Quick Travel for Fun Times in the Twin Cities Minneapolis and St. Paul {activities and travel tips}

Two and half years ago my family moved to a burb just outside of the Twin Cities. For all of you that are not from the Mid-West, the Twin Cities is what us locals call the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota area. I am originally from ND and while growing up our big family vacations were always to the Twin Cities. Even though I have been a resident for over 2 1/2 years, I still feel like a tourist. I get excited when I drive the 20 minute commute into the cities and get to see the city skyline (there isn’t much “city skyline” in ND!) So whenever we get the chance and have a free weekend that isn’t packed full of house cleaning and projects, we like to play tourist in our little corner of the world. This past weekend my parents were in town and we used them as an excuse to paint the town red!

We started the weekend off at the Mall of America (MOA). The MOA boasts 520 stores, 50 restaurants, Nickelodeon Universe, a 1.2 million gallon aquarium at Underwater Adventure, Lego Land, it hosts 350 plus events each year and over 5,000 couples have gotten married at the MOA.

On a previous trip to the MOA we took our boys (1 and 2 at the time) to Underwater Adventure where they had a blast oooing, ahhing and squealing with delight as they inched their way through the tunnel of fish and sharks. They were even able to pet sting rays and my oldest was very excited about the fish tank full of Dori and Nemo fish!

Travel to the Twin Cities Minneapolis/St. Paul Underwater Adventure momspark.net

**I am the one in the picture pushing the stroller looking straight at the ground. This was my first and last attempt to conquer my fear of fish. A mild panic attack happened moments after this photo was taken. Next time we go to the Underwater Adventure, I will be waiting in the gift shop!

This past weekend we spent the bulk of our MOA visit riding the rides at Nickelodeon Universe. This place is HUGE and has so much to offer for all ages. I love that it is indoors so no matter what the weather you can ride the rides and play the games. My boys favor the train ride, Diego’s bus ride and of course the carousel. However, there are rides for every age. When I am not pregnant I love hitting the big roller coasters!

Travel to the Twin Cities Minneapolis/St. Paul momspark.net

We had lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe and the boys dined on mac ‘n cheese and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. Rain Forest Cafe is kind of pricey, you definitely pay for the atmosphere. The food is good though, so it is worth the price. A warning from one Mom to another, if your child doesn’t like thunderstorms this is not the place for you. Every 20 minutes there is a simulated storm where the lights flash and thunder claps over the speakers.

After lunch we spent an hour just wandering around and window shopping. And let me tell you this, wear tennis shoes. The MOA is not the place to sport your new heals. Each level of the mall is just over half a mile around. There are four levels. There is a lot of walking to be done at the MOA!

The boys went to bed that night exhausted but excited for the following day because we promised them dinosaurs. And when we promise dinosaurs, we deliver… or to be more accurate the Minnesota Children’s Museum delivers!

Travel to the Twin Cities Minneapolis/St. Paul Children's Museum momspark.net

I had never been the MN Children’s Museum before so it was almost as exciting for me as it was for the boys. There was so much to see and do for both parent and child. The best part of it was that there are so many different hands on exhibits. They dug through rocks to find dinosaur fossils, sent boats down an aqueduct system, blew bubbles, made a music video in front of a green screen, went shopping at the supermarket,  made paper out of recycled materials and so much more. I don’t think ever once had to say, “Don’t touch that!” or “Use your inside voices!” This place was made for kids. My pregnant feet appreciated the benches through out the entire museum. There is a lot of downtime for the parents. Because it is so kid friendly you can sit back, relax and enjoy watching your kids explore. I will say one bad thing about the museum though, the lighting in most of the exhibits made it really hard to get a decent photo. My husband was able to snap this pic while crawling after the boys through the ant tunnels (which were probably my boys’ favorite part)!

Travel to the Twin Cities Minneapolis/St. Paul Children's Museum momspark.net

The Mall of America and the MN Children’s Museum were about all the excitement that my boys could handle for one weekend. However, there is a lot more to do in the Twin Cities and after playing tourist for over 2 1/2 years we have barely scratched the surface.

Here is a quick look at some of the other adventures we have went on since moving to the Twin Cities and other favorite Twin City attractions:

The Minnesota Zoo where the boys got to feed a giraffe, watch a dolphin show, and see all of their favorite animals!

Travel to the Twin Cities Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota Zoo momspark.net

Grand Ave: A street full of fantastic shops and restaurants including a great natural toy store, an award winning locally owned bookstore, and the best ice cream on the planet!

Valley Fair: A fun amusement park with tons of roller coasters both new and also old wooden ones. There is a great water park within the park too.

MN State Fair

Padelford Riverboats

Minnesota Twins Game They just started playing in the new outdoor field!

Chanhassen Dinner Theatre This would be something for someone with kids that are a bit older. I remember seeing Can Can at Chanhassen when I was about 12 years old and being blown away. The show was great but honestly my favorite part was that  my sister and I were able to order bottomless Shirley Temples with extra cherries (I am not sure if they still do this). Yum!

Science Museum of Minnesota

The Twin Cities are a wonderful place to live and to vacation. There is so much to do and see all year around. I forget sometimes all that the cities have to offer. After copying and pasting all of those links I  have not not even began to talk about all the beautiful parks and lakes that are open to the public. Minnesota is known for its 10,000 lakes after all!

I know in this economy everyone is cutting back, especially on traveling. So if you are only dreaming of vacations (like I was while reading Amy’s Orlando post!) remember that it is fun, inexpensive and relaxing to play tourist in your own area. I know not all of you live near a major city with everything it has to offer, but you can still play tourist in your own area. Just think, no hotel bills, the kids can sleep in their own bed and you don’t have to spend a week doing vacation laundry when you get home!