A few years ago, The Washington Post claimed that there are more museums in the U.S. than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. We believe this may be true for the Twin Cities. There are so many tiny specialty museums & historic sites, that every time we think we know of all of them, we find more. For a quick overview of these places and their best deals, check out the lists below.
If you want more information, click on the museum’s name to go to a more-detailed entry. Check back regularly for new ideas; we’ll keep adding new ideas for museums & historic sites as we discover them ourselves.
61 TWIN CITIES METRO AREA MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
MINNEAPOLIS AND ST PAUL MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
*Alexander Ramsey House | St Paul
Alexander Ramsey was Minnesota’s first territorial governor. His family’s Victorian-era home is still filled with thousands of original family items and furnishings. Tours are sprinkled with Minnesota history during Ramsey’s era and are available Saturdays during the summer.
Family-friendly: Special events of interest to kids are occasionally offered by the Alexander Ramsey House as well as a summer day camp.
American Swedish Institute | Minneapolis
Family-friendly: The American Swedish Institute encourages visitors of all ages to explore Swedish traditions, immigration, handcraft and art. The third Friday of every month, the museum offers Kids at the Castle, a chance to play and roam around the Turnblad Mansion. Don’t miss ASI’s Family Gallery.
Ard Godfrey House | Minneapolis
Tour the historic home in Chute Square during FREE summer weekend open house events. The historic house is the oldest surviving frame home in the Twin Cities.
Bakken Museum | Minneapolis
Family-friendly: This one-of-a-kind museum explores the mysteries of our electrical world with appealing, hands-on exhibits. The Bakken hopes to inspire a passion for science by helping people explore the history and nature of electricity and magnetism.
Bell Museum of Natural History | St Paul
Family-friendly: The brand-new Bell Museum is chock full of exciting exhibits about astronomy and space, wildlife dioramas, and a touch-and-feel room for kids. Make sure to catch a show at the planetarium.
Deals: The Bell offers a very generous income based programs. Read more HERE.
Federal Reserve Bank | Minneapolis
Federal Reserve Bank tours are available for families to walk through the facilities and learn about our banking system. These tours are best for teens and adults and require over an hour of walking. Tours are free (age 12+) by reservation.
Firefighters Hall & Museum | Minneapolis
Family-friendly: Kids will get FIRED up about climbing into a fire truck cab, tinkering with switchboards, sliding down the fire pole and ride through the neighborhood on a real fire truck!
Deals: Check your library for a smART Pass.
*Fort Snelling | St Paul
Family-friendly: Visitors can explore a wide variety of eras through 11 interpretive stations. Learn stories of the military fort, its surrounding area and the diverse people involved in its history.
Deals: Participates in Museums On Us program; FREE: military veterans, plus up to 5 accompanying family members.
Gallery of Wood Art | Landmark Center, St Paul
Family-friendly: See live demonstrations of woodturning from 12-3pm on the third Sunday of each month.
Deals: The gallery is always free to visit.
Germanic American Institute | St Paul
The Germanic Institute does not have public hours but holds annual events open to the public, like its spring egg hunts.
Deals: FREE Deutsche Tag weekend events in June.
Goldstein Museum of Design | University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
If you’re on the St Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, stop in for colorful, ever-changing textile and design exhibits.
Deals: Admission is always free.
Hennepin History Museum | Minneapolis
The museum’s mission is to bring the diverse history of Hennepin County and its residents to life through exhibitions, library, collections, public events, and educational programs.
Family-friendly: This is a very small museum that you can thoroughly tour in 15 minutes.
Deals: FREE on first Thursdays or check your library for a smART Pass.
*James J. Hill House | St Paul
Located near the Cathedral of St. Paul, the James J Hill House is a Gilded Age mansion. Hill, who built the Great Northern Railway, and his family resided in the mansion during the mid to late 1800s.
