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Minneapolis Institute of Arts

2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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  • Big kids (6-8)
  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-11-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-17 18:33:01.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8) and tweens (9-12)

If your kids like traditional museums this is it

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Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a gorgeous, elegant museum offering works from around the world. My children do love art and appreciate works by the greats, like Monet and Van Gogh (and there are both on display as well as works by Picasso and Rembrandt). However, if your children are the hands-on types this probably isn't the best pick for you. Older children who can appreciate and not touch are best for this environment. Truly, it depends on your children.

Tips for Families

Eat before you go. While there is a small cafe for snacks and coffee, it's best to go with a full stomach since food and drinks are not allowed on the museum floors.

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Minnesota Children's Museum

10 W Seventh St, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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  • Little kids (3-5)
  • Big kids (6-8)
Visited: 2010-02-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-17 18:24:06.0 | I traveled with little kids (3-5) and big kids (6-8)

Little ones love this place!

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Granted, it's been a few years since my family has been here, but I can say at the time my kids were age-appropriate. The hands-on opportunities are endless and there is plenty of room for the children to run around and explore. During our visit the kids had the opportunity to touch reptiles! That was something they talked about for ages. The kids also spent quite a bit of time in the Our World section (adult role play). I'm expecting my third and am sure I will be back here many, many times.

Tips for Families

Every third Sunday entry is free thanks to Target!

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Science Museum Of Minnesota

120 W Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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  • Big kids (6-8)
  • Tweens (9-12)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2013-11-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-17 18:09:57.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8), tweens (9-12) and teens (13+)

Science and more at this St. Paul family-friendly musuem

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My family frequents the Science Museum of Minnesota regularly. The permanent exhibits are always entertaining and never get old. For example, the kids always beg to go to see the dinosaurs and the musical stairs (these are hidden in a stairwell, so be sure to ask for direction). The traveling exhibits are always impressive, too. We took our two children and my two teen stepsons (at the time) to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and more recently we saw the Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.

Tips for Families

The snack bar here is great!

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Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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  • Little kids (3-5)
  • Big kids (6-8)
  • Teens (13+)
Visited: 2012-06-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-17 17:31:44.0 | I traveled with little kids (3-5), big kids (6-8) and teens (13+)

See the Minnesota classic, Spoonbridge and Cherry

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Being a local, it's no surprise my family has been to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden many times. The Sculpture Garden is free admission but the Walker Art Museum (indoors) does have a fee. The garden is a great stop for letting the kids burn off some energy while mom and dad can relax on a blanket or roam the grounds admiring the art. On our most recent visit the children discovered a nest near the same pond that the Spoonbridge and Cherry is located. The kids were quite excited and it made for a great photo op. The Spoonbridge and Cherry does have a fountain, so on windy days keep an eye out for spewing water.

Tips for Families

Pack a picnic lunch and blanket. Parking is not free. Bring a handful of cash for the pay lot.

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Historic Fort Snelling

200 Tower Avenue Fort Snelling History Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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  • Big kids (6-8)
Visited: 2012-07-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-16 16:41:58.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Step back in time at Historic Fort Snelling

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Historic Fort Snelling is a classic Minnesota stop. We stopped by one very hot July day. Despite the heat, the buildings were comfortable as we roamed the various rooms that once were home to many military personnel. (Bring water regardless of the time of year since you're outdoors). It's here my kids learned about Minnesota's fur trade, military, and slave history. Here's a fun fact: Minnesota's first post office was established at Fort Snelling. The old-fashioned gift/trade shop really put things into perspective for the kids, seeing versions of shoes and even candy "back then". If you can, peek behind the fort to see the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers converging.

Tips for Families

Join Minnesota Historic Society for free entry into over 20 Minnesota historic locations including Fort Snelling.

