500+ Things to Do in Minneapolis & St. Paul with Kids

If your family is searching for fun things to do in the Twin Cities with kids, we’re at your service. Our team of three lives right here in Minneapolis-St. Paul and are your experts on the hundreds of fun ways to entertain, educate and spend quality time as a family.

Contrary to some opinions, Minnesota isn’t all about the weather. Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding area have so much to offer including beautiful lakes, incredible restaurants, and amazing museums and theaters. The metro area bustles with a vibrant arts community, sports fanatics, nature enthusiasts, literary minds, and family fun galore no matter the weather. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family; in fact, our team is very happily raising twelve children between us here in the Twin Cities.

We are thrilled to have you on our site and hope we can help you plan memorable outings with your family and friends.

Where to start?

Indoor Playgrounds & Play Centers - Things to Do in the Twin Cities

We all know the realities of raising kids in the Minnesota extremities: there’s got to be a place to go were we can escape the elements while still allowing those kids a place to burn off that extra energy. Enter our list of over 30 Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds and Play Areas. We hope you can use it to find a new space to wear those littles out whatever the weather.

FFTC's Guide to Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds

 

Indoor Water Parks

Indoor Water Parks and Pools

Swimming indoors can be a wonderful way to squeeze in a workout during the frigid winter months in Minnesota. We’ve rounded up a list of 10+ indoor waterpark facilities around the Twin Cities where you can splash, slide and swim away the cold weather blues.

Twin Cities Indoor Waterparks and Pools

Outdoor Water Parks

Water Fun Guide – Beaches, Waterparks & Pools

As the line between late spring and early summer starts to melt away in the rising temps, it’s time to find a new splash spot in the Twin Cities. Whether that be fun new water slides or a tot-friendly splash pad, look no further for a round up of 100s of outdoor swimming pools, beaches, water parks and splash pads.

Twin Cities Beaches, Pools, Waterparks & Splash Pads

Splash Pads & Wading Pools

Created especially for those with younger swimmers, browse these simple spots where you might beat the heat. 35+ Splash Pads & Wading Pools around the Twin Cities

Outdoor Parks & Playgrounds - Things to Do in the Twin Cities

Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds

There are places to play outside in the Twin Cities all year long as well as inside. Use our handy park & playground search feature to discover more than 500 places to be active with your kids. Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds Search. Hundreds of Parks & Playgrounds in our Award-Winning Metro Park Systems

Some of our favorite Minneapolis area parks include:

Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Made up of 13 parks and trails, including five beaches. This is a beautiful area to bike or pack up your beach bags and swim. The image below shows Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun Park), one of the most popular of the chain of lakes parks.

Fishing Pier installed at Lake Calhoun Park (now Bde Maka Ska) in 2013. Image Courtesy Minneapolis Parks
Bde Maka Ska. Fishing Pier installed in 2013. Image Courtesy Minneapolis Parks

Como Regional Park

1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul 55103
Home to Como Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, it also has a community pool, a mini golf course, Como Town Amusement Park, and acres of green space, including playgrounds. 

Toddler Girl Looking Through View Scope at Como Zoo, Saint Paul Minnesota
Checking out the big cats at Como Zoo

Minnehaha Park

Home of Minnehaha Falls, don’t stop at the waterfall when you visit.  There is so much to see and do at Minnehaha Regional Park, including gardens and natural areas, historical sites, and a disc golf course. Small kids will love the Wabun Park Picnic Area and Wading Pool.

Beaches

Twin Cities Beaches

We’ve assembled 20 of the best Twin Cities beaches and swimming holes we think are worth checking out. But hurry; as we know all too well here in Minnesota, beach season doesn’t last.

10 Twin Cities Beaches & Playgrounds to Try This Summer

Nature Play

Nature Playgrounds

These rustic play spaces are a fun way for children to make connections to the natural world – which is essential to their  development and well-being. These inventive playgrounds provide opportunities for kids to dig, climb, build and problem solve. All of the green playgrounds are located within public parks or nature centers and are FREE to visit.

Twin Cities Nature Play - Family Fun Twin Cities

Nature Centers

The Twin Cities is liberally sprinkled with nature centers and outdoor interpretive centers – more than 25 havens of green space, habitat for wildlife and places to play with your kids. All of these resources are completely FREE to visit.

Community Gardens

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403
A discussion of family-fun in the Twin Cities wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the home of the iconic Spoon & Cherry. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at Walker Art Center is a fun outdoor destination all year round. But, don’t stop there, add these 12 Minnesota Sculpture Parks to Visit with Kids to your to-do list!

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary

1 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55422
This treasure of flora and fauna found inside Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis preserves more than 500 plant species and 130 bird species. It is one of many beautiful flower gardens to explore in the Twin Cities: Public Flower Gardens: 5 Local Parks With Beautiful Gardens to Explore.

