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School Break 'Staycations' For Kids of All Ages

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The International Wolf Center in Ely / Lucy Hawthorne
Family Fun // Things to Do // Article

School Break 'Staycations' For Kids of All Ages

By Caitlin Hannah

There are plenty of things to do and see in Minnesota, both indoors and out, for kids of all ages. From children’s museums for younger kids to indoor rock climbing with your high schoolers, your Minnesota school break staycation awaits whether it's winter, spring, fall or summer. 

National Eagle Center eagle feeding Wabasha

National Eagle Center / Jackie Scherer

ELEMENTERY & PRESCHOOL

Aquariums & Zoos

Do your kids go wild for animals? Escape the cold at one of the many zoos in Minnesota! You can immerse yourself in tropical weather on the Minnesota Zoo’s Tropics Trail or pay a visit to a baby Malayan tapir. Stroll through the Como Zoo to see a variety of animals and watch Chloe the sloth while being surrounded by lush tropical plants.

Go underwater at SEA LIFE at Mall of America or the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. See snakes, alligators and other reptiles at the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo (RAD Zoo) in Medford or Snake Discovery in Maplewood. To view animals in their natural habitat, visit the North American Bear Center and International Wolf Center in Ely, the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, the Wildlife Center in Columbus or the Raptor Center in St. Paul.

Family at Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato

Learning is fun at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato

Museums & Play Spaces

A Minnesota staycation can be educational, too, at one of the state’s many museums. Explore the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato and let the kids blow off some steam at the Mankato Clinic Tree of Forts Climber. In downtown St. Paul, treat your kids to a day at the Minnesota Children's Museum, or explore Otter Cove Children's Museum in downtown Fergus Falls. The Works Museum in Bloomington and The Bakken Museum in Minneapolis focus on STEM and hopes to inspire the next generation of innovators. 

The Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji features more than 70 hands-on interactive exhibits. Kids can hold a snake or bunny, make a harmongraph picture, watch the kinetic sculpture and gaze at the saltwater aquarium. The Bell Museum is is home to 10,000 year-old fossils, incredible wildlife dioramas, a full-scale wooly mammoth and the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium.

Find indoor play spaces at the MiniSota Play Café in Maple Grove, Edinborough Park in Edina, Good Times Park in Eagan, or Lookout Ridge Indoor Playground in Woodbury.

Exterior Minneapolis Institute of Art and Children's Theatre

The Children's Theatre Co. shares a building with Mia / Courtesy Mia

Theater & Entertainment

Your little ones will love seeing their favorite stories come to life. The Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins and the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis are designed for families, offer rush tickets and more. Past productions have included Matilda Jr., Spookley the Square Pumpkin, A Year with Frog and Toad, Alice in Wonderland and more.

Everything Else

Visit LARK Toys in Kellogg to see one of the largest toy stores in the country. Take a ride on the hand-carved wooden carousel, browse the LARK-made wooden toys, games and puzzles, or enjoy handmade fudge in the cafe.

Giant Astronaut sculpture at Science Museum of Minnesota

This giant astronaut sculpture greets visitors in the Science Museum of Minnesota's sunny atrium / Science Museum of Minnesota

MIDDLE & HIGH SCHOOL

Museums

The Science Museum of Minnesota's vibrant, open space spans four floors of engaging exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to the human body, the Mississippi River, race, questionable medical devices and Legos. More of a moviegoer? Kids love the Science Museum’s 90-foot, giant dome screen Omnitheater.

Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan

Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan

Shopping

Minnesota is a haven for shopping, and Mall of America is just the beginning. If you’re looking for the latest styles or a one-of-a-kind antique, there are plenty of spots to explore. Score a great deal at an outlet mall like the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan. Take a few days and go on a mall crawl from Albertville to North Branch.

Barnacle Blast Nickelodeon Universe Mall of America

Ride the Barnacle Blast zip line at Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America

Entertainment

What do you get when you mix basketball, hockey, lacrosse and bumper cars? WhirlyBall! This fun sport is a great group activity in Maple Grove and Bloomington. In St. Louis Park, step into virtual reality at REM5 Virtual Reality Lab, where groups can rent a VR Pod to access a catalog of world-class VR experiences.

Fly through Mall of America on the Barnacle Blast, the largest indoor zip line in North America, or experience Dutchman’s Deck, an adventure course featuring the tallest ropes course in the world, challenging guests to climb 56 feet above Nickelodeon Universe. Find other thrills at FlyOver America, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf or The Escape Game

Exterior of First Avenue in Minneapolis

Formerly a Greyhound bus depot, First Avenue is now Minnesota's premier live music venue / First Avenue, courtesy Meet Minneapolis

COLLEGE

Concerts & Shows

Minnesota has a wide array of venues that attract local independent artists and world-renowned bands. The Twin Cities have been a hot spot for decades with venues like First Avenue, the Palace Theater, and the Cedar Cultural Center, but other areas of the state are also draws.

Girl climbing at Vertical Endeavors in Duluth

Girl climbing at Vertical Endeavors in Duluth / Krista Mathes

Sports

Have you ever wanted to try rock climbing? Vertical Endeavors caters to families looking for an afternoon of fun and can even challenge serious climbers. The St. Paul location is the largest indoor rock climbing facility in the country. Vertical Endeavors also has locations in Duluth and Minneapolis. Rental equipment is available.

Flight of beers at Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors

A flight of beer from Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors / Brian Jeremiason

Craft Breweries

Check out the craft beverage scene across the state. Some notable spots for local beer include Canal Park Brewery in Duluth and Voyageur Brewing in Grand Marais, which uses the clean waters of Lake Superior to brew its beers. LynLake Brewery is located in an old movie theater in Minneapolis and Excelsior Brewing is in the heart of this charming town. Swing by Surly Brewing to marvel at the destination brewpub.

Family on top of Lutsen Mountains

Family on top of Lutsen Mountains

OPEN CURRICULUM (ALL AGES)

Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding 

Minnesota has some of the highest hills in the Midwest and offers something for every level, from bunny hills to terrain parks. Spend your spring break along the North Shore at Lutsen Mountain or visit Minnesota’s newest ski area, Detroit Mountain in Detroit Lakes. Many ski and snowboard areas offer snow tubing for even more thrills. For a special experience, check out their special laser tubing nights. Browse our database to find a ski area near you.

Girl at Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark in Bloomington

It's always 84 degrees at Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington 

Waterparks

Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria’s tropical-themed park has three 4-story waterslides and a relaxing lazy river. Little swimmers will love the children’s fort area with water sprayers, geysers and a 500-gallon splash bucket.

In Thief River Falls, visit The Seven Clans Casino waterpark to enjoy four large waterslides, three mini-slides, two hot tubs, a lazy river and more. Near Mall of America, Great Wolf Lodge boasts 75,000 square foot water park with several water slides, ropes courses, climbing walls, a zero-depth pool for little ones, their interactive adventure game, MagiQuest and more.

Find more family fun ideas and indoor water parks throughout Minnesota. 

Caitlin Hannah

Caitlin Hannah is Explore Minnesota's social media strategist and resident Disney expert. She grew up spending summer weekends at her family's lake cabin in Detroit Lakes, and brings that "up north" attitude to everything she does. When traveling around the state, she likes trying new restaurants and taprooms, or watching Minnesota hockey.