Museums, aquariums, zoos and restaurants - there are many family-friendly attractions in Minneapolis and St. Paul to fill your daily itinerary when you're visiting with the kids. In fact, there are so many local attractions to choose from that it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit during your short time there.
These five attractions are local favorites that are sure to please everyone in the family.
Walk through an Underwater Glass Tunnel
Tucked inside the sprawling Mall of America is the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, the largest underground aquarium in the world. Take an underwater stroll through a 300-foot glass tunnel as sharks, sea turtles, a massive sawfish and other sea creatures swim all around you. Gaze at jellyfish, touch a stingray, or go behind the scenes to learn how they care for the animals. For the more adventurous, snorkeling and diving experiences can be booked for extra costs.
Dine Like a Superhero
Galactic Pizza is no ordinary pizza joint. Grab your 3D glasses to read the menu, they have organic, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. Try the mozzarella sticks and the organic veggie pizza. For dessert order chocolate chip cookies that benefit a local children's charity. If you're lucky, you may catch Captain Awesome dashing out for a pizza delivery. Be sure to ask for a photo. Go on a weekday to avoid long waits in the tiny dining room.
"Mail" a letter at Lake Harriet's Elf Tree
While biking or walking the pathways around the southwest corner of Lake Harriet, keep a watchful eye for the Elf Tree. Look for a tree with a tiny wooden door near Queen Ave. Once you find it, open the door and drop your letter inside. It takes the elf a few days to reply, so be sure to plan another outing at the lake. Enjoy a beach day, rent a pedal boat or catch a free summer movie near the bandshell. Not up for a three-mile bike ride or walk? There is street parking near Queen Ave.
Get Up Close and Personal with Animals at Minnesota Zoo
Pet an anteater, hold a lizard, feel a porcupine's quills, feed a bison. These are just some of the daily Close Encounters the Minnesota Zoo offers to visitors. The animals change every day, so check with Guest Services when you arrive. Be sure to check out the World of Birds Show, stroll through the butterfly garden, or stop by Discovery Bay for shark feedings. It's all included in admission. End the day with a $2 ride on the Conservation Carousel and support the zoo's wildlife conservation and education programs.
Paint in the Sky at the Minnesota Children's Museum
Kids love to paint and create. So why not let them do it outside? Take them up to the outdoor Rooftop Art Park at the Minnesota Children's Museum. Build sand castles in the sand box, paint rocks in the rooftop stream, dance under the shadow dome, and add color to the paint wall. Take a seat and soak up some sun while your kids' imagination and creativity run free.
Maribeth Pjosek-Durkin contributed this to MiniTime.