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Fun & Learning Flourish at Children's Museums

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Children playing at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota, Mankato / Visit Mankato

Fun & Learning Flourish at Children's Museums

By Erica Wacker

Kids have plenty of places to play in Minnesota, from zoos to indoor waterparks to parks and playgrounds. Also high on this list are children’s museums, which can be found in Duluth, Grand Rapids, St. Paul, Bloomington, Rochester and Mankato. Rotating exhibits, special events and hands-on activities will delight kids of all ages—and even teach them something in the process.

  1. Minnesota Children's Museum, St. Paul & Rochester
    Kids climb on interactive safety cone exhibit

    Kids climb up an interactive safety cone installation at the Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul

    Minnesota Children's Museum, St. Paul & Rochester

    Often touted as one of the best of its kind in the country, the Minnesota Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul features 65,000 square feet of fun and welcomes more than 400,000 visitors a year. The museum is organized into different "worlds," which focus on topics including the environment, art, science and exploration. A satellite location of the St. Paul museum opened in Rochester in 2012, where the Imagination Playground encourages kids to play and build things together. 

  2. Duluth Children's Museum
    Duluth Children's Museum

    The 10,000-square-foot Duluth Children's Museum features a dinosaur dig area, an engineering lab, an interactive bank and stock market, a magnetic wall and more, in addition to special exhibits. Other highlights include two real field jackets: plaster casings that paleontologists use to safely transport fossils and other delicate specimens. The museum is focused on furthering its STEM education opportunities, in addition to appealing to the younger set.

  3. The Works Museum, Bloomington
    Girl soldering at The Works Museum

    Kids can experiment with circuit boards at Bloomington's STEM-focused The Works Museum  / Bloomington CVB

    The Works Museum, Bloomington

    Future scientists and engineers will find many ways to stimulate their brains at this interactive Twin Cities museum. In the Design Lab, families can make their own catapults, experiment with circuits and learn about wind power. The Sensor Zone lets kids explore light, sound and thermal energy. Don’t miss the K’Nex Ball Machine, a giant kinetic sculpture built by a University of Minnesota student. Standing 23 feet tall and incorporating more than 100,000 K’Nex pieces, the lobby structure runs all day transporting plastic balls around tracks, down ramps and chutes, and up elevators.

  4. Children's Discovery Museum, Grand Rapids
    Children's Discovery Museum, Grand Rapids

    This northeast Minnesota museum lets kids dig for dinosaur fossils, learn about geography, navigate a maze and operate a replica dam. It’s open six days a week in summer and Fridays and Saturdays in fall and winter, and the $8 admission includes access to the attached Judy Garland Museum. There, “Wizard of Oz” fans can see memorabilia from the classic movie, including a 3,000-piece exhibit and the carriage from the Emerald City scene

  5. Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota, Mankato
    Family at Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato

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

    Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota, Mankato

    This children's museum in Mankato connects visitors to the surrounding area with hands-on exhibits about farming, quarrying, engineering and more. Babies and toddlers can romp on the Play Porch (inspired by the Betsy-Tacy novels by Mankato native Maud Hart Lovelace), while teens and adults can get a taste of STEM education in the Makers Space.

Erica Wacker

Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.