The state of Minnesota in the Midwest seems like it’s designed perfectly for tons of family fun, providing plenty to do for both kids and adults alike to have a good time. Several zoos and aquariums located throughout the state provide abundant opportunities to get up close with a broad array of fascinating animals, while a wide variety of museums provide unique educational experiences. With the Hockey Hall of Fame, Voyageurs National Park, Niagara Cave, scenic boat tours, and many more attractions perfect for a family visit, there’s no shortage of things to do with kids in Minnesota.
1.American Swedish Institute
The American Swedish Institute in bustling Minneapolis, Minnesota is a vibrant cultural and arts organization that engages the local community, as well as connects globally. With grounds that include the Nelson Cultural Center and the history Turnblad Mansion, the American Swedish Institute uses the resources it possesses to serve as an integral partner and valuable asset to the community, offering tours of the city’s only castle (the 1908 Turnblad Mansion), special events and family activities related to Nordic heritage and contemporary culture, and special exhibits. FIKA, a nationally acclaimed cafe, and modern art exhibits are located in the cultural center.
2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407, Phone: 612-871-4907
© Bakken Museum
The Bakken Museum strives to inspire passion for innovation among the public through exploration into the potential for the humanities, technology, and science to create a better world. This museum is the only Smithsonian-Affiliate in the state of Minnesota and is home to a collection of artifacts and books renowned worldwide, the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden, and several galleries that focus on the wonders of science, bio-technology, plant medicine, and invention. The Bakken Museum lets visitors experience the shock of a century-old electricity machine, experience an immersive object theater, test static electricity experiments created by Ben Franklin, and much more.
3537 Zenith Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55416, Phone: 612-926-3878
3.Bell Museum of Natural History
© Bell Museum of Natural History
The Bell Museum of Natural History is situated on the campus of the University of Minnesota at Saint Paul and is the official natural history museum of the state of Minnesota. The Earth’s diversity of life and the origins of the universe are explored throughout the museum galleries, including world-famous wildlife dioramas, a solar station, geology gardens, and an observation deck. Visitors can engage their senses with the Touch and See Lab, featuring animals, plants, and 10,000-year-old fossils. The Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium takes guests on a journey into the cosmos, while the Solutions Studio provides opportunities for creativity.
2088 Larpenteur Ave W, St Paul, MN 55113, Phone: 612-626-9660
4.Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory consists of around twenty-five animal habitats, including both outdoor and indoor exhibits. Home to a wide array of animal species, visitors can see monkeys, orangutans, gorillas, lions, giraffes, tigers, polar bears, several aquatic animals, and many others. Established back in 1897, the Como Park Zoo first began with just three deer. Guests can also visit the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, which features both changing seasonal and permanent tropical flowers and plants. Other attractions include the Cafesjians Carousel, open from April to October, and the Como Town, a family amusement park with concessions and kiddy rides.
1225 Estabrook Dr, St. Paul, MN 55103, Phone: 651-487-8200
5.End O Line Railroad Park and Museum
© End O Line Railroad Park and Museum
The End O Line Railroad Park and Museum offers a unique experience in Currie, Minnesota for both young and old alike. The highlight of this museum is its beautiful HO railroad display, but there are several other interesting things to see, such as the general store and a one-room unique schoolhouse. Visitors can even take a ride on a turntable that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The End O Line Railroad Park and Museum also includes Fairmont Motorcars, an 1875 Baldwin Steve Locomotive,an authentically restored depot, and a 1942 Grand Trunk Western Caboose.
440 Mill St N, Currie, MN 56123, Phone: 507-763-3708
6.Great Lakes Aquarium
© Great Lakes Aquarium
The Great Lakes Aquarium features stunning waterfront views, knowledgeable and friendly staff, hands-on exhibits, and an array of live animal habitats and displays. Families can make the most out of their trip to the aquarium by planning their visit around one of the interpretive programs or animal feedings. There are two levels of of interactive exhibits and animal displays, as well as stunning overlooks providing views of the nearby Duluth-Superior waterfront. Freshwater and salt themes bring the fascinating world of water to visitors, encouraging them to relax, explore, play, and even reach and touch some of the animals.
