10 KID FAVORITES IN THE TWIN CITIES
By Erica Wacker
From roller coasters to river otters, there are plenty of ways to keep the kids entertained in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Whether you're traveling with preschoolers or preteens, you'll find no shortage of fun for the whole family here.
Here are just 10 family-friendly attractions to add to your list.
1. BELL MUSEUM
One of the Twin Cities' newest museums, the Bell Museum takes visitors on a journey through the natural history of the area, with lifelike wildlife dioramas and a to-scale woolly mammoth replica. The museum also features the country's first seamless dome planetarium. Open Tuesday-Sunday.
2. COMO ZOO & CONSERVATORY
Sparky the sea lion (who has a brand-new home), a polar bear and a gorilla exhibit join an impressive flower conservatory, amusement park and historic carousel at this St. Paul family favorite. Admission to the zoo and conservatory are free; donations are accepted. Open daily.
3. GREAT WOLF LODGE
Guests of Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington get unlimited access to the indoor waterpark, with added fun on the ropes course, arcade, mini bowling alley and live-action MagiQuest adventure game. Visitors can also buy day passes to the waterpark. Open daily.
4. MILL CITY MUSEUM
Visitors of all ages will learn about Minneapolis’ flour-milling history in an iconic setting at the Mill City Museum, a Minnesota Historical Society site in one of the city's prettiest neighborhoods. Open Tuesday-Sunday plus summer Mondays.
5. MINNESOTA CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
The newly expanded Minnesota Children's Museum in downtown St. Paul museum features a multi-story climbing area and giant slide, expanded toddler play area and an air-and-water rooftop gallery, plus a cafe and coffee bar. Open Tuesday-Sunday plus Mondays in the summer.
6. MINNESOTA HISTORY CENTER
This interactive St. Paul museum features multiple permanent and changing exhibits in a stunning setting, complete with picture windows overlooking the State Capitol. The kids will love the popular “Then Now Wow” exhibit, where they can take apart a bison and explore a life-sized teepee and sod house. Open Tuesday-Sunday plus Monday holidays.
7. MINNESOTA ZOO
Farm babies and snow monkeys are among the favorites at this year-round Apple Valley attraction, featuring an array of indoor and outdoor habitats for exotic and native species alike. Watch for special events like close encounters with the critters and the annual beach party, as well as seasonal exhibits like the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular for Halloween. Open daily.
8. SCIENCE MUSEUM OF MINNESOTA
Visiting exhibits and an Omnitheater add to the appeal of the multilevel Science Museum of Minnesota, which overlooks the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul and also houses a visitor center for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Permanent highlights include the dinosaur and fossil gallery, exhibits on race and the human body, and sensory-friendly Sundays for families with special needs. Open Tuesday-Sunday.
The Upper Midwest's largest amusement park, Valleyfair in Shakopee is home to more than 75 rides and attractions, including eight big coasters, Planet Snoopy for the littler kids and Soak City Waterpark. Open mid-May to October.
10. THE WORKS MUSEUM
Engineering is the focus at this hands-on Bloomington museum that aims to make learning memorable and fun. Open daily in the summer; Thursday-Monday rest of year.