City guide: Minneapolis

Your one-stop city guide, packed with information on family-friendly hotels, restaurants, and local and unique attractions.

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The City of Lakes and City of Nature — better known as Minneapolis — is a wonderful place to experience the great outdoors. The city’s parks department has been called one of the best-designed and best-maintained in America, and this city boasts some of the best family attractions in the country.


Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis Downtown
1101 4th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 339-6633
Price: Rooms starting at $127/night

The spacious guest rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn on the edge of downtown Minneapolis make it a great place to stay with your family. Its central location is within walking distance to a number of restaurants and attractions. Closer to home, the hotel offers a 24-hour convenience store, called the Pavilion Pantry, which can be very convenient when traveling with young children — or for midnight snacks and emergencies.

The Marquette Hotel
710 Marquette Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 333-4545  
Price: Rooms starting at $161/night

This chic boutique hotel may look adults-only from the outside, but at its core it is very family friendly. The Marquette is always ready to accommodate guests of any age with high chairs, children’s menus, and cribs on hand for the littlest patrons. Be sure to check the hotel website for special offers — there are often deals and can sometimes guarantee a room for less than $100 a night.

The Westin Minneapolis
88 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 333-4006
Price: Rooms starting at $259/night

If you’re looking for a truly stunning home away from home, look no further than the Westin Minneapolis. This historic building previously housed the historic Farmers & Mechanics Bank and retains original designs like the 34-foot vaulted ceiling and marble staircase. It’s conveniently connected to over seven miles of the skyway system — the city’s signature indoor elevated pedestrian walkway —  which leads to various shopping and entertainment venues.

Best Western Plus The Normandy Inn & Suites
405 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 370-1400
Price: Rooms starting at $92/night

If you’re traveling sans car, the Best Western in downtown Minneapolis is a great option for its complimentary round-trip shuttle to downtown’s largest attractions. The shuttle runs from 7am-10:30pm, making it the perfect vessel for early birds and night owls alike.

Aloft Minneapolis
900 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 455-8400
Price: Rooms starting at $139/night

This funky hotel will wow young patrons with its colorful game room, swimming facilities and kids care packages. When guests aged 2-12 arrive at check-in, they’re greeted with a goodie bag and child-sized mattress to make a special sleeping space all their own.


Spaghetti and MeatballsJessica Spengler – D’Amico and Sons Spaghetti and Meatballs

D’Amico and Sons
55 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 342-2700
Monday-Friday: 11am-7pm
Saturday: 12pm-6pm
Sunday: Closed
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen awarded D’Amico and Sons the 2010 award for “Best Place to Eat”, deservedly so. It’s an enjoyable experience for both kids and adults: the menu is full of kid-friendly pizzas and pastas, while adults can enjoy bottomless glasses of house wine and excellent desserts tiramisu. As an added bonus, kids eat free on Sundays.

Annie’s Parlour
313 14th Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 379-0744
Hours: 11am-11pm (daily)
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

If you’re in the mood for comfort food (think thick malts, crispy fries), Annie’s Parlour is the perfect place to dine. The prices are affordable enough to bring the entire family without breaking the bank, and patio seating makes it a great dining choice for a warm day.

Memory Lanes & The Flashback Cafe
2520 26th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 721-6211
Monday: 3pm-2am
Tuesday: 10am-1am
Wednesday: 11am-1am
Thursday: 10am-1am
Friday: 11am-2am
Saturday: 9am-2am
Sunday: 9am-1am
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Dining and entertainment come together at Memory Lanes & The Flashback Café. Work up an appetite on one of Memory Lane’s 30 state-of-the art bowling lanes, and then fill up after the game at the family-friendly Flashback Café, where the menu is filled with old-fashioned favorites like burgers, waffle fries, and chicken wings.

Broder’s Pasta Bar
5000 Penn Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 925-9202
Hours: 4:30pm-10pm (daily)
Price: $$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The neighborhood feel and charming atmosphere at Broder’s make it a great place for a meal that tastes and feels as close to home cooked as it gets. Pasta lovers will swoon at the array of options available at Broder’s — from risotto to linguini and every noodle in between.

