My children and I recently visited the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and had a blast discovering all the attractions in the area. I was actually in town for a conference and only had the weekend to explore while my children spent time with my extended family during my sessions. Full disclosure: I actually grew up in Minneapolis but had never played tourist like I did on this trip. We had so much fun during the weekend that I realized we really need to make another visit (or two) back for a few more weekends and take my husband along too.
The most common things you think about visiting Minnesota’s Twin Cities is ‘cold’ and ‘10,000 lakes.’ While both are true, there are many good reasons why your family should experience the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for at least one long weekend. Here are just nine, which offer interests for the foodie, sports fan, outdoors explorer, science geek or even thrill-seeker in your family.
It’s Easy to Get There
The first reason why I think you should visit: The Twin Cities are just a maximum of a four hour flight from anywhere in the US. Since the Minneapolis-St Paul airport is a hub for Delta Airlines, there are multiple nonstop flights daily. It’s a quick and straight drive if you’re anywhere in the Midwest as well.
You Can Explore 10,000 Lakes without Leaving the City
I can’t come to Minneapolis without spending just a little bit of time on the water and luckily the Twin Cities has access to lakes right inside the city limits. You can literally drive 10 minutes from the center of Minneapolis, St. Paul or Bloomington (the city where the Mall of America and MSP airport is located) and find yourself on a lake with great fishing!
TravelingMom Tip: Consider taking a half-day trip to nearby lake for a fishing experience without having to bring all your own gear. Most will have fishing gear for use and life preservers for taking the kids out safely.
Here Rolling on the River is a Real Thing
During my conference, we were treated an evening of entertainment on the Mississippi River. Taking a ride on a paddleboat was a perfect ending for a busy day of sessions, but my family would love it just as much. Paddleboats leave right from downtown St. Paul. The trip offers a blend of old and new when looking at the riverbanks on one side and the skyline on the other. It’s a beautiful sight, especially during an evening cruise.
You Can Catch the Game
Eleven professional teams make their home in the Twin Cities. We didn’t get a chance to catch a game but no matter what your game is, you can more than likely catch it here. Depending upon the season, you can catch a professional baseball, football, basketball, women’s basketball, ice hockey, soccer, women’s football and even ultimate Frisbee (?!) game in the Twin Cities. This doesn’t even include the golf tours, semi-pro teams for baseball/roller derby/soccer or Division I college teams in the area.
TravelingMom Tip: Mark your calendars. Super Bowl LII will be played in Minneapolis February 2018. Even if you’re not going to the game, there are tons of family friendly activities occurring that make a trip during Winter 2018 a best bet.
Science is a Hands-On Experience
Thanks to its 370,000 square feet of hands-on science exploration, a visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota is a must do for my family. We spent a full day visiting the exhibits ranging from Dinosaurs & Fossils, The Human Body, The Experiment Gallery and even a special traveling exhibit of Mummies, produced by the Field Museum of Chicago. SMM also offers rotating movies in their Omnitheater, a 90-foot giant dome screen.
TravelingMom Tip: Build some flexibility into your schedule. I had scheduled only a half-day at the SMM because I wanted to do so much in the weekend but it was so amazing that we stayed the full day.
Coloring is Cool for Adults and Children
The newest (and only one of three – the others are in Easton, PA and Orlando, FL) Crayola Experience has just opened at the Mall of America. Crayola Experience Minneapolis brings to life all of our favorite things about the Crayola brand. We participated in a live show explaining how crayons are made, named custom Crayola colors, created a coloring page and made a custom puzzle.
You Can Visit a Theme Park in Perfect Weather
My boys are most certainly theme park lovers so we had to visit Nickelodeon Universe. Located on seven acres in the middle of the Mall of America, Nickelodeon Universe includes 27 attractions ranging from thrill seeking rides and roller-coasters to family-friends rides like the carousel. And because it’s indoors, there is perfect weather anytime you choose to visit. In addition to the attractions, our favorite Nickelodeon characters were walking around the park and posing for pictures with guests.
TravelingMom Tip: Dress for going to a theme park if your family wants to get on rides/attractions. That means shoes that stay on when flying high. There are also lockers available in the area to check in your coats if you visit during the winter.
You Can Grab a Meal on the Street
The Twin Cities has such a food scene that they’ve extended outdoors to their food trucks. There are 90+ different food trucks in the Twin Cities that you can find at festivals, fairs or even just a street corner. As part of the conference, they brought a few for us to try. The Star Tribune has created a listing on Twitter that you can check daily to see where the trucks are heading and their menus. Being able to grab lunch from a food truck is an experience worth having if they’re not in your town.
You Can Take a Trip Across America
FlyOver America is a multi-sensory attraction that takes you on a virtual flight across America through the use of wind, scents, mists and chair movements. Located in the Mall of America, this might have been one of our favorite things to do in Minneapolis and it’s the only location like it in the United States.
You feel like you’re soaring over landmarks and landscapes all over America during the movie. It was fun for our family to pick out the landscapes of cities we know (like New York City) and guess at areas we didn’t (a farm in Iowa and beaches in Hawaii). We literally felt that we flew over America during our 10 minute flight.
These nine reasons to visit are just the beginning of a full list. I didn’t even get to experience the awesomeness that is the Minnesota State Fair and all the fun things to eat that Rural TravelingMom, Amanda Williams shared. If you’re looking for the place to stay, Judy the Vegetarian TravelingMom has this recap of the Radisson Blu Mall of America and this recap of the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. I’m sure both options are great places to lay your head.