12 Things to Do with Family in Burnsville, Minnesota

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Burnsville, Minnesota is a charming city located just 15 minutes south of Minneapolis. With a population of around 61,000, Burnsville offers a small-town vibe while still providing plenty of family-friendly activities and attractions to enjoy. From exploring the bountiful nature parks to experiencing the local arts and culture, Burnsville makes for the perfect weekend getaway or staycation destination.

This article provides 12 excellent ideas for spending quality time together as a family in Burnsville. You’ll discover indoor playgrounds for year-round fun, fascinating museums to spark young imaginations, opportunities to embrace the outdoors through hiking and biking trails, ways to splash around Minnesota’s famed 10,000 lakes, and much more. Each season lends itself to new adventures, so read on for how to make the most of your visit.

1. Scale New Heights at Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Park is one of the top things to do in Burnsville with kids of all ages. At 25,000 square feet, this indoor trampoline and adventure park provides ample space to bounce, play games, host birthday parties, and get the wiggles out. In addition to open jump time, Altitude offers dodgeball courts, a foam pit, a warrior/ninja course, performance trampolines, and a kids court for smaller jumpers. Parents can also feel at ease in the dedicated Parent Seating Lounge complete with free Wi-Fi while supervising the fun.

With special needs-friendly hours and staff members trained to work with cognitive and developmental disabilities, Altitude aims to provide a safe, accepting, and inclusive environment for guests of all abilities.

Sensory bags are available for those with sensory regulation needs containing noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, verbal cue cards, and more. When you’re ready for a snack or drink, visit Altitude’s on-site cafe. This high-energy activity lets your family bounce off some steam and create lasting memories.

2. Discover Hands-On Science at the Minnesota Zoo

Home to over 4,700 animals, the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley provides opportunities for curious minds to learn about wildlife and conservation efforts up close. Just a quick 8-mile drive from Burnsville, the zoo’s mission focuses on experiential learning by engaging visitors through direct interaction with plants and animals.

At the Wells Fargo Family Farm, kids can milk a life-sized cow, groom horses and pigs, drives tractors, and more while gaining an appreciation of farm life. Tropics Trail features an array of exotic flora and fauna from the rainforests of Africa, Asia and the Americas in bioclimatic habitats. Hold a hissing cockroach or chirping katydid at the Tropics Trail Visitor Center. Hands-on labs like the Big Back Yard and Discovery Bay also encourage scientific discovery for children with sandboxes, microscopes, costumes, experiments and building toys.

Throughout the day, zoo educators give demonstrations at the exhibited animal enclosures to answer questions and teach fascinating facts. With both indoor and outdoor viewing areas, the Minnesota Zoo provides year-round enjoyment even during Minnesota’s colder months. Upgrade any visit by adding a ride on the carousal, 4D theater experience or Skyride cable car across the zoo.

3. Play the Day Away at Playful Learning

For an ideal indoor playground where kids can let their creativity run wild, bring the whole family to Playful Learning Center in Burnsville. Geared for children ages 1 through 10, this 10,000 square foot facility bursting with color contains a variety of active zones to climb, slide, perform, build and more. Ball shooters, zip lines, monkey bars and tunnels across two levels mean your kids may never want to leave. Adults can view the play areas from the second-floor cafe area or participate side-by-side with the little ones.

Playful Learning sets itself apart by using STEAM concepts (science, technology, engineering, art and math) applied through practical learning stations. Some of the 18 themed rooms include a construction zone, veterinarian clinic, music studio, art studio and farmer’s market to ignite children’s’ interests.

Aspiring chefs can whip up new recipes in the play kitchen while mini builders construct magnificent structures using giant blue foam blocks. Costumes, dress-up clothes and puppets further spark young imaginations during role-playing adventures. Parents needing a break can drop kids off at Play Date hourly child care. With reasonable admission pricing, Playful Learning makes an ideal spot for year-round family fun.

4. Pedal Through the Minnesota River Greenway

As one of the most extensive urban park systems in Minnesota, the Minnesota River Greenway provides walking, running and biking opportunities along the river valley ledges for Burnsville residents and visitors. Over 61 miles of scenic paved trails connect wildlife observation areas, picnic grounds and historic sites across four cities including Burnsville.

Within Burnsville, the River Ridge and MRT segments of the greenway system offer plenty of access points for families to begin outdoor adventures. Stop to take in gorgeous Minnesota River overlooks along the way. Signage provides trail maps and points out sights like the Black Dog Power Plant ruins. Key stops include Fischer Park’s archery range and disc golf course or the performing arts amphitheater at Nicollet Commons Park.

