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

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Robert Wilson


St. Paul is the capital and second-largest city in Minnesota, situated on the banks of the Mississippi River. This historic city has a rich cultural heritage and offers plenty of family-friendly attractions and activities to keep everyone entertained.

From exploring hands-on museums and immersive zoo exhibits to strolling scenic parks and sampling delicious foods, there is something for visitors of all ages to enjoy. The community is also very vibrant, hosting several cultural festivals and events year-round. Whether you’re a local resident or visiting from out of town, St. Paul provides the perfect playground for making memories with your loved ones.

1.Visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum

The Minnesota Children’s Museum should be at the top of every family’s list when visiting St. Paul. This massive, vibrant museum spans 10 galleries with hands-on exhibits focused on arts, culture, and the humanities. Families with kids ages 1 through 10 get the most out of visiting this inventive museum.

Highlights include an open art studio, a literacy-based reading area, and a makerspace workshop. Kids can also roleplay careers, explore world cultures, and experiment with technology and design. Tactile areas like the sandpit and waterworks are perfect for younger visitors.

Make sure to save time for playing and climbing on the three-story climber situated in the light-filled rotunda. With so many interactive zones and multi-layered exhibits, you’ll want to spend several hours discovering something new each time you visit.

2.Wander Through Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Stretch your legs wandering through the free Como Park Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. The zoo began in 1897 and is now home to gorillas, big cats, aquatic animals, and hundreds of other exotic species. Visit the Primate House to see the gorillas and chimps playing and swinging overhead. The heated Tropical Encounters exhibit also hosts animals like iguanas, pythons, turquoise dwarf geckos, and golden lion tamarins.

Don’t miss seeing the polar bears diving and swimming underwater through the glass viewing tunnel. Guests can observe them both above and below the surface. You can easily spend hours interacting with all the playful animals.

Afterward, walk through the sun-drenched Marjorie McNeely Conservatory to admire stunning botanical gardens under the soaring glass ceilings. From the lush Fern Room to the tropical Palm Dome, the gardens bloom with orchids, bonsai trees, and over 4,500 plant species. Bring a camera to document gorgeous floral displays around every corner.

3.Skate at the Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval

Lace up your ice skates for some frosty fun at the Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval. This outdoor refrigerated skating rink stays frozen from November through February and offers prime conditions for learning and practicing skills. Skaters of all ages and abilities flock here to twirl and loop under blue skies.

The on-site warming house sells hot chocolate and snacks to fuel your icy adventures. Skate rentals are available, though quantities are limited during peak visiting hours.

The rink provides a fantastic winter backdrop for family photos too. When you need to take a breather, head to nearby Lake Como for a leisurely stroll to see the resident birds and wildlife. The Guidant John Rose Minnesota Oval creates lifelong memories of time well-spent playing together as a family.

4.Spend an Afternoon at Como Town Amusement Park

No family trip to St. Paul is complete without a visit to historic Como Town Amusement Park. This charming carnival-like park beside Como Zoo features over 20 rides and attractions suitable for all ages and thrill levels. Little ones adore gently spinning on The Boat, The Ferris Wheel and tried-and-true carousels and trains.

Bigger kids love screaming their way down the Totally Tubular slide or soaring on The Rockin’ Tug. Other favorites include bumper cars, a fun house, and a classic carousel.

Affordable ride wristbands maximize the fun without breaking the bank. Tots have their own dedicated section called “Kiddie Land” filled with miniature rides and whimsical thrills. Visit on select summer Sundays for free admission to this nostalgic, family-owned park operating since 1949.

Delight in neighborly vibes while munching hand-dipped corn dogs and announcing your favorite rides all day long.

5.Tour the Minnesota State Capitol

Marvel at Minnesota’s stately seat of government on a guided tour of the Minnesota State Capitol. This stately building dates back to 1905, though it underwent extensive restorations recently.

knowledge guides lead groups through the Capitol’s gleaming hallways and up to the top of its Quadriga-topped dome. Along the route, learn intriguing facts about the building’s Cass Gilbert-designed architecture rendered in white marble and gleaming brass.

Kids get excited spotting details like the “Golden Horses” upheld by figures representing land and sea. Make sure to notice the customized murals and soaring rotunda showcasing classical themes. Tours run Monday-Friday and should be booked ahead online since they fill up fast.

Before you leave, grab a snack in the Rathskeller Cafe or browse gifts in the Capitol Gift Shop. Photography is permitted throughout the building to document special moments from your tour. It makes for an edifying and memorable family outing.

6.Play Mini-Golf at Tin Bins Golf

Practice your putting skills while making happy memories at Tin Bins Golf’s creative mini-golf courses. This complex spans over 50,000 square feet housing four distinct courses each with unique hole designs.

Putt your way through locales like a vintage roaring 20s course, a futuristic space station, a wizarding world of mini-golf magic, and a whimsical course inspired by carnivals. Other facilities include billiards, bowling, arcade games, and event rooms.

Outside you’ll also find batting cages and a driving range to polish additional athletic talents. The colorful obstacle courses appeal to all ages with surprises around every turn. Kids thrive when you foster a playful spirit of healthy competition blended with patience and encouragement.

Tin Bins Golf keeps the entire family engaged for hours while forming deeper bonds away from digital screens. Grab hot pizza, ice cream, and cold drinks from the on-site Luna Cafe to fuel the fun.

7.Hike Through Indian Mounds Park

Spend a rejuvenating morning surrounded by nature while hiking the trails of Indian Mounds Regional Park. Located minutes from downtown, this rustic park spans 187 acres of forests, wetlands, and prairielands along the Mississippi River.

