Minnesota winters are cold, but year-round, this state is a kid’s paradise. Wind, rain, hail and snow don’t deter toddlers and parents from participation in family-friendly recreational activities. Even when it’s cold outside, many parks and museums are open. All year, tots have opportunities to learn and play so cabin fever doesn’t strike in the winter. And once the ground thaws and summer heat sets in, recreational activities only multiply. Here are places to go and things to do that are fun for kids and parents, regardless of the season or weather. The kids will not get bored, parents will be very busy, and both children and parents will be wholly occupied.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55103
A popular attraction, this zoo and conservatory has everything one can ask for in family fun for the kids. Como Park features a carousel, a children’s gallery and a lively family amusement park. Families visit Como Park even in the middle of winter. Open throughout the year, the park and zoo only close when the weather is inclement. Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to leave a donation.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
10 W. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Minnesota Parent Magazine, Fodor’s and Grandparents.com have rated this children’s museum as one of the best for educational programs, entertainment and indoor recreation. Toddlers and preschoolers are introduced to the creative arts. And children learn about science through a hands-on exploratory exhibit. The museum also has a location in Rochester.
Rochester Area Family YMCA
709 1st Ave. S.W.
Rochester, MN 55902
Want to relax with a swim after a hectic day with your children? This family YMCA is a great place to unwind after a visit to the children’s museum or an afternoon at the zoo. The “Y” is often the place where toddlers and older children first learn to swim and develop aquatic skills. There are also early child development programs where children can make friends and get school-ready. The Y-Tots Preschool, open to children ages 3-5, is state licensed. The Rochester “Y” also has adult fitness programs.
Waterpark Of America
1700 American Blvd. E. – Bldg. B
Bloomington, MN 55425
Open to children aged 3 and older, Waterpark of America features Toddler Thursdays. Children and adults can enjoy indoor water adventure and other activities during the winter. This theme park has the tallest indoor water slide, arcade games, leisure pools, hot tubs and more than two dozen rides. There are plenty of games, entertainment and events for children. Parents can celebrate their child’s birthday with a birthday party package.
Mill City Museum
704 S. 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Minneapolis was once full of flour power — Mill City Museum was built on the ruins of an old flour mill. Open to children and adults, the museum unfolds the history of Minneapolis, the flour industry and the Mississippi river front where the flour mill once stood. Adjacent to the mill and Mississippi River in the late 19th century was Bohemian Flats, an immigrant community. A special exhibit unfolds the contributions of this community to Minnesota’s industries.
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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.