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A Family Weekend in the Twin Cities

Now that we’re in the midst of autumn, families might be looking for weekend getaways to enjoy the fall weather. Minneapolis-St. Paul probably isn’t the first destination that comes to mind, but it should be.

Though the Mall of America is one of the more famous spots in the Twin Cities, there is so much more to do and see. Kids and adults alike will love this weekend itinerary that gets you outside and mingling with the locals.


Kick off your weekend in the capital city of Saint Paul. Stroll Grand Avenue for some shopping, then duck into one of the many cozy cafes for lunch. One block north is Summit Avenue, where you can take a walking tour to see mansions and historic homes such as the F. Scott Fitzgerald House and Saint Paul Cathedral.

Next, go to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. It is free with a suggested donation of $3 per person. Use the money you saved on admission for an unforgettable experience feeding the giraffes for only $5.

If you choose to visit during the colder months, go warm up in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. The lush greenery will spark your little one’s love for nature. Adults and older kids can read about the ecosystems and plants within each exhibit or simply relax with a warm beverage and a book on one of the benches.


Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” so I would suggest starting your morning with a scenic stroll around Lake Harriet. It’s stroller-friendly and doing a lap of the entire lake takes about 45 minutes. There are playgrounds around the lake where your little one can even use up some energy.

If you’re in the mood for a low-key activity, swing by the Wild Rumpus bookstore. The front of the store looks like your average bookshop, but as you walk farther back you are meant to feel like you’re in the wild. There are even live animals roaming the store.

In the afternoon, you can head to downtown Minneapolis to see Start the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home of 40 artworks. Kids will enjoy posing in front of the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture. Parents will love the combination of culture and the great outdoors.

Be sure to also check out the Minneapolis Skyway System. With the weather being cold much of the year, these indoor pedestrian footbridges connect the buildings of the downtown area. Use the skyway system to get to Nicollet Mall or Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, for a tour.

End your day with a visit to the Stone Arch Bridge on the Mississippi. Enjoy a view of Saint Anthony Falls and read about their history on a self-guided walking tour. After dark, bask in the glow of the Minneapolis skyline.

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East of the Twin Cities lies the charming town of Stillwater in the St. Croix Valley. It boasts an adorable Main Street with boutiques, restaurants and antique shops.

Your first stop is Teddy Bear Park, a perfect spot for families with young kids. Children of different ages can enjoy the multiple jungle gyms. Don’t forget to pose for a picture in front of one of the adorable teddy bear sculptures.

To enjoy St. Croix River vistas, spread a blanket for a picnic lunch in Pioneer Park. It’s perched on a bluff overlooking the downtown area and is best enjoyed in the fall when the leaves change colors.

The perfect way to end the weekend is with a giant ice cream cone from Nelson’s Ice Cream. As an adult I couldn’t even finish the child-size ice cream, so definitely encourage the kids to split one. It will be a sweet ending to a perfect Minnesota weekend.

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