Are you heading to Minneapolis with the family this summer? Check out this guide to the top summer activities in Twin Cities.
Minneapolis might be best known as one half of the “Twin Cities,” but for families who have enjoyed summer vacations there, it’s also widely considered one of the Midwest’s sparkling gems. It’s one of America’s northernmost cities, known for its cold, snowy winters. But for families visiting during summer, there are tons of things to do in Minneapolis. Nestled along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, there is a sparkling hub of outdoor recreation and tons of fun, family-friendly attractions for all ages.
Go to a Minneapolis Fair or Festival
When the weather heats up, so does the city’s schedule of events. The entire Twin Cities region comes to life after the long winter and spring thaw, which means fun times ahead for locals and visitors with outstanding family-friendly fairs, festivals and events of all kinds. A few of the June highlights include St. Anthony Park’s annual Arts Festival that features more than 70 artists, live music, art activities and food, and St. Paul’s International Children’s Festival, which is geared toward delighting kids of all ages with its interactive theater performances and live entertainment.
In July, everyone in Minneapolis heads to Eagan’s Central Park, located about 15 miles from downtown, for the Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highlands Games. But the fireworks at the Minneapolis Aquatennial is what consistently gets rave reviews — it is considered among the top five displays in the nation.
Once August rolls around, visitors are in for some of Minneapolis’s biggest events, including its Renaissance Festival, which has been running for more than 45 seasons. The entire family can immerse themselves in the world of knights, peasants, and royalty with dozens of performances, tons of vendors and even some medieval grub. This festival typically runs every weekend from mid-August through early October. Minneapolis bids goodbye to summer with its epic Minnesota State Fair, a 12-day festival leading up to Labor Day. Kids particularly love its amusement rides, live animals, exhibits, food on a stick, and plenty of people watching opportunities.
Experience Thrills at Area Amusement Parks
Summer days are made for rides, thrills, and entertainment. Minneapolis amusement parks offer it all — both indoors and out. Valleyfair! is an all-ages amusement park with more than 75 rides, including eight coasters and a cool waterpark just a half hour’s drive away in nearby Shakopee. St. Paul’s Como Town is another great option, although it has slightly tamer rides, making it ideal for families with younger kids.
Even rainy days won’t get you down with the Mall of America’s indoor park, Nickelodeon Universe, which is also the largest indoor theme park in the country. You’ll explore more than seven acres, and 27 rides including a roller coaster. Plus, there are plenty of places to eat and an assortment of live entertainment to keep you occupied all day long.
Go Museum Hopping
Spend the day going from museum-to-museum, or just work them in around other stops on your list of things to do in Minneapolis. The city, which has quietly been emerging as a Midwestern cultural gem, has some outstanding museums that are both entertaining and educational.
For example, kids will love looking at the riverside ruins, and you’ll enjoy learning about the history behind Mill City Museum, which highlights the city’s history as the “Flour Milling Capital.” It offers a self-guided tour of the exhibit gallery, a movie that lets you see “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat,” a multimedia show in the Flour Tour, and an observation deck with some of the best views of the Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls. Many of the interactive exhibits and quirky sculptures at Walker Art Museum, a contemporary art museum that’s received national attention, are kid-friendly and thought-provoking. Bonus points for snagging a family photo in front of the Spoonbridge and Cherry fountain.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
In 2017, Minneapolis celebrated five consecutive years of earning the top spot on the Trust for Public Land’s ranking of the 100 best large city park systems. Families love the magical summer outdoor recreation here, where they can spend the day walking around Lake Calhoun or lounging on one of its beaches, strolling along the 13-mile Chain of Lakes pathways, or biking around the city.
But it might be the beautiful Minnehaha waterfall that steals the show. You can picnic in the park, walk the trails, and even splash around in the shoreline when you visit this regional park. Many families with older children get a different perspective of the falls with a kayak tour from Above the Fall Sports, which offers an “Exploring the Gorge Tour” that takes you from downtown Minneapolis, past the Mill City District, and down the Mississippi River to the picturesque Minnehaha waterfall.
Catch a Game
Summer and Minneapolis baseball games go hand in hand. Seeing a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field is more than just a few hours watching a ballgame. It’s a real experience. The stadium itself is one of the best in Major League Baseball. Plus, it’s located in the heart of the city’s Warehouse District, surrounded by tons of things to do, see, and eat before or after the game. Visit some great rooftop eateries such as Union Restaurant, with its glass-enclosed, retractable rooftop, and Seven Steak & Sushi that serves sushi and more — all with a view.
What’s your favorite family-friendly summer activity to do in Minneapolis? Let us know if your top choice made our list by tagging us in your suggestions on Twitter.