Before my husband, two children and I moved to Minnesota a few years ago, everyone who was familiar with the area raved about the many family-friendly things to do in Minneapolis as well as her sister city St. Paul. It ends up, they were right. This region of the country is all about family, and I can say, having lived in more than a dozen cities, that’s a fact. We appreciate everything from the good schools to the year-round athletic opportunities and, most of all, fabulous local attractions and events.
While my kids and I arrived here a month before my husband we didn’t waste any time getting acquainted with the area and looking back it’s pretty impressive how easy it was for me to pack up the kids and see the area. Here a few of my favorite family-friendly features in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area:
1. Mall of America (MOA). We actually stopped by MOA this past weekend to do some shopping, it’s my local shopping mall, and we also peeked in the new Peeps store and scored some fresh Mike and Ikes and a chocolate sample the ladies were passing out. We also caught a glimpse of the newest Nickelodeon Universe Ninja Turtles: Shell Shock ride . It looked pretty fun. All-in-all, Mall of America is pretty fantastic if you love shopping, as there are over 500 stores including the American Girl Store. But there’s more than just shops. There’s a ton of restaurant options and many attractions including mini-golf, a mirror maze and the Underwater Aquarium. Traveling exhibits also pass though regularly, the latest being Diana in honor of the beloved Princess Diana.
2. Como Zoo and Conservatory. While locally it’s known as the “free zoo” Como is actually so much more than that. For over 100 year this St. Paul attraction has been an iconic attraction. One of the nicest features about this zoo and the larger Minneapolis Zoo (located in the Twin Cities suburb of Apple Valley) is the indoor exhibit feature which is what makes it possible for keeping these attractions open year-round. During the summer the mini amusement park opens up (the rides do cost).
3. Festivals, Races and Events. As I mentioned above, Minneapolis and St. Paul are naturally family-friendly. The Cities and surrounding towns are always hosting an outdoor festival of some sort: garlic, raspberry, aviation, bicycle, BBQ, blues, apple, and cheese. The biggest news of the year though is the opening of the annual Minnesota State Fair which is ranked as one of the best state fairs in the country – and don’t forget to sample the various foods on a stick. The St. Paul Winter Carnival is another favorite event that my kids absolutely love and being that it’s in the winter, it helps break up the monotony of winter. You’ll also find a long list of races that can be as short as a 1/2 mile fun run for the kids or the more challenging Twin Cities Marathon. You can always count on something family-friendly and cost efficient to do here.
4. Cherry and Spoonbridge (see photo above). Like the ginormous giant shuttlecock (or birdie) at the Nelson Art Musuem in Kansas City, the Spoon Bridge and Cherry is a “must see” Minneapolis landmark. I’ve been there multiple times and it’s always fun watching people see it for the first time. Some families stand in front of the sculpture pretending to hold the cherry on their head. On a side note, the day I filmed the Expedia video my children discovered a new duck nest with four eggs. They will always have a fond memory of that day!
I wrote this post in conjunction with Expedia’s “Kids in the City” summer travel campaign. The Vacation Gals were compensated to promote the informative resource site.
For still more summer United States city vacation ideas, take a look at these posts from other family travel experts: Los Angeles, Denver, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland and Washington, D.C.