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Minnesota Zoo

13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, Minnesota

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  • Little kids (3-5)
  • Big kids (6-8)
Visited: 2011-04-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-16 16:27:13.0 | I traveled with little kids (3-5) and big kids (6-8)

Huge zoo with lots to see and do

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My family adores the Minnesota Zoo because there is so much to see and do. The indoor exhibits make it a nice attraction during the cold months and the long trails are ideal during the warm months. There are playgrounds with water features for cooling-off (so bring the kids' suit along if you feel inclined). There are plenty of picnic tables for lunch and relaxing. My family's favorite time to visit is in April when the Farm Babies event. You will want your camera for this one (think piglets, chicks and calves). Educational programs are always being offered as our feeding opportunities. Be prepared to spend many hours here.

Tips for Families

Nursing moms: there are several designated private areas just for you!

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Radisson Hotel Mall Bloomington (Minnesota)

1700 EAST AMERICAN BLVD, Bloomington, Minnesota

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  • Tweens (9-12)

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Visited: 2012-05-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-16 15:53:03.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8) and tweens (9-12)

Sleep, eat, and play at Water Park of America

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It doesn't matter what the weather is outside when you stay at this Radisson, aka the Water Park of America hotel, because you don't even need to leave the hotel to keep the kids busy. My family stayed here a couple of years ago and was rather impressed with the rooms. A cove held two bunk beds (four beds total), separate from the main bedroom with a king size bed and TV. Our room also had a balcony that overlooked the water park. The Mall of America is only a short drive away. If you're looking for the best indoor water park in the Twin Cities - this is it.

Tips for Families

Check out the packages on the hotel and water park's website. You can save a few bucks by bundling your admission and food.

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Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium

120 East Broadway, Bloomington, Minnesota

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  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-04-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-16 15:40:59.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Another Mall of America attraction

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Last spring my son's 3rd grade class visited the aquarium on a field trip. The aquarium wasn't as big as I expected, but the exhibits were nice. The kids had a great time and really enjoyed the hands-on touch pool and the 300-foot long ocean tunnel. I read that the Sea LIfe Aquarium has over 10,000 sea creatures! As always, the jellyfish exhibit was really cool. Kids with iTouches or phones had a great time taking photos of the various fish and creatures, especially the shark that was swimming overheard in the tunnel. Overall, I think this is a great attraction for all ages.

Tips for Families

Make a day out of the Mall of America (MOA). There is a lot to see, do, and eat. Look for MOA coupons at Dairy Queen and other local businesses or ask your hotel.

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Minnesota History Center

345 Kellogg Blvd. W., Saint Paul, Minnesota

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  • Big kids (6-8)
  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: 2013-08-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-16 15:31:26.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8) and tweens (9-12)

A hands-on Minnesota history experience

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My family has been to the Minnesota History Center several times. In fact, we even signed up for the yearlong Minnesota Historical Society family pass that offers access to over 20 historic sites, museums and libraries including the History Center (worth looking into if you live in the region). The Grainland exhibit is one of my kids’ favorites because they can run and climb and burn off energy. The other highlight is the old fashion soda fountain in Minnesota’s Greatest Generation (Depression, War, Boom) exhibit. My kids love getting behind the bar and “making” and serving sundaes to their customers. My absolute favorite exhibit is the Weather Permitting, specifically “Get to the Basement!” a recreated tornado that hit Fridley, MN in 1965. Your little ones might be scared, so adults and older children may want to take turns.

Tips for Families

Visit the gift shop afterwards for some fun Minnesota-themed gifts.

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Cascade Bay

1360 Civic Center Drive, Eagan, Minnesota

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  • Big kids (6-8)
Visited: 2012-07-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-13 12:35:23.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Cascade Bay water park fun and affordable

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Cascade Bay, located in Eagan, is one of those Twin Cities best-kept secrets. For one, it’s located in a suburban area next to the public library the other reason is it’s an affordable and fun way to spend the day. This water park is relatively small. I believe there are five water slides in all including three short but steep option, the pools are huge and lazy river is long and winding. The park easily entertains the kids for hours. The indoor snack bar is great with a lot of great snack choices (ice cream to hot dogs and everything in between. If the kids want to take a break from the water the park is attached to a mini golf (also reasonably priced).

Tips for Families

Take advantage of the onsite lockers to keep your valuables and don't worry if you forget the sunblock, it's free! Just look for dispensers around the park.

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