Family-friendly: On Select Sundays, visitors can go on self-guided tours of the mansion. The price of admission includes these self-guided tours. For more reasons to bring kids, see our list of 5 family-friendly annual events at the James J Jill House.
Deals: Participates in Museums On Us program.
Julian H. Sleeper House Museum | St Paul
This is a private residence, so all tours are $7 and by appointment only.
Landmark Center | St Paul
Beautiful Landmark Center, in downtown St Paul, serves as a cultural center for music, dance, theater, exhibitions, and public forums.
Family-friendly deals: Kids will enjoy the free Urban Expedition and Ballet Tuesdays programs. Sunday cultural events (usually free) often include entertainment kids will enjoy. Landmark Center also houses three FREE museums.
*Mill City Museum | Minneapolis
Family-friendly: Mill City Museum – housed in the historic ruins of an old flour mill in Minneapolis – is perfect for a wide range of ages. Throughout the museum are interactive exhibits, puzzles, trains and a fun lock and dam water play area. Don’t miss the exciting Flour Tower! Arm yourself with this list of 10 Things for Kids at Mill City Museum before you go.
Deals: Participates in Museums On Us program.
Minneapolis Institute of Art | Minneapolis
Family-friendly: On the second Sunday of each month, Target sponsors a Family Day at the MIA. Jump over to our list of other family-centric amenities offered by this world-class art museum.
Deals: The MIA is always FREE, but for special exhibits, check your library for a smART Pass. Also, take advantage of their FREE Membership because you will get mailings with special members-only free dates to special exhibits.
Minnehaha Regional Park Historic Sites | Minneapolis
Family-friendly: All of the historic sites are within a stone’s throw of the great, thundering Minnehaha Falls. Kids won’t be able to resist the waterfall; climb down to the creek and dip in your toes.
Deals: Minnehaha (Princess) Depot, Longfellow House & Garden, and John H. Stevens House – all FREE during summer open house events.
Minnesota Museum of American Art | St Paul
The Minnesota Museum of American Art has assembled an esteemed collection of paintings, work on paper, sculpture, and craft.
Family-friendly: The Minnesota Museum of American Art occasionally offers Family Days filled with art-making activities.
Deals: Admission is always free to this museum.
Minnesota Air National Guard Museum | St Paul
The Minnesota Air National Guard Museum was created to share historically significant aircraft and ancillary artifacts, historical documents, photographs, manuscripts and books related to aircraft. The museum is not open to the public; call to arrange a private tour.
Minnesota Children’s Museum | St Paul
The entire museum is packed wall-to-wall with fun, educational exhibits for kids up to age 12. You can get all the details on what’s in store for you on our Minnesota Children’s Museum directory page.
Deals: The Minnesota Children’s Museum is FREE each third Sunday of the month or check your library for a smART Pass.
*Minnesota History Center | St Paul
Family-friendly: Minnesota History Center does a phenomenal job of appealing to all ages through its highly interactive and entertaining exhibits. You will have no problem at all finding plenty to intrigue your kids – get our Top Things for Kids list.
Deals: Admission is FREE from 3-8 pm on Tuesdays. The Irvine Gallery and Gale Library are always FREE to visit. Participates in Museums On Us program.
*Minnesota State Capitol | St Paul
Family-friendly: The Department of Administration created a mobile app that contains maps, photo spots and a scavenger hunt game to play during your visit. The app is free and available for download on the App Store or Google Play Store.
Deals: A visit to the Minnesota State Capitol is always FREE. Tours request a free-will offering.
Minnesota Streetcar Museum – Como-Harriet Line | Minneapolis
The Minnesota Streetcar Museum maintains a fleet of eight historic Minnesota streetcars at the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line in Minneapolis. Hop on and take a trolley ride through the lovely Lake Harriet neighborhood.
Deals: Rides are an affordable $2.50/pp.
