Special thanks to Meet Minneapolis for hosting our visit! As always, thoughts and opinions are all my own.
From roller coasters in a mall to parks all over the city, Minneapolis has plenty of family fun to offer for your next vacation! Here is how to make the most of your Minneapolis family vacation.
Museums, parks, roller coasters, and water falls. We did it all during our trip to Minneapolis!
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Giant blue chicken? Enormous spoon and cherry? Check and check!
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country. The Sculpture Garden features more than 40 works of public art along accessible walking paths.
There were several artists I recognized, including a Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture, a piece by Deborah Butterfield (I saw some of her work in Portland), Richard Serra, and Barry Flanagan.
There were also dozens of artists whose work I wasn’t familiar with. My Littlest really liked this piece called ‘Back of Snowman’. He loved the humor of the title, and thought it resembled a certain Star Wars character. You don’t have to be an art connoisseur to enjoy this park, our whole family loved running around and seeing the unique sculptures. Even better, the garden is free which makes it a must do for your Minneapolis family vacation.
My kids had no idea who Mary Tyler Moore was, but not too far from the Sculpture Garden is her statue. So while we were in a sculpture mood I took the chance to go see her. She’s just hanging out on a street corner, right next to a farmers market that was happening downtown.
Mall of America
It wouldn’t be a Minneapolis family vacation without a trip to the Mall of America! Where else am I going to ride full size roller coasters inside a mall?
Of course the roller coasters weren’t the only attraction we enjoyed. We had some of my nieces and nephews with us, so we divided and conquered some of the attractions in the mall, to best appeal to various ages. I took Littlest and my niece to the Crayola Experience while the twins and one of my teenage nephews went to experience FlyOver America.
We had fun making crayon art, melting crayons into new shapes, drawing with melted crayons, and getting to make labels for our very own crayons! Why yes, I did make a Julie Measures crayon in a color that matches my blog.
We have some pretty big malls in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but none of them have an amusement park in the middle. I think it’s safe to safe it took the kids breath away when we walked in to this view.
We didn’t do much shopping, our main objectives were attractions and food, and for that we were not disappointed. The mall is big and can be overwhelming, so make a plan. There are helpful kiosks where you can put in the name of a store, attraction, or restaurant you want to see and it will give you directions as well as estimated walking time.
We stayed long enough to eat both lunch and dinner at the mall. We waited for dinner until we had ridden all the roller coaster rides we wanted. We got all-day wrist bands but you can also buy points if you just want to ride a few rides.
There are two food courts, and almost endless eating options. I thought roller coaster rides were best complemented by a chocolate shake.
Mill City Museum
I have to admit I didn’t know the history of Minneapolis or how it came to be such a large city. A trip to the Mill City Museum and I got a good overview! The museum is built in the ruins of the Washburn “A” Mill and focuses on the founding and growth of Minneapolis, especially flour milling and the other industries that used hydro-power from Saint Anthony Falls.
Make sure you take the tour to the Flour Tower, a multi-story exhibit where you sit in the cab of a freight elevator and are taken to different floors of the building, each designed to look like a floor in a working flour mill. Following the presentation you can head to the ninth-floor observation deck to view St. Anthony Falls. Littlest liked the area where he could design his own cereal box and play in the water lab. With plenty of hands on activities the museum is great for all ages and a must do for your Minneapolis family vacation.
Waterfalls in Minneapolis? You’ll find a 53-foot waterfall at Minnehaha park, as well as limestone bluffs and river overlooks. Wear your swimsuit if you want to wade in the water, which was allowed during the summer when we were there. Minnehaha Park is also free to enjoy, though you will have to pay to park at this Minneapolis family vacation destination. We enjoyed walking around the park and exploring the falls and scenery, but we didn’t just walk.
Cruise through the park on a custom bicycle that you can rent. Bicycles come in a couple different sizes and styles to accommodate different families. We got a rental that said it fit 6, and it worked perfectly for our family. However, if you ask a stranger to take your photo you might get a pole across your face.
While in Minnesota we took a day trip to Wisconsin for cheese! Because who doesn’t want fresh delicious cheese? The destinations were all But first we stopped in Red Wing for a picture with the World’s Largest boot. Red Wing is only an hour from Minneapolis, which makes it a great day trip for your Minneapolis family vacation. Then it was just across the border to Ellsworth for some of their famous cheese curds.
Close by to the cheese curds you’ll find the Little House Wayside Cabin. This is the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder where you can explore a re-creation of Laura’s 1867 birthplace. The log cabin is a replica of the now-famous “Little House in the Big Woods”. While my kids haven’t actually read any of the books (before our trip) they were still interested in this historically-accurate picture of the place where Laura was born. And now when we read the book they’ll have a great visualization!
Less sight-seeing and more fun for my family was a night setting of fireworks with their cousins. Fireworks are prohibited where we live. But we were conveniently in Minnesota right around the 4th of July and so we got to have a fun experience during our trip. Combined with s’mores over a fire in the backyard it was the perfect night.
Want more family friendly vacation ideas? See our trip to Wichita, Kansas!
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