12 Things to Do with Family in St. Cloud, Minnesota

Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Emily Johnson


St. Cloud is a vibrant city in central Minnesota, about an hour northwest of the Twin Cities. With a population around 70,000, it has an energetic small-town feel while still offering plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy. Families visiting St.

Cloud will find no shortage of fun things to see and do together. From exploring the scenic Beaver Island Trail to hands-on science experiments at the Science Museum, St. Cloud offers entertainment options suitable for kids of all ages.

History buffs will enjoy discovering the city’s interesting past at the Stearns History Museum. The downtown area also boasts cute indie shops, cafes, and restaurants waiting to be discovered. No matter the season, St. Cloud provides the perfect backdrop for making meaningful memories together as a family.

1.Explore Beaver Island Trail


One of the top things to do in St. Cloud with kids is exploring the nearly 10-mile long Beaver Island Trail. This scenic paved trail follows an abandoned Burlington Northern Railroad line alternating between wooded areas and the Mississippi River.

Walk, run, or bike ride while taking in views of the sparkling water and keeping an eye out for wildlife. There are plenty of access points along the trail, including River Bluffs Regional Park and Beaver Island Park Reserve.

Pack a picnic or stop at one of the cafes downtown to refuel after working up an appetite from activity on this multi-use trail perfect for families.

2.Get Hands-On at the Science Museum


For a fun and educational indoor activity, visit the Stearns History Museum located downtown. This interactive museum offers exciting hands-on exhibits focused on various scientific concepts like weather, geology, physics, astronomy and more.

Children can explore giant bubbles, interact with kinetic sand, and conduct other exciting science experiments and demonstrations. Family favorites include the Tornado Simulator, Sky Watch Planetarium, and Idea Lab – allowing kids to invent contraptions out of pulleys, tubes, tracks and wheels. After igniting their curiosity, enjoy a bite to eat at the on-site Whirlwind Cafe.

3.Step Back in Time at Stearns History Museum


The Stearns History Museum contains intriguing exhibits detailing the history and cultural heritage of Stearns County. This family-friendly museum brings St. Cloud’s past to life through artifacts, photos and fascinating stories.

Kids will enjoy exploring the 1928 Wick Homestead to get a glimpse of early 20th century life. Other highlights include the renovated Halenbeck Wordhouse showcasing immigrant experiences and an impressive model train display.

Every June, the John Henry Stevens Day Entertainers event includes historical reenactors, dancers and musicians for a free festival-like atmosphere by the museum. After uncovering notable elements of St.

Cloud’s history, take a short walk to the recently revitalized downtown district dotted with locally-owned boutiques, artistic studios and tempting restaurants perfect for refueling the entire family.

4.Tour the Paramount Theatre


For an unforgettable night of family entertainment, check out the majestic Paramount Theatre located downtown. This historical 1932 Art Deco movie palace has been impressively restored to showcase musicals, plays, concerts, operas, ballets and films. Kids will be dazzled by the interior’s shining Czech crystal chandeliers, vibrant Mediterranean hues and Baroque ornamentation.

Frequent family-friendly performances based on books, cartoons and kid pop culture always prove popular. Or opt to watch a classic throwback film together while cozying up in the auditorium’s recently upgraded seating.

Before the show starts, check out the Paramount’s lobby display detailing the building’s rich history and stop at the concession stand for snacks to munch on during the main attraction.

5.Play and Picnic at Munsinger and Clemens Gardens


Nestled along the Mississippi River, Munsinger and Clemens Gardens is a beautiful public park perfect for whiling away a sunny afternoon with little ones.

These lush gardens originated as a WPA project in the 1930s intended to boost morale and provide relief to citizens struggling during the Great Depression. Now the gardens offer vibrant floral displays within intricate landscaping dotted by water features and stone bridges.

Let kids run around in the open green spaces, discover unique plants and sculptures from around the world and pose for photos against the unforgettable riverside backdrop.

Pack a tasty picnic spread to enjoy at one of the park’s shelters after the kids have worked up an appetite playing tag or throwing frisbees on the sprawling lawns.

6.Go Wild at the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve


Just ten minutes from downtown, the unique Quarry Park and Nature Preserve offers 695 acres of wilderness in a former granite quarry for families to explore.

This natural wonderland features hiking and biking trails of varying difficulties winding past unusual geological rock formations, dense foliage and several lakes and rivers. Spot local wildlife like white tailed deer, red fox and wild turkeys while breathing fresh air and absorbing lovely nature views.

Make sure to climb the giant hill formed from tailings piled during past mining operations for an awesome vista of St. Cloud in the distance. Additional highlights include fishing, geocaching, fossil hunting and snowshoeing during the chillier months for an unforgettable experience with Mother Nature suitable for all ages.