Kid-friendly: The Minnesota Transportation Museum is a train-lover’s dream come true. Full of old train cars, the kids can explore from one car to the next, pretending to be passengers, engineers and conductors. There are many exhibits to tinker with and weekend visits include a ride on a real passenger car.
Deals: Affordable family rates are available.
Museum of Russian Art | Minneapolis
The Museum of Russian Art is a renovated historic building in South Minneapolis that features the art, history and culture of Russia through its exhibits.
Family-friendly deals: Watch for Family Days, when admission is $8/family and opening receptions for exhibits are often FREE.
Schubert Club Museum | St Paul
Family-friendly: The museum includes rare instruments and large sculptures of instruments, correspondence of famous composers, and a whole room of hands-on exhibits that are fun and interesting to kids.
Deals: The Schubert Club is always free to visit.
Science Museum of Minnesota | St Paul
The Science Museum of Minnesota is a spectacularly cool outing for all ages! Pair your visit with a film at the Omnitheater.
Deals: The Science Museum offers discount programs for limited-income families and a student discount on Fridays after 5pm.
Somali Museum of Minnesota | Minneapolis
The Somali Museum of Minnesota was created to preserve traditional Somali culture. Visitors will find a collection of over 700 pieces of traditional Somali arts and the permanent exhibit “Somalis + Minnesota” moved from the Minnesota History Center.
Family-friendly: Kids might like a hands-on activity showing visitors how to load a camel for travel across the desert and hut exhibit displaying a dwelling used by peoples in rural Somalia.
Theodore Wirth House | Lyndale Farmstead, Minneapolis
The Theodore Wirth House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is furnished with period artifacts. Admission is FREE during specified open house tours (these are somewhat rare).
Twin City Model Railroad Museum | St Paul
Family-friendly: If you have young train enthusiasts, TCMRM has the best collection of model trains in the Midwest and continues to add interactive exhibits.
Deals: A discounted family rate is available and children under 5 are always FREE.
Walker Art Center & Minneapolis Sculpture Garden | Minneapolis
Family-friendly: Definitely visit on Walker’s First Free Saturday program where admission is waived for all ages and there are tons of activities geared for kids.
Sensory Friendly Sundays are a free event designed for kids, teens, and adults with sensory processing differences. Families can expect a calm environment with accommodations such as quiet spaces, noise-canceling headphones, and sunglasses available. Special art-making activities and films are offered as well.
Deals: Walker Art Center offers FREE Thursday evenings and FREE first Saturdays. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is always FREE to roam around in.
Weisman Art Museum | Minneapolis
The museum’s collection showcases early twentieth-century American artists, as well as a diverse selection of ceramics and contemporary art.
Family-friendly: Weisman Art Museum occasionally hosts special Sunday programs aimed at families with kids. Watch their website or social media channels for these opportunities.
Deals: Admission is always FREE to the Weisman Art Museum.
TWIN CITIES NORTH METRO MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
Anoka County Historical Society | Anoka
Deals: Admission is always $3/adult & $2/children.
Eidem Homestead | Brooklyn Park
Family-friendly: Pick one of the days the historic farm offers Daily Life on the Farm so kids can help out with farm chores, visit the animals and explore the restored farmhouse.
Deals: Eidem Farm often hosts free events during the summer including morning & evening storytimes and free movies on the barn. Keep up to date with these on the city’s website.
Fillebrown House | White Bear Lake
Tour the 1879 lakeside cottage at the corner of Lake and Morehead Avenues in White Bear Lake. In December the house gets a Holiday makeover.
Gammelgarden Museum | Scandia
There’s plenty to see on the green of the Gammelgarden (translates to “Old Farm”), which is a collection of preserved buildings that tell the story of early Swedish immigrants to the Scandia area.
Family-friendly: Kids will not want to miss seeking out the four colorful Dala horses scattered about the property.
Deals: FREE days to visit the Gammelgarden Museum include Immigrant for a Day (May) and Midsommar (June). Remember, it’s always free to explore the park-like museum grounds without taking a formal tour. There is play equipment and space to picnic.
