Best family attractions in Minnesota

Jun 1, 2012 at 9:48 a.m. ET

Minnesota is about as family-friendly as you can get, and the best part is that the diverse year-round weather guarantees that there's always fun attractions for the entire family.

Mall of America

Mall of America

Minnesota's Mall of America is a destination in itself with more than 500 stores, 50 restaurants, a mirror maze, movie theaters, a miniature golf course, an Underground Aquarium and the best-of-the-best indoor, year-round Nickelodeon Universe theme park sitting in the center of the mall complete with rides and roller coasters for all ages.

Location: 60 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

Rates: Free admission, various rates for attractions


Water Park of America

The Radisson Hotel in Bloomington may have awesome guest rooms — and even suites with bunk beds for larger families — but it's the Water Park of America that draws the families. Your kids will bounce out of bed and change their clothes quicker than you can say water slide to hit the 10-story-tall, mile-long family raft ride, lazy river or Minnesota's only Flow Rider Surf Simulator. When your kids are ready for some grub, your family will find food at two onsite restaurants.

Location: 1700 East American Boulevard, Bloomington, MN 55425 

Rates: Water park varies from $15-$40 depending upon times, days and time of year


Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul has been around for over 100 years, and it only keeps getting better. The site features indoor and outdoor animal exhibits year-round as well as gardens, mini-golf and a historic carousel. Admission is free, but a small donation is recommended. Bring extra spending money if you plan to meander into the adjacent Como Town Amusement Park.

Location: 1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103

Rates: Free


The Milwaukee Road Depot

The Milwaukee Road Depot (best known simply as the Depot) in downtown Minneapolis is one place you can spend the entire day considering there is non-stop action. The 15,000 square-foot indoor water park entertains kids of all ages, and over the winter the seasonal indoor ice skating rink freezes over for a little fun on ice. Lockers are available for use. This site also has two Marriott hotels — Residence Inn and Renaissance — as well as a restaurant and bar.

Location: 225 S. 3rd Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Rates: Varies depending upon activity


Jackson Street Roundhouse

You don't have to be a railroad enthusiast to enjoy time at Jackson Street Roundhouse. This location allows visitors to learn about the history of Minnesota's railways. Kids can operate the genuine roundhouse turntable, one of the few of its kind remaining in the country. Saturdays are the best day to visit since the caboose ride (included with admission) runs regularly.

Location: 193 Pennsylvania Ave. E., Saint Paul, MN 55130 

Rates: $10-$50


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