I had way too much fun doing the research for this article — poring over trip journals and photos from adventures taken with our growing family as well as mapping out road trips to new destinations this season! It was especially enjoyable to stretch well beyond the borders of the Twin Cities — out of our comfort zone, you could say — to share ideas for family fun. Here’s just a taste of what is Opening in May. If there’s a favorite you don’t see on the list that you’d like added, please let us know!
UPDATE: THE MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY HAS ANNOUNCED THE CLOSURE OF ALL HISTORIC SITES THROUGH JUNE 2020.
OPENING IN MAY
Opens May 1, 2020: Hinckley Fire Museum | Hinckley (Note: The 2020 Stay At Home Order ends on May 4th)
Housed in the rebuilt train depot, media and exhibits tell the story of one of Minnesota’s worst modern natural disasters. The material is presented in a sensitive manner. Open 10am-5pm Tues-Sun, $2-$5/ages 6+, ages 5 & under FREE.
More family fun near Hinckley: On the road to Hinckley, pull over for a couple hours at the Snake River Fur Post (opening Memorial Day weekend – formerly known as the Northwest Company) for an interactive tour.
Opens May 4, 2020: Harkin Store | New Ulm
Explore the 1870s-era general store, still stocked with original merchandise. Open May weekends, 10am-5pm, Memorial Day-Labor Day. Open Tues-Sun, $4-$6/pp, FREE for under 5 & MHS members.
More family fun in New Ulm: Make a day of it by touring the August Schell Brewery (kids can roam the gardens, seek out the peacocks and guzzle free 1919 draft root beer). Finish with a dip in the sand-bottomed swimming pool at Flandrau State Park – only $7 for a park permit.
May 6, 2020: Red Barn Pizza Farm | Northfield
Thrifty Minnesota shares some good Tips for Wandering the Back Roads to Pizza Farms. Wednesdays through mid-October & 3rd Sun/month May-Oct. $15-$25/pizza.
Opens May 4: Split Rock Lighthouse Tours | Two Harbors
Just one of dozens of gems to see along the beautiful shore of Lake Superior. The visitor center is open year-round; access to the lighthouse begins in March with possible closings due to weather. Open Daily 10am-6pm, $6-$10/pp.
Tours are FREE during the annual Open House (but in 2020, that would have been May 2nd) and also FREE for and geared for kids during the 6/13/20 Children’s Day. Afterwards, stop for a slice at Betty’s Pies, a few miles south in Two Harbors.
Opens May 10, 2020: Historic Forestville | Preston
Immerse yourself in the bustling remnants of a 19th-century town and interact with the locals. My son, for instance, found a worthy checkers opponent on the porch of the general store. Open Saturdays in May, 10am-5pm, Memorial Day-Labor Day open 10am-5pm, Thurs-Sat & 12-5pm Sun; $6-$8/pp.
More family fun near Preston: Older kids might enjoy hunting down the disappearing river in Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park.
OPENING MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND – GREATER MINNESOTA
Opens May 23: Wild Mountain’s Alpine Slide & GoKarts | Taylors Falls
Dry rides – the Alpine Slide, GoKarts and scenic chairlift rides – open May 16, 11am-5pm. The water park opens the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Visit during the summer months and splash the day away at Wild Mountain’s tube slides, lazy river, kiddie splash zone. $3.99-$9.99 per ride or packages are available if you’d like to mix and match attractions.
More family fun near Taylors Falls: One day in the area might not be enough; here are the top 8 Things to Do Near Taylors Falls, including a climb up, down and all around the Pothole Trail at Interstate State Park.
Evergreen Gifts & Fun Park, Park Rapids
Growing up we knew this spot as World of Christmas; now we bring our own kids for mini-golf, laser tag, bumper boats, train rides and all the rest. Open 10am-6pm weekends, 10am-4pm weekdays. Find wristband prices here.
More family fun near Park Rapids: Crossing the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi at Itasca State Park — how much more Minnesotan can kids get? Not to mention that you could lose yourself for days within the recreational opps at the park.
Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site | Little Falls
All ages can explore the interactive exhibits in the Visitor Center and horse around in the adjoining Charles A. Lindbergh State Park. Older kids and adults might like a tour through the home Lindy grew up in. Thu-Sat 10 am-5 pm, Sun Noon-5 pm. $6-$8/pp, FREE for under 5 & MHS members.
Snake River Fur Post | Pine City
The reconstructed fur trading post (formerly known as the Northwest Company) comes alive with costumed interpreters, demonstrations and special events such as War of 1812 Family Day. Open Mon 10am-5pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm. $6-$10/pp, FREE for under 5 & MHS members.
Fort Ridgely Historic Site | Fairfax
Visit exhibits inside the restored commissary, explore the parade grounds and ruins of the outpost. Open 10am-4pm. $4-$6/pp, FREE for under 5 & MHS members.
Jeffers Petroglyphs | Comfrey (SW Minn)
Kids can get hands-on in the visitor center or on one of the family activity days. Open Mon 10am-5pm, Wed-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm, $6-$8/pp, FREE under 5 & MHS members.
More family fun nearby: Step back into the pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder at the namesake museum in nearby Walnut Grove or catch the Wilder Pageant weekends in July. Little trainiacs might enjoy a trip to the End-o-Line Railroad Park & Museum a few miles away in Currie.
Soudan Underground Mine Tours | Soudan Underground Mine State Park, Tower MN
Travel a 1/2-mile underground to explore the depths of an iron-ore mine as it was abandoned in the 1960s. This can be a very interesting and educational tour for kids, but note that the experience requires wearing a helmet, traveling in a small elevator, a length of walking and stairs, and a brief moment in pitch darkness. Tours operate daily, 10am-4pm, $10-$15/pp, under 5 FREE.