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Family Activities & Resources

Legend: (T) Transit Accessible; (H) Handicap Accessible; (H!) Handicap Accessible and Friendly; (F) Free; (P) Dense Portal Area

Amusement Parks

Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America (T)(H)(P)

This indoor amusement park offers more than 25 rides and activities, featuring popular Nickelodeon characters, plus shops, entertainment stages, and dining. Includes a roller coaster and a bunch of spinny things to make parents barf. Can get very crowded in bad weather and bring your credit card. Mall of America is a portal-dense indoor area, and you can easily escape to quieter areas and cheaper food offerings if needed. Probably technically handicap accessible, but the crowds can make navigating this area with wheelchairs or strollers challenging. https://nickelodeonuniverse.com/

Como Town (H)(P)

A 4 acre outdoor amusement park adjacent to Como Zoo, designed for ages 2-12 with more than 18 kiddie rides. Not the best amusement park, but easy to access and not as crowded as the other local offerings. Great for younger children. The unlimited ride wristband is the best deal if you’ve got a kiddo with a love of rides. 1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103 http://www.comozooconservatory.org/

Valleyfair (H)(P)

The largest amusement park around; everything from huge roller coasters to spinning rides to kiddie rides and boardwalk games. Located in Shakopee, about half an hour to 45 minutes drive from downtown Minneapolis. Check the website; hours are limited in October, and the park becomes “Valleyscare” for part of the month. https://www.valleyfair.com/

Museums and Children’s Theaters

The Bakken Museum

A Smithsonian affiliate, The Bakken Museum offers dynamic exhibit experiences and industry-leading STEM-focused education programs. The museum exhibits focus on the history and nature of electricity and magnetism, Minnesota’s medical technology industry and, of course, Frankenstein! Located in a historic mansion, the unique collections, medicinal gardens, dynamic exhibits, and rich education experiences make the Bakken Museum something everyone can enjoy. 3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55416 https://thebakken.org/

Bell Museum and Planetarium (T)(H!)

The University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum (just opened summer 2018!) brings together science, art, and the environment with a unique Minnesota perspective. Our new home features a digital planetarium, high-tech exhibits, our famous wildlife dioramas, outdoor learning experiences and more. Offers a range of adaptive accommodations, including special planetarium showings for those with sensory issues. 2088 Larpenteur Avenue West, St Paul, MN 55113 https://www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/

Firefighter’s Hall and Museum

View more than 12,000 square feet of historic items from Minnesota fire departments, dating back to the 1860s, including fire trucks, fire equipment, historic photos and interactive displays for children (including a fireman’s pole!). Staffed by retired firefighters who have the best stories. Open only on Saturdays. 664 22nd Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418 http://firehallmuseum.org

Mill City Museum (H!)(T)

Built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, this museum helps visitors of all ages learn about the intertwined histories of the flour industry, the historic Mississippi Riverfront, and the city of Minneapolis. Stop by the Baking Lab, see a model mill explode and watch history unfold as you take an 8-story elevator ride in the Flour Tower. Check website for accessibility information; wide range of available accommodations for folks with physical and sensory disabilities. 704 South Second Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401 http://www.mnhs.org/millcity

Minneapolis Institute of Art (T)(F)(H)

A fantastic free art museum (suggested donation at the door) with a number of family-friendly features, including a special tots room and children’s art exploration lab. Visitors with special needs can request accommodations via the website. Connected to the Children’s Theater Company, an award-winning theater company, which will feature Last Stop on Market Street until October 21 and I Come from Arizona. 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404 https://new.artsmia.org/ | http://www.childrenstheatre.org/plays/2018-2019-season

Minnesota Children’s Museum (T)(H)

Newly renovated children’s museum in downtown St. Paul, features a four-story climbing structure (bring socks!), a room for younger children, and a number of exploration rooms and special exhibits. 10 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, MN 55102 https://mcm.org/

Indoor Playgrounds

Adventure Peak at Edinborough Park

Numerous slides and tunnels and a 30-foot-tall play structure are at the heart of this hugely popular 1-acre indoor park, which also boasts a special area reserved for toddlers. There’s also a pool and a fitness center. 7700 York Avenue South, Edina MN https://www.edinamn.gov/158/Edinborough-Park

