Full of Fun
Zoos, amusement parks, aquariums and more welcome the whole family.
Lucky you; this is a metro area with two great zoos. Saint Paulâ€™s Como Zoo & Conservatory entertains all ages with the beautiful flowers of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, animal exhibits at Como Zoo and rides for tykes at Como Town. Enjoy it all at no cost (donations encouraged). Another adventure destination is the Minnesota Zoo, just 20 minutes south of Minneapolis Saint Paul. Donâ€™t miss the Penguins of the African Coast exhibit or a feature film or 3D movie at the adjacent Great Clips IMAX Theatre.
Thereâ€™s a reason Mall of America, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is a top destination. At the core of the immense shopping center thereâ€™s Nickelodeon Universe, the first Nick-themed park and the nationâ€™s largest indoor amusement park. Jump onto any of the 30 rides or greet Dora the Explorer before heading over to Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium a few steps away. This world-class aquarium puts visitors up close to more than 10,000 sharks, fish and other sea creatures.
For more excitement with the family, head to Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee, the largest amusement park in the Midwest. This theme park has the largest collection of thrill rides in the state of Minnesota, plus Soak City waterpark. Valleyfair opened a section just for tykes last summer, Planet Snoopy, which has rides for the younger set.
The fun arrives in waves with the water parks across Minneapolis Saint Paul. Water Park of America in Bloomington, just across from Mall of America, is home to the largest indoor water park in the country. Take a trip down its 10-story family raft ride, then catch a few good sets on Minnesotaâ€™s only Flow Rider Surf Simulator. Find fun and three stories of water slides at the Depot Minneapolis Water Park in downtown Minneapolis. The site also features a winter skating rink.
Grown-ups can even find fun and games outside the cities at Canterbury Park racetrack in Shakopee, Running Aces in Columbus, Dave & Busterâ€™s in Maple Grove or at any of the area casinos. Plus, annual festivals offer a chance for the whole family to play. Each January, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival kicks off the year, spotlighting the capital city and celebrating cool weather while the Minnesota State Fair provides end-of-summer fun with food, farm animals and midway rides. Minneapolis celebrates its vibrancy in the summer with the Aquatennial and in the winter with the Holidazzle parades (see the calendar on p. 10 for more events).
Still looking for excitement? Read the rest of this section, and check our long list of attractions.
Iâ€™m here. Now what?
DOWNTOWN SAINT PAUL
Our capital city blends classic architecture and history with touches of modern flair. Explore the center of town starting at the Saint Paul Hotel to see the variety within this riverside city.
: For a classic meal of steaks, chops, wine or whiskey, look no further than The St. Paul Grill
inside the Saint Paul Hotel. Head over to The Liffey
for a casual Irish dinner paired with a tall Guinness (and experience the lovely terrace during the warmer months). Enjoy everything from crepes (four days a week outside during the summer) to oysters as Meritage
marries the best tastes of France and America.
: Not a huge hotbed for shopping (leave that to Grand Avenue
), downtown St. Paul does house 90-year-old Heimieâ€™s Haberdashery
, a specialty shop offering men tailored clothing, business gear, cigars and hats. For those looking to nosh, the Saint Paul Farmersâ€™ Market
at the Seventh Place Mall has vendors who provide 100 percent locally-grown products.
: Relax with a good book or snap your photo with a Peanuts character statue in Rice Park
, recently named one of Americaâ€™s Top Great Places by the American Planning Association. Catch a movie at the Omnitheater, explore an exhibit or play mini golf at the Science Museum of Minnesota
. Kids up to age 12 will fall in love with the Minnesota Childrenâ€™s Museum
: Want to know the story of the Quadriga, that gold statue atop the Minnesota State Capitol
? Take one of the capitolâ€™s free tours and learn about the architecture and history of this Cass Gilbert-designed building.
Just My Size
Local attractions keep the young ones in mind.
Planet Snoopy: Valleyfair unveiled this addition to its array of coasters and thrill rides last summer. Here, rides are fit for the little ones and their courage level, plus Charlie Brown and the gang make regular visits.
Woodland Adventure: This interactive play area off the Minnesota Zooâ€™s Central Plaza lets kids 3-12 climb, slide and play to their heartâ€™s content. And on a hot day, the adjacent Splash Pad on the plaza allows them to cool off.
