Family Fun Directory of 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 Zoo, Apple Valley

13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124
952.232.0382
Admission: $18.00
Age 3–12 : $12; 13–64: $18; 65+: $12; Under 2: Free; Parking $7.00; Minnesota Zoo Discounts
Concessions Available
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Tue. 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Wed. 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Thu. 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Fri. 09:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Sat. 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM
Sun. 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM
Currently Showing Hours for May 4 - 24, 2019
Details:

One of the biggest attractions in the Twin Cities is located in the Southern Metro: The Minnesota Zoo. Located on 500 acres off Cedar Ave. in Apple Valley, the zoo opened in May, 1978. The Minnesota Zoo's mission is to connect people, animals, and the natural world. Note that the IMAX theatre at the Minnesota Zoo closed in the beginning of 2019.

Minnesota Zoo: Sign
image credit used with Creative Common license approval

While it's not the famous San Diego Zoo with Jack Hannah, it is the biggest zoo in our state, and the Minnesota Zoo holds its own. The Minnesota Zoo has 546 different species of animals and altogether it has 4,200 animals.

Different trails and exhibits fill the zoo. During the summer, you are able to roam the

  • Northern Trail,
  • Russia's Grizzly Coast,
  • or the Family Farm.

The winter months are more likely going to entice you to stay inside to visit

  • the Minnesota Trail (a trail enclosed in a building, but with windows out to the different animal habitats),
  • the Tropics Trail,
  • and Discovery Bay (where the dolphins used to live, but it is still full of other marine life).
Minnesota Zoo
Minnesota Zoo

Russia's Grizzly Coast!  We were able to get right up and personal.

Minnesota Zoo

You can pretend to be paleontologists and dig up mammoth fossils.

Discovery Bay used to host dolphins, but the dolphins have moved on, and they have shut down the pool for major renovations.   When they reopen, I believe they are going to be checking in some new residents like sharks and such.

Minnesota Zoo

Hanging out at the Family Farm.  (there is also a grain elevator which is a HUGE play area for kids right outside the Family Farm. )

Minnesota Zoo

My friend and I were so curious about the chickens!  And their funny feathers.

Minnesota Zoo

On the Tropics Trail:  Monkeys, tortoises, Komodo Dragon, birds, and to be fair -- snakes and bats.  Honestly, I ran through those exhibits because to be able to leave, we had to follow the trail through those habitats.  I. Hate. Snakes/Bats.

Minnesota Zoo

Flamingos!  Looks like they have had plenty of shrimp!

Minnesota Zoo
Don't expect to see Elephants or Giraffes or Zebras. While they don't have those or lions, the Minnesota Zoo is proud to work with Tigers and other exotic cats: Lynx and Leopards.
 
Some of the popular animals are brown bears, grizzly bears, camels, musk oxen, porcupines, Gibbons, Lemurs,Tree Kangaroos, Red pandas, wolverines, and gray wolves.
 
The Minnesota Zoo hosts shark feedings, wild bird shows, penguin shows, cow milking demonstrations, and coral reef diving shows.  And don't forget the monorail.  When I was a kid in the 1980's, it was the premiere state-of-the-art technology.  Now, it's just a fun ride.
 
A full day at the Minnesota Zoo will wear you out and your children out. I recommend it for a full day of fun.  It's a bit on the pricey side, but they do offer group rates and there is always the option to buy a year membership. They allow you bring in picnic lunches to help save on cost.  However, if you need it, they also have food vendors.

Daily Activities at the Minnesota Zoo

There are some things you can see every day at the zoo. Others are daily during certain seasons. Find the whole list of daily activities here.

  • Penguin Feeding 10 am & 2:30 pm
  • Leopard Training 10 am
  • Brown Bear Training 1:15 pm
  • Hawaiian Monk Seal Training 2 & 3:30 pm
  • Tropical Reef Dive Show 10:30 am
  • Tropical Reef Shark Feeding 3 pm
  • Cow Milking 11 am, 1 & 3 pm
  • Birds Show 11 am 1 & 3 pm (unless there is a concert that night, than no 3 pm)

Birthday Parties at the Minnesota Zoo

The zoo has a variety of birthday party packages - some of them are even overnight. Prices range from $300 - $825 with options for additional guests.

Some images courtesy Minnesota Zoo, used with permission

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