Brookview Backyard

This new two-story indoor play area is open seven days a week in Golden Valley’s brand new community center. It includes a main area designed for ages 2 to 12, plus a separate spot for 2 to 5 year olds. Just down the hall sits a family-friendly sports bar and grill, Three One Six, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 316 Brookview Parkway S, Golden Valley, MN 55426 http://brookviewbackyard.com

Eagle’s Nest

The new Eagles Nest Indoor Playground has landed and has quickly become the destination for kids and imaginations. A sample list of the activities in the playground includes: 23′ high Web Tower Challenge, 36′ long Quadruple Wave Slide, Walk-on Piano Keys Player, Tightrope Walk, 14′ Trolley Challenge and Hanging Foam Forest, a Ball Pit and a one-of-a-kind Eagles Nest and Tree Climb. 400 10th Street NW, New Brighton MN 55112 http://www.newbrightonmn.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation/new-brighton-community-center/eagles-nest-indoor-playground/

Minneapolis Bouldering Project

Minneapolis Bouldering Project is a forty-four-thousand-ninety-seven square foot facility including: 20,108 square feet of climbing terrain (bouldering is climbing without ropes), complimentary introductory bouldering classes, dedicated youth & family climbing & lounge areas, yoga studio with daily classes for beginners, advanced practitioners & everyone in between. Shoes available for rental; daily passes available. 1433 W. River Rd N. Minneapolis, MN 55411 https://minneapolisboulderingproject.com/about/

Apple Picking and Corn Mazes*

Pine Tree Apple Orchard

During the fall, this family farm offers weekend entertainment, pony rides, wagon rides and a corn maze. Pick your own pumpkins and apples, or purchase bakery products, apples, cider, gifts and more. Check the website for what’s ripe and daily events. 450 Apple Orchard Rd White Bear Lake, MN 55110 http://www.pinetreeappleorchard.com/

Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze

Explore 20 acres of activities and attractions in the fall, including a corn maze, a corn pit, a straw-bale maze, a kids play area, live music, a petting zoo, hayrides, a climbing wall, a pumpkin slinger (?!), food vendors, pony rides, a gunny-sack slide, helicopter rides and pumpkin picking. On the SE corner of 109th Ave and Highway 169 in Brooklyn Park. Enter on 109th Ave. https://twincitiesmaze.com/

Sever’s Corn Maze

Yep, it’s a corn maze. Also includes a tire mountain, mini pumpkin blasters, a straw-bale maze, a corn pit, a giant slide, live music, pig races, and a jumping pillow. 1100 Canterbury Rd. Shakopee, MN 55379 https://seversfallfestival.com/

*Note: these are some of the biggest and most popular apple picking spots in Minnesota, and we Minnesotans take our fall festivities Very Seriously. Expect crowds. Expect mud. Expect wicked awful seasonal allergies. There are lesser-known apple picking opportunities if you’re willing to forgo the hay rides and the corn mazes and the wanton pumpkin smashing activities. Check minnesotagrown.com or ask a local; lots of us have favorite spots.
BUT! If you just want fresh local apples without the hassle at a decent price….consider stopping at any Lund’s location and perusing their local produce section. There are two Lunds locations within walking distance of downtown Minneapolis. You’re welcome. http://lundsandbyerlys.com/our-stores/locations/

Metro Area Parks and Outdoor Playgrounds

The Twin Cities have many neighborhood parks with playgrounds. As well as larger parks and notable outdoor playgrounds.

Minnehaha Park (F)(T)(P)

Conveniently located just off the light rail that runs between downtown Minneapolis and the airport, this park has some of the best fall colors in town. Features include Minnehaha Falls, a vast dog park running along the length of the Mississippi River, a playground, and Sea Salt Eatery, an acclaimed local restaurant. 4801 S Minnehaha Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary (F)

A nature center meant to showcase native plant and flower species, located just west of downtown Minneapolis. Features paths, interpretive signs, and nearby Theodore Wirth Park which has a playground and beach. 1 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis MN. https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/gardens__bird_sanctuaries/eloise_butler_wildflower_garden_and_bird_sanctuary/

Hyland Play Area – Chutes and Ladders (F)(H!)

