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Minneapolis is a large, friendly city located in the Upper Midwest. Though the weather can be cold in the winter, the locals tend to be warmly welcoming, and people who visit comment on the small-town feel of the city. Minneapolis is located across the Mississippi River from St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota. The two cities together are known as the Twin Cities, and this list includes both Minneapolis and St. Paul attractions. The area of the Twin Cities is a great place for a family vacation, and here are some of the top things to do in Minneapolis with kids.
Indoor Activities for Kids in Minneapolis
Located in a suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul, SeaQuest Roseville is an aquarium attraction that gives you and your children the opportunity to interact with animals from five continents. You may have the opportunity to pet the animals or even feed them. It is a great way for children to learn more about wildlife and conservation, and it is also a lot of fun. In addition to interacting with animals, kids also have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with characters such as mermaids and pirates.
Animal Encounters at SeaQuest:
- Crested Porcupine Interaction: Have you ever wondered what a porcupine actually feels like? Look no further – Meet Quilliam the porcupine here at SeaQuest, and learn all about his unique species while hand-feeding him his favorite snacks!
- Sloth Interaction: Come meet the adorable sloth, Luca! You’ll get to feed, pet, and touch Luca in this once-in-a-lifetime experience all while learning about the sloth species and their natural habitats! Be sure to bring your camera for a selfie during your hand-feeding session.
- Fishy Kisses: Dip your feet into a tank of fish that will gently “kiss” your toes, removing dead skin cells in the process.
- Snorkel With Stingrays: Splash on in with Seaquest! Bring your suit and towel and jump in the water with a variety of rays, tropical fish, and non-threatening sharks for an ultimate up-close animal experience.
- EpicQuest: During EpicQuest, your group engages with every animal in the park – from sloths to otters, stingrays to sharks, and beyond. EpicQuest is entirely tailored to your interests! Super fascinated with exotic mammals, bird or shark training, or squid dissection? We lead the Safari, but you decide how to allocate the time in your three-hour Quest.
Mall of America
Reserve a day of your vacation to visit the Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. It’s the largest shopping mall in the United States, and it includes so many other attractions that it is almost more of an indoor theme park. The Crayola Experience offers creative activities, the Escape Game encourages cooperative problem-solving among parents and older children, and the Nickelodeon Universe features 27 attractions and rides, including an indoor roller coaster. With so much to do under one roof, the Mall of America is definitely one of the best things to do in Minneapolis with kids.
Located on the campus of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the Bell Museum teaches kids about natural history in a fun, interactive way. The Bell Museum contains over a million specimens from all around the world, including from every county in the state of Minnesota. Dioramas and artifacts provide a glimpse of the state’s biodiversity and history in terms a child can understand. The Bell Museum is educational and fun for the whole family.
Children’s Theatre Company
Minneapolis is sometimes known as the Mini-Apple, which is a play on its name but also a comparison with New York City. Like New York, Minneapolis has a thriving theatre scene, and taking your kids to the Children’s Theatre Company is a great way to introduce them to live performing arts. Not only does the Children’s Theatre Company put on plays designed to appeal to kids, but it also helps make things easier for parents by providing a quiet room in the back for kids who get fidgety or cranky, as well a snack bar that allows you to order snacks before the show and pick them up at intermission.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Located in St. Paul, the Minnesota Children’s Museum is designed to encourage creative thinking and curiosity with its interactive activities. Comprising three floors of exhibits, the Children’s Museum is an immersive experience equally appropriate for toddlers and older kids.
Outdoor Activities for Kids in Minneapolis
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
One of the best things to do on your family trip to the Twin Cities is to visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This 11-acre park is part of the Walker Art Center and is a delight for people of all ages. The installations in the park are whimsical and colorful. The exhibits are permanent, but new ones are added from time to time.
The centerpiece of the park is a sculpture, which doubles as a fountain, of a giant spoon holding a cherry. Fun family photo ops abound in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Kids enjoy the opportunity to run around while looking at the artwork, and you’ll appreciate the fact that it’s a completely free attraction.
Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
Great Wolf Lodge Water Park is located fairly close to the Mall of America in East Bloomington, making it the logical thing to do next. If you have teenagers as well as younger children, this is the place to keep all of them entertained at the same time. The waterslides and aquatic rides are each assigned a thrill level so you can choose activities that are age-appropriate for all members of your family. There are also artificial waterfalls, play areas, swimming pools, and other water exhibits.
Minnehaha Regional Park
Artificial waterfalls can be fun, but if you’re more interested in the real thing, you should visit Minnehaha Regional Park, which is conveniently located near the city. In the Dakota language, Minnehaha means “rushing water,” and you’ll find plenty of it at Minnehaha Falls. In addition to the rushing water, Minnehaha Regional Park also offers abundant trees, lush gardens, public art installations, and gorgeous landscapes. It is a great place to get away from the city scene and enjoy some refreshing air in a quiet, peaceful setting.
Stone Arch Bridge
One of the best things to do in Minneapolis with kids is to see the Mississippi River. Reserved for bicycles and pedestrians, the Stone Arch Bridge is an excellent way to see the Mississippi up close. St. Anthony Falls is significant to the history of Minneapolis, and the Stone Arch Bridge puts you practically on top of it.
Lake Harriet Bandshell Park
Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and while that figure may be a rough estimate, the nickname is well earned. One of the most popular things to do in Minneapolis with kids is to visit the Chain of Lakes Regional Park. Of the five lakes that make up the chain, Lake Harriet is a must-visit. Like the rest of the Chain of Lakes, Lake Harriet offers opportunities for outdoor activities, such as fishing, hiking, swimming, and boating, with paddleboards and kayaks being available for rent. Additionally, it offers concerts and other live events at its ornate bandshell.
Paradise Charter Cruises on Lake Minnetonka
Located west of Minneapolis, Lake Minnetonka is the largest lake in the Twin Cities area. Made up of a system of smaller basins, it covers 14,000 acres altogether. Paradise Charter Cruises offers boat tours of Lake Minnetonka that include food, music, and other forms of entertainment. This is one of the most unique things to do in Minneapolis with kids.
Hitching Company Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours
If you’re looking for a quieter activity that’s still appropriate for kids of all ages, you can take a horse-drawn carriage tour of some of the sites of the city from the Hitching Company. You can relax and enjoy a leisurely tour of the city while learning about its fascinating history from the narration. The tour lasts about an hour and is a good way to avoid crowds at other attractions. Carriage tours run year-round in all kinds of weather. It may even be possible for you and your kids to pet the horse, but be sure you ask when you book your tour.
These are not the only things to do in Minneapolis with kids, but they are some of the most popular. We welcome you to the Twin Cities and invite you to experience all the area has to offer.