Pack a lunch or snack to enjoy at one of the picnic shelters and tables dotted throughout. Benches provide places to rest while bird watching for eagles, osprey and woodland songbirds. With over 300 species documented in the area, even amateur nature enthusiasts can have fun spotting local fauna.

Leashed pets are also welcome to accompany you on specific trails. Allow older kids to bike ahead safely within view or tow little ones behind in a bike trailer or attached child carrier. thanks to the paved terrain and minimal hills.

5. Hunt for Treasure at Behind the Seams Fabric Mall

For crafty families who design their own clothing creations or DIY home decor projects, Behind the Seams Fabric Mall provides inspiration for beginner sewers and advanced seamstresses alike.

Much more than a fabric store, this family-owned small business operates like a mall containing over 100 high-quality vendor booths selling brand name cottons, licensed prints, upholstery fabrics, ribbons, sewing notions and more at wholesale prices. Many items discounted 50-90% off retail make this a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

Kids who learn sewing skills can select fun fabrics like Disney princess fleece or cotton prints covered in cute kittens to ignite their interests. Notions like buttons, zippers and appliqués assist in embellishing hand-made items. Moms can reupholster furniture or design quilts for less thanks to Behind the Seams’ low cost per yard on premium quilting cottons. Helpful associates are on hand to answer any questions. Behind the Seams also offers weekly Sew and Sews meetups, frequent fabric giveaways and even sponsors sewing lessons for Girl Scouts working towards badges.

6. Get Competitive at Buck Hill

Take your pick of winter sports and activities at Buck Hill during the colder months for some friendly family competition. Conveniently located right off I-35W in Burnsville just past the Burnsville Center mall, Buck Hill’s downhill skiing and snowboarding terrain has welcomed beginners and advanced athletes for over 75 years. Eight ski lifts quickly transport you back up the hill after tackling the 22 runs ranging from gentle gradients for newbies to the thrilling vertical drops only suited for experts. Ski and snowboard rentals are available on-site.

At the base of the slopes, families can warm up by one of the multiple firepits, enjoy tasty grub from Buck Hill’s Lodge Restaurant or Saloon eateries . Kids and adults alike eagerly anticipate trips down the lane at Snow Tubing Park containing 13 groomed lanes and a moving carpet lift system.

Race your tubes against friends old and new careening down the hill for late afternoon laughs. Sign the kids up for lessons at the Ski and Snowboard School tailored by age and ability before hitting the slopes. When Minnesota temperatures really dip, make your way indoors to the climate-controlled dome housing a NHL regulation-sized skating rink open year-round for open skating, hockey games and figure skating competitions.

7. See Shooting Stars at the Minnesota Astronomical Society Observatory

Gaze into the cosmos together after nightfall during a special monthly Star Party hosted by the Minnesota Astronomical Society. Located within the scenic 300 acre Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve just 5 minutes from the heart of Burnsville, this free outdoor viewing event occurs on Saturday nights without a full moon so light pollution remains low. Local astronomers provide high-powered telescopes for families to take turns observing planets lightyears away.

Constellations like Orion the Hunter or Cassiopeia shine brightly and can be spotted alongside stellar objects like the Orion Nebula, open and globular clusters, faraway galaxies and other astronomical bodies. Fun space-themed arts, crafts and games keep little astronomers entertained while waiting turns at the telescopes trained at must-see celestial hotspots. Dress warmly, as entertainment goes on for hours past sundown.

Arrive before darkness falls to choose a spot on the viewing field, lay out blankets and enjoy a peaceful picnic under the stars before observations begin. Nearby hiking trails, camping and cross country skiing make the park available for daytime exploration as well.

8. Learn History at the Scott County Historical Society

The Scott County Historical Society operates two different facilities in nearby Shakopee celebrating various aspects of local history with family-friendly tours and exhibits. First, the Trinity Lutheran Church Museum spotlights 1850s pioneer life with a preserved historic church relocated on-site near Canterbury Park race track filled with centuries-old artifacts.

Kids can check out antique dolls, household tools and even the graves of early settlers buried outside. Occasional historically accurate reenactment events like quilting bees share past cultural practices through immersive workshops great for homeschool field trips.

Meanwhile, the primary Historical Society museum downtown provides millennia worth of the region’s history through permanent and rotating galleries and displays. Peruse equipment showcasing Shakopee’s Valley of the Red Pipestone quarries, an original trading post and Little Six casino.

Learn how communities like Burnsville formed through the Dakota land treaties and subsequent influx of European settlers via informative placards and multimedia experiences. Frequent free speaker series, discussion panels or book signing events also connect local history to contemporary issues for civic-minded families..

