10 Free & Air-Conditioned Indoor Family Outings

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

My kid broke the fan yesterday.Several summers ago, Joy — sweating it out in an un-air-conditioned house — wrote our original article about seeking relief from the heat in a series of much cooler public buildings, most of which offered free family activities to boot.

Its that time of year again and excessive heat warnings have been issued. Here you have it, freshly updated for 2018:


Local Libraries with Play & Learn Spaces – Joy suggested seeking out a new library on a scorching day and reading stories to chill out. I recommend checking out a library with a “Play and Learn” space, often designed by Minnesota Children’s Museum, that provides interactive fun and helps promote reading readiness. Samara of the blog Simplicity in the Suburbs provided this list of such spaces for the Star Tribune last year.

Libraries are Usually Air-Conditioned

Indoor Mall Play Areas – Nicki of the blog MinneMama Adventures did a nice write-up of her top 6 favorite spots last year and included play areas at Maplewood Mall, Eden Prairie Center, Burnsville Center, Southdale, Ridgedale & Rosedale Malls. You can get all the details from her perspective here.

Catch a movie - get some air-conditioned relief

Catch a movie – get some air-conditioned relief

Free Indoor Movies for Kids FFTC’s Guide to Free and Cheap Summer Movies is mostly populated with flicks at outdoor venues, but a handful of Twin Cities movie houses are offering FREE movies for kids this summer.

IKEA for KidsIKEA Twin Cities could be an air-conditioned savior on a steamy day. Toilet-trained kids 37″-54″ tall can play fully supervised in Smaland for up to an hour (any day of the week, space provided).

Minneapolis Institute of Arts – Joy reminds us that the MIA (2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis) is free every day, has Wi-Fi, and an expanded Family Center with books and toys for kids. Older children might be entertained by printing out this scavenger hunt and exploring the galleries.

Schubert Club Museum - fun, educational, air-conditioned

schubert club museum

Landmark Center exhibits – Not only is Landmark Center (75 W. 5th Street, St. Paul) a beautiful air-conditioned building to explore, there are a couple hidden museums tucked away inside that families often are unfamiliar with. The Schubert Club Museum has a number of hands-on musical displays and and instruments for kids to experiment with. You can read about my experience taking my own children here. Also, the American Association of Woodturners has a Gallery of Wood Art within Landmark with woodturning demos and a family-friendly exhibit called “Touch This!”

Minneapolis/St. Paul Public Parks & Recreation Buildings – Joy included a list of public park buildings in Minneapolis with AC; you can find the updated roster here. St. Paul offers drop-in Tot Times in many of their recreation center gyms with wheeled toys, mats, balls and other tools to help kids 5 & under burn off energy indoors during potentially dangerous temps.

Air-conditioned fun at Choo Choo Bob's Train Store

choo choo bob’s train store

Preschool Storytimes at Local Bookshops – I wrote this list of two weeks’ worth of preschool storytimes in the Twin Cities during the dead of this past winter, but it could come in just as handy during a spell of scorching days. Some of the story spots included on the list are Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store (along with its lovely free train table play area), Wild Rumpus Books, Red Balloon Bookshop, and many of the local Barnes and Noble host storytimes.

University of Minnesota’s free museums – Unfortunately, the Bell Museum of Natural History, which reopens at its new St. Paul location in July, no longer offers a free day, but there is still never a charge to visit the Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis)

Grocery Shopping! – Once upon a time, Joy loved grocery shopping as a family (no so much after baby #4). However, sometimes its a necessity, and there’s no arguing that grocery stores are generally cool and comfortable in a heat wave. To make the whole process more of an adventure, the Toddler Toddler website offers this cute printable toddler grocery list to take along to the store.


Finally, the City of Minneapolis has complied their own PDF list of air-conditioned buildings.

Know of any more secret spots to cool off when the temps get high? Please let us know!



Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

About the author

Anne Kingston

If we left it up to Anne to write her own bio, it would never get posted. She doesn't enjoy talking about herself, but Anne does love exploring the Twin Cities with her family and sharing her finds here. She, her husband and their four kids are lifelong residents of St. Paul.

9 Comments

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


© 2016 Family Fun Twin Cities LLC. All Rights Reserved. 1786 Carroll Ave, Saint Paul, MN, 55104, USA

Read previous post:
Top 10 July
Top 10 Family Picks: July in the Twin Cities

It's July:  the second month of summer!  Yeehaw!  Let's get out there and enjoy time together as a family.

Close