Did you know we have a castle here in the Twin Cities? And they love having kids at the castle so much that they made a special program just for them. I told my boys that it was built for the King and Queen of Sweden but it is now the American Swedish Institute. They believe that the royalty comes here to stay when they visit the United States. I didn’t take any time to correct that erroneous information because after checking out the outside of the castle, we headed inside and blasted through the castle running around together in search of springtime.
Built by rich Minnesotan Swan Turnblad at the turn of the 20th century, the imposing mansion at the corner of 26th and Park Avenue takes up 6 lots. The building project began in 1903 and was completely finished in 1908. The Turnblads lived in their castle from 1908-1929 after which they donated their building to the American Institute for Swedish Art, Literature and Science–now the American Swedish Institute (ASI).
To say it’s beautiful is an understatement. This home is breathtaking. The ASI has converted some of the living space into display galleries while upholding the history of the mansion in others. You can explore the kitchen or the bathrooms (not available for use), the dining rooms, solarium, and others to appreciate the architecture.
In the highest eaves of the castle, the ASI has created a perfect play space for the young and young at heart with a craft corner and a play kitchen. You can also visit the Tomte nook in his special turret. (I think this was my favorite alcove)
Kids At The Castle
Like many other museums in the Twin Cities, ASI has now started a program for families to be able to enjoy the mansion for a low price. $8/family is the best price I have found in the metro (other than free) to enjoy a museum together. In the winter, it was offered every other Friday. The program was so popular that they have extended this program to every third Friday throughout the year.
On that Friday, families arrive 1 hour before the museum opens and gather in the foyer for Circle time with stories and songs. Then, we went on an exploration throughout the first and second floors of the castle. When our hunt was finished, we gathered in one of the front rooms and made animal puppets. When the hour was through, we were invited to enjoy the museum. There is a wonderful gallery dedicated to children in the lower level.
The program is geared toward preschoolers, but I know my elementary-aged girls will love this program. Joy and Anne’s grade school kids also enjoyed it.
- The ASI has free cubbies for you to store your stuff before you even make it into the museum. Each cubby has a key to use to lock your items securely.
- The museum doesn’t open until noon, but the FIKA restaurant is open in the morning so you don’t have to be stuck out in the cold while you wait for the mansion.
- They have a nice, big parking lot with free parking.
- With lots of nooks and crannies, it’s easy for you to lose your child.
- FIKA does not have many kid friendly food options and it is a quiet atmosphere, so it’s not the ideal place to eat with your children.
- If you don’t know your way around South Minneapolis, it could be a little intimidating to find the ASI (but I promise, it’s not that hard!)
American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Avenue Minneapolis MN 55407
Kids at the Castle Admission: $8/family.
Regular Admission: $12 adults; $8 seniors; $6 ages 6-18 and full time students with ID; free for ASI members and children 5 and under