9. Make a Splash at Cliff Fen Park Water Park

As one of the only outdoor swimming parks found in the Twin Cities metro, Cliff Fen Park Water Park provides refreshing relief from sticky Minnesota summer heat. Conveniently located right off Highway 13 in Burnsville, this family-oriented waterpark operated by Dakota County features splash pads, wading pools, diving boards, body slides, tube slides and more wet and wild attractions spread over three acres. Lifeguards remain actively on duty during open swim sessions to maintain safety for all ages.

Little ones can enjoy their own space to wade in the Tot Lot while older kids test their daring on the 185 foot Turbo Twist Slide swirling high above the park. Two additional body slides zip visitors through enclosed tubes until finally splashing down at the bottom.

When you need a break from the water, there’s sand volleyball pits, locker rooms and a concessions stand to refuel with cold beverages and snacks on hot days. Purchase day passes or seasonal memberships for the best value on repeat trips. If visiting Burnsville between May and August, be sure to spend an afternoon getting soaked at Cliff Fen.

10. Bowl Strikes at Brunswick Zone XL

Home to 64 lanes across an impressive 90,000+ square feet, Brunswick Zone XL offers state-of-the-art indoor bowling facilities for families seeking entertainment regardless of season. Automatically scoring consoles allow groups up to 8 players to input names and track performances across games while specialized bumper lanes with shorter balls and ramps give little keglers an advantage.

In between frames, ride the double FlowRider simulator mimicking surf conditions or free fall at high speeds on the G-Force Drop extreme attraction. An expansive arcade section filled with thrills like motocross racing games, DEAL OR NO DEAL ticket redemption machines and classics like air hockey, basketball toss and Skee-Ball provides friendly distractions for impatient kids.

Adults can kick back with refreshing cocktails and share appetizers on lounge seating overlooking the lanes. Ask about current promotions for discounted games, shoe rentals and food plus beverage specials to save money while bowling up excitement.

11. Create Your Own Pasta Masterpiece at Peyton and Me Me

For an afternoon of bonding across generations in the kitchen, book an appointment at Peyton and Me Me located in the heart of Burnsville. This pasta making studio offers hands-on classes guiding students age 5 and up how to handcraft artisanal pasta noodles using classic Italian techniques adapted for all skill levels.

Select from menu options like traditional spaghetti and fettuccine or specialty flavors containing herbs, vegetables or squid ink. After donning official Peyton and Me Me aprons and chef’s hats, participants mix fresh pasta dough before sending sheets through professional pasta machines to be flattened, cut and shaped.

Make cannelloni, tortellini or stuffed pasta pockets filled with cheese, meat or vegetable fillings. Family packages allow parents and kids to work side-by-side at their own stations. Guests take home over 2 pounds of fresh pasta along with newfound culinary skills after each session concludes. For a memorable cooking lesson emphasizing math and science applicable to young students, book a table at Peyton and Me Me’s cozy studio space.

12. Meet Farm Friends Up Close atencoded

No family visit to Burnsville is complete without stopping at Dehn’s Pumpkins for hands-on agricultural experiences focused on fun. Now operated by the third generation of the founding family, this 40-acre pumpkin patch and petting zoo stays open September through October for picking perfect pumpkins off the vine. Kids go crazy navigating the 5-acre Corn Maize trail full of Fall photo opportunities and hiding spots amidst towering stalks.

Animal lovers young and old will adore the on-site Barnyard Zoo containing over 150 friendly creatures like horses, chickens, cows, pigs and more to encounter. Options to purchase feed cups allows brushing and feeding the furry residents.

Three big red barns feature scarecrow displays, market stands brimming with freshly baked goods and charming gift shops to bring a piece of the farm back home. Dehn’s also offers pedal cart racing, hayrides through the orchard and corn maze and firepits for s’more making during annual Harvest Fest weekends.

Conclusion

With year-round attractions like trampoline adventure parks, hands-on children’s museums and expansive shopping destinations, Burnsville serves as an ideal staycation spot for Minneapolis area families seeking easy weekend getaways.

Outdoor lovers can bike for miles through picturesque parks following the Minnesota River, ski or snow tube on maintained hills and trails just minutes off I-35W or splash around one of Minnesota’s classic water parks. Those visiting between September and October will discover prime pumpkin patches overflowing with seasonal activities.

Whenever you choose to visit, Burnsville’s family-friendly culture and wealth of recreation is sure to provide lasting memories gathered around the dinner table.

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