by Linda (minnemom) of Travels with Children
The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has some great museums for families to visit. These are some of my favorites.
- Minnesota Children’s Museum. If you’re talking kid-friendly, you pretty much have to start with the Children’s Museum. With four floors of exhibits, there’s something for kids of all ages, from the “Habitot” baby and toddler area to the outdoor rooftop art park. Two of the exhibit areas change periodically, so there’s always something new, but our kids have some favorites as well that we see every time we visit.
- Science Museum of Minnesota. This one’s better for the 5-and-up set than for preschoolers, but even the little ones will find something they enjoy. From learning about the human body to light to music, there’s a lot to be learned here. Special programs and traveling exhibits round out the experience, and in the summertime you can pan for jewels or play mini-golf outside. In the lobby area, don’t miss the National Park Service site. If you want to be really adventurous, attempt to take the skyway system from the Children’s Museum to the Science Museum and make a day of it in downtown St. Paul.
- The Works. Located in Edina, this science and technology center is generally open to the public only on weekends, but if you can fit it into your schedule, it’s a great place to visit. They bill it for 5 and up, but there are several toddler-friendly activities as well.
- The Bakken Museum. This is a smaller museum that has a lot of hands-on things for kids to do. If you’re in luck, a volunteer will let you be electrified in the special room upstairs, but even if you miss out on that, kids will enjoy the magnets, heartbeats, and other fun things. Save time in your day for a leisurely walk around Lake Calhoun, just a block away.
- Firefighters Hall and Museum. Again, it’s open limited hours, but what kid doesn’t love being able to “drive” a real fire truck or slide down a fire pole? Add in the fact that each child gets their own fire hat and can pull the alarms, and you have a great place to visit with kids.
- Jackson Street Roundhouse. Trains seem to be a hit with most kids, and at the Jackson Street Roundhouse kids can explore all sorts of real train cars indoors, and then go out for a short ride on a real train. (If it’s their birthday, let the staff know, and they might get to help drive the train or do something else special.) If they get tired of the big trains, there are “Thomas” tables set up for play. If model trains are preferred, try the Twin City Model Railroad Museum.
- Minnesota History Center. There are plenty of hands-on exhibits, but the real draw for kids is “Grainland,” a climb-and-play structure that teaches about agriculture.
- Mill City Museum. Dubbed “The Most Explosive Museum on Earth,” a ride on the flour tower might be a little much for tiny ones, but the water play area is sure to be a hit. The views from the top are great, and a walk along the Mississippi River is just out the back door.
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This art museum is free every day, but they have some great Sunday-afternoon family programs that involve hands-on activities and scavenger hunts. The Children’s Theatre is in the same building, so you can make a family day of it. Art enthusiasts may also enjoy the more modern Walker Art Center, a few miles away, which also hosts special family-friendly activity days.
- The Landing. Formerly called Historic Murphy’s Landing, this historic village in Shakopee takes you back in time to the 1800′s with costumed interpreters on the weekends and during special events. It’s a history education that’s also a lot of fun for kids. If you’d prefer to see a working 1800′s farm, head to Elk River to the Oliver H Kelley Farm.
There’s no shortage of interesting museums to visit with kids in the Twin Cities!
For More Information:
- Minnesota Children’s Museum: Official Site and More Information
- Science Museum of Minnesota: Official Site and More Information
- Minnesota History Center: Official Site and More Information
- Mill City Museum: Official Site and More Information
- Walker Art Center: Official Site and More Information
- Jackson Street Roundhouse: Official Site and More Information
- Twin City Model Railroad Museum: Official Site and More Information
- The Works: Official Site and More Information
- The Bakken: Official Site and More Information
- Firefighters Hall and Museum: Official Site and More Information
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Official Site and More Information
- The Landing: Official Site and More Information
- Oliver Kelley Farm: Official Site and More Information