The huge, award-winning creative play area at Hyland has something for the young and the young-of-heart. The structure includes platforms, hexagonal climbers and slides up to 50 feet long. There is also a section designed just for children under five or those with disabilities. Climb, swing, hang, and slide to your heart’s content! The play area is located within Hyland’s Recreation Park Area, which also includes a visitor center with limited concessions, restrooms, a fireplace, and cross-country ski rental in winter. 10145 Bush Lake Rd, Bloomington, MN 55438 https://www.threeriversparks.org/location/hyland-play-area

Centennial Lakes Park (F)(T)(P)

Paved pathways meander around this 10 acre lake, interspersed with landscaped grounds, seating areas, swinging benches, public art installations and fountains. Spring through fall, miniature golf is available; in winter, ice skating is available. Nestled in the middle of a retail shopping and restaurant area, including a Chuck E Cheese. One of the area’s several dense portal-dense parks. Accessible at 7499 France Avenue South, Edina, MN 55435

Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary (F)

The 29 acre park is being restored to its native plant communities and the wildlife is returning. Two small ponds attract waterfowl and the uplands are home to grasslands bird species. Turkey vultures, bald eagles, and redtail hawks soar along the sandstone bluffs and many songbirds and other migrants flood through here in spring and fall. 265 Commercial Street, Saint Paul, MN https://www.nps.gov/miss/planyourvisit/ventosanctuary.htm

North Loop Playground (H)(F)

For those staying in downtown Minneapolis, the North Loop Playground has a logging camp theme and areas for children under 5 and older children. It is located at 4th Ave N and West River Parkway, and has ample parking.

Zoos

Como Zoo (H)(F)(P)

A cozy, free zoo nestled right in between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Includes an indoor rainforest walk with a friendly sloth and a number of birds and fish. A variety of animals hang out in indoor and outdoor enclosures, and the zoo frequently offers talks and activities for kids. Has a carousel and an attached conservatory with indoor and outdoor areas – the indoor area is great for escaping cold weather. Robust restaurant, and other concessions throughout the zoo. Attached to Como Town (see listing under Amusement Parks). 1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103 http://www.comozooconservatory.org/

Minnesota Zoo (H)(P)

A sprawling zoo in Apple Valley, a southern suburb of St. Paul. Has extensive indoor and outdoor facilities; a great place to bring kids on a cold or wet day (thought watch out for crowds). Includes a 1 million gallon Discovery Bay exhibit including sharks, rays, fish and more. Also has a model farm and petting zoo area. Has a restaurant and other concessions. 13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124. http://mnzoo.org/

Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium (T)(H)(P)

More than 10,000 sea creatures live beneath the Mall of America in a variety of interactive exhibits, including a 300-foot long glass tunnel. The Mall of America is a portal dense indoor area (huzzah), and includes a variety of restaurants, the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park (see above in Amusement Parks), and an attached hotel. Easily accessed via light rail. Expensive and sometimes crowded; check for coupons and group discounts. 120 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425 https://www.visitsealife.com/minnesota/

The Twin Cities has two zoos! Both are portal dense, so bring your gear. Oh, and your kids if you’ve got any.

Miniature Golf and Arcades

CanCan Wonderland (T)(H)

A zany, creative concept space located near light rail between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Includes an 18 hole mini golf course for those 5 and older; vintage arcade games (most are $1 or $2 and accept only quarters, with quarter dispensing machines on site); an entertainment stage that features offerings from punk polka bands to karaoke to family “Tappy Hour” (a free tap dancing class with shoes available on site, usually offered on Friday afternoons from 4-6); and family art projects. Also includes a restaurant that offers pizza and sandwiches, as well as a full bar that offers boozy milkshakes for the adults. Check the website for handicap-accessible entrance information; the main door is not handicap accessible, but two side doors are. 755 Prior Ave N, St Paul, MN 55104 https://www.cancanwonderland.com/

Malt-T-Melt Mini Golf and Malt Shop (H)

