ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Parents always look for an opportunity to get the kids out of the house, and there are a lot of great places to go around Minnesota for family fun.

Many offer great deals, but one provides a lot of bang for your buck. And this week, WCCO viewers sent John Lauritsen to the Children’s Museum in St. Paul to check out the very best family pass deal in Minnesota.

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Any parent who has ever ventured into the Minnesota Children’s Museum will tell you this place is better than even the best babysitter.

“They get a lot of interactive experience. A lot of hands-on. That kinetic learning to grow and develop. They’re boys so they need to be active all the time,” said parent John Stojevich.

“They’re happier when they’re here, and tired when they get home,” said parent Lila Bennett.

The museum gets about 450,000 visitors a year and that number is expected to grow. They’re going through a renovation and expansion that will create a number of new exhibits.

“We are totally reinventing the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Ten permanent exhibits. Cafe with a coffee bar. A lot of good amenities for the visitors,” said Bob Ingrassia, the vice president for External Relations.

One of the attractions isn’t an exhibit at all, it’s the family pass itself. It costs $129 for the year.

“It gives the kids a chance to run around and do something new. After about 2 1/2 visits the membership is paid off,” said Bennett.

You can come for a short visit or a long visit, and anytime works. There are about 15,000 members.

Those thinking about becoming one will get a deal this holiday season.

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“Anybody who comes to the museum gets a $30 discount on that passport level or above,” said Ingrassia.

That family pass will be good until the spring of 2018. By then, the new Scramble exhibit will have been open for a year.

“It’s a four-story climber so kids will be climbing up to about 45 feet. There are slides, netting, cat walks, and a show stopper in front of the building,” said Ingrassia.

Already available is the “Forces at Play” area, where little forces of nature use air pressure to send things soaring. And if you’re a parent who’s always dreamed of having your kids wash your car, this is the place to take them.

It’s where science and suds collide.

“We’ve got blowers so kids can dry off when they come out of the car wash,” said Ingrassia.

Ingrassia said the pass opens up new doors. There are no rules for kids, just a chance for playful learning.

“Kids are having fun. Adults are having fun. And at the same time they are developing a lot of important skills. Critical thinking, creativity, communication skills. They can thrive at home, school and everywhere else,” said Ingrassia.

And maybe the best part of this “Best Of,” is that it’s the staffers, not the parents, who get to clean up after the kids.

“And we can walk away,” said Bennett.

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The family pass is good at all three Children’s Museum locations: St. Paul, Rochester and the Mall of America. It’s the first time they have re-done the St. Paul location, and they will have a grand opening when it’s finished in April.

John Lauritsen