The Twin Cities: 50 Things to Do With Your Kids Before They Grow Up



By Tricia Cornell

I’m seven years into an all-out campaign to convince my coastal relatives and in-laws of the wonders of life in Minnesota. We’ve got lakes! And year-round recreation! And more theater than any city other than New York! Alas, I’ve had to give up on them, so I’m turning my attention to the rest of the nation. Here’s why this is one of the best places in the world to raise kids, and what you need to do when you move here:

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
1. Walk on the Quaking Bog, then wander through the Wildflower Garden, which will lull even the most boisterous kids into silence.

2. Bike the Grand Rounds.

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
3. Make something–jam, cake, cookies, embroidery, seed art, a pumpkin sculpture, anything !–to enter into a competition at the State Fair.

4. Watch the milk-carton boat races (have been cancelled as of 2015)  during the Aquatennial. The next year, build one yourselves and enter!

5. Do an ice cream taste test. Hit Izzy’s, Sebastian Joe’s, and Pumphouse Creamery all in one afternoon.

6. Watch the dragon boat races on Lake Phalen.

7. Become a regular at your local farmer’s market.

8. Become minigolf afficionados: start at the the Walker Arts Center Sculpture Garden, then move to the Science Museum of Minnesota.

9. Eat yourselves silly at the Taste of Minnesota on Harriet Island now in Waconia.

10. Go to a St. Paul Saints game. Volunteer for one of the goofy mid-inning activities.

11. Hand out water to the runners in the Twin Cities Marathon. Get inspired to sign up for the family fitness program.

12. See the 4th of July fireworks over the Stone Arch Bridge or Harriet Island.

13. Kayak or canoe on an urban lake.

14. Watch the shows at the Festival of Nations. Learn to dance and participate.

15. Dance around the maypole at the Swedish Midsommar celebration.

16. Go skiing in Wirth Park.

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
17. Catch a walleye. Through a hole in the ice.

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
18. See the ice palace at the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

19. Skate on a pond, hockey stick in hand.

20. Join the hunt for the Winter Carnival medallion.

21. See the Macy’s holiday show, all dressed up in your best sugarplum-fairy dresses.

22. Get Hot Seats at the Holidazzle Parade.

23. Ski through thousands of ice luminaries in the moonlight in the noncompetitive Luminary Loppet.

24. Build a winning snow sculpture.

25. See a Kids Fringe show. Glut yourselves on theater: see a bunch.

26. Attend a concert in the ruins of a flour mill.

27. Go snowshoeing. In the moonlight.

28. Go downhill skiing, right in your own backyard. No, really.

29. Take a backstage tour of the Guthrie Theater.

30. Make puppets with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. Then march with them in the May Day Parade.

31. Go back to the 1820s at Historic Fort Snelling.

32. Spend a night at the Minnesota Zoo.

33. Tour the Wabasha Street Caves.

34. Watch a bird release at the Raptor Center.

35. See a drive-in movie at Vali Hi.

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
36. Count the Peanuts characters in Rice Park.

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
37. Learn to be an urban archaeologist at Mill Ruins Park.

38. Make a radio show at the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting.

39. Attend a pow-wow.

40. Make a bundt cake. (Minnesota is the home of the bundt pan. And Betty Crocker.)

41. Rollerblade in the Metrodome.

42. Make art together at Franconia Sculpture Park.

43. Fly on the trapeze at a Circus Juventas class.

44. Be film buffs: See all the films in the Childish Film Festival.

45. Spend the whole morning browsing at Wild Rumpus or the Red Balloon.

46. Hear children’s literature come alive at the Jungle Theater.

47. Get thiiis close to St. Anthony Falls at Water Power Park.

48. Slide and splash all day at the Water Park of America. Get all tuckered out. Stay the night.

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
49. Find the elf at Lake Harriet. Leave a present.

Things to Do With Kids in the Twin Cities
50. Get dirty, sweaty, and happy on a farm day at your CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm.

Tricia Cornell lives in Minnesota, where she edits Minnesota Parent, blogs at , and is hard at work on Moon Handbooks Minneapolis-St. Paul. Phew.

This series was inspired by Mommy Poppins’ 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up.

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5 Responses to “The Twin Cities: 50 Things to Do With Your Kids Before They Grow Up”

  1. Kathryn Jun 15 at 5:25 pm Reply Reply

    Don’t forget Minnehaha Falls and hiking to where it meets the great Mississippi. Then go to Bridgemans for some amazing ice cream!!

  2. Nice list! I was looking online for fun things to do with my 3 year old fall and you definitely gave me some new ideas. You are right though, Minneapolis is fantastic!

  3. KChrun Oct 25 at 2:21 pm Reply Reply

    Very nice list! Some great ideas here.

  4. andre Dec 04 at 9:44 pm Reply Reply

    I wish they had the place my dad was taking me but this place is like so boring


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