Beyond the Super Bowl: Visiting Minneapolis-St Paul as a Family

Twin Cities Super Bowl Fun

The Twin Cities are “boldly” throwing open its doors and welcoming guests for a visit during Super Bowl LII, held Feb 4 at US Bank Stadium. While the focus for many will likely be on the big game and its official activities, keep in mind that Minneapolis and St Paul are teeming with boast-worthy attractions for the whole family. Locals, have you got friends or relatives in town for the occasion? Keep them entertained with a list that will keep the Bold North Twin Cities on their brains for years to come:

St Paul Winter Carnival

That coolest of winter festivals, the St Paul Winter Carnival, is an annual celebration is packed with FREE family fun: ice sculptures in Rice Park, parades in downtown, and days dedicated to families and kids at Landmark Center. This year, you can print a Family Bowl Passport to collect stamps and earn prizes. If you’re in town for the Super Bowl, we recommend hitting up one or more of these events:

Winter Wonderland in Rice Park

Take a stroll through the 2018 Winter Carnival ice carvings and pick out your favorite, gawk at the 70-foot ice palace, take a spin on the ice courtesy of Wells Fargo WinterSkate, and enjoy live music and other entertainment. Dates to save outside the Super Bowl for celebrating in Bold North style:

  • Jan 25: Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade – Bring your light up devices and join in a march to Rice Park. 6pm.
  • Jan 25-27: Ice Sculpture Carving – Watch the artists at work carving their masterpieces for the annual Winter Carnival Ice Sculpture Garden. The ice will be on display throughout the carnival (or as weather permits!)
  • Jan 27: Kids Day – Outdoor fun in Rice Park and warmer entertainment inside Landmark Center.
  • Jan 30: Frozen Family Fun Night
  • Feb 3: Winter Carnival Family Day – Stop by Landmark Center for activities for children and adults alike.

Snow Park at the Minnesota State Fair

  • Jan 26-28: Come watch works of art whittled out of the snow during the Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition (Fri) and the Amateur Snow Sculpting Contest (Sat). Sculptures will remain on display at the Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights, not far from downtown St Paul.
  • Jan 26-Feb 11: Plummet down the Giant Snow Slide (if you dare!) A fee of $2 per ride is charged, sleds provided.
  • Jan 28: Hail the Vulcs on Vulcan Fun Day with free fire truck rides, a mini-medallion hunt for kids and more. 11am-3pm.

Outdoor winter fun

  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate – Each Twin City sports its own outdoor rink with a unique backdrop. St Paul’s WinterSkate rink is located adjacent to the twinkling Rice Park and St Paul Winter Carnival activities. Minneapolis WinterSkate is hosted by Loring Park and treats you to a view of the downtown skyline. In anticipation of the Super Bowl, Minneapolis will offer special programming at its rink: free skate lessons, stagecoach rides and even an outdoor screening of the big game! Both rinks offer free skating and a warming house; Minneapolis also has free skates to loan on a first come-first served basis. Skate rental is $4 in St Paul.
  • St Paul Super Slide & more Winter Fun at CHS Field – Make way for the Super Slide! The summer home of Saints Baseball is hosting winter activities to supplement Super Bowl season. Alongside the 40-foot slide will be an ice fishing pond and other entertainment. Open Jan 25-Feb 10, Tues thru Sun. Tickets are $10/adults, $5/children and are good for unlimited rides during a one-hour slot. The Green Line light rail transit will bring you directly to CHS Field in downtown St Paul.
  • OVALumination – The holidays have passed but the Guidant John Rose Minnesota OVAL in Roseville is still decked out with illuminated trees that make for beautiful outdoor nighttime skating. Public evening skating on the OVAL typically begins around 7:30pm. Cost is $6 to skate and $4 to rent skates.

Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota is packed to the gills with stuff to enjoy; easily an entire day can be spent discovering dinos, taking in a show at the Omnitheater, and visiting the limited-time exhibits. Kids who visit by March 15 can get busy creating to their heart’s content in the Cardboard Engineering Gallery – though the space is not limited to youth. All ages can construct in the giant makerspace. Tweens and teens will want to test their physical endurance in the Sportsology lab.

Museum hours run Tues-Sun, admission runs $12.95-$18.95/pp not including Omnitheater tickets. Extended Omnitheater hours on Friday, Feb 2 run 4-9pm. For visiting guests, the museum has a convenient parking garage and is served by Metro Transit. Plan your trip by bus or light rail here.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Part of the reason the MIA is so fantastic is that you can spend a little time or a long time there without feeling like you need to get your money’s worth — admission is free every day of the week. Explore the galleries, take a break in the Family Center, and if you’re visiting during the Super Bowl weekend, you’re in for a special treat. Mia’s contribution to the “Bold North” theme is an illuminated Ice Maze that will hold court on the museum’s front lawn. The maze is open Feb 1-4 during museum hours.

Minnesota History Center

You needn’t even be a Minnesotan to appreciate this highly interactive museum, so out-of-town guests can expect to be entertained as well as locals. Not sure the kids will appreciate the history lessons? Here are a few of my children’s favorite exhibits:

  • Then Now Wow is filled with kid-friendly displays including a re-created Iron Range mine, a pioneer sod house and a Twin Cities streetcar.
  • In Minnesota’s Greatest Generation kids can play at a 1930’s soda fountain, time themselves packing ammunition, and take a simulated WW2 combat flight (warning: it’s fairly realistic).
  • The Grainland exhibit allows them to climb up and around a replica grain elevator.
  •  Weather Permitting takes you safely through a tornado that hit Fridley in 1965.
  • Open House: If These Walls Could Talk is an interactive walk through a re-created St. Paul home occupied by many immigrants over the years. Make sure to sit on the bed in the bedroom, play lawn games in the backyard, and peek into the attic.

The Minnesota History Center is open Tues-Sun, admission is $6-$12/pp. Visit FREE Tuesdays from 3-8pm. The downtown St Paul location makes it a snap to reach via public transit, and is only minutes from the Science Museum, Minnesota Children’s Museum and Rice Park.

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Como is  delight to visit in all seasons, but there is something extra cozy about taking a winter day to meander through the toasty tropical-inspired rooms of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Attention Vikings fans, your team may have lost its chance to participate in the Super Bowl, but take comfort in the familiar hues of the “Super Bold” Winter Flower Show on display Jan 13-March 11. Beyond the horticulture are animals to visit (most from the comfort of heated buildings) and educational programs to take in.

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory are open daily, 10am-4pm. Admission is free to visit or as much as you care to donate. Onsite parking is also free.

Minnesota Children’s Museum

The Minnesota Children’s Museum underwent a total transformation in 2017, swapping out every one of its beloved but careworn exhibits for something brand new. Highlights include a 4-story climb-and-slide spectacle called The Scramble, an elaborate child-sized car wash, and a make-believe cityscape with a restaurant, fire station and farmers market. There is also a room dedicated to the very youngest visitors and a cafe onsite – a vast improvement from the snack selections of the past.

The museum is open Tues-Sun, admission runs a flat $12.95/pp. It is easy accessible via public transit and connected by skyway to the World Trade Center parking ramp.

And, finally, if you are staying home to watch the big game, Gianna has ideas for making it family fun.

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