Every year or two, our family makes a trip to Minnesota, my home state. If you haven’t been there, it’s definitely somewhere you should consider for your next vacation. You know about the 10,000 lakes, right? (There are actually more!) I personally prefer the city though, and Minneapolis and St Paul are two beautiful cities that offer so much to do, and much of it is even free. And since the winters do get extremely cold, many of the best attractions are indoors, so you can enjoy them year-round. And, if you like winter sports, Minnesota can’t be beat.
Let me tell you about some of my family’s favorite things to do around the Twin Cities.
1. A Twins or Vikings game — There are two new stadiums in Minneapolis for the Vikings (U.S. Bank Stadium) and Twins (Target Field). We had such a fun night seeing the Twins and Milwaukee Brewers game on our recent trip. Our family was split on who we wanted to win, since my husband is from Wisconsin, but I’m happy to say the Twins won!
2. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden — We love the Sculpture Garden! On a nice day, it’s the perfect place to be. The setting is beautiful, you’ll love all the sculptures–and it’s free. We’ve been going for years. (These are our photos from one of our previous trips.)
3. The Mall of America — This is where almost everyone wants to go when they visit the Twin Cities. To say it’s big is an understatement. It has every store you can think of and then some. And, there’s no sales tax on clothes! The Mall of America also has an amusement park, an aquarium, and so many other fun attractions. In fact, I wrote another post just about The Mall of America. Watch for it soon.
Vacations can get hectic, and choosing the right place to stay is important. After a busy day of sight-seeing and visiting family and friends, we were thrilled with our choice of hotels on this trip. My sister recommended the Holiday Inn Elk River, and I’m so glad she did! We had a great suite, and for a family, I suggest spending a little more for that extra space. It’s nice to come “home” at the end of the day and have room for everyone to sit and relax! We made use of the refrigerator, microwave, and desk space every day too.
And, it gets better–for the same price as other hotels in the Twin Cities, the Holiday Inn Elk River includes a big indoor water park! And, yes waterpark admission is included as part of your stay. For a small extra fee, your family can also use Buddy’s Fun Zone, a huge game room that’s part of the hotel. It has a mini golf course, video games, and more. My youngest son especially loved the waterpark and Fun Zone. And, when when he had extra energy to burn, we let him hang out at the waterpark without us. There are several lifeguards, which made me feel good about allowing him be there on his own.
It was our first time staying at the Holiday Inn Elk River, but it turned out to be a perfect home base for our trip, and we even ate most of our meals in the hotel restaurant. Who knew they would have such great food? The breakfasts were delicious, and the dinners–wow! We were so pleasantly surprised. We had walleye, pasta, and steak, and they were all delicious, and our server, Amanda, was the best!
I can’t think of anything more the Holiday Inn Elk River could have done to make us feel more welcome or to make our stay more pleasant. And, everything you need is right there. This will be our “go-to” hotel for our future trips to the Twin Cities.
If you live in the Twin Cities, it’s a fun getaway too. As the weather gets colder, the kids will love the indoor waterpark. And, they even offer specials and party packages. This would be the perfect birthday party spot!
Some other sites not to miss in the Twin Cities:
4. The Como Zoo — I took my daughter here all the time when she was little. It was and is still free, and it is an outstanding zoo! There are daily feedings and shows you’ll want to be on the lookout for. If you want to save a little money, this makes a perfect outing and is well worth the trip.
5. Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet — When I lived in Minneapolis, my daughter and I liked to bike around the lakes in South Minneapolis. Now there’s a city-wide bikeshare program, and the lakes are just a great place to hang out and take a walk.
6. Minnehaha Falls — This is also a beautiful setting for a walk or hike, and the falls are beautiful in warm weather or in the winter when the water freezes coming over the falls.
7. The Minnesota Zoo — This is another excellent zoo with daily feedings, demos, and shows you won’t want to miss. This zoo is larger, and it does charge admission.
8. Valleyfair — If you’re visiting in the summer, you might want to visit Valleyfair. It’s the upper Midwest’s largest amusement park.
10. The Mary Tyler Moore house (shown in the opening credits of the tv show) is at 2104 Kenwood Parkway in south Minneapolis. You can drive by the house, and you can visit the statue near the Minneapolis Visitor Information center on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.
And there’s more… There is plenty to see around the rest of Minnesota too. Of course, there’s boating, fishing, and water skiing on the lakes. The northern part of the state is wooded and gorgeous, especially in the fall. Explore Minnesota has lots of ideas on their site, including 18 Free Things to do in Minnesota and Free Things to Do in Minneapolis.
Have you been to the Twin Cities? Leave me a comment!
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