Bar Abilene
1300 Lagoon Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 825-2525
Monday-Thursday: 4pm-1am
Friday: 4pm-2am
Saturday: 12pm-2am
Sunday: 10am-1am
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Yeehaw! The modern, southwestern atmosphere is always open and inviting to young buckaroos and their older cowboy counterparts. There are plenty of kid-friendly options on the adult menu (like burgers, sandwiches and tacos) but Bar Abilene still offers up a great tasting children’s menu, like quesadillas stuffed with real Asiago cheese.

Birchwood Cafe
3311 East 25th Street, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 722-4474
Monday-Friday: 7am-9pm
Saturday: 8am-9pm
Sunday: 8am-8pm
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The slogan at Birchwood Café is “Good Real Food” and the menu at the funky coffee house and neighborhood café is just that. The creative dishes on the menu use only the freshest quality ingredients available, so your meal is as equally healthy as it is delicious.


Bell Museum of Natural History
10 Church Street Southeast, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 624-7083
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 9am-5pm
Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Price: Children (ages 3-17): $4, Adults (ages 18-64): $6, Seniors (ages 65+): $4. Admission is free on Sundays
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Bell Museum of Natural History is home to fascinating exhibits that will teach you and your grandchildren about life in prehistoric times. One of the museum’s most beloved exhibits is the Touch and See Discovery Room, where visitors are encouraged to get up close and personal with the artifacts, including a 10,000 year old wooly mammoth tusk!

Minnehaha Park
4801 South Minnehaha Park Drive, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 230-6400
Hours: 6am-12am (daily) in developed park areas, 6am-10pm (daily) in undeveloped park areas
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

One of Minneapolis’ oldest and most popular parks, Minnehaha is home to a 193-acre park, a wading pool, plenty of playgrounds, and a 53-foot waterfall. If you visit in the wintertime, you just may be able to see Minnehaha Falls frozen solid.

Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway
Headquarters: 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 230-6400
Hours: Open daily
Price: Free

This series of linked parks is a great way to explore the great outdoors in Minneapolis. There are over 50 miles of paths for bikers, walkers, and cars at Grand Rounds. The 50-mile stretch will take you through the Downtown Riverfront, Mississippi River, Minnehaha, the Chain of Lakes, Theodore Wirth Park, Victory Memorial, and Northeast Minneapolis. Try exploring one part of the Byway every day.

Target Field
1 Twins Way, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 375-1366
Hours: Call ahead for game times
Price: Ticket prices vary
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Even if you’re not traveling with baseball fans, everyone will appreciate America’s favorite pastime at Target Field! The stadium, which opened in 2010, was named the “Best Sports Stadium in North America” by ESPN The Magazine the same year.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 3rd Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
(888) 642-2787  
Monday, Sunday: Closed
Tuesday-Wednesday, Friday: 10am-5pm
Thursday: 10am-9pm
Saturday: 10am-5pm
Price: Free (exhibition prices may vary)
Age Range: Elementary, Tween, Teen

This collection of visual art pulls pieces from around the world spanning 5,000 years of history and artistic traditions. The museum is much less interactive than others in the area, so it may not be ideal for younger patrons who want to run around, but older kids will be amazed at the pieces in the MIA collection.

Guthrie Theater
818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 377-2224
Hours: 9am-5pm (daily), call ahead for show times
Price: Ticket prices vary
Age Range: Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

This state of the art theater is a great place to take in shows, which are certainly aplenty at this Minneapolis landmark. The original 1963 theater was demolished in 2006 to re-open along the Mississippi river. The stunning new modern design was named one of GQ’s 10 Most Important Buildings of the 21st century, and is certainly worth a visit, even if you don’t have time for a performance.

