Family Fun Directory: Things To Do with Kids

Family Fun Directory of Things To Do with KidsIn Minnesota, family fun outdoors means embracing all four seasons. If you are on this page because you are looking for a new Twin Cities-area park, playground or nature center to explore, hundreds of entries can be found through our Parks & Playgrounds Search feature. Or, continue searching hundreds more ideas of things to do with kids in the Twin Cities through our Family Directory, including family outings, services, classes, camps, birthday parties and more.

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Minnesota History Center, St. Paul

345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55102
Admission: $12.00
$12 adults; $10 seniors/students/active military; $6 ages 5-17; See FREE options below
Concessions Available
Hours of Operation:
Mon. Closed
Tue. 10:00 AM - 08:00 PM
Wed. 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Thu. 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Fri. 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Sat. 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Sun. 12:00 PM - 05:00 PM

Located in Saint Paul, the Minnesota History Center contains permanent and rotating exhibits focusing on Minnesota history. Many of the exhibits are geared toward the youngest of visitors. This is a good starting point when beginning to explore all the historical offerings in our state. If you find your family gravitating toward a particular subject, The Minnesota Historical Society may have options for digging deeper at other sites or in the Gale Library.

  • Minnesota History Center

What's FREE at the Minnesota History Center?

Children ages 4 and under and Minnesota History Society members are always FREE. Museum admission is FREE for everyone from 3:00–8:00 pm every Tuesday.

In 2018, the FREE Irvine Gallery opened. This rotating exhibit explores community stories and issues affecting Minnesotans today. The 678-square foot space on the museum’s first floor will showcase MNHS-developed exhibits as well as exhibits created by outside organizations. Entrance to the Irvine Gallery is free, and the gallery will be open during regular History Center hours.

The Gale Family Library is dedicated to the history of Minnesota, and Minnesota family lineage. If you are interested in learning about your family or doing a research project, this library is a great resource. There is no fee to use the library. Keep in mind that the library is non-circulating, so you can't check the information out and return it.

Current and Upcoming Exhibits at Minnesota History Center

The Minnesota History Center's exhibits include on-going exhibits and featured exhibits. Exhibits are designed for the whole family to enjoy with many hands-on activities: a soda fountain, ammunition assembly line, airplane staircase, wind machine and weather vanes, a house to explore and touch--and loads of information for adults to digest. Read about our top picks for kids at the Minnesota History Center.

Then Now Wow features:

  • Ride a Twin Cities streetcar and peek out the windows as different times and places go by.
  • Descend underground into an Iron Range mine and drill the ore.
  • Sit in a modern tipi and learn about Dakota history and culture through Bobby Wilson’s poetry and visual art.
  • Visit a pioneer family and imagine what life was like in an 1870s sod house.
  • Hitch a ride on a Soo Line boxcar through Southwestern Minnesota and learn about the history of the area through original music by Charlie Parr.
  • Learn about the fur trade from the perspective of its main commodity, the beaver.
  • See the emergency exit door from the school bus involved in the I-35W bridge collapse signed by all the children and adults aboard the bus.
  • Encounter more artifacts and images unique to Minnesota’s diverse people and historic events.

The Grainland exhibit is a fun interactive exhibit where you get to be a kernel of grain and experience the inside of a working Grain Elevator.

Weather Permitting explores the extreme weather of Minnesota including the coldest and hottest temperatures on record. Experience the tornado of 1968--whoa!  It's quite a fun "ride" for kids!  (and this adult - be warned, it might be frightening for some).

Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Explore what life was like during the 1930's and 1940's by experiencing the picture show, assembling ammunition, working as a soda jerk, checking out displays of that time, and taking a "ride" in a C47 on June 6, 1944 during the Invasion of Normandy. with the paratroopers in World War II.  That is intense and very sad.  Many of the adults in the aircraft were choked up.  There is a little language in this presentation.  Just to be aware.

Now - Spring 2020: First Avenue: Stories of Minnesota's Mainroom
This exhibit exhibit takes you inside First Avenue, introducing the sights, sounds and stories of this landmark venue that opened in 1970 and put Minnesota music on the map. The exhibit draws from the MNHS Press book "First Avenue: Minnesota's Mainroom” by Chris Riemenschneider.

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Opens Dec 7, 2019 (Multi-Year Exhibit): Our Home: Native Minnesota
Learn about Ojibwe and Dakota and their modern and historic traditions, stories, research and archaeology. This exhibit will change every few years. 

Architecture Elements of the Minnesota History Center:

A picture perfect view of the Minnesota State Capitol Building.Minnesota History CenterThe Star on the ceiling made of perfect M's for MinnesotaMinnesota History Center
The Curtis JN-4 "Jenny" hanging from the ceilingMinnesota History Center

And if you just want to run around to blow off some steam, check out the plaza outside on the 2nd floor!

Minnesota History Center

*some images are courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society, used with permission

This article originally published by Gianna Kordatzky - February 11, 2014

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