Museums & Historic Sites

Museums & Historic Sites

The Twin Cities has a rich history and this is reflected in its high quality museums. Kids (and their parents) will appreciate how family-friendly they are, too! Find our full list of Twin Cities museums to visit with kids here. These are some of our favorites:

The Bakken

3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55416
This museum, built into an historic mansion, is the most electrifyingly fun museum in Minneapolis. Explore electricity, science and engineering in this hands-on museum. Learn More: The Bakken Museum: Family Fun in Minneapolis

Education at Bakken
Learning About Electricity at Bakken Museum

Bell Museum of Natural History

2088 Larpenteur Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN 55113
Where else can kids see a real wooly mammoth and learn about astronomy all in one place? Learn more about the Bell Museum of Natural History.

Girl by large wooly mammoth diorama at Bell Museum of Natural History.

The MIA – Minneapolis Institute of Arts

2400 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404
One of our favorite FREE treasures of Minneapolis, The MIA shares a roof with Children’s Theatre Company, so there is always a good excuse for a visit. The family room alone is worth a visit. Learn more about Minneapolis Institute of Art.

MIA Family Room Pillows.
We call it the “Block Room” – A great reason to visit the MIA.

Mill City Museum

704 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Loaded with hands-on fun for all ages, Mill City Museum is built in an old flour factory and explores the history of the flour industry along the Mississippi River. 10 Things for Kids: Mill City Museum in Minneapolis.

Little Girl playing with train table at Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minnesota Children’s Museum

10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, MN 55102
A great place to visit with small kids in particular, all exhibits are interactive and encourage learning through play exploration. Learn more about Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Minnesota Children's Museum
The first kid to ever go down The Scramble! And on his BIRTHDAY!

The Science Museum of Minnesota

120 W. Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55102
Explore all areas of science in this huge museum (8 1/2 acres and 6 stories). A great option for a membership, you could visit all year long and never get bored. The Gift of Science from the Science Museum of Minnesota.

dinosaur skeleton

Walker Art Center

1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
A world-famous art museum, the walker attracts visitors from around the globe but is still family-friendly, especially on the first Saturday of the month when admission and free and programming is geared toward kids and families.

Walker Art Center


Kids Bookstores

Every national bookstore list names the Wild Rumpus Books For Young Readers as a must-visit kids book store in Minneapolis. It definitely is a must! Equally a must-visit is St. Paul’s Red Balloon Bookshop. For bibliophile families, we’ve collected a list of The Best Twin Cities Independent Bookstores for Kids.

Grand Ave. St. Paul
Image courtesy of Red Balloon Bookshop

Toy Stores

We also have an impressive list of independently owned and local toy stores in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro that are super fun to visit with kids.

Mischief Toys - the new store by the owners of Peapods
Image courtesy Mischief Toy Store

Outdoor Sports & Recreation

Mini Golf Courses

Play a round outside in the beautiful summer weather or inside to escape the heat. Choose between classic courses and inventive courses; there’s something for everyone. We also listed deals and coupons for Twin Cities mini golf courses where we can. FFTC’s Guide to Mini Golf Courses in the Twin Cities.

Mini Golf in the Twin Cities

Disc Golf Courses

A great FREE option at many parks in the Twin Cities and great for those tweens and teens who may have outgrown the playground. Fun With Dad: Disc Golf in the Twin Cities.

Disc Golf Basket at North Valley Park in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Fishing with Kids

With some help of some avid anglers, we’ve gathered a list The Best Fishing Holes in the Twin Cities for Families with Kids. In the winter, check out our Guide to Family Ice Fishing Fun: No Equipment Necessary.

Tips: Minnesota Families can fish for free at most State Parks, including the 9 Twin Cities Metro-Area Minnesota State Parks. Fish for free anywhere during Take a Kid Fishing Weekend each spring.

Young girl with a sunfish on her line, fishing at Central Park in Roseville Minnesota
Fishing for Sunnies

Archery

Performing Arts

Performing Arts Plan Ahead Calendar

We love finding kid-friendly shows, music and all the performing arts. We also recognize they take some pre-planning. We keep a running list of current and upcoming performances on this page so you can peruse ahead and pick your favorites. Some of our favorite kid-friendly theatres include:

Children’s Theatre Company

2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404
The largest and most recognized children’s theatre in the United States calls Minneapolis home. With a core acting company that never ceases to dazzle their audiences, an afternoon or evening out at CTC is always a treat.

