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Seven Reasons to Vacation in Minneapolis with Your Kids. Over the Bridge to Downtown MinneapolisSpend any time at all in Minneapolis and smiling will be unavoidable. Voted the best in the USA for dozens of things including arts, shopping, exceptional children’s theater, interactive science experiences, and the city has a trendy urban atmosphere that is energizing and the mighty Mississippi River is an extra bonus.
Minneapolis offers terrific experiences for families of all age combinations and interests. The urban area is dotted with lakes and the mighty Mississippi River offerining dozens of parks with hiking/biking trails and many spots where sailing, canoeing, and fishing may be enjoyed. As follows, seven reasons to add Minneapolis to your list of family vacations spots.  

Minnesota Zoo Farm Animal EncoutersEnjoy a wild time. Located on 500 plus acres in Apple Valley south of Minneapolis, the zoo is home to about 2,300 animals plus an impressive population of aquatic residents at home in Discovery Bay. There's easy viewing of Northern hemisphere animals including American bison, wolves, moose, musk oxen, Bactrian camels, and Amur (Siberian) tigers. There’s huge domed area populated with tropical plants and animals and IMAX theatre onsite. There are many interactive experiences offered daily enabling visitors to make unique connections with zoo residents. Perhaps the best part, the one-on-one opportunities to interact with zookeepers, animal training demonstrations, and chances to observe and touch critters. Bonus Points: In addition you will find a series of Family Adventures at the Zoo scheduled throughout the year including Zzzoo After Dark Family Overnight.  (Minnesota Zoo. 13000 Zoo Boulevard Apple Valley, 55124. (952) 431-9200, toll-free 1-800-366-7811, 24-hour information line (952) 431-9500 or

Play Mindball and electrify your day. The Bakken located on the shore of Lake Calhoun is a repository for about 2500 objects relating in some way to electricity and magnetism in the life sciences and medicine. Play a Theremin, the very first electronic musical instrument and trace magnets as they change color on a TV screen. Operate a magnetic crane and challenge your child to a Mindball. Create music from your own heart beat and transfer it to a computer. Bonus Points: The Bakken’s Family Science Saturdays provide themed hands-on activities and special presentations provide engaging moments that spark learning while having fun.  (The Bakken: A Library and Museum of Electricity in Life. 3537 Zenith Ave. South Minneapolis, 55416-4623. (612) 926-3878 or

LEGO Man at Mall of AmericaArrange the perfect experience. 
 While most think of Mall of America because it has more than 500 shops creating an awesome shopping experience, the rich menu of entertainment experiences available within the mall complex is even better. It is the home to Nickelodeon Universe - the nation's largest indoor family theme park, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium - a 1.2 million gallon walk-through aquarium, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, American Girl Experience, Barbie™ Dreamhouse Experience™ ,  CSI: The Experience™ and Star Trek™: The Exhibition - one of the largest collections of authentic Star Trek artifacts ever made public. (Mall of America 120 East Broadway Bloomington, MN 55425. (612) 883-0202 or

Touch and see everything. The Bell Museum of Natural History is an interactive museum portal providing experiences that connect participants with the natural world. It is a non intimidating family friendly place showcasing big ideas. Onsite is a marvelous “Touch and See Room” with objects available for personal investigation wooly mammoth tusk, moose antlers, assorted furs, a life-sized Kodiak bear, and an elephant skull as well as live reptiles including snakes and turtles. Bonus Points: Spend your Saturday with a scientist and enjoy an array of fascinating programs with hands-on activities for the whole family. Take a trip through a 3D heart, brain, and body in the ExploraDome Theater or test your surgical skills on a life-sized Game of Operation. Make your own pollinator seed bomb for pollinating bees and monarch butterflies. Here’s the deal. The Bell Museum is free on Sundays. (The Bell Museum, University of Minnesota campus. 10 Church Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455. (612) 624-7083 or

Wild Rumpus Bookstore Minneapolis BestShare a wild rumpus with your kids.
Located in a comfy urban neighborhood is a magical spot for book lovers of all ages. Just step through the purple door and another world opens. Wild Rumpus, all by itself, is a reason to spend time in Minneapolis with kids. Squeals of glee and the laughter of children fill the book heaven. The bookstore is a platform for imagining - loaded with books (exceptionally curated), hand puppets, and comfy chairs plus an interesting population of resident birds, cats, rodents and a spider. Browsing is encouraged; no one is ever rushed and all questions have an answer. Bonus Points: Storytime and book fairs. (Wild Rumpus 2720 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410. (612) 920-5005 or

Watch the stage with your kids. Minneapolis offers remarkable theatre opportunities for families. Season after season, The Children’s Theatre Company stages cutting edge, yet family-friendly productions, including classic favorites and musicals along with edgy first edition works. The full-time company of actors frames literary adaptations with style and showcases written-for-children theatre including productions geared to teens. Bonus Points:  To enhance the theatre experience there are free family theatre guides which include play descriptions, activities, and discussion questions. (The Children’s Theatre Company. 2400 3rd Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55404. (612) 874-0400 or www.ChildrensTheatre.orgMinnesota Valley NWR Kids Programs

Go wild near the city. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge just two miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport is home to bald eagles nest, herons and egrets as well as deer, red fox, raccoons, gophers, turkey, coyote, snakes and rabbits. An overlook at the visitor center offers views of the Minnesota River Valley and most habitats within the 12,500-acre refuge. This is an ideal place to slowdown and share nature with your kids without commercial interruptions. For a quick walk access a half-mile loop trail from the visitor center or grab a map and select from additional trails designated within the refuge.  Bonus Points: Throughout the year wildlife programs and family-friendly activities are offered. Van tours are offered periodically during the warmer months. (952) 854-5900 or visit Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge)

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images courtesy and Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Copyright updated 2017.  

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