If you and your family have some time to spend in the Minneapolis metro area, here are 10 great family friendly things to do in Minneapolis and the greater Twin Cities area that you should consider.
The 10 Family Friendly Things To Do in Minneapolis
Minneapolis is home to the Minnesota Twins, a major league baseball team in the American League. After playing for nearly 30 years inside the Metrodome, the Twins opened their new outdoor stadium, Target Field, in downtown Minneapolis in 2010. Target Field was named the #1 stadium experience in North America in 2010 by ESPN The Magazine and it is a great place to enjoy a great Minneapolis Summer day with the family. If you are on the other side of the Minnesota River, check out the St. Paul Saints at Midway Stadium in St. Paul. The Saints are a beloved franchise of the Twin Cities and the game day experience is fabulous. If you are looking for a great game experience on a smaller-scale, the Saints won't let you down.
The Minnesota Children's Museum in St Paul is a great place to bring the younger kids up to 10 or 11 years of age. It offers 4 floors of fun and learning with hands-on activities for the little ones to enjoy. There are 7 galleries in the museum and all interactive and teach kids along the way. Their motto is "learning through play" and that is exactly what the kids will do here.
If you're from out-of-town and haven't seen a professional hocky game, you'd be hard pressed to find a better environment than the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild NHL team, in downtown St. Paul. After it was built, ESPN named the "X" as the best overall sports venue in the United States and, when you go, you'll see why. Every seat in the building is a great one for hockey and the environment for a game is fabulous. Before each game you will be treated to the "State of Hockey" introduction and if you look around the stadium you will see that it is decorated with a hockey jersey from every high school in Minnesota. A highlight of the game will be after a goal, when the huge foghorn blows. It will make you think an enormous freighter just entered the building.
Mall Of America
The Mall of America is not just for shopping. While it is the largest mall in the United States in terms of retail space with more than 500 stores including 4 huge anchors, it is not just a place to shop. This "Megamall" in Bloomington has some other awesome attractions. Among the family friendly attractions are Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor theme park with 2 roller coasters and several other rides, the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, where visitors are surrounded by water on all sides and from above, a multi screen theatre, and what the locals call "Lego Land", which is a huge Lego exhibit and adjacent store. You can also stand on the exact spot where the home plate of the old Metropolitan Stadium was located, now in Nickelodeon Universe. Wear your walking shoes, because a walk down the hallways of all 4 levels will cover several miles.
The Renaissance Festival runs on weekends from mid-August though the end of September in Shakopee. It is one of the largest and oldest renaissance festivals in the United States and an annual event for many Minnesotans. It includes themed weekends, several live entertainment acts, real jousting, all kinds of food (including "feasts") and shops to keep you busy.
The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul is a great place to spend a day of learning about technology, history, and science. There are many things to see and touch for the kids and lots to read and learn for the adults. The museum has over 1.7 million artifacts to see and has several permanent exhibits as well as special traveling exhibits, so check with the museum to see what the current traveling show is. Note that you will typically pay extra for the special exhibit. The Science Museum is also home to an IMAX/Omnimax theatre that is the largest permanently installed electronic cinema projector in the entire world. A visit to this theatre is something you will not soon forget. There is also a 3D cinema in the building that is a lot of fun.
The Great Minnesota Get Together is what Minnesotans call the State Fair, in Falcon Heights between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. The Minnesota State Fair is the largest state fair in the United States, and its urban location makes it a unique fair experience. Expect to walk a bit from your car to the fair as this is a very popular attraction in the Twin Cities, but it will be worth it. While you're there be sure to order something on a stick to eat, and you will find plenty of unusual options. Food on a stick has become popular at the fair. Outstanding features include the Giant Slide, the Skyride, the Space Tower, and the Haunted House. The fair runs before and during the Labor Day weekend each Summer.
Minneapolis has a great theatre district on the West end of downtown and some of these theatres are very family friendly. The Children's Theatre Company is a great place to bring the kids as the shows are geared towards them. They will delight in this live show whether they are 3 or 16. The Guthrie Theatre has been newly remodeled and the building is something of an attraction on its own with the Endless Bridge extending towards the Minnesota River.
Valleyfair is the Twin Cities' premier theme park on 125 acres in Shakopee. With over 50 rides and 8 roller coasters, it is the largest amusement park in the Upper Midwest. Valleyfair is open Memorial Day to Labor Day but may be open more weekends outside of those dates so check ahead if you plan to go. You can also find a Halloween event each year at Vallyfair. If you like roller coasters you will find one to your liking here. If not, don't worry - there is plenty to do here for the entire family.
There are two great zoos in the Twin Cities that have a lot to offer. The Minnesota Zoo is an expansive zoo on 485 acres in the suburb of Apple Valley that has over 400 species. Outstanding features include the natural landscape where the animals live along trails, a monorail that visitors can take through the zoo, an IMAX theatre, the dolphin aquarium, and a petting zoo. The Minnesota Zoo is easily a half day adventure that you'll want your walking shoes for. The Como Zoo is a compact zoo on 17 acres in the city of St. Paul. It features over 60 species. Outstanding features of the Como Zoo include its price (free!), the polar bears, the sea lion show, and the gorilla. The Como Zoo is a bit more intimate and the animals are closer, but it is smaller than the Minnesota Zoo.