Minneapolis is often ranked near the top for best cities to live, work or learn. As a result there are over 2 million family households in the Minneapolis area, according to the 2010 census. Providing fun for these families is big business in the Twin Cities and there are a wide variety of attractions, events and festivals available. Some attractions, such as Valley Fair Amusement Park, are seasonal. Others, like the Minnesota Children’s Museum, are open all year long. Parents who are looking for something fun to do with their family don’t have to look far, no matter what time of year. There are so many museums, festivals, major attractions, parks and smaller attractions available that a family can attend something different every weekend for an entire year.

Fun Family Attractions In The Twin Cities

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Museums

The Twin Cities is home to many museums, some of which are designed specifically with families in mind. Nationally known examples include the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Children’s Museum. These two museums are filled with hands on, interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. The Children’s Museum also offers free entrance on the third Sunday of each month. Memberships to each of these museums is another way to reduce the overall cost. Children will often ask to go to one or both repeatedly as each has travelling exhibits that stay for several months at a time.

The Twin Cities is home to many museums, some of which are designed specifically with families in mind. Nationally known examples include the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Children’s Museum. These two museums are filled with hands on, interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. The Children’s Museum also offers free entrance on the third Sunday of each month. Memberships to each of these museums is another way to reduce the overall cost. Children will often ask to go to one or both repeatedly as each has travelling exhibits that stay for several months at a time.

Other museums that are family friendly include The Works and the Baaken Museum of Electricity and Magnetism. The Works is a science and technology museum with hands on experiments designed to help kids explore the science of engineering. This museum has grown so much in popularity that they are moving to new, larger location in the fall of 2011. An opening date has not yet been set, but it will be well worth the trip when they reopen. The Baaken is a restored mansion filled with hands on experiments around electricity and magnetism. They even have a Frankenstein themed room, but it can be a bit scary for younger kids.

Here is a list of other family friendly museums:

  • Minnesota History Museum – many hands on exhibits
  • Bell Museum of Natural History – dioramas and a play room make this a favorite
  • The Minnesota Institute of Arts – they have a scavenger hunt for kids
  • Firefighters Hall and Museum – a fun place for future firefighters to visit
  • Mill City Museum – located downtown near many other local attractions

Families on a budget can participate in the Adventure Pass program and get free passes to many of these museums from the local library.

Festivals and Events

Minneapolis and the surrounding area are home to many festivals and events throughout the year. The St. Paul Winter carnival starts the year in January with additional events throughout the rest of the year.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Ritter Farm Park Winter Festival – February
  • Shrine Circus – March
  • Get In Gear Festival and Race – April
  • In the Heart of the Beast Parade and Festival – May
  • Grand Day – June
  • Dew Drop Days – July
  • State Fair – August
  • Renaissance Festival – September
  • Valley Scare – October
  • Sunken Garden Show – November
  • Holly Dazzle Parade –  December

Many months have multiple festivals, particularly during the summer months. Each small town surrounding the twin cities has a summer festival that includes rides, art shows, crafts, local businesses and often fireworks.

Major Attractions

Minneapolis has several major attractions that are listed frequently on tourism websites and travel brochures.

These include

  • The Mall of America
  • The Minnesota Zoo
  • The Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Valley Fair

The Water Park of America.

These major attractions can occupy a family for an entire day, but are also higher priced than some of the smaller attractions. It is a good idea to review information for each before making a choice. There are frequently coupons or deals for these attractions and the Minnesota Zoo does participate in the Adventure Pass program. Many families will save one or more of these attractions for a special occasion or purchase a season pass to cut down on expenses.

These are just some of the examples of fun attractions for families in Minneapolis and the surrounding area.