When I think family vacation, I think road trip. There’s just something about loading up the car with way too much luggage, and hitting the open road in search of a an adventure. There is something so nostalgic, so American, so family friendly about it all. Even John Hughes wrote a whole movie based on his the tale he wrote for the National Lampoon about a fun old fashioned family road trip.
Brian and I have decided that picking a North American city and seeing everything along the way is the way to go. This year we chose the Twin Cities, and we found 11 fun things to see and do. In fact, we wish we would have had more time as everything was so serene as you can see by the many photos I took!
1. Shop The Mall of America: I know it seems weird to want to spend a day indoors at a mall in the middle of a beautiful midwestern summer, but we picked a rainy muggy day for this adventure and it was awesome. It was pretty amazing to see a mall this big, all the stores, and for even those that aren’t into shopping the variety of things to do.
2. Experience Nickolodeon Universe: This is the giant indoor amusement park right in the center of the Mall of America. None of us are too keen on roller coasters, but there is plenty more to do there, in fact the photos we captured with the kids and some of their favorite Nickelodeon characters like, Blue was worth it. They also film a kid’s game show there!
3. Check out the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium: This is also located in The Mall of America. I know it seems weird, but this is an amazing display of aquatic life. The kids loved touching anemones, sea stars, and sting rays. They also have huge display of various other sea creatures that will keep anyone captivated.
4. Make plenty of time for Mill City Museum: This was my absolute favorite part of the Twin Cities. This original Washburn & Crosby flour mill has been converted into a museum that both encapsulates and pays tribute to the milling industry of Minneapolis, but will also tell you everything you need to know about flour, wheat, milling, and the history of Minneapolis.
From the grain elevator to the water room…
the tasting room to the movies, this place was awesome.
Not to mention the view of the river and St. Anthony falls cannot be beat. I wish every city had a museum like this!
5. Eat at Grumpy’s: Grumpy’s Bar and Grill was recommended to us by an employee at the Mill City Museum for lunch. After talking to our server (that’s what we do). We found out that Grumpy’s has been around for quite awhile in the area. The food was great, and it is where I got my first taste of a Juicy Lucy (a burger with cheese in the middle).
6. Visit University of Minnesota: Brian and I have a tradition of visiting collegesand universities when we vacation in a new place. University of Minnesota is a gorgeous campus complete with a few places to stop for ice cream. Also, let’s not forget seeing the stadiums, including Ridder Arena where the 5 Time National Champion Golden Gopher Women’s Hockey Team plays.
7. Stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Coming from a city that has a Giant Bean in the middle of a park, I guess I am enthralled with outdoor sculpture. This spacious and gorgeous garden is part of the Walker Art Center and is home to 40 permanent art installations including the famous Cherry on the Spoon. The kids liked running through the spray of water.
This was a perfect place to walk around, snap photos, and just kind of relax.
8. Explore Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: This gorgeous and unique place in St. Paul is exactly what is says in its name. It is a giant park, beautiful zoo, and the perfect location to see some of the most beautiful gardens you have ever seen. My favorite part of this visit was the water gardens as we walked in. It was like being in a Monet painting.
9. Tour St. Paul: Visiting Minnesota’s state capital, we were able to get a great guided tour of St. Paul from my friend Melissa. St. Paul is the perfect definition of a bigger city with a small town feel.
10. Try Snuffy’s Malt Shop: This is another Twin Cities favorite, and where my we all got to try some fabulous ice cream treats like a Ice Cream Cherry Soda, a Creamsicle Malt, a Mrs. Snuffy’s Malt, and a Chocolate Covered Cherry Malt.
11. Walk around Minnehaha Falls: This 53 foot waterfall and surrounding park is perfect spot to take in a hike, bikeride, or picnic. There are also some historical landmarks housed here like the Longfellow House (Not the real Longfellow House) and The John H. Steven’s House Museum. We wish we would have had more time here.
There was so much to do that there were a few things we didn’t get to see or do.
BONUS. Take in a Game: No matter what the season you can see the Minnesota Twins play at Target Field, The Vikings play at US Bank Stadium when its completed (formerly the Metronome), The Timberwolves play at the Target Center, The Minnesota Wild play at the XCel Energy Center, or even take in a St. Paul Saints Minor League Baseball Game (Bill Murray owns the team).
BONUS. Play some mini golf: The Minneapolis Sculpture garden also has a mini golf coarse inspired by art.
BONUS. Take in a free concert: We wish we would have had time to visit The Chain of Lakes and take in one of the free concerts which happen almost every night in the summer.