Enjoy 18 holes of mini golf surrounded by gardens, waterfalls, ponds and streams. 10 holes are accessible to people with mobility impairments. Also offers surrey bike rentals for exploring the park. 6335 Portland Ave South, Richfield, Minnesota 55423 https://wheelfunrentals.com/mn/richfield/veterans-memorial-park/

Big Thrill Factory

Activities at this indoor-outdoor amusement arcade include mini golf, climbing, a giant slide and trampolines. You’ll also find bowling, laser tag, an arcade, bump-n-spin cars, and a giant indoor play structure with foam ball shooters. For the older kids and adults they offer a ropes course(must be 48” or taller to climb) and axe throwing as options. 2 Locations: 7053 10th Street North, Oakdale MN, 55128 and 17585 Highway 7, Minnetonka, MN 55345 https://www.bigthrillfactory.com/

Ice Skating and Indoor Water Parks

Parade Ice Garden

Indoor ice skating year-round on three ice rinks for hockey, figure skating, lessons and public skating. 600 Kenwood Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55403 https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/parks__lakes/parade_ice_garden/

Tropics Indoor Water Park

Features a three-story water slide, complete with lights and a jukebox, a zero-depth-entry beach area, an interactive splashing palm tree, a boat slide, a water walk, water volleyball and basketball and giant floating sea creatures. 4580 Victoria Street N., Shoreview MN 55126 https://www.shoreviewcommunitycenter.com/general-information/waterpark

Great River Water Park (T)

Great River Water Park. Municipal indoor water park with a children’s activity pool, free life jacket rentals, and lap swimming. 270 N. Lexington Parkway, Saint Paul, MN 55104 https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/parks-recreation/aquatics/great-river-water-park

Libraries

Central Library (T)(F)(H!)

Opened in 2006 in an award-winning building in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Often features weekend events for young children, with an extensive teen collection and an adaptive technology lab. 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis MN 55401 https://www.hclib.org/about/locations/minneapolis-central

Ramsey County Library — Roseville (T)(F)(H)

Seriously, this library has the best children’s area (and attached teen area). You will not believe this place. Includes a number of interactive STEM and imaginative play areas, child-friendly technology, and cushy spots for parents to sit. 2180 North Hamline Ave, Roseville, MN 55113 https://www.rclreads.org/about/locations/rcl-roseville

Other

Urgent Care

Pediatric Urgent Care – Central Pediatrics. Offers walk-in pediatric urgent care until 9 pm on weekdays, and 9-5 on weekends.  Technically located in St. Paul but only a few miles from downtown Minneapolis and accessible via mass transit.  (651) 645-4693; located at 1536 Larpenteur Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55113 https://www.centralpeds.com/priority-pediatrics

Adult Urgent Care. Urgent care offerings in downtown Minneapolis are limited on weekends; the Target at 900 Nicollet Mall offers a Minute Clinic on Saturdays from 8-3. Health Partners Riverside, located on the University of Minnesota campus just east of downtown Minneapolis, offers hours from 9-5 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday. Local clinic chain Allina has a number of clinics, with varying urgent care offerings.

Pharmacy

Target Pharmacy at 900 Nicollet Mall is open 7 days a week, including 9-6 on Saturday and 10-6 Sunday. The Walgreens pharmacy on Nicollet Mall is open Saturday but closed Sunday.

Minneapolis Children’s Hospital

A Level 1 child trauma ER only a few miles from downtown Minneapolis.  Connected via skyway to The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.  2525 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404

Medical Emergencies / ERs

Hennepin County Medical Center. Emergency Room has both a Level 1 Trauma Center and a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center certification. Located in downtown Minneapolis.

EXCEPT! For broken bones and sprains, the general consensus among local parents is to head to the orthopedic urgent cares located at Twin Cities Orthopedics and Tria. Both have walk-in urgent care from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week. Wait times are shorter, and both cater to kids with special care packages and kid-size braces and other equipment.

Twin Cities Orthopedics: https://tcomn.com/services/orthopedic-urgent-care/
Tria: https://tria.com/services/orthopedic-urgent-care/

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