Gibbs Farm | Falcon Heights
Gibbs Farm is a treat whether you’re visiting at your leisure or during a scheduled program. Tour the historic farmhouse and one-room schoolhouse, get acquainted with the farm animals and travel through the restored prairie to find other pieces of living history.
Family-friendly: Gibbs Farm typically hosts an Apple Festival in the fall and day camps for kids throughout the summer.
New Brighton History Center | New Brighton
The New Brighton History Center, housed in a charming restored train depot, is open weekends, June-September, 1-4pm. Admission is always free.
Family-friendly: Kids will love clambering aboard the caboose. Make a day of it in Long Lake Park with a stop at the large sandy beach (one of the best in the Twin Cities in our opinion) and one of the playgrounds.
*Oliver H. Kelley Farm | Elk River
Family-friendly: Explore the new visitor center, tour the historic farmhouse, lend your hand at farm chores, and check in on the animals. You’ll develop a whole new appreciation for modern conveniences at this farm permanently set in the 19850’s.
Pierre Bottineau House | Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove
The historic Pierre Bottineau house is only open for special programs and by appointment. This restored 1854 wood-framed house has been transformed into a mini museum of the life of frontiersman Pierre Bottineau.
Family-friendly: Even if an indoor visit to the historic house is not in the cards, Elm Creek Park Reserve has a giant playground, a swimming pond and a nature center to interest kids.
TWIN CITIES EAST METRO MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
Bruentrup Heritage Farm | Maplewood
Bruentrup Heritage Farm is an historical farm run by Maplewood Historical Society. The buildings and exhibits are only open for special events and select Sunday and Mondays in the summer but the public can walk on the grounds and the trail of the nature preserve.
Kid-friendly: Poke around and you’ll find interactive farming displays. Special events have included an apple festival, Halloween event, holiday open house and farm-to-table summer camps.
Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway | Oceola, WI
All aboard! The historic Osceola & St Croix Valley Railway train excursions run every weekend from early May through late October through the scenic river valley.
Family-friendly: Kids are huge fans of specialty rides such as the Pumpkin Express in the fall and pizza dinner trains.
Warden’s House Museum | Stillwater
The historic structure sits along lovely Main Street in Stillwater, originally built in 1853 as the residence of the Minnesota Territorial Prison warden. The museum contains 14 rooms decorated in late 19th and early 20th century style and exhibits moments in Washington County history.
Washington County Historic Courthouse | Stillwater
The courthouse sits on the National Register of Historic Places and offers The courthouse offers free self-guided or guided tours as well as year-round community events.
Family-friendly: When visiting with kids, you can take a Courthouse Scavenger Hunt, play dress up with vintage clothes and stop by the kid’s corner to touch and feel courthouse artifacts.
TWIN CITIES SOUTH METRO MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
Dakota City Heritage Village | Farmington
Family-friendly: Dakota City Heritage Village is a living history museum and five-acre village that includes 22 buildings dating to the early 1900s. Minnesota’s rural past further comes to life with costumed interpreters and demonstrations. Our kids really enjoy interacting with the “residents” of the village.
Deals: Pick Friends & Family Fun Day (typically held in June) or Dakota County Fair’s free day (first Monday of the Fair’s run) for a free peek at the village.
Holz Farm Park | Eagan
Pay a visit to historic Holz Farm Park to experience what life was like on the farm between the Great Depression of the 1930s through the 1940s World War II era. Outside the special events, the park grounds are open to explore.
Family-friendly: Three family festivals, one in spring, one in fall and one at holiday time, are held annually in the park. Activities are either free or inexpensive. Get our list of 7 fun things to do with kids at Holz Farm Park.
LeDuc Historic Estate | Hastings
Family-friendly: This Civil War-era Gothic Revival home welcomes you to learn more about the LeDuc family. Throughout the year, special events such as a Civil War weekend and a day camp are hosted by the LeDuc House.