Corduroy Children's Theatre Company
Dean Holt as Corduroy in ‘Corduroy’ Photos by Dan Norman

Stages Theatre Company

1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN 55343
Located in the Hopkins Center for the Arts building, Stages produces plays and musicals for kids and featuring kids. With professional production, music and choreography, audiences can always expect a good show.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at Stages Theatre
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at Stages Theatre

SteppingStone Theatre

Park Square Theatre, West 7th Place, Saint Paul, MN 55102
Recently merged with Park Square Theatre, Steppingstone is a youth theatre in Saint Paul that creates educational theatre programs with a focus on inclusion, diversity and developing the whole child.

Kids creating a play of a Mysterious Beast of the Woods at Steppingstone Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota
Steppingstone Youth Classes – Create-A-Play, Mysterious Beast of the Woods

FREE ACTIVITIES

Free and Budget Fun

The FFTC team parents 12 children collectively – we understand the need for ways to save while still getting out to experience what the Twin Cities has to offer in the way of family fun. Our Free & Budget page collects hundreds of ways to have fun experiences for less.

Twin Cities Kids Eat Free or Cheap List

Because dining out can be considered family fun…right? Our entries have been personally verified and are updated regularly. Time to plan that family dinner date!

Kids Eat Free or Cheap Twin Cities List

Kid-Friendly Road Trips from the Twin Cities

While we specialize in knowing about family fun in the Twin Cities, sometimes we branch out further with our kids to find family fun on day & road trips! We’re just getting started in this category, but we’re excited to be partnering with some destinations for family adventures only a day trip away.

Tourist Attractions and Splurge Destinations:

Downtown Minneapolis

Stretching from the Stone Arch bridge on the north side to the Basilica of St. Mary on the south side, Downtown Minneapolis is particularly fun to visit with kids in the summer when the city bursts with activity like free outdoor concerts, lawn games, farmers markets, and Minnesota Twins games at Target Field.

Mall of America & Nickelodeon Universe

60 E Broadway, Bloomington 55425
While locally, we just refer to it as “The Mall” or “The Mega Mall,” much of the country equates a visit to Minneapolis with a visit to The Mall of America in Bloomington.  While we hope you’ll explore further, Gianna has mapped out the best family-friendly destinations at the MOA: Mall of America Family Guide, Floor By Floor, including its indoor Amusement Park – Nickelodeon Universe.

East Entrance of Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America in Bloomington Minnesota
Enter Nickelodeon Universe on the east side from the MOA Rotunda

Minnesota Zoo

13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124
Particularly fun to visit in the spring when they have their Farm Babies on display, the Minnesota Zoo is always a good time. Learn more about the Minnesota Zoo.

Savings: 7 Ways to Get Minnesota Zoo Discounts
RelatedWhere to Find the Minnesota Farm Babies

Educational Enrichment at MN Zoo

Valleyfair Amusement Park

One Valleyfair Drive, Shakopee, MN 55379
Every state needs a giant outdoor amusement park, and Valleyfair is Minnesota’s destination for rollercoaster thrills and splash-happy fun at Soak City.

Ferris Wheel at Valleyfair in Shaklopee MN

Seasonal Fun - Things to Do in the Twin Cities

No matter the season – and we get to enjoy four beautiful ones in the Twin Cities – there are ways to entertain the family.

Ultimate Summer Guide – Beat boredom and fill your long school break days exploring the best the Twin Cities has to offer in the way of parks, swim spots, community entertainment and local festivals.

Summer Family Fun Twin Cities

Fall Events Guide – It’s that glorious time of colored leaves, apple orchards, fall festivals, corn mazes and cooler weather. Oh, and pumpkin patches, too! Our Fall Family Guide will have you ready to jump into a new season in the Twin Cities.

FALL - family fun twin cities

Winter Survival Guide – Couldn’t we all use a little help getting through the long Minnesota winter with our kids? Our Winter Survival Guide has something for everyone, from those who want to get out and play in the snow to those who’d rather take a break from it.

WINTER family fun twin cities

Spring Events –  Minnesotans can’t wait to get outside and play in the spring weather! These months bring all the fun of outdoor egg hunts, maple syruping, nature play and festivals that welcome spring.

SPRING family fun twin cities

Fun Things to Do At Home


School Districts in the Twin Cities

Your school choice can drive every decision when it comes to buying a home. Michael has developed an exclusive search tool on his website to help you find available homes – that meet your specific requirements– in a particular school district or close to individual schools.

Looking for a home in a specific elementary, middle or high school boundary? Now you can easily find it.

Click here for the Twin Cities School Districts
OR
click here and type the name of the school under the “Search Twin Cities Homes for Sale”.

Click on the school name once you see it and it will show you the current homes available.

Follow us on Pinterest for more ideas.

2 thoughts on “500+ Things to Do in Minneapolis & St. Paul with Kids”

  1. Any suggestions for Saturday morning breakfast then fun from 8-12? 2/25/17
    Thinking Edina, EP, Mtka, Hopkins, MOA.

    Thanks,
    Nan

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