7.Witness Exotic Species at the Lake George Zoo


For animal encounters close-up, visit the Lake George Zoo with kids situated next door to Hester Park. This petite zoo started in 1963 features an eclectic collection of exotic creatures from around the world.

Meet endangered species like Mexican gray wolves, Amur tigers, kangaroos and more while learning about conservation efforts to protect vulnerable wildlife populations. Fun interactive elements like a petting zoo with goats, horse rides and feeding stations help kids engage with the friendly residents.

Other highlights include the ‘Critter Encounter’ program allowing visitors to get up close with lizards, snakes, tortoises and spiders. Don’t forget to check the schedule for any shows or keeper talks happening during your visit at this gem of a zoo perfect for families.

8.Play Mini-Golf at the Pirate’s Cove


Avast ye scallywags, the Pirate’s Cove beckons families looking for swashbuckling fun in St. Cloud! This elaborately themed mini-golf course contains two 18-hole tracks – the family-friendly Buccaneer Course and more challenging Blackbeard Course.

Navigate your golf balls through pirate ships, waterfalls, and fires all while surrounded by meticulous decortransporting players into a imaginative high seas adventure. The little mateys can sharpen their putting skills at the indoor Junior Course or work off extra energy at the playground and arcade before selecting the perfect pirate souvenir.

Parents will appreciate the facility’s well-maintained nature and excellent customer service reflecting its frequent honor as the best mini-golf in Minnesota. No bones about it, the Pirate’s Cove guarantees a rollicking good time to create special memories on your St. Cloud vacation.

9.Make a Splash at the Munsinger Aquatic Center


Cool off with the entire crew at the popular Munsinger Aquatic Center, conveniently situated along the Mississippi River in Riverside Park. This outdoor water park contains pools, slides and play areas suitable for all ages.

Make waves shooting down speedy waterslides like the Turtle Twist Bowl, practice swimming in the lap pool or laze down the Lazy River. Pick up the pace splashing around with toddlers in the children’s Splot Square zero depth entry pool.

Families will love creating fond memories while splish-splashing around this clean, attractive facility on a hot St. Cloud afternoon. Finish off with tasty snacks from the on-site concession stand plus change rooms and lockers for secure storage while swimming. Affordable daily admission makes this top-rated aquatic park a can’t miss activity with kids in St. Cloud.

10.Bowl Strikes at Granite Bowl


For family-friendly indoor fun, spend the evening bowling strikes and spares at Granite Bowl conveniently located in downtown St Cloud. This local institution has remained popular since first opening over six decades ago.

Beyond the 24 glossy bowling lanes, kids will appreciate arcade games like Skeeball, Pac Man and Pop-A-Shot to enjoy between turns. Groups can bond over friendly competition while noshing on classic bowling alley fare like hot dogs, pizza, fries and ice cream from the full-service lounge.

Reserve glow-in-the-dark lanes set to music and colorful lights to turn game night into a dance party. With affordable rates and plenty to keep all ages entertained, Granite Bowl knocks it out of the park for creating hilarious memories bowling on vacation.

11.Tour the European-Style Coffee & Chocolate House


Indulge your collective sweet tooth during a memorable visit to St. Cloud’s European-style Coffee & Chocolate House establishment inspired by original founder Heinrich DeHuszar’s Austrian roots. This old-world cafe dazzles the senses with cases of artisanal handmade confections, imported chocolate truffles and premium coffee prepared by skilled baristas.

Watch staff dip fruit perfectly ripe strawberries into silky fudge before your eyes. Savor delicate macarons, rich tortes and flaky pastries crafted on-site at its bakery while catching up with your travel companions.

Don’t miss their signature chocolate-dipped potato donuts rolled in sprinkles – heaven on earth for kids! Before leaving, grab some freshly roasted coffee beans or elegant gift boxes filled with decadent treats that will have the whole family eagerly anticipating their next visit.

Conclusion


With its vibrant small-town atmosphere, scenic riverfront location and abundance of family-friendly attractions, St. Cloud makes for an ideal vacation destination suitable for all ages. Kids will enjoy immersive hands-on museum exhibits and interactions with exotic animals.

Nature lovers have miles of scenic trails and preserved parkland ripe for outdoor exploration within the city limits. Parents will appreciate the walkable downtown district dotted with locally-owned shops, cafes and entertainment venues perfect for recharging during their travels.

No matter your interests, St. Cloud offers an array of memorable activities guaranteed to bring your family closer together while creating meaningful memories that will be cherished for years to come.

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