As Whitney Houston so famously sang, “…Children are our future.” While that is true, keeping them happily occupied today can often prove more challenging. Thankfully, Minnesota provides plenty of great places to bring children of all ages; places that are sure to wow and excite the little ones and bring the parents, teachers and guardians back to the days when they, too, were knee-high to a grasshopper. Fun with learning or learning to have fun, these local institutions are the best places to bring the young ones.
Science Museum of Minnesota
120 Kellogg Blvd. W.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Dinosaurs? Yes. That’s all you need to say. But the most interactive of St. Paul’s museums allows children to experience everything from television newscasting to chemistry experiments, human and animal preservation, physics, anatomy and, of course, dinosaurs. Let your children run free in world-class space, and their minds will run free as well. Joining the excellent exhibits are multiple places to eat and the one-of-a-kind omnitheater, making it a full-day adventure.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
10 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55102
The name says it all. Interactive exhibits feature hands-on activities for kids of all ages. The Blue Man Group exhibit, for example, lets children experience the wonder of sound and sight. The museum has the feel of a toy box spilling over, and your children will be exposed to education while experiencing the joy of playing. Always full of children from all over the state, school tours, daycare, family outings and play dates; the MN Children’s Museum is one of the most fantastic places for children you can find.
1225 Estabrook Drive
St. Paul, MN 55103
Mini-golf, amusement park, zoo, conservatory, playground, paddle-boating on the lake… the list goes on and on for kids activities at St. Paul’s Como Park. There is plenty to do and plenty to see and the splendor of Minnesota green space is nowhere better preserved. If you have exhausted all of the activities at Como Town (amusement park included), head out for hike down trails and through woods. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for chipmunks and grab an ice cream cone near the lake. Maybe drop in and see the sloth in the Marjorie McNealy Conservatory, an especially inviting place during Minnesota’s cold winter months.
Mall of America
60 E. Broadway
Bloomington, MN 55425
An amusement park inside of a mall? Sounds like a match made in heaven for youngsters from Minnesota and abroad. Especially when the weather is too cold, or too hot, this indoor paradise for the elementary-school crowd makes for a daytime destination second to none. Located centrally in the mall, there is also a bowling alley/arcade, BarbieTM Dreamhouse ExperienceTM and other attractions in the mall surrounding the park.
The Depot Ice Rink
225 3rd Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Enjoy a trip to downtown Minneapolis with the whole family. Open November through March, the Depot Ice Rink is Minnesota’s station for fun inside of a heated, historic building in the middle of the city. Minnesota is the State of Hockey, so lace up those skates and hit the ice. Stay at the Depot Renaissance Hotel, which also features family-friendly restaurant Charley’s Grill, and enjoy the water park as well (a great option when the ice rink is closed). Plus, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from other kid-friendly attractions, like the Mill City Museum.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.