Minnesota is known for being the state of 1,000 lakes and home to the Mall of America, which has every store imaginable. (Check out my list of Things to Do With Kids at the Mall of America.) Plus, look out for the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the ever-popular American Girl Store, LEGO Imagination Center and Nickelodeon Universe. There are even dozens of rides for people of all ages. On Toddler Tuesdays, kids get discounted rates on rides, free meals at restaurants and even discounts at children’s stores.
Besides the mall, there are a lot of other opportunities to explore and learn as a family. Once you’ve gotten your retail therapy fix, check out these five can’t-miss spots in the Twin Cities:
In St. Paul, the Minnesota Children’s Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota are located within a half-mile of each other. The Children’s Museum has four floors of exhibits. The water room has a pair of ramps to race boats, as well as a huge foam station. Earth World recreates Minnesota’s weather and environmental areas with forests and wetlands. There’s even an outdoor play area located on the rooftop, as well as rotating exhibits on health, nutrition and exercise.
At the Science Museum, look for the piano key stairs at the entrance. It’s a fun way to get in a little exercise with your kids. Budding paleontologists will enjoy seeing the dinosaur bones, including Triceratops, which is “one of only four real mounted Triceratops specimens in the world.” There are revolving exhibits, including Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed, which is on display now.
In downtown Minneapolis, the Mill City Museum is a great way to learn about the milling industry and the flour making business. Minneapolis, which means Falling Water City, was the #1 flour making city in the world throughout the first half of the 20th century. The museum has a great water area that teaches little ones about logging and water power, a baking laboratory with samples of freshly baked bread, and a hands-on model train exhibit.
The Flour Tower tour at the Mill City Museum is a great way to learn about the history of the flour industry, as well as Washburn-Crosby A Mill, which produced enough flour each day to make two million loaves of bread. The tour lets visitors out on the ninth floor, which has great views of the entire city, and even St. Anthony Falls, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River.
Guthrie Theater is right next door to Mill City Museum, and has world class performances throughout the year. Walk the ramp on the fourth and ninth floors to get 270 degree views of the entire city.
While in town, be sure to root for the home team, the Minnesota Twins. Target Field, built in 2010, is filled with lots of family-friendly activities, including batting cages. Be sure to watch the mascot race, held every home game during the fifth inning. If it’s your first time visiting the park, stop by guest services for a certificate.
If you plan to stay downtown, Marriott’s Residence Inn and Renaissance Hotels are joined together by the Depot, a fun indoor water park. There are tons of splash areas for children of all ages. But plan accordingly since the water park is only open on weekends.
Jenn Record grew up exploring New England and much of the East Coast with her family. Today, both Jenn and her husband love teaching in Connecticut and the opportunity summer vacation affords them to continue exploring the country. Along with their two young children, they are on a quest to see every major league baseball park in the country.
Photo Credit: Brad Johnston