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Things to Do in Minneapolis and St. Paul in the Winter…with Kids

Minneapolis doesn’t strike most people as a winter destination due to the frigid cold temperatures, but there is so much to do up there both indoors and outdoors (depending on those temps) that will surprise you. I went to the University of St. Thomas so I know firsthand what a winter in the Twin Cities is like and since several of my best friends from college still live up there (and have kids) we got the inside winter kids scoop.

Here are the top things we did and are approved by all 3 of my kiddos (ages 10, 7 and 4):

Edinborough Park in Edina
When it’s -2 degrees outside and you have 3 kids that need to burn off a LOT of energy you logically head to the largest indoor play park in Minnesota, Edinborough Park. Their tagline is “where it’s 70 degrees and sunny all year long!” We easily spent 2 hours here and could have stayed longer if we didn’t have other to do’s on our list of adventures.

Why I liked it: There is a baby/toddler area that is separate from the “big kid” area which keeps those little ones from getting bumped into. There are hand sanitizer pumps outside each area. Perfect for flu season!

Food: there is a cafe upstairs with chairs and tables you can have lunch at or bring your own lunch.

Inside Scoop: there are coat racks set up so everyone leaves their boots, hats, jackets and winter gear in an open area so no need to pay for a locker. It’s socks only inside the play areas and food only outside the play areas.


Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul

We can’t gush enough about this place. The fact we spent almost 4 hours there should help convey how much we liked it. The list of things to do here is endless from face painting, to sticker decorating to completing a laser obstacle to playing with tinker toys. It’s 3 floors!!!!! And it covered all 3 ages of my kids.

Why I liked it: even on a crowded day it has such big open spaces with gigantic ceilings and wide staircases it seemed manageable. We only had to wait in line for the laser experience and that took about 15 minutes, so not bad.

Food: there is a cafe that has healthier options-bonus!

Inside Scoop: there are coat racks set up for people to use but if you go on a busy day like we did, over the holiday break, then there is not enough room and everything piles everywhere including the floor. However, we still found a spot on the top of the coat racks for all of our winter gear. Check to see if your Children’s Museum Membership from your city will work here.


This piano is covered in stickers that kids can put on themselves.


The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis

This great outdoor space is FREE making it an easy item to put on your adventure list. The view looking at downtown Minneapolis is a great backdrop for photos and it’s open even in the winter. Although it was frigid out we bundled everyone up on one of the “warmer days” (15 degrees) and ran around the gardens.

Why I liked it: plenty of space for the kids to run around but for the older two it sparked their curiosity in the sculptures and they wanted to know the story behind the pieces.

Tip: make sure your kids stay in the designated areas and do not touch the sculptures. I may have accidentally allowed my kids to get a little too close to one of them for a photo session. Oops!


Minneapolis Sculpture Garden


Mall of America in Bloomington

Yes, this made our list. My kids have never seen anything like it and I spent a LOT of time there in college so I thought it would be a good indoor adventure with temperatures in the negative outside.
We chose to skip the Nickelodeon Universe and do the Sea Life Aquarium and the Crayola Experience instead. Both were well worth the money spent on admission (look for online coupons and get your tickets online either way as it’s cheaper). We spent about 2 hours in the Crayola Experience which surprisingly was not crowded even over the Holiday break.

Why I liked it: The kids got to burn off lots of energy just by walking around and everything was so new and exciting no one complained about walking. The Crayola experience gave the adults a chance to sit and color for a bit which felt relaxing (I can’t believe I said relaxing and mall and in the same post).

Tip: Get there when it first opens. There was hardly anyone there for the first hour we explored. There are FREE Lego tables for the kids to play with right outside the Lego store (facing the Nickelodeon Universe), couches for the parents to sit on and watch your kids build away and a Caribou Coffee conveniently close by. Win, win and win.

There is no sales tax on clothes (this includes shoes) in Minnesota making it a great place to stock up on any needs for those growing kiddos or you.

Food: I always try to seek out the healthier options so I noted there is a Panera (which we ate at), Chipotle and a Noodles all close by to each other. There is also a Cold Stone Creamery in the area as well if you want to top off a healthy lunch with a treat.


LEGOLand in the Mall of America (MOA)


Wild Rumpus Book Store in Minneapolis
Hands down the best bookstore we have ever been to. First, it’s entirely devoted to young readers aka kids. And they have animals that live in the bookstore…seriously. My youngest couldn’t get enough of the cat and my middle guy got a kick out of the tarantula.

Why I liked it: we’re a reading family and they had more kids books than we have ever seen before. Our rule is when at a bookstore you get to pick out 1 book no questions asked. They had a sale section and a second-hand section as well making affordable choices available.

Food: make a Sunday morning out of it and grab brunch at a great cafe in the Linden Hills neighborhood. We had an amazing brunch at the Zumbro Cafe (they have a kids menu, a changing table in the bathroom and highchairs) and it’s only a block away from the bookstore.

Inside Scoop: get a photo of your kids going through the purple kid size door and be sure to check out the fish tank in the bathroom. It’s a great excuse to get your kids to “test potty”.

The kid-size door at The Wild Rumpus Bookstore

Where to Stay
We ended up booking an Airbnb at the last minute as the friends we were supposed to stay at came down with the stomach flu. It was decided that was not a souvenir we wanted to take home with us. Here is the Airbnb we rented. It was small but super clean and reasonably priced. The location was fantastic in South Minneapolis as we were within 20 minutes of both St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Mall of America.

Our only regret was that the Ice Castle in Stillwater, Minnesota was not open yet. Until next time Twin Cities…..










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