Minnesota with Kids
Minnesota is a terrific place to travel with children. While you won’t find the kind of big, flashy attractions that you might elsewhere, you will find that your children are welcomed and even catered to just about everywhere you go. (Folks looking for an escape from kids may want to take note of that, as well.)
All but the very fanciest of restaurants have high chairs and children’s menus on hand, and nearly every museum has something to offer even the youngest of visitors.
A lakeside resort—of which there are hundreds—is a great place to park the family for the week, alternating time on the lake with forays to local attractions. While you’re out there, take the kids to a small-town festival or a Northwoods League baseball game. You don’t need themed rides and costumed mice to make memories.
The metro area has a handful of indoor water parks attached to chain hotels. The Depot, in downtown Minneapolis, is the most conveniently situated. Another hotel that does double duty as an attraction is the Marriott Residence Inn in Edina, which is connected to an indoor park and climbing structure.
Young kids should never be bored in the Twin Cities. The excellent Minnesota Zoo and Minnesota Children’s Museum can each fill a kid-sized day. The Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center is a great place to run off energy. And the south Minneapolis neighborhood of Linden Hills, with toy shops, a children’s bookstore, and trolley rides, is a relaxing place to spend an afternoon.
Older kids will get more out of the Science Museum of Minnesota, The Bakken (all about electricity), and the Minnesota History Center.
Kids here even get their own Tony Award–winning theater: Definitely get tickets to whatever’s at the Children’s Theatre while you’re here. Or, during the summer, be sure to catch a St. Paul Saints baseball game.
And, of course, what’s a trip to Minnesota without a visit to the amusement park in the Mall of America?
St. Croix Valley
On your way up toward the North Shore, the excellent North West Company Fur Post, populated with knowledgeable costumed reenactors, is a great place to learn about Minnesota’s fur trade and the lives of the Ojibwe.
Duluth is another especially family-friendly destination. The Edgewater Resort and Waterpark, a short distance from Canal Park, offers plenty of entertainment right on-site. Canal Park itself is compact and easily traversed by little legs, and is adjacent to the city’s top family attraction, the Great Lakes Aquarium. Best of all, two scenic train rides depart from Duluth, and what kid wouldn’t enjoy that?
Much of Arrowhead’s beauty lies in remote wilderness—daunting for some families. Gooseberry Falls State Park is accessible and well-suited to young feet. North of Grand Marais, Grand Portage National Monument is another excellent historical site with costumed interpreters.
Decades of school groups have made a pilgrimage to Chisholm’s Minnesota Discovery Center to learn about the mining heritage of the Iron Range. You can spend much of a day exploring the vast museum and grounds.
Watching hundreds of eagles soar over the Mississippi River at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha is an unforgettable experience for kids and adults. Combine it with a trip to LARK Toys in nearby Kellogg and your kids will think they’ve gone to heaven. And, if they’ve got a sense of humor, they’ll get a kick out of Austin’s SPAM Museum as well.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition