Plan a Family Road Trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota!

Legoland, Mall of America

Are you thinking about taking a trip to Minnesota with your family? Here are some of our favorite spots around Minneapolis to help you plan! When thinking about your visit, the most important thing to remember is that there is so much fun stuff to do — more than one visit can hold. To get through everything just on this list, you’d need to plan to visit across multiple seasons. Look at it like a menu that we’ve created over numerous visits with our family. Choose one or two fun things to do each day and remember to plan downtime, especially for littles. There is also a lot that we haven’t had to chance to do yet, and we’ll be visiting again too!

Have fun exploring, and we would love your tips and favorites spots in the comments below. 

When planning your next trip to Minneapolis, visit minneapolis.org for ideas, deals, and sample itineraries for any season!

Our Favorite Place to Stay in Minneapolis

Radisson Blu

Radisson Blu, Mall of America is one of two hotels directly connected to the mall and offers the ultimate convenience for families. The hotel features 500 fashion-inspired guest rooms, including junior suites, a state-of-the-art fitness center with an indoor pool, Solimar Spa, as well as FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar.

Take advantage of the fun packages that are great for families!

  • Fort Blu Kids Camping Package – Tent and fun souvenirs, Marty the Moose book, and stuffed animal.
  • Mall of America Shopping Package – Includes a great coupon book for shopping at the mall.
  • Family fun with Marty the Moose – $10 per person GameWorks Game Card (four per room maximum) Your choice of either four tickets to SeaLife Aquarium, two tickets to Crayola Experience, two tickets to FlyOver America, or two unlimited-ride wristbands to Nickelodeon Universe®
  • Play and Stay – two Nickelodeon Universe All-Day Wristbands (a $69.99 value) OR two tickets to FlyOver America.
  • Lobby & Lounge: Picture Perfect and Cozy – Make sure to take a picture in the basket woven pear-shaped hanging chairs in the lobby. They look like giant nests and are nice and cozy next to the fireplaces.
  • FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar
    • Kids Menu – The Junior Chef’s Menu for ages ten and under was created in collaboration with MasterChef Junior finalist Ariana Feygin and includes unique flavors and ingredients. 
    • Farm-to-Table Dining – Food is prepared with local, Midwestern ingredients from Twin Cities-based artisans like Red Table Meat Co. and Stickney Hill Dairy.
  • Beautiful Decor & Eye Candy – Modern yet comfortable decor, trendy craft cocktail bar, beautiful food presentation, and lots of flair.

Radisson Blu, 2100 Killebrew Drive, Bloomington, Minnesota

Nikelodean Universe Mall of America
Nickelodeon Park, Mall of America

3-Day GVK Itinerary

There is so much to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul area and impossible capture in one trip. It is also sometimes hard to decide what to do! We used the fantastic resources at Meet Minneapolis. Here is a sampling of some of our favorite things to do.

Day 1: Afternoon Arrival – Goodbye Wisconsin, Hello Minnesota!

Insider Tip for Families with littles: McDonald’s in Abbotsford has a Play Playce for kiddos to run off some energy and is almost exactly halfway point. (601 S 4th St, Abbotsford, WI) 

  • Check-In at the Radisson Blu
  • Dinner at the Mall of America
  • Shopping at the Mall of America or IKEA
  • Rides at Nickelodeon 

Day 2: Day Full of Fun

  • Morning Swim at the Radisson Blu Hotel
  • Coffee from Caribou
  • Breakfast at FireLake Grill House
  • Minnehaha Falls
    • If visiting during the warmer months, this is a perfect spot for a picnic lunch or check out Sea Salt at the park or nearby Jucy Lucy Burgers at Matt’s Bar or the 5-9 Club.
  • Lunch
  • Visit a Museum or the Zoo
  • Dinner in the city: Head to Surly Brewing for some amazing food. They also have a pizza restaurant as well as the Beer Hall with excellent smoked meats and more.
    • Prefer to stay in? Get some pizza to eat back at the hotel!
  • Head back to the hotel and relax or explore at the mall

Day 3: Last Day, Heading Back Home to Wisconsin

  • Pack Up, Casual Breakfast/Brunch 
  • Last-minute souvenirs in the mall
  • Runoff some energy before the drive heading home
    • At the Mall: Aquarium or Crayola Experience
    • Lunch & Shopping at IKEA
    • Minnehaha Falls or Edinborough Park or Nickelodeon Universe or Zoo, Walker 
    • Woodbury Outlet Mall or Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagen on the way out of town
  • Find somewhere to eat nearby or stop at Woodbury on the way home

Mall of America

Things to Do at Mall of America

Located in Bloomington, Minnesota (and conveniently connected to the Radisson Blu hotel), explore more than 500 retail stores and lots of entertainment, including a theme park, mini-golf, aquarium, and more! Mall Attractions >

  • Nickelodeon Park, Mall of America
    • Nickelodeon Park is a seven-acre indoor amusement park in the center of the Mall of America with 27 different rides. Kids will recognize many of their favorite Nickelodeon characters, including Dora, Bubble Guppies, and Backyardigans. Tickets are available as a Point Pass (can be shared and don’t expire) or Unlimited Wristbands (good only on the day of purchase and can’t be shared). Both are available to purchase at the park, but we recommend purchasing them online before to save at least $5. Also, watch for fun photo opportunities with the characters.
      • TIP: The park can get pretty busy during the weekends, but if your kiddos need a little space to run around in the mornings, head there before the open hours. We enjoyed walking around before heading home on Sunday at 10 am. The park doesn’t open until 11 on Sundays.
  • Crayola Experience, Mall of America
    • This creative destination is 60,000 square feet of interactive and hands-on imaginative play. We spent about 3.5 hours creating custom crayons and coloring sheets, artwork, and more. Take a creative break in the indoor playground or grab a bite to eat in the cafeteria-style restaurant. Buy tickets ahead of time online or find an offer on RetailMeNot.
  • Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Mall of America
  • Princess and Diva Spa Fun Shop, Mall of America

The Kids’ Favorite Places to Shop

  • LEGO Store
    • One of our favorite stops was the LEGO store! Make sure to grab your phone or camera for lots of fun photo opportunities. There are also FREE play tables for kiddos, including both bricks for toddlers or bigger kids.
  • The Disney Store
  • Toy Store

Mom’s Favorite Stores

  • Anthropologie
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Zara
  • H&M
  • IKEA (next to the Mall)
FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar

Where to Eat at Mall of America

Staying at Mall of America gives you lots of dining options without fighting traffic! You’ll find most restaurants and eateries on the third level in the South Street Dining area or the Culinary On North in the newest addition to the mall.

Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee & Donuts

Food Courts – Something for Everyone

There are two main food court options on opposite sides of the mall on the second level – South Street Dining Area and the Culinary On North Dining Area. South Street also includes many sit-down restaurants. Both areas offer plenty of options for everyone.

A Sampling of the Casual Dining Restaurants:

  • South Street Dining: Sbarro’s, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Johnny Rockets, Long John Silvers, A&W 
  • Culinary On North Dining: Chick-fil-A, A&W, Piada Italian Street Food, Shake Shack, Panda Express

Casual Dining Restaurants

  • Rainforest Cafe, MOA, Level 3 – South
    • This restaurant is a fun experience for lunch or dinner. Expect to be transported to the rainforest with tropical plants, waterfalls, and animals. The wait can be long during peak times; ask about reservations.
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., MOA, Level 3 – South
    • This casual restaurant is a fun family option based on the “Forest Gump” movie. The menu specializes in shrimp and seafood but also traditional southern comfort food.

Treats

Family-Friendly Places to Eat in the Twin Cities

Venture out for some delish treats or family-friendly choices for lunch or dinner.

  • Pizza Luce, multiple locations: Downtown Minneapolis, Eden Prairie, St. Paul, Seward/University, and Uptown Minneapolis
    • A favorite Minnesota pizza chains
  • Surly Brewing Co., 520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis
    • Enjoy a beer on tap and grab some delicious food. Surly also has a beautiful, large outdoor patio. The Pizza Upstairs is also a great option.
  • Izzy’s Ice Cream, 1100 S 2nd St, Minneapolis
    • Minnesota ice cream company and made with family farm cream from Lamers Dairy! 
  • Keys Café & Bakery, multiple locations, Minneapolis and St. Paul
    • Family Restaurant serving breakfast & classic American fare, plus cakes, cookies & pies.
  • Fuddruckers, 3801 Minnesota Dr, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • This family-friendly option is right off the highway. Enjoy what they claim as the “World’s Greatest Hamburger” and the Fuddruckers legendary Build Your Own® market-fresh produce bar with lots of sandwich fixings including tomatoes, lettuce, onions, dill pickles, pico de gallo, Fudds cheese sauce, and more. They also have a great kids’ menu.

Indoor Things to Do with Kids in the Minneapolis Area

Cold, rainy, intensely hot? No problem. There’s plenty to indoors around Minneapolis. 

  • Minnesota Children’s Museum, 10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul, Minnesota
    • Interactive exhibits on earth, art, and nature with three floors of fun for the whole family. Explore a laser maze, pretend town, maker space, wacky car wash, toddler play area, and more.
  • Science Museum of Minnesota, 120 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, Minnesota
    • Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, the museum has plenty of exploring for the entire family, with 370,000 square feet of space. It includes a 10,000 square-foot temporary exhibit gallery, five permanent galleries, acres of outdoor space, and an Imax Convertible Dome Omnitheater.
  • The Bakken Library and Museum, 3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • A historic mansion, unique collections, medicinal gardens, dynamic exhibits, and rich educational experiences in science, technology, and the humanities.
  • The Works Museum, 9740 Grand Avenue, Bloomington, Minnesota
    • The Works is an interactive children’s museum in Bloomington, Minnesota, focusing on technology and engineering for ages 5 to 12.
  • Edinborough Park, 7700 York Ave S, Edina, Minnesota
    • Runoff some energy in the City of Edina’s 1-acre indoor park, which includes one of the largest indoor play structures in the country and a multi-purpose play area with unique riding toys and a bounce house. General Admission is just $7 for kids and adults, and children under one are free. Both adults and kids need socks.
  • Wild Rumpus, 2720 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • This little shop is more than just a bookstore and a great place to pick up a couple of books for a long ride home. Meet one of the many cute animal “workers”: Amelia and Mr. Skeeter – the chinchillas, Astrid and Zita – the mice, Booker T, Trini Lopez and Walter Dean – the kitties, Thomas Jefferson – the spider, as well as birds, a chicken, ferrets, and fish!
  • The Cafe Meow, 2323 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis
    • Coffee shop and the cat lounge. Make sure to reserve a couple of days before visiting.

Outdoor Things to Do with Kids in the Minneapolis Area

In the warmer months, enjoy all of the outdoor adventures that Minneapolis has to offer your family! 

  • Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, 1225 Estabrook Dr, St. Paul, Minnesota
    • The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is just a short drive from the Mall of America. One of the best exhibits is the Polar Bear Odyssey; meet the adorable twin bears Buzz and Neil. Also, enjoy the six indoor gardens and beautiful outdoor spaces at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.
    • Admission: FREE (though donations are gladly accepted)
  • Como Town, 1301 Midway Pkwy, St Paul, Minnesota
    • Outdoor amusement park with traditional and modern rides and also a splash pad. Recommended for ages 2-12. Located right next to the Como Park Zoo.
    • Admission: Unlimited day wristbands or tickets sold
  • Minnehaha Falls, 4801 S Minnehaha Drive, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • This beautiful park’s main attraction is a 53-foot waterfall. Also, enjoy limestone bluffs, river overlooks, walking paths, wading pool, playground, and more. Wheel Fun Rentals have bikes and surreys available to rent and super fun for families!
    • Admission: FREE, Metered City Parking
  • Minnesota Zoo, 13000 Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley
    • The Minnesota Zoo is just a short drive from the Mall of America and is located on 485 acres and is home to more than 4,500 animals and 505 species.
    • Special attractions include a carousel, family farm, splash pad, interactive nature-based play area, and immersive nature-play area.
    • Admission: Ages 3-12 : $13, Ages 13-64: $19.95, 2 and younger: Free
      Additional cost for parking
  • Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker, Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis
  • Mural Hunting

  • Free or discounted general admission to hundreds of participating institutions across the country in the Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Network (get 50% off general admission for up to six (6) people at museums participating in the network) or Association of Science-Technology Centers Travel Passport Program (Free general admission to science centers & museums located outside 90 miles of the science center or museum where you are a member. Free general admission to science centers & museums located outside 90 miles of your residence. Check the ASTC website for exclusions and benefits). Check out each program’s website for more info

Go Valley Kids received some complimentary accommodations to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are our own.

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