We had three full days to explore the Twin Cities area with our young kids and could’ve easily occupied another two days with the endless amount of kid-friendly experiences around Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Como Town Kiddie Amusement Park
Bring your little kids to Como Town and the smile will not leave their face; that is, until you tell them it is time to go.
Como Town’s rides were the perfect size for my 3-year-old and would satisfy kids up to about 7-8 as well as there were some rides he was not yet tall enough to enjoy. We arrived right when they opened and waited 5 minutes at most for any ride.
The bumper cars and the swings were our family’s favorites! With the wristbands, we were able to repeat them over and over.
They allow one-year-olds to join on the train ride (for free), but no other lap rides.
Do you have any adrenaline junkies in your family and Como Town doesn’t cut it? Find more extreme thrills at Minnesota’s famous Valleyfair.
Minnehaha Falls, Park, and Playground
Jammed right in the center of the Cities, Minnehaha Falls (and park) is a peaceful escape from an otherwise energetic metropolis. The park is sprawling and as you walk deeper into the grounds, you forget you’re still inside Minnesota’s largest city.
There are multiple playgrounds , trails, and a splash pad making this an ideal spot to send a half day with kids in the Twin Cities.
Cool off with a refreshing ice cream at Sea Salt. Sea Salt is also a sit-down seafood restaurant. It is on the pricey side, but I hear it is mouth watering.
Try Log Rolling at Lake Bde Maka Ska
Translating to White Earth Lake and pronounced “b-day ma-KHA skah, Bde Maka Ska is Minneapolis’s largest lake. It’ll provide never ending fun for you and your family. Test your skills at log rolling, rent a kayak, play in the sand, or bike the trails.
Linden Hills Area
Do your family a solid and plan to spend an entire afternoon in Linden Hills, near Lake Bde Maka Ska.
Here are four places to spend your time in Linden Hills with kids:
Wild Rumpus Bookstore
Wild Rumpus is the only bookstore I’ve been in that doubled as a ‘petting zoo.’ Cats, Birds, and Chinchillas were a bonus for us in this already exceptional bookshop. The store experience was designed and built based on the book The Salamander Room. When you set foot inside, it feels like a typical storefront. Then as you head toward the back of the store, you feel like you’ve entered a back garden.
As if that’s not enough to thrill the littles, just look at their mini door at the entrance. Your child will feel so special having a passage just for them.
Pinwheels and Play Toys
I could have easily spent hours browsing Pinwheels and Play Toys and am still thinking about it. The STEM, Montessori, and Classic toy options were infinite. Impressively, I found prices to be comparable to Amazon/Target as well.
A Wooly Willy was just one of the finds that I couldn’t leave without.
Brewery or Dinner
There are a number of highly rated restaurants in the area, but we opted for Wooden Ship Brewery and the Food Truck of the night. Breweries are usually our MO because when the kids had a long day, their patience for a sit down dinner is uncertain. Breweries allow us to wrap up and head out on a dime if required.
Liam’s new toy from Pinwheels and Play Toys kept him entertained while we sampled a few beers and devoured appetizers.
Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream
There is no better way to end a night than to sugar up your kids at Sebastian Joe’s.
My neighbor acclaims Sebastian Joe’s as her all time favorite ice cream shop. After telling a few locals about our visit, they echoed the same.
The efficiency and friendliness of the staff were what I noticed even more so than their variety of delicious flavors. The Friday night we visited happened to also have live music on their patio.
Como Zoo & Conservatory
This was hands down the best FREE outing we found in the area. Your entry includes the zoo and then you exit through the conservatory; seeing as much or as little as your kids’ moods allow.
For a free zoo, they had an impressive variety of animals from gorillas and orangutans to seals. The ‘one-way’ flow of the zoo made it easy to walk with a stroller as well.
Note: The Como Zoo & Conservatory is open 365 days a year! As of September 2021, to manage capacity, reservations are required to enter and facemasks are required during your entire visit.
For even more free fun, head across the street to the sprawling Como Park for a fun playground.
Science Museum of Minnesota
If your kids are slightly older, opt for the Science Museum over the Children’s museum for interactive learning.
St. Anthony Main
Enjoy al fresco dining along cobblestone streets in Minneapolis’s oldest pocket of the city.
Arguably the Country’s Finest: Minnesota State Fair
If you plan it right, you’ll visit while the Minnesota State Fair is running. It takes place for 12 consecutive days in late summer, with it’s last day being on Labor Day.
If you have a stroller, you may want to consider a weekday or early morning visit. We arrived shortly after 8am and got out just as the crowd was beginning to form around 11:30 am. Their shuttle service was a well-oiled process and is offered from numerous local park n ride locations.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
The “mail room” at the Children’s Museum and the “car wash” were the highlights for our busy three-year-old. This was the perfect place to spend a rainy morning in St. Paul.
Tip: If you have a Children’s Museum Membership at your local museum, ask if Minnesota’s has reciprocity. Our Milwaukee membership got us in free (saving us $60 for the four of us.)
Pick up some “Chicago Mix” popcorn and retro candy at Candyland. The Children’s Museum gave us a free snack mix coupon with our visit and, in my opinion, their popcorn was better than Chicago’s own Garrett’s.
Can Can Wonderland
THE most memorable mini golf course we’ve ever visited. Can Can Wonderland is an art exhibit blended with an entertainment center. Open Thursday-Sunday this is a one of a kind place to visit for a round of mini golf or some arcade fun.
Shoreview Community Center’s Waterpark
Shoreview’s Community Center offers a shallow pool area for the littles and large waterslides as well to keep the teens happy!
Mall of America
Create memories for a lifetime with Mall of America’s entertainment offerings. I have fond memories at their Nickelodeon Universe from my own childhood. They also have an aquarium, Crayola Experience, and an immersive flight simulator.
On Toddler Tuesdays there is special programming from 11-12 (stories, crafts, etc.) for little kids and discounted wristbands at Nickelodeon Universe.
Eagle’s Nest Indoor Playground
This indoor playground is best suited for Children 12 and under. It is $6.50 for a daily pass for kids. Adults are free.
Didn’t get your fill of creatures from the free Como Zoo? Find 4,500+ animals at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, south of the cities.
Apple Valley Aquatic Center – Closed for 2021 Season.
The city run aquatic center is typically open early June to end of August.
Indoor Activities in the Twin Cities
Weather not cooperating? These are fantastic anytime, but are especially clutch if the weather is less than ideal.
- Eagle’s Nest Indoor Playground
- Shoreview Community Center’s Waterpark
- Can Can Wonderland
- Minnesota Children’s Museum
- Mall of America
- Shopping, Ice Cream, and Dinner in Linden Hills