Meandering dirt trails lead you over the bluffs past abandoned railroad tracks now overgrown with sedges and wildflowers. Pause to appreciate panoramic views of the sweeping river valley from high atop the Indian burial mounds for which the park is named.

Observant hikers may spot white-tailed deer, squirrels, hawks, and hummingbirds flitting through the wooded areas. Well-marked trails range from 0.4 miles to 2 miles accommodating varied ages and mobility levels.

Trek to the free Mill Pond Play Area near the park’s east entrance that has a large playground and wading pool for the kids. Pack a hearty picnic to enjoy at one of the sheltered tables sprinkled throughout this peaceful urban escape. Getting some exercise surrounded by nature builds priceless family bonds away from digital gadgets.

8.Attend a Minnesota Twins Baseball Game

What better all-American pastime than catching a Minnesota Twins baseball game at lively Target Field? The open-air limestone and glass stadium hosts 81 home games each season from April through September. Arrive early to watch the players warm up on the field before the first pitch crosses the plate.

You’ll gain an appreciation for their athletic abilities and dedication up close. Consider booking seats in the Homer Hanky section to guarantee rowdy fans waving their rally towels every time the Twins score.

Kids love cheering for mascot TC Bear as he gets the crowds pumped up between innings. Treat them to hot dogs, popcorn, and ice cream for that classic ballgame experience.

Be sure to stick around for the 7th inning stretch when it’s tradition to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” before the next round of America’s favorite pastime. Capture family selfies in front of the giant gold gloves sculpture out front before heading home.

9.See a Show at Park Square Theatre

Introduce kids to the magic of live theatre at the historic Park Square Theatre located in downtown St. Paul. This professional theatre company stages world-class comedic, dramatic and musical productions across their two downtown venues.

Family-friendly shows like Annie, Mary Poppins, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow cater to younger attention spans with familiar stories and toe-tapping musical numbers. Many performances schedule special student matinees so parents can coordinate school field trips.

Park Square also offers summer theatre camps allowing students as young as 8 to gain acting experience themselves. Before curtains rise, grab a snack in Andy’s Lounge or have a meal downstairs at Great Waters Brewing for convenient show night dining.

Subscribing to Park Square’s email list provides the heads up for upcoming sensory-friendly performances suited for neurodiverse families too. Supporting the arts makes for meaningful entertainment the entire family can appreciate.

10.Tour the Science Museum of Minnesota

Discover four floors jam-packed with interactive STEM exhibits during an awe-inspiring visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota. This massive institution houses dedicated galleries showcasing dinosaurs, the human body, Minnesota ecosystems, space, and physical science phenomena.

Grab a timed-entry pass to the popular Dinosaurs and Fossils area displaying towering T-Rex and Triceratops skeletons, a fossil preparation lab, and a simulated fossil dig. Kids earn Junior Paleontologist badges after completing the hands-on activities.

Other highlights include strolling through the Human Body Gallery full of enormous models illustrating bodily functions and the Mississippi River Gallery recreating key ecosystem elements like a waterfall, flooding river, and native habitats.

Frequent demonstrations feature the high-voltage Tesla coil creating lightning bolts overhead. Before you leave, catch an educational Omnitheater or Planetarium show elucidating broader scientific concepts. With so many immersive exhibits and programs, you’ll keep finding new topics to explore across multiple visits.

11.Shop on Grand Avenue

No visit to Saint Paul is complete without strolling and window shopping along posh Grand Avenue dubbed “one of America’s great streets.” This vibrant thoroughfare stretching from Dale through Summit includes over 300 shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafes beckoning you inside.

Fuel up with flaky pastries at Cafe Latte before browsing trendy fashions at upscale chains like Lululemon and Anthropologie. Stop at crepe restaurant Bebe Zito for an afternoon sugar boost to power more retail therapy.

Don’t miss ducking into gift emporiums stacked floor to ceiling with jewelry, gadgets, books, and trinkets to take home. Kids can pick their own souvenir while you admire luxury designs through the windows of Kate Spade and Aritzia.

Grab an al fresco table at The Lexington for some people watching during this iconic Saint Paul shopping adventure. Exploring Grand Avenue makes for ideal family bonding away from malls and big box stores.

12.Attend the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Bundle up for frosty fun during the renowned Saint Paul Winter Carnival occurring each January through February. This annual festival first began in 1886 offering generations of families classic cold-weather entertainment.Kick it off by witnessing the lighting ceremony of a towering ice palace constructed from thousands of blocks. Then let kids go wild at the family-focused outdoor Vulcan Snow Park perfect for sledding down snowy hills and sliding across an ice rink.

Other fan favorites include watching professional ice sculpting demonstrations, parading behind modernized winter royalty, and cheering on daring paddlers during the Ice Canoe Races. Sip hot cocoa and mead while you peruse handmade gear from local artisans at the carnival’s bustling marketplace. Dancing along to live music and warming up by towering bonfires heightens the merriment. With so many smiling faces gathered to revel in frigid festivities, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival creates lifelong memories to cherish.

Conclusion


From thrilling amusement parks to world-class museums and captivating live theater, Minnesota’s capital city enthralls visitors of all ages. St. Paul’s family-friendly attractions span zoos, conservatories, miniature golf courses, heritage sports stadiums, historic architecture, and vibrant shopping. Annual cultural celebrations like the Winter Carnival also deliver plenty of frozen entertainment.

With so many options for affordable fun and enrichment, Saint Paul provides the perfect playground for making lifelong memories together. Local residents and visiting families will fill their days with laughter, joy and quality time spent immersed in this dynamic community.

Use these 12 can’t miss activities covering interactive museums, bustling city sights and outdoor adventures galore as your guide to maximize the family fun whenever you visit lovely Saint Paul.

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