I have wanted to visit the Twin Cities for a long time now, but honestly, it seemed overwhelming! Holding the title of the 15th largest U.S metro, where do we go? What do we do? Where do we stay?
Luckily, the Roseville Visitors Association is awesome at helping families figure it all out. It was like having our own personal travel guide. We joined up with a group of other really fun bloggers to enjoy the Twin Cities!
Don’t we make a cute bunch? Even in the rain, we had a great day at the Minnesota State Fair.
Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted, however, all opinions expressed in this article are completely ours and based on our own family’s unique experience.
Roseville, Minnesota is the perfect place to stay while visiting the Twin Cities. Roseville is just ten minutes from both downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul. It’s a bit further north for Iowa families, but totally worth the extra few minutes drive for all the amenities and easy access.
SIX places your family can’t miss when visiting the Twin Cities!
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
The beautifully historic Como Park Zoo is FREE! Home to a wide variety of animals, the zoo offers a unique array of well designed exhibits including beautiful gardens and a tropical rainforest.
The zoo offers several educational programs and group tours. Please call ahead to plan your group’s event or tour. We enjoyed the Zoo Tour! For two hours we went behind-the-scenes and helped make enrichment treats for the polar bears, who ate our treats later in the tour. We fed the giraffes and learned the fascinating history of the zoo. Did you know the zoo used to walk cheetahs on a leash like dogs and let park guests pet them? Fortunately, wonderful conservation efforts are now in place to provide guest with exciting animal encounters while still encouraging the animals to retain their natural instincts.
We absolutely loved going behind-the-scenes and seeing the giraffes up close. The tour is one of several Signature Experiences in Saint Paul. Geared toward groups of 10 or more people, Signature Experiences offer guests rare behind-the-scenes tours and activities throughout the city.
The education department of the Como Park Zoo offers numerous programs and classrooms. One fun activity was making enrichment snacks for the polar bears. You can see the polar bear enjoying his treat!
The Como Park Zoo is always working on improvements and changes. Coming soon will be a new sea lion habitat and show for Sparky (the sea lion).
In addition to the wonderful animal encounters, Como Park Zoo has a stunning conservatory, ponds, parks, antique carousel and Como Town Amusement Park. The amusement park is family-friendly with free activities and events throughout the summer. Rides and some attractions charge a fee. Don’t forget to come prepared for the splash park, free with Hodge Podge Park admission.
Parking at the Como Park Zoo can be challenging like all urban cities. Make sure to read over the parking directions on the website before your visit. Early arrival is recommended because the lots fill up quickly. If you have any concerns, chat with the Roseville Visitors Association. They’ll help you out with all the details.
Can Can Wonderland
Can Can Wonderland is an incredibly unique entertainment venue. The eclectic artistic atmosphere reminds me of The City Museum in St. Louis.
The highlight of Can Can Wonderland is the indoor 18 hole mini golf. EVERY SINGLE HOLE is amazing, with lights, sounds or moving parts. It’s the coolest mini golf I have ever seen. We throughly enjoyed the challenge along with the creativity. Make sure to read through the mini-golf rules. Children 5 years and younger are not allowed to play and only 5 players per group.
Hours are Thurs-Sunday. After 9pm is for the 21+ crowd. Closed Mon-Wed. Check out their website for more information including the menu. Large groups are welcome and can reserve specific space. Call ahead to make plans. Bring cash and coins for the more than 40 vintage pinball and arcade games.
Having just opened a year ago, Can Can Wonderland is only in its infancy. More plans are in the works to include a possible slide, activities for those under 5 years old, rooftop mini-golf, a historical train and private event space. You can see that these artist are just getting started!
Finding Can Can Wonderland can be a bit challenging. Grab the underground parking directions here and watch our cool video for a more details.
Walker Art Sculpture Garden
Wandering through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden & Wurtele Upper Garden is relaxing after a busy day of city fun! Located across the street and around the Walker Art Center, children can interact with several of the 57 different art pieces, including “Swinging on the Arikidea” by Mark di Suvero.
Taking in the urban vibe from the patio at Esker Grove Café was one of my favorite times during our visit.
Outdoor artist-designed mini golf is open daily. Take a look at the Walker Art Center website for parking details and admission fees into the center, free nights and more. Restrooms are located near the mini golf and inside the art center. Families or groups of students can request a guided tour through the art center. Stroller friendly.
Science Museum of Minnesota
Science Museum of Minnesota is a true Midwest gem. At a staggering six levels and home to the National Park Service Mississippi River Visitor Center, there is more fun and learning then can be fit into one day!
The museum is well equipped to handle large groups and has around a dozen classrooms. Consider making arrangements for your students to do one of the many educational programs they offer, including Mazes.
Our kids suited up and hit the Cell Lab (8+ years) to do some experiments with their own cells. Several stations are set up for teams of two. We tried the cheek cell experiment. It was around 20 minutes and was very kid friendly. The staff was great and helped out when we needed.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to experience the William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater (Imax) and watch Journey to the South Pacific. To get the full benefits of an Imax theatre, sit in the middle section. However, if you’re like me and tend to get motion sickness, the outside edge in the back is the perfect spot. We have never seen a film before on an Imax screen and it was amazing! I am ready to take a tropical vacation now.
Plan ahead for driving and parking. The museum has its own parking garage with reasonable rates, but consider using the Metro Transit services to scoot around town.
THAT Cooking School
Taking a cooking class might not be the first thing that pops into your mind for a vacation idea, but it really works great with kids! THAT Cooking School is founded on the principles of Teaching, Heart and Team building. They invite everyone, including young children, to have a little fun in the kitchen. Six different cooking stations, a dinning room and patio offer lots of hosting options.
Celebrate a birthday, bring together your extended family in a cookoff challenge such as “30 Minute to Cook It!” or host your youth sports team or group to a workshop like “Cupcake Wars”. Whatever the size and make-up of your group, chat with the chefs at THAT Cooking School to organize the perfect recipe for fun.
Looking for a place to rest in the Twin Cities?
Courtyard By Marriott is among the eleven hotels (all with free parking) in Roseville. Named for the beautiful landscaping, walking paths and courtyard, it’s easy to relax on the patio at the Courtyard By Marriott.