Minneapolis & St. Paul for Families: Not Your Typical City Guide!
There’s loads to do with little kids in the Twin Cities. We’ve narrowed down the options for you with our top spots for families in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Welcome to the Twin Cities. Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota sit on the banks of the Mississippi River at the heart of a large metropolitan area home to some 3.5 million residents. If you fly into the Twin Cities, you’ll notice that water features dominate the landscape. During warmer months, area lakes are busy with boaters and the well developed trail systems are enjoyed by walkers, runners, and cyclists. During the winter months, you’ll find the lakes speckled with the small shelters of ice fisherman and cleanly shoveled rinks for pickup hockey games.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are family friendly cities. We asked locals which off-the-beaten-path places they love. Keep reading until the end for some insider foodie tips from Minneapolis Quality Provider Holly Long.
Best bookstore in Minneapolis: Wild Rumpus Bookstore
As you enter, your little ones can walk through the child-sized door into this quirky bookstore meets petting zoo. The bookstore hosts a variety of readings and events, including the weekly Tail Time! which is geared towards the toddler and pre-schooler crowd. Tail Time! takes place every Monday at 10:30 a.m.
Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store is a must visit for kids!
If your kids love The Choo Choo Bob Show!, they’ll be delighted by The Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store in St. Paul. Your little engineer can play at one of the many train tables throughout the store or hop on board for story time which is Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Looking for a souvenir? BabyQuip Quality Provider Holly Long and her kids love the Choo Choo Bob’s t-shirts—and we think your little train addict will too. The store is located on a busy Minneapolis intersection, with a parking lot behind the store. Locals agree—it’s difficult to visit Choo Choo Bob’s without also stopping by Izzy’s Ice Cream just down the street. Be sure to ask for an Izzy Scoop—a small scoop of any kind of ice cream on top of your larger scoop of ice cream!
Teach kids about natural history at the Bell Museum.
A natural history museum and planetarium, the Bell Museum is located in a brand new facility on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. The museum exhibits are engaging for all ages and include wildlife dioramas, Touch & See Lab, and 120-seat planetarium. Start your visit on the main floor in the Touch & See Lab where kiddos can get up close to reptiles, fossils and animal pelts. Then head upstairs to check out the dioramas and learn how to perform a Sandhill Crane mating dance. Be sure to snap a picture in front of the woolly mammoth and giant beaver. The Bell Museum is accessible and stroller friendly. Amenities include a quiet room—perfect for nursing and pumping. The museum also hosts Sensory-Friendly Saturday events once a month to help visitors with sensory sensitivities experience the museum and planetarium.
Price: Adults $12, Youth 3–21 $10, Children 2 and under free
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Spend an afternoon at Wabun Inclusive Playground.
Located in Minnehaha Regional Park, Wabun Playground is a large accessible playground along the banks of the Mississippi River. In addition to playground standbys like slides and swings, Wabun offers a sand play area, swaying camper trailer, roller slide tunnel, and spinning roundabout bowl. There are a variety of terrains to walk, crawl, and roll through. And the entire playground sits on a soft, rubber surface—perfect for strollers, wheelchairs, and babies that put everything in their mouths! From Memorial Day through Labor Day, there’s a wading pool/splash pad located adjacent to the playground.
Best indoor playground for children: Good Times Park
An indoor playground is a must-visit during long Minnesota winters. BabyQuip Quality Provider Holly Long loves Good Times Park just south of St. Paul & Minneapolis in the suburb of Eagan. Good Times Park is clean and allows visitors to bring in food to enjoy in the indoor picnic area. The park is generally unstaffed and admission must be paid in advance online. An entrance code is provided at the time of purchase allowing you to enter the secured facility. The indoor play space keeps little ones happy and entertained for hours! The itty bitty play space is perfect for infants and toddlers under three. For preschool aged kiddos, the Imagine & Build playground provides a space for building with giant foam blocks, noodles, fabric, and balls. And older kids will be drawn to the climbing web.
Price: Children 1–17 $8 plus tax
Family-friendly dining in Minneapolis & St. Paul
BabyQuip Quality Provider Holly Long and her husband are always on the hunt for family and foodie friendly dining options. Here’s what she has to say about a few of her favorites!
- Cossettas—An Italian deli, bakery, and store. All of the food here is delish! This is my favorite place to eat in St. Paul. My kids love the food and the bakery for pastries and gelato. After dining, we hit the store to pick up dinner supplies for the week.
- Puffy Cream Donuts Plus—We love donuts! As a family of five, eating out can be spendy. This shop has the best donuts. Nothing fancy and located in a strip mall—but these donuts are seriously amazing! Plus, it’s so cheap to feed five people.
- Keys Cafe & Bakery—We have breakfast at the St. Paul location every time we go to the Science Museum of Minnesota or Minnesota Children’s Museum. My kids love the Mickey Mouse pancakes and I love the bottomless cup of coffee served in a Key’s mug.
- Mendoberri Café and Wine Bar—Taking our kids to fancier restaurants can be challenging, but not at Mendoberri. The kids’ menu is great—options include a grass-fed organic local beef burger and grilled cheese served with a side of organic roasted carrots. There’s also a play kitchen where our kids can play while we enjoy some wine and wait for our meal.
If your outings in Minneapolis require a lot of walking think about renting a stroller or a carrier for the little ones. Check out all the baby gear that Holly and the other Quality Providers in the area have to offer.
Kathy is a freelance writer, an Independent Quality Provider with BabyQuip and the mother of a very active one-year-old boy. When she’s not changing diapers, developing engaging content for clients, or helping families travel with little ones, she enjoys reading, gardening, yoga, and naps.