353 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, Phone: 218-740-3474
7.Headwaters Science Center
© Headwaters Science Center
The Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji, Minnesota contains an exhibit floor encompassing approximately 7,500 square feet and features more than seventy interactive and hands-on exhibits, such as a pitching cage, tractors, hot air balloons, and live animals, along with weekly activities. There is also a unique nature and science-oriented gift shop. Most of the exhibits within the Headwaters Science Center allow for active participation, making it a great place for families with kids. The center is typically open Monday to Saturday from 9:30am until 5:00pm and on Sundays from 1:00pm until 5:00pm.
413 Beltrami Ave NW, Bemidji, MN 56601, Phone: 218-444-4472
8.US Hockey Hall of Fame
The United States Hockey Hall of Fame in the town of Eveleth, Minnesota is just around three hours from the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis. Situated within the middle of the Iron Range, this unique museum is a great place for any hockey fan, both kids and adults alike. At the “National Shrine of American Hockey,” the Tribute To Herb Brooks exhibit offers guests a look at a collection never before seen by the public. While visiting Eveleth, visitors can take a photo in the downtown area with the “Big Stick’ or stop at The Eveleth Hippodrome, the oldest indoor arena in Minnesota.
801 Hat Trick Ave, Eveleth, MN 55734, Phone: 218-744-5167
9.International Wolf Center
The International Wolf Center, located in Ely, Minnesota, contains expansive observation windows that provide amazing an amazing view of the center’s resident ambassador wolves. Visitors can watch as the wolves interact with each within their 1.25-acre natural enclosure and the den site. Kids can crawl into the International Wolf Center’s Little Wolf den, an exhibit designed specifically for children between the ages of three and nine. This exhibit takes kids on a journey through a wolf pup’s first year, led by the spunky Little Wolf. Hours for the International Wolf Center change throughout the year and are displayed on the website.
1396 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731, Phone: 218-365-4695
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10.Lake Superior Railroad Museum
© Lake Superior Railroad Museum
The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is home to a rather impressive historic railroad equipment collection for visitors to explore, equipment that helped build the state of Minnesota and the rest of the country. Situated in downtown Duluth, the museum dedicated to railroad history is located within the platforms of the original 1892 Historic Union Depot. The Lake Superior Railroad Museum features rolling stock meticulously restored locomotives, interesting exhibits, and fun events that bring the railroad to life with a goal of preserving, presenting, and interpreting the history of the railroad, particularly with how it’s related to the area.
506 W. Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55805, Phone: 218-727-8025
11.Lake Superior Zoo
The Lake Superior Zoo is made up of numerous different animal habitats and several attractions that are sure to delight both kids and adults alike, making the zoo a great place for families around Duluth, Minnesota to spend a day full of fun. Visitors can see some of the most endangered big cats in the world at the Asian Caravan area or meet kangaroos, wallabies, and reptiles in the Australia and Oceania habitat area. Other animal habitat areas at the Lake Superior Zoo include African Lion, the Primate Conservation Center, the Nocturnal Building, the Barnyard, Zoo Central, and the Prairie Dog Row.
7210 Fremont Street Duluth, MN 55807, Phone: 218-730-4500
12.Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
© Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post contains a 1930’s trading post where guests can unique American Indian gifts made by Mille Lacs artisans and a museum that tells the story of the area’s Band of Ojibwe. The museum’s centerpiece is its dramatic Four Seasons Room, featuring life-sized dioramas that were modeled after some of the actual Mille Lacs Band members. The various exhibits heavily draw from the oral histories and personal stories of the members of the Mille Lacs Band of the Ojibwe people. Visitors can also explore Our Living Culture, Making a Living, and Nation Within a Nation.
43411 Oodena Dr, Onamia, MN 56359, Phone: 320-532-3632
13.Minnesota Children’s Museum
© Minnesota Children’s Museum
The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota contains many different hands-on, interactive exhibit areas in which kids can discover, explore, play, and learn. The Scramble allows children to climb, weave, and pop up two separate four-story towers, take a ride down a large spiral slide, or walk along the netted catwalk. Super Awesome Adventures invites guests to master a laser maze, be adventurous on the green-screen climbing wall, and test balance and agility on beams and boards among several other activities. Other exhibit spaces at the Minnesota Children’s Museum include Forces at Play, Our World, Creativity Jam, and The Studio.
