St Paul and Minneapolis combined are a thriving metropolis of family friendly activity, delicious restaurants, and gorgeous lakes. For a little over 10 years I was lucky enough to call the Twin Cities home and although I'm relieved to not be shoveling snow, I still miss it. Below I am sharing my top picks on where to stay, eat, and play in the Twin Cities area so you can plan your own family adventure to these playful, exciting cities.
Having lived locally, we do not have a ton of experience staying in local hotels. My best advice would be to stay near downtown Minneapolis or St Paul and Interstate 94 to give you the best access to get around the cities. The exception being if you are planning to spend the majority of time at the Mall of America which is in a south western suburb. Our family stayed at the Residence Inn Minneapolis Downtown at the Depot several times which is located in downtown Minneapolis. It is close to the freeway, has kitchens in the rooms, is across the street from the Old Spaghetti Factory and shares a parking lot with the Depot.
There are so many, many restaurants in the Twin Cities it can be a little overwhelming. These are two big cities so the popular chains like Noodles, Five Guys, Panera, etc can be found all over. New amazing restaurants pop up all the time, so there are likely many good ones that I am missing. Below are tried and true family favorites that we have eaten at many times:
*Italian Food: The Old Spaghetti Factory. Large delicious plates of Italian food.
*Pizza: Pizza Luce. Amazingly diverse menu and some great Vegan and Dairy Free options or Davanni's for more traditional pizza options.
*Ice Cream: Izzy's. Best ice cream ever, hands down.
There is an overwhelming number of things to do in the Twin Cities area, especially in the summer. Here are the ones we would do over and over again!
*U of M Landscape Arboretum : This is a bit of a drive south of the Twin Cities, but in my opinion 100% worth it. This is one of my favorite places in the area any time of year.
*Walker Art Museum : This one, located right on the UofM campus, is quirky and beautiful. Check online to see if they have any family events and don't miss the sculpture garden.
*Lake Harriet : The land of lakes has tons of beautiful ones, but Lake Harriett is our favorite. Quieter beach, family events, and lovely walking trail.
*Minnesota Children's Museum : Fun museum with areas for all ages.
*The Depot Skating Rink : An old train depot converted into a skating rink right in downtown Minneapolis.
*Wild Rumpus Bookstore : This adorable children's bookstore is the perfect place to snuggle in with some good books on a cold or rainy day.
*Mill City Museum : Best for preschoolers and up, this is an incredibly unique look at Minnesota history.
*Mall of America : This is likely already on your radar if you're headed to the Twin Cities. It is, obviously, a huge mall but it also has an amusement park in the middle, restaurants, movie theater, and more. It is an experience. If you're staying in Minneapolis, consider riding the train.
There you have it. A perfect big city adventure vacation waiting for you.
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