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School Break 'Staycations' For Kids of All Ages

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Minnesota Zoo close encounters / Minnesota Zoo
Family Fun // Article

School Break 'Staycations' For Kids of All Ages

By Caitlin Hannah

Whether it's MEA weekend, winter, spring, fall or summer break, or any number of holidays, there's always another school break just around the corner. Do you have plans to keep your kids busy?

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.

Two girls look at wolves through glass at the International Wolf Center

The International Wolf Center in Ely tells the story of and protects this incredible species / Lucy Hawthorne

Elementary & Preschool

Aquariums & Zoos

Do your kids go wild for animals? Escape the cold and immerse yourself in tropical weather on the Minnesota Zoo’s Tropics Trail or pay a visit to their newest addition, 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. 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

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 newly renovated Minnesota Children's Museum, which added 10 new permanent exhibits in 2017.

The Headwaters Science Museum 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 back and better than ever. Now located on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus, the sparkling new facility is home to 10,000 year-old fossils, incredible wildlife dioramas, a full-scale wooly mammoth and the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium.

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 will be showing "Owl Moon," and in Minneapolis, the Children’s Theatre Company is performing a rendition of "The Hobbit," based on the beloved book by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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, the newest addition to the Minnesota shopping scene 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? You get WhirlyBall! This fun sport is a great group activity in Maple Grove. The entertainment destination also features the largest laser-tag arena in the state.

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.

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 Turf Club 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

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. 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. Click here for a full list. Or, click here for a list of water parks without lodging attached.

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.