10 West Seventh St, St. Paul, MN 55102, Phone: 651-225-6000
14.Minnesota Discovery Center
© Minnesota Discovery Center
Formerly called Ironworld, the Minnesota Discovery Center is dedicated to preserving the history of the Iron Range and does so through special events, traveling exhibits, and a variety of museum displays. Located in the city of Chisholm, Minnesota, the center was established during the 1970’s in order to celebrate the several ethnicities in Minnesota’s Iron Range that came together to mine the largest body of iron ore in the country. The facility is now a center for community connections, arts, and music. The Heritage Park at the Minnesota Discovery Center includes historically recreated and historic dwellings and a 19-hole miniature golf course.
1005 Discovery Dr, Chisholm, MN 55719, Phone: 218-254-7959
15.Minnesota Transportation Museum
© Minnesota Transportation Museum
The Minnesota Transportation Museum provides a destination to “experience history in motion.” Located in the bustling city of St. Paul, the museum provides several things to see for visitors of all ages, including the classic buses of the Twin City Lines, the Minnehaha Depot, the Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway, and the Jackson Street Roundhouse. Guests can learn more about the different modes of transportation from the past, and families can create memories that will last for quite some time. Visitors to the Minnesota Transportation Museum can also enjoy a short train ride on Saturdays.
193 Pennsylvania Ave E, St Paul, MN 55130, Phone: 651-228-0263
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The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, Minnesota, on the outskirts of Minneapolis, and is home to more than 4,700 animals from the Minnesota Woodlands, a family farm, reefs and oceans, northern plains, Russia’s Far East, and tropical rainforests. Open 363 days out of the year, the zoo includes miles of both outdoor and indoor trails that lead guests to a farm, tundra, boreal forest, marine center, aviary, and tropical forest. Popular exhibits include the Wells Fargo Family Farm, Tropics Trial, Discovery Bay, and Russia’s Grizzly Coast and visitors can catch a glimpse of many endangered or rare species.
13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124, Phone: 952-431-9200
The Niagara Cave in Harmony, Minnesota is one of the country’s most unique and fascinating geological attractions, having been rated by several outdoor recreation sites as one of America’s top ten caves. The one-hour guided tour of Niagara Cave includes descending 200 feet under the surface, a 1-mile underground hike, discovering 450 million-year-old fossils, both massive and delicate cave formations, a view of an underground waterfall and stream, and visit to the subterranean wedding chapel, in which more than 400 weddings have occurred. The Niagara Cave attraction area also includes gemstone mining, miniature golf, and more.
29842 County 30, Harmony, MN 55939, Phone: 507-886-6606
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18.Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo
The Oxbow Park provides outdoor enthusiasts and families alike with numerous opportunities to take part in a variety of outdoor recreation activities, such as picnics, fishing, camping, and hiking. This combined with Zollman Zoo makes it a great place to take kids for a day of fun. The park includes hiking trails, picnic areas, a playground, and a campground. Home to more than thirty different animal species native to the state of Minnesota, the zoo provides free admission from 10:00am until 4:00pm on a daily basis. Many of the animals can’t be released into the wild due to injuries.
5731 County Rd 105 NW, Byron, MN 55920, Phone: 507-328-7340
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19.Paul Bunyan State Trail
The Paul Bunyan State Trail is a 120-mile long bike trail, making it the longest state trail and bike trail in Minnesota, connecting the Cuyuna State Trail, the Blue Ox Trail, and the Heartland Trail. The trail is also known to be the country’s longest continuously paved rail-trail, extending from Lake Bemidji State Park to Crow Wing State Park. The Paul Bunyan State Trail is almost an entirely continuous trail, but includes a few short on-road connections running the cities of Bemidji and Baxter. The two state parks at either end provide a good starting point for families.
Minnesota, Phone: 651-296-6157
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The Runestone Museum is owned and operated by Runestone Museum Foundation, which has strived to inspire curiosity of the area’s local heritage and history for over fifty years. The museum began with just the controversial and world famous Kensington Rune Stone back in 1958. The Runestone Museum has since grown to contain numerous other artifacts from throughout the state of Minnesota related to Nordic explorers of the Middle Ages. The museum’s 40-piece collection includes Climax fire steel, one of the only of its kind on display anywhere in North America. There is also a Children’s Discovery Room for kids.