Minnesota Children’s Museum
10 7th Street West, Saint Paul, MN
(651) 225-6000
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 9am-5pm, Friday-Saturday: 9am-8pm
Price: $9.50 per person
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler

One of the most unique parts of the Minnesota Children’s Museum, which is home to several interactive exhibits designed for children, is the Rooftop ArtPark. Nature and art merge in a giant outdoor gallery where your grandchildren can climb a 12-foot tall tree fort or dance under a shadow dome.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN
(651) 487-8201  
April-September: 10am-6pm (daily)
October-March: 10am-4pm (daily)
Price: Children: $1 (suggested donation), Adults: $2 (suggested donation)
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Visitors young and old will love seeing the wide variety of animal friends at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. While enjoying the wildlife, make sure to participate in the zoo’s daily educational events and shows. You can learn about how personal choices impact marine life in shows like The Mystery of the Plastic Disaster or sample some homegrown veggies from the Chipotle Edible Garden.

Mall of America
South Avenue, Bloomington, MN
(952) 814-1900  
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10am-9:30pm, Sunday: 10am-7pm
Price: Free
Age Range: Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Located just outside of the Twin Cities in Bloomington, Minnesota is the Mall of America. No trip to Minneapolis is complete without stepping foot into the massive shopping center, which is big enough to fit seven Yankee Stadiums inside! Get all of your shopping done at one of the 500 stores in the mall, or visit the Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme park.

Underwater Adventures Aquarium
120 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN
(952) 883-0202  
Monday-Thursday: 9:30am-8pm
Friday: 9:30am-8:30pm
Saturday: 9am-8:30pm
Sunday: 9:30am-6:30pm
Price: Children (ages 3-12): $15.99, Adults (ages 13+): $19.99
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Underwater Adventures Aquarium inside of the Mall of America is home to more than 10,000 aquatic creates including sharks, stingrays and freshwater fish. Stand on the “people-mover” and be transported through a 300-foot glass tunnel of sea life, where you’ll always have a great view!

Local uniques:

Midtown Global Market
Lake Street and 10th Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 872-4041
Hours: 7am-8pm (daily)
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Midtown Global Market has a reputation for great food and diverse entertainment. With a wide range of specialty groceries, you can take home local fare or enjoy a meal at the market. If you don’t come hungry, you will still leave happy after visiting some of the arts, crafts, and specialty stores.

Wild Rumpus
2720 West 43rd Street, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 920-5005
Monday, Saturday: 10am-5pm
Tuesday-Friday: 10am-8pm
Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Part independent book store, part independent petting zoo, Wild Rumpus is a fascinating place for visitors of all ages. With a wide variety of books, you can read to your grandchildren in the store while they explore the fuzzy friends that inhabit Wild Rumpus — from Amelia the chinchilla to Pimiento the chicken.

The Lake Harriet Elf
Lake Harriet Drive, Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Dawn to dusk (daily)
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Lake Harriet is a beautiful outdoor space to do some walking, biking, and skating that never gets as much attention as its big brother, Lake Calhoun. But Harriet has a hidden treasure of her own that grandchildren will love to search for: The Lake Harriet Elf. A tiny elf door is carved into the base of a tree, not far from South Oliver Avenue. As legend has it, children who leave a note for the elf will receive a reply note within a few days!

Padelford Riverboat Tours
Plato Boulevard West and Dr. Justus Ohage Boulevard, Minneapolis, MN
(800) 543-3908
Hours: 12pm and 2pm (daily), call ahead for specialty tour times
Price: Children (ages 3-12): $8, Adults (ages 13-64): $16, Seniors (ages 65+): $16
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Take a riverboat cruise on the mighty Mississippi and see some of the greatest sights in the Twin Cities—including Pig’s Eye Cave, Pike Island, and the historic Fort Snelling. These 90-minute tours run twice daily, though Padelford offers a variety of specialty tours, like the Sunset Dinner Cruise, that include full meals in the ticket price.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 375-7600
Hours: 6am-12am (daily)
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, located a stone’s throw away from the Walker Art Center, is a beautiful and sprawling testament to outdoor art and sculpture. Sculptures like the infamous Spoonbridge and Cherry are stretched over 11 acres of green space.