Minny/St. Paul family trip

Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 09:42 AM
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Minny/St. Paul family trip

Our family would like to see the Minny-St. Paul area in August (kids will be in 4th/6th gr). I've been scanning the boards and have an idea of what we might like to see:
Mall of American (probably the last day)

The capitol?

Enjoy a day exploring the park system? I keep reading that it's "great" - are there bikes to rent and paths to follow around the lakes? Are there restaurants along the way to stop?

Stillwater - St. Croix River?

Boat rental for an afternoon? Lake Minnetonka or somewhere else?

What are some other suggestions of things we could do to get a flavor of the area? Hotel or restaurant suggestions for families that might be somewhat central? We try to challenge ourselves by not staying or eating at chains (or at least not ones that we've been to before. Would like to have a mix of activities for all of us - but will probably only be there for 3 or 4 nights.
Would love any suggestions or ideas! Thanks.
blueslipper is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 10:15 AM
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My kids liked the Science Museum, the sculpture garden at the Art Museum, Fort Snelling, and the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:23 PM
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The St. Paul Science Museum is excellent and right on the banks of the Mississippi. In Mpls. there is a new Mill City museum that also sits right on the river and from there I would recommend a stroll onto the Stone Arch bridge where you can view a Lock& Dam and see the altered St. Anthony Falls. Yes, walking, biking or roller blading on paths around Lake Harriet or Lake Calhoun and/or swimming or paddling in the lake and get an ice cream at Sebastian Joe's afterwards. There is a trolley tour of Mpls. that is good. As suggested, Fort Snelling is always fun; Civil War era re-enactors. Lake Minnetonka is a ways west of the cities, but there are tours or rentals available. My kids like to eat at Chino Latino in Uptown; spicy ethnic food. Kinh Do in the same area has great Vietnamese food. Any of the D'Amico cafeterias are consistently good. Touring the Capitol is good; I personally love the St. Paul Cathedral and Mpls. Basilica tours. Near St. Paul sights Cafe' Latte' has cafeteria style salads, sandwiches and awesome desserts that would be good for kids; its on Grand Avenue-a nice shopping area in St. Paul. We have a new light rail system that connects the Mall of America, airport, downtown and even Fort Snelling area, so staying near that line would be helpful. I am not a Mall of America fan; its just a huge mall, but kids will like the Legoland and Camp Snoopy (which is about to be re-named) Amusement Park. There is a food court and a movie theater there. We like to eat at Tucci Benuch when we shop there. I could go on and on. Any more specifics? Its a great area!!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 01:46 PM
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Glad to hear you'll be visiting our fair city. You will enjoy it, especially in August.

Your list looks pretty good. I concur with the previous posts, and here is a little more in terms of my thoughts:
- You will notice that the locals don't endorse the Mall of America.... to us, just a big mall (I go about once every 4 years). But I guess to someone who hasn't seen it, it can fill up an enjoyable afternoon
- Your St. Croix idea is great. If you want activity, follow it all the way up to Taylors Falls and go for a hike. Very pretty up there and nice trails.
- Lake Minnetonka is "the" lake if you want a boat tour. I know that there are several per day that leave out of Excelsior, and go for anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Excelsior also has a walkable downtown with casual restaurants and would be a good lunch locale.
- The Minneapolis Lakes, as they are called, are fun. I think there would be a bike rental nearby, and you have lots of great restaurants to visit in nearby Uptown. This just might be the most quintessential Minneapolis activity.
- One of my favorite activities with kids is the Science Museum in St. Paul which has already been referred to twice.... Afterward, I cap it all off with pizza at Cossettas, just a short walk from the museum.
- We have a State Fair in August that is a long standing tradition. It runs for two weeks and is quite an affair. I personally would substitute it for the Mall of American if you are in town during its run.

Hazelmn is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 02:46 PM
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Min/St. Paul is a great area for a vacation. I will say, being from out of town, that we do enjoy the Mall of America when we visit the area. If your kids like amusement parks, they will like the one inside the mall. It's climate-controlled, with the rides very close together, so it cuts down on all the walking. Also in the mall is an aquarium that is very interesting. You can easily spend a day at the mall or even two.
kansasmom is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:25 PM
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There's a shop that rents bikes near Lake Calhoun.


The chain of lakes (Harriet, Calhoun, Lake of the Isles) all have paved paths around them, and in most places, there are separate pedestrian and one-way bike paths (which also have roller bladers on them).

If you take a look at citypages.com, you'll find a bunch of restaurants in the metro area. Also, as others have said the MOA isn't real exciting. Camp Snoopy is no longer (it lost it's licensing deal with the Peanuts gang), but the amusement park is still there, just with a different name. Underwater World is good in MOA. Como Park Zoo in St. Paul is OK and free (the outdoor gardens and conservatory are better than the zoo).
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