Minnesota Spring Break ‘Staycations’ for All Ages

By Caitlin Hannah

Mother and son viewing the Minnesota Zoo aquarium
Photo by Minnesota Zoo

Spring break is just around the corner. The kids will be home from school. Do you have plans to keep them busy? There are plenty of things to do and see in Minnesota, both indoors and out, for all ages. From children’s museums for younger kids to sipping an IPA with your college student on break, your Minnesota staycation awaits.

Elementary & Preschool

Aquariums and Zoos

A wolf pack at the International Wolf Center in Ely
Three wolves poised on a snow mound at the International Wolf Center in Ely / Photo by Eve Schrank

Do your kids go wild for animals? Escape the cold and immerse yourself in tropical weather on the Minnesota Zoo’s Tropics Trail or pay a visit to their newest addition, a baby Malayan tapir. Stroll through the Como Zoo to see a variety of animals and watch Chloe the sloth while being surrounded by lush tropical plants.

Go underwater at Sea Life at Mall of America or the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. To view animals in their natural habitat, visit the North American Bear Center and International Wolf Center in Ely, the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, the Wildlife Center in Columbus or the Raptor Center in St. Paul.


Family at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota
Learning is fun at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato

A Minnesota staycation can be educational, too, at one of the state’s many museums. Explore the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato and let the kids blow off some steam at the Mankato Clinic Tree of Forts Climber. In downtown St. Paul, treat your kids to a day at the newly renovated Minnesota Children's Museum, which added 10 new permanent exhibits in 2017.

The Headwaters Science Museum in Bemidji features more than 70 hands-on interactive exhibits. Kids can hold a snake or bunny, make a harmongraph picture, watch the kinetic sculpture and gaze at the saltwater aquarium.

The Bell Museum is back and better than ever. Now located on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus, the sparkling new facility is home to 10,000 year-old fossils, incredible wildlife dioramas, a full-scale wooly mammoth and the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium.

Theater & Entertainment

Exterior of Minneapolis Institute of Art and Children's Theatre
The Children's Theatre Co. shares a building with Mia / Photo courtesy of Mia

Your little ones will love seeing their favorite stories come to life. The Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins will be showing "Owl Moon," and in Minneapolis, the Children’s Theatre Company is performing a rendition of "The Hobbit," based on the beloved book by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Only in Minnesota

Visit LARK Toys in Kellogg to see one of the largest toy stores in the country. Take a ride on the hand-carved wooden carousel, browse the LARK-made wooden toys, games and puzzles, or enjoy handmade fudge in the cafe.

Middle & High School


Giant astronaut at the Science Museum of Minnesota
This giant astronaut welcomes visitors to the Science Museum of Minnesota / Photo by Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota's vibrant, open space spans four floors of engaging exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to the human body, the Mississippi River, race, questionable medical devices and Legos. More of a moviegoer? Kids love the Science Museum’s 90-foot, giant dome screen Omnitheater.

Step into the sweet world of Candytopia at Mall of America. This new interactive art exhibit was voted one of the best pop-up museums to visit in 2018 by Forbes and features art installations made of candy, a marshmallow pit and, of course, plenty of saccharine samples to soothe your sweet tooth.

Shop ‘Til You Drop 

Twin Cities Premium Outlets
Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan

Minnesota is a haven for shopping, and Mall of America is just the beginning. If you’re looking for the latest styles or a one-of-a-kind antique, there are plenty of spots to explore. Score a great deal at an outlet mall like the Twin Cities Premium Outlets, the newest addition to the Minnesota shopping scene in Eagan. Take a few days and go on a mall crawl from Albertville to North Branch.

Only in Minnesota

Barnacle Blast at Nickelodeon Universe
Ride the Barnacle Blast zip line at Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America

What do you get when you mix basketball, hockey, lacrosse and bumper cars? You get WhirlyBall! This fun sport is a great group activity in Maple Grove. The entertainment destination also features the largest laser-tag arena in the state.

Fly through Mall of America on the Barnacle Blast, the largest indoor zip line in North America, or experience Dutchman’s Deck, an adventure course featuring the tallest ropes course in the world, challenging guests to climb 56 feet above Nickelodeon Universe.


Concerts & Shows

Babes in Toyland plays the main stage at First Avenue
"Babes in Toyland" / First Avenue / Photo by Bjorn Christianson, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Minnesota has a wide array of venues that attract local independent artists and world-renowned bands. The Twin Cities have been a hot spot for decades with venues like First Avenue, the Turf Club and the Cedar Cultural Center, but other areas of the state are also draws.


Vertical Endeavors indoor rock climbing gym, Duluth
Vertical Endeavors has locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth (pictured) / Photo by Krista Mathes

Have you ever wanted to try rock climbing? Vertical Endeavors caters to families looking for an afternoon of fun and can even challenge serious climbers. The St. Paul location is the largest indoor rock climbing facility in the country. Vertical Endeavors also has locations in Duluth and Minneapolis. Rental equipment is available.

Only in Minnesota

Castle Danger beer flight and musician, Two Harbors
A flight of beer from Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors / Photo by Brian Jeremiason

Check out the craft beverage scene across the state. Some notable spots for local beer include Canal Park Brewery in Duluth, and Voyageur Brewing in Grand Marais, which uses the clean waters of Lake Superior to brew its beers. LynLake Brewery is located in an old movie theater in Minneapolis, and Excelsior Brewing is in the heart of this charming town. Swing by Surly Brewing to marvel at the destination brewpub.

Fun for the Whole Family

Hit the Slopes

A family of skiers on top of Lutsen Mountain
A family of skiers on top of Lutsen Mountain

Minnesota has some of the highest hills in the Midwest and offers something for every level, from bunny hills to terrain parks. Spend your spring break along the North Shore at Lutsen Mountain or visit Minnesota’s newest ski area, Detroit Mountain in Detroit Lakes.  Many ski and snowboard areas offer snow tubing for even more thrills. Browse our database to find a ski area near you.

Make a Splash at a Water Park

Girl at Great Wolf Lodge waterpark in Bloomington
Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington features a 75,000-square-foot water park / Photo by Great Wolf Lodge

Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria’s tropical-themed park has three 4-story waterslides and a relaxing lazy river. Little swimmers will love the children’s fort area with water sprayers, geysers and a 500-gallon splash bucket.

In Thief River Falls, visit The Seven Clans Casino waterpark to enjoy four large waterslides, three mini-slides, two hot tubs, a lazy river and more. Click here for a full list. Or, click here for a list of water parks without lodging attached.

More Travel Ideas