*Sibley Historic Site | Mendota
Visit a collection of Minnesota’s oldest buildings at the Sibley Historic Site and explore the early 1800s, when the post of Mendota was a major center of the region’s fur trade. Tour restored buildings and learn the stories of the American Fur Company as it engaged with the area’s Dakota people.
Family-friendly: Special events, such as the Fur Trade Weekend and a Fourth of July celebration, appeal to kids.
Family-friendly: The historical society offers regular programming, including the monthly free Kids Kraft series. Aimed at kids ages 4-8, it consists of a craft and a related story.
The Landing – Minnesota River Heritage Park | Shakopee
Get a glimpse of life in the Minnesota River Valley 150 years ago. Costumed interpreters and authentic buildings recreate late 19th-century life in Minnesota. Hands-on family programs at The Landing are affordable edutainment for all ages.
TWIN CITIES WEST METRO MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
Charles H. Burwell House | Minnetonka
The Burwell House is Minnetonka’s contribution to historic homes in the Twin Cities. Free tours are offered seasonally and two special events are hosted at the house during the year.
Family-friendly: Kids, take note. You can trick-or-treat at the Burwell House during the Minnetonka Halloween Spooktacular!
Edina History Museum | Arneson Acres Park, Edina
The Edina Historical Museum, located in a 13-acre park in Edina that is also home to the city’s greenhouse and and 28 gardens, is open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays. Learn about Edina history, including the Edina Mill and archaeological exploration of the Mill. Admission is always free.
Gideon Pond House | Pond-Dakota Mission Park, Bloomington
The historic 1856 Gideon and Agnes Pond House is an educational site that preserves the history of early Minnesota settlers, Christian missionaries and the Dakota people of the era. Visit the surrounding Pond-Dakota Mission Park for a self-guided interpretive trail or attend one of the FREE Sunday open houses at the Pond House.
Family-friendly: Sunday open houses always feature living history activities kids will enjoy.
Grimm Farm Historic Site | Carver Park Reserve, Victoria
Visiting Carver Park Reserve on a summer Saturday? Stop in to see the restored 1870s house and fields of the Grimm Farm Historic Site. The farmhouse is open for free tours during Saturdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Family-friendly: Costumed interpreters will talk with you about the importance of the Grimm family and engage kids in living history pastimes.
Minnesota Streetcar Museum – Excelsior Line
The historic Excelsior Line of the Minnesota Streetcar Museum boards on Water Street between 3rd and George Street or at Old Excelsior Blvd. Who’s not up for a trolley ride?
Deals: Rides are an affordable $2.50.
Pavek Museum of Broadcasting | St Louis Park
The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting preserves the history of broadcasting and displays a fine collection of antique radio, television, and broadcast equipment.
Family-friendly: We recommend this museum for kids over the age of 5; there are some displays and hands-on exhibits to interest older kids.
The Works Museum | Bloomington
Family-friendly: The Works Museum has exhibits, programs, and design challenges that engage kids in science, technology, and engineering.
Deals: The Works hosts select PreK Mondays during the school year where your kids (any age over 2) are admitted for just $4.50. Regular price admission – $9.00 – still applies for adults. Kids under 3 are free.
Wayzata Depot & Museum | Wayzata
The Historic Wayzata Depot does double duty as the the Wayzata Historical Society Museum and is the perfect outing for a train lover of any age.
Family-friendly: Kids will love miniature garden railroad located outside the depot. It’s just one of 10 fun things for families at the historic Wayzata Depot. Admission is always free; make sure to check the website for current hours of operation.
*Minnesota Historical Society Deals:
GREATER MINNESOTA MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES
Harkin Store | New Ulm
Hinckley Fire Museum | Hinckley
We know we haven’t covered them all. So what Museums & Historic Sites did we miss that you would add to your list? Leave us a comment and we’ll share your recommendations with the community!