206 Broadway St, Alexandria, MN 56308, Phone: 320-763-3160
21.Science Museum of Minnesota
© Science Museum of Minnesota
The Science Museum of Minnesota offers many different things for visitors of all ages to see, do, hear, learn, and experience. The facility boasts that they are “not-your-average museum” and a place “where extraordinary discoveries are an everyday thing.” Visitors can dance along the musical stairs, browse the Explore Store for unique gifts, watch a Science Live performance during which comedy meets dramatic theater, view the world’s most complete skeleton of a Triceratops, race a T-Rex within the Sportsology exhibit area, and watch an Omni theater film, displayed on the supposedly largest domed screen in the world.
120 W. Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul, MN 55102, Phone: 651-221-9444
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22.Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium
The Sea Life Aquarium is Bloomington, Minnesota is located in the middle of the famous Mall of America, the largest mall in the United States. The aquarium lets visitors get up close to thousands of different sea creatures, such as seahorses, jellyfish, stingrays, sea turtles, sharks, and many others. The Rainforest Ranger Stage provides a chance to get even closer to various animal ambassadors, including blue-tongued skink and the ball python. Other possible activities and exhibits include a 300-foot-long Ocean Tunnel, Shark Cove, Ray Lagoon, Wild Amazon, Rainbow Reef, hourly Creature Talks, and the guided Behind the Scenes tour.
3800 American Blvd E, Bloomington, MN 55425, Phone: 952-853-0202
23.Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours
© Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours
Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours is a family-owned and operated business that has been around since the year 1906, taking guests on a relaxing tour of the scenic natural beauty of the St. Croix River’s world famous Dalles. The tour guide and licensed boat pilot points out unique rock formations left behind thousands of years ago as glaciers retreated, one of the most outstanding of which is a massive stone cross, from which the river gets its name “St. Croix,” or “Holy Cross.” Daily boat tours are offered seven days a week, starting the first weekend of May through the middle of October.
220 South St, Taylors Falls, MN 55084, Phone: 651-465-6315
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24.Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park near International Falls, Minnesota is a water-based national park, encompassing a little more than 218 thousand acres and over one-third of that being water. Four large lakes, along with twenty-six smaller lakes, make up the park, with sightseeing possible by kayak, canoe, or motorboat. Other outdoor recreation activities possible at Voyageurs National Park include hiking along over twenty-seven miles of hiking trails, fishing, and swimming. Ranger-led summer programs are available from the middle of June to the middle of September. During winter, visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling on over 110 miles, and ice fishing.
360 Minnesota 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649, Phone: 218-283-6600
25 Fun Things to Do in Minnesota with Kids of All Ages
- American Swedish Institute, Photo: LorentzenPhotography/stock.adobe.com
- Bakken Museum, Photo: Bakken Museum
- Bell Museum of Natural History, Photo: Bell Museum of Natural History
- Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Photo: rruntsch/stock.adobe.com
- End O Line Railroad Park and Museum, Photo: End O Line Railroad Park and Museum
- Great Lakes Aquarium, Photo: Great Lakes Aquarium
- Headwaters Science Center, Photo: Headwaters Science Center
- US Hockey Hall of Fame, Photo: johnalexandr/stock.adobe.com
- International Wolf Center, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Superior Railroad Museum, Photo: Lake Superior Railroad Museum
- Lake Superior Zoo, Photo: Austin/stock.adobe.com
- Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, Photo: Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
- Minnesota Children’s Museum, Photo: Minnesota Children’s Museum
- Minnesota Discovery Center, Photo: Minnesota Discovery Center
- Minnesota Transportation Museum, Photo: Minnesota Transportation Museum
- Minnesota Zoo, Photo: BradleyWarren/stock.adobe.com
- Niagara Cave, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo, Photo: Venera/stock.adobe.com
- Paul Bunyan State Trail, Photo: saran/stock.adobe.com
- Runestone Museum, Photo: coffmancmu/stock.adobe.com
- Science Museum of Minnesota, Photo: Science Museum of Minnesota
- Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
- Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours, Photo: Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours
- Voyageurs National Park, Photo: Patrick/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: georgeburba/stock.adobe.com
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum is dedicated to showcasing the life of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, who lived near Walnut Grove on Plum Creek during the 1870’s. The grounds of the museum are made up of eight buildings that share the history of the well-known Ingalls family, as well as other Walnut Grove pioneers. The life-sized Dugout at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum is a particularly good exhibit for kids to experience as it is a hands-on exhibit. Buildings on the grounds include a home of an early settler, a little red schoolhouse, an onion-domed house, a chapel, and an 1898 depot.
330 8th St, Walnut Grove, MN 56180, Phone: 507-859-2358