There is always something to do and places to go in Minnesota, regardless of the season. This is one reason why Minnesota is the envy of other states, despite its sub-zero winters and unpredictable weather. There are plenty of family-friendly activities parents and children can enjoy. This includes activities for tweens and teens as well as their parents and younger siblings.
Minnesota Fishing Museum
304 W. Broadway
Little Falls, MN 56345
Moby Dick might have taken refuge in Little Falls to avoid that vengeful New Englander, Captain Ahab. Traces of the great white whale and its doomed pursuer have yet to be found in Little Falls, but the Minnesota Fishing Museum has other historic breathtaking artifacts that delight the non-seafaring. Fishing was as important to Minnesotans as it was to the brave souls of New Bedford, who cast their harpoons for whales and then netted for fish. Early Minnesotan settlers and Native Americans relied on fishing for sustenance. A collection of their possessions and a history of Minnesota’s fishing industry are all inside the museum. Captain Ahab had no luck catching fish. Also, his mission to catch the great white whale was a total disaster. But aye! The hardy Minnesotan fishermen enjoyed the best fishing in the Great Lakes. And lads and lasses, this is no fish tale: yonder thar be a Moby Dick restaurant chain. And thar be Captain Ahab at the bar!
Mall of America
5000 Center Court
Bloomington, MN 55425
When it comes to shopping, dining and attractions, Mall Of America (MOA) has everything you can think of, including family entertainment. The mall’s Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium (formerly Underwater Adventures Aquarium) is world famous. Visitors travel for miles just to swim with its sharks and say “I do!” underwater. Nickelodeon Universe is another attraction not to be missed. For families, it’s pure entertainment with exciting rides and appearances by SpongeBob, Dora The Explorer, Diego and other favorite Nickelodeon characters. Nickelodeon Universe is open all year except for Christmas Day. On Friday nights at The Hard Rock Café, near the Nickelodeon, kids receive a free meal if their adult parents can pause their dancing to purchase a meal. And there is the eternal Universe of Light, where visitors are treated to a spectacular Nickelodeon light show with music, strobe lights and smoke effects.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
10 W. Seventh St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
If Nickelodeon Universe has been a trifle strenuous and you want a more calm activity, visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum at MOA. Or you can escape from the mall to St. Paul or Rochester to enjoy museum culture, exclusive of mall distractions. Admission is free to museum members and children under age one. For the rest of us, it’s quite easy on the wallet at $9.95. Each location has its own events and authentic features. There are unique play spaces that children can explore and roam with parents in tow. The museum’s St. Paul location will be temporarily closed for expansion from December 2016 through March 2017. But it’s scheduled to reopen next April with new permanent exhibits. However, the museums at MOA and Rochester will be open.
Related: Best Museums In Minnesota
Mille Lacs Indian Museum & Trading Post
Onamia, MN 56359
In the central Minnesota city near Mille Lacs Lake lives a special historical museum — the Mille Laces Indian Museum and Trading Post. Mille Lacs Lake, located near Onamia, is known as a paradise for trophy fishing and as a vacation resort. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum is an Onamia attraction open from April through October. The museum is a favorite site for educational field trips and those interested in Native American art. The historic trading post, open all year, is a wonderful place to buy authentic Native American handcrafted goods as souvenirs and gifts. When ready to splurge on holiday gifts, one might consider a trip to the Mille Lacs Trading Post. If interested in touring Onamia, visit the Onamia website for more information.
Big Splash Minnesota Indoor Waterpark
2100 Arrowwood Lane, NW
Alexandria, MN 56308
If water is your passion and you miss the it when the beaches close, you and the children can splash around to your heart’s content at this extravagantly gigantic indoor water park. The entire water park is like an aquatic jungle gym, with three, four-story water slides and 38,000 square feet of aquatic play area. Parents and children can go inner tubing and vent their energies in a kid’s play fort fortified with geysers and water blasters. There is also a pool for a relaxing dip or doing a few refreshing laps.
Related: Best Jungle Gyms In Minnesota
Linda Cameron has written home design, home improvement and lifestyle articles for The Boston Globe and City Shopper Magazine. She has related interests in the building industry, travel, real estate and financing. She is a contributor to Examiner, House Spot, Techsling and Behance, covering topics on career, people, businesses, education and technology.