Riders do a 360-degree loop on the orange, Corkscrew roller coaster at Valleyfair

Valleyfair, Minnesota Zoo & Other Family Favorites in the Twin Cities

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Get ready for high speeds and 360-loops on the gravity-defying Corkscrew roller coaster at Valleyfair / Valleyfair

Valleyfair, Minnesota Zoo & Other Family Favorites in the Twin Cities

By Erica Wacker

From roller coasters to river otters, there are plenty of ways to keep the kids entertained in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Whether you're traveling with preschoolers or preteens, you'll find no shortage of fun for the whole family here.

Here are just 10 family-friendly attractions to add to your list.

  1. Bell Museum
    Boy looking up at a woolly mammoth replica at the Bell Museum

    The larger-than-life woolly mammoth is just one of the amazing exhibits at the Bell Museum in St. Paul

    Bell Museum

    One of the Twin Cities' newest museums, the Bell Museum takes visitors on a journey through the natural history of the area, with lifelike wildlife dioramas and a to-scale woolly mammoth replica. The museum also features the country's first seamless dome planetarium. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

  2. Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
    Como Zoo boy at polar bear exhibit

    Como Zoo in St. Paul is home to a world-class polar bear exhibit

    Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

    Sparky the sea lion (who has a brand-new home), a polar bear and a gorilla exhibit join an impressive flower conservatory, amusement park and historic carousel at this St. Paul family favorite. Admission to the zoo and conservatory are free; donations are accepted. Open daily.

  3. Great Wolf Lodge
    Water slide at waterpark Great Wolf Lodge Bloomington

    Kids and parents love the indoor water slides at Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington

    Great Wolf Lodge

    Guests of Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington get unlimited access to the indoor waterpark, with added fun on the ropes course, arcade, mini bowling alley and live-action MagiQuest adventure game. Visitors can also buy day passes to the waterpark. Open daily.

  4. Mill City Museum
    Stone Arch Bridge and Mill City district

    The Stone Arch Bridge sits next to the trendy Mill City district in Minneapolis / Mike Krivit Photography, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

    Mill City Museum

    Visitors of all ages will learn about Minneapolis’ flour-milling history in an iconic setting at the Mill City Museum, a Minnesota Historical Society site in one of the city's prettiest neighborhoods. Open Tuesday-Sunday plus summer Mondays.

  5. Minnesota Children's Museum
    Giant slide at Minnesota Children's Museum

    After summiting the Minnesota Children's Museum's four-story indoor play area, The Scramble, kids can zip back down on the epic twisty slide

    Minnesota Children's Museum

    The Minnesota Children's Museum in downtown St. Paul features a multi-story climbing area and giant slide, expanded toddler play area and an air-and-water rooftop gallery, plus a cafe and coffee bar. Open Tuesday-Sunday plus Mondays in the summer.

  6. Minnesota History Center
    Minnesota History Center children looking at exhibit

    Children looking at exhibit at the Minnesota History Center / Willette Photography, Inc., courtesy Meet Minneapolis

    Minnesota History Center

    This interactive St. Paul museum features multiple permanent and changing exhibits in a stunning setting, complete with picture windows overlooking the State Capitol. The kids will love the popular “Then Now Wow” exhibit, where they can take apart a bison and explore a life-sized teepee and sod house. Open Tuesday-Sunday plus Monday holidays.

  1. Minnesota Zoo
    Minnesota Zoo

    Farm babies and snow monkeys are among the favorites at this year-round Apple Valley attraction, featuring an array of indoor and outdoor habitats for exotic and native species alike. Watch for special events at the Minnesota Zoo like close encounters with the critters and the annual beach party, as well as seasonal exhibits like the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular for Halloween. Open daily.

  2. Science Museum of Minnesota
    Accessible Sportsology Science Museum of Minnesota

    A young wheelchair user explores the Science Museum of Minnesota's Sportsology exhibit

    Science Museum of Minnesota

    Visiting exhibits and an Omnitheater add to the appeal of the multilevel Science Museum of Minnesota, which overlooks the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul and also houses a visitor center for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Permanent highlights include the dinosaur and fossil gallery, exhibits on race and the human body, and sensory-friendly Sundays for families with special needs. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

  3. Valleyfair
    Valleyfair roller coaster

    Valleyfair is the Upper Midwest's largest amusement park / Valleyfair


    The Upper Midwest's largest amusement park, Valleyfair in Shakopee is home to more than 75 rides and attractions, including eight big coasters, Planet Snoopy for the littler kids and Soak City Waterpark. Open mid-May to October.

  4. The Works Museum
    The Works Museum

    Engineering is the focus at this hands-on Bloomington museum that aims to make learning memorable and fun. 

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.