Como Town: Kids ages 2-12 find more than 18 rides made for them in this amusement park next to the Como Zoo.
Get to know Minneapolis Saint Paul by taking a little scavenger hunt. Find each of these whimsical sculptures.
Mary Tyler Moore: Seek out this statue of Mary Richards from the Mary Tyler Moore television series. Catch her in that signature pose, throwing her tam in the air. On Nicollet Mall, downtown Minneapolis
Spoonbridge and Cherry: How this spoon and cherry fountain, designed by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, became so iconic to Minneapolis is a mystery, but thereâ€™s no doubt about it, this is a must-see. In the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Peanuts Characters: Weâ€™re proud to remember the late Charles Schulz, a Saint Paul native, with bronze sculptures that capture the spirit of his beloved characters, like Charlie Brown and Lucy. Around Rice Park, downtown Saint Paul
Iggy the Iguana: This metal iguana has greeted visitors to the Science Museum of Minnesota for 25 years. Created from railroad spikes by Nick Swearer, the iguana has become a mascot for the museum.
Outside the museum, downtown Saint Paul
Top 5: Nickelodeon Universe Rides
Inside the fun-filled center of Mall of America there are thrills for Nickelodeon fans of all ages. Nickelodeon Universe is a seven-acre, one-of-a-kind amusement park featuring more than 30 rides. The park also features several merchandise stores filled with toys and chances to meet favorite Nickelodeon characters.
1. Flying Dutchman Ghostly Gangplank: Balance your way out on this ropes and adventure course high above the action.
2. SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge: Join the pineapple-dwelling sponge and his starfish pal in a race to the top of this coaster, which thrills with intense loops, spirals and 90-degree turns.
3. Fairly Odd Coaster: This dramatic coasterâ€™s plummeting spirals will elicit screams worthy of the parkâ€™s infamous scream collector.
4. Rugrats Reptarmobiles: These bumber cars are made for the little ones, who can take the driverâ€™s seat on this adventure.
5. El Circulo Del Cielo: Dora the Explorerâ€™s Ferris Wheel lets you relax and enjoy views of the entire universe.
Whatâ€™s Hot: New at the Zoo
Set on 500 acres in the southern suburb of Apple Valley, the Minnesota Zoo
features 504 species and features 2,500 exotic animals. Last summer, the zoo unveiled its latest transformation, called the Heart of the Zoo. One big difference: the main entrance. Welcoming visitors with native plantings, new signage, sculptures and more, the south entrance starts your visit off right. The Heart of Zoo project also includes a new Learning Center, site of the World of Birds show, and an Environmental Education Center. Best of all? The Penguins of the African Coast exhibit. Here, black-footed penguins will swim and waddle their way into visitorsâ€™ hearts, in a wild habitat replicating South Africaâ€™s Boulderâ€™s Beach. The zoo keeps adding new additions, such as the Dhole exhibit, a renovated Coral Reef and its summer Dinosaurs exhibit. Plus, look for the addition of black bears in fall 2012.
13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, 952-431-9200, www.mnzoo.org
Your visit to the Twin Cities
For current, daily events, visit the MNMO.com calendar; find theater, sporting events, festivals, and more.
From walks to gala black-tie events, youâ€™ll also find many ways to help make a difference in this state.
More than 18 million people choose to visit Minneapolis and Saint Paul each year, and a high percentage of those visitors come here to attend meetings, conventions and events. Why the Twin Cities? Not only because of the tried and true meeting spaces like our two world-class convention centers and the thousands of hotel rooms, but also because of the green space, cultural offerings, high-caliber dining options and friendly hospitality.
Relocating to the Twin Cities?
Find out what more than 3 million people already knowâ€”the Twin Cities is a wonderful place to live.
Our Minneapolis St. Paul Relocation Guide should give you a head start. Youâ€™ll find everything from neighborhood profiles and personal experiences from people just
like you to interesting tidbits about Twin Cities culture and valuable information on work, school and health. Youâ€™ll learn about sister cities and a surrounding metro area that offer myriad housing options, Fortune 500 headquarters and green spaces around every turn.