carousel and conservatory there as well. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is holding the Titanic exhibit right now, too. Science musem and children's museum are fun. Have a great time!

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- We have a ton of great nature centers (free) that you may also enjoy. My personal favorite is Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Lake, but that's more for sentimental reasons than anything.
- Also, check out "Universe in the Park," which is a free program put on by the U of MN Astronomy Department. Every Friday/Saturday night they go to a different area park/nature center and give a brief talk about astronomy, and then have 2-3 big telescopes set up where they let you look through them, help you see cool stuff, etc.
- Theodore Wirth Park has some cool features, including a Quaking Bog and a Wildflower Garden
- The Science Museum is phenomenal and definitely worth a visit
- The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a free museum that is WONDERFUL and definitely worth a visit
- Of course the Walker Art Museum is interesting, although I never go inside because it costs money - my daughter, however, loves going to the Sculpture Garden (free) and then walking across the pedestrian bridge to Loring Park and playing on the playground
- Your younger two would really enjoy the Children's Museum, although that can be expensive and your older child might be bored. However, my nearly 8 year old still loves going there
- The MN Orchestra has free Family Concerts over the summer- you can look into them
- We have among the most wonderfully accessible historical sites, many for really inexpensive. Some of my favorites are:
- Oliver H. Kelley Farm (working 1860's farm, people in costume)
- Fort Snelling (right near the airport)
- MN History Center (Museum in downtown St. Paul - my daughter LOVES it there)
- Jackson St. Roundhouse (open Wed. and Sat, 10-4)
- Mill City Museum (in downtown Mpls - expensive, but well, well worth going)
- Wabasha Sreet Cave Tours
- Dakota City Heritage Village
- Gibbs Farm Museum (working 1890's farm, school house, teepee, and bark lodge, right near the University of MN St. Paul Campus)
- Down in History – coach tours of historical places by people in character
- If you're willing to drive about 45minutes-hour north, the Northwest Company Fur Trading Post is one of my favorite destinations - near Hinckley

If you're just looking for fun (not so much learning) activities, we have
- Valleyfair Amusement Park (insanely expensive, but really fun)
- Como Town rides (next to Como Zoo, which is the free zoo in St. Paul)
- Nickelodean Universe at MOA
Bunker Hills Stable in Coon Rapids has a great trail ride/hay ride thing, and then right across the street from them (almost) is Bunker Beach, which has water slides, a wave pool, a kiddy pool, and a sand play area
- On rainy days, we have lots of indoor play structures. My favorite, though generally the busiest is Edinborough Park in Edina.

One of my favorite summer activities to do with my daughter is to take a paddle boat ride down the river. You catch the boat at Harriet Island in St. Paul.
We also have an inordinate amount of both indoor and outdoor water parks to choose from. My favorite outdoor park is Cascade Water Park in Eagan. We generally make sure we go after 4:00 so we get in for $5/each rather than $10.

A great MN tradition is to go to Lake Harriet and find the elf - leave a message for him.

Other ideas:
-Saint Paul Saints game (baseball)
- Mini-golf
- Foshay Tower
- Midtown Global Market (really fun place to eat lunch with kids because there's food and items from all over the place)
- St. Anthony Lock and Dam

In terms of hotels, unfortunately, I don't have a suggestion for you outside of that I would stay in one of the suburbs rather than the city, because the hotels tend to be cheaper, I think.

I hope you have a great time in St. Paul/Minneapolis!

2 moms found this helpful

Como Zoo and Conservatory is a must, and you can check out the park and lake and the Como pool all in the same place http://www.comozooconservatory.org/como_park/index.shtml

The Science Museum is always cool. http://www.smm.org/

Wild Rumpus is a book store in Minneapolis that has animals running around and they have activities sometimes too http://www.wildrumpusbooks.com

Heart of the Beast Theater is another place that has shows for kids but I think it is only done for part of the year so it would depend on when you are coming http://www.hobt.org/

The Minnesota State Fair is kind of a big deal but can get pretty expensive. http://www.mnstatefair.org/

There are sooo many great parks here. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html
Afton Park is my personal favorite. It is a beautiful place to go for a hike, have a picnic, wade in the river and collect cool rocks ...although not a place you can really bring a stroller because it is a long hike down a lot of steps http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/afton/index.html
Also, at some parks you can rent canoes or go tubing. There are places where you can canoe down river and take a bus back up to where your car is.

There are plenty of water parks around, but one place that is a short drive from St. Paul that is great for little kids is Lake Elmo Park Reserve. They have a big "fake lake" for swimming, playground, fishing pier, etc. Very family friendly. http://www.co.washington.mn.us/info_for_residents/parks_d...
I also used to love the Bunker Wave Pool when I was a kid http://www.bunkerbeach.com/

You might enjoy a visit to the arboretum www.arboretum.umn.edu/

I've heard great things about Emma Krumbees orchard and farm. They have strawberries you can pick in the summer, barn animals, etc. I haven't been there yet but my sister brings her kids there every year http://www.emmakrumbees.com/EmmaKrumbees_activities.htm

Valley Fair is awesome but pretty spendy http://www.valleyfair.com/

If it ends up raining when you come, there are a few indoor playgrounds where kids can get in for $5 and parents and kids under 2 are free [those places with tunnels, slides, ball pits etc] -Eagle's Nest, Edinborough, Maple Maze, Adventure Park ..Edinborough is probably the best for a one-time visit. This is from the site:
With more than 6,000 plants, trees and flowers, Edinborough Park is Minnesota's unique indoor public park. The completely enclosed, one-acre park features a junior-Olympic size swimming pool, a running track and fitness area, a huge indoor playground and a multi-purpose play area, all connected by meandering pathways through the densely landscaped interior. http://www.edinboroughpark.com/

1 mom found this helpful

My 8yr.old likes the children's museum over the science museum more hands on.

Lots of waterparks indoors and outdoors

Tons of beaches and lakes

Como Zoo is free and you can see the animals better, MN Zoo is exspensive and you can't get as close to the animals

Valley Fair is our amusement park kinda like a Six Flags I guess

I haven't seen anyone mention Cascade Bay in Eagan. Eagan is very close to the MOA and Cascade Bay is city run, so admission is affordable. It's only $7 or $9 admission. Its big and lots of fun. http://www.ci.eagan.mn.us/live/page.asp?menu=8891

The weblink above has a virtual tour.

Shakopee, Minnesota - this place is near Valley Fair, not to far from the Zoo and MOA. The times we have stayed it has been pretty quite and clean. Small kid pool with slide, larger pool with slide.

There are several free wading pools you can lookup online. There is one in mineapolis that is not very deep but has lots of fountains spraying in the middle. Its perfect for todlers and older kids as is has the slanted bottom and only gets to be about 3 or 4 feet deep. They also have playgrounds there...
Good luck!

We have one of the best free zoos in the nation, Como Zoo in St. Paul. I would also check out a water park (or Lake Elmo Park Reserve) for some water type activities. Other ideas are Valley Fair, the Children's Museum, Science Museum, MN Zoo, Mill City Museum, the MN History Museum (my 8 yo daughter just went there and loved it with Grandpa). Depending on when you are coming up, there is the State Fair at the end of August (get your hotel reservations NOW). And, there are several Charles Schultz Peanuts statues around St. Paul, and I think there are now some dinosaur ones in the Minneapolis lakes area. As far as hotels, if you are looking for ones with swimming pools, there are several that also have water parks in them. Some are very extensive water parks, although I know of at least 2 Country Inn and Suites that have 0 depth pools and water slides in some of the near northern suburbs. Hope this helps!

You didn't mention when you will be going? I'm not from the area, but every year I try to make it to the Renaissance Faire in Shakopee, MN. It's a 'suburb' (I think) of Minneappolis. The Faire runs the last two weekends of August and every weekend in Sept. and is a very family friendly place to go. The live joust is quite fun and the turkey legs are amazing!

The Mall of America is fun to walk around in, even if you don't plan on buying....there are all sorts of fun little shops to explore and there is (last time I was there anyway) a mini amusement park, complete with roller coaster.

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