Kids and parents alike look forward to Winter Break. Usually, there is a week or two off school, and often times families take that opportunity to travel. However, as much as some families would like to escape the cold Minneapolis and St. Paul weather, they look at the budget or the parents’ vacation time available or various other factors and decide to stay home.
But the good news is, staying home over winter break doesn’t mean that you can’t have vacation type fun during your time off. In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new term in the world of travel, and it brings with it a plethora of opportunities, it’s called “Staycation.” The term describes taking a vacation of sorts, while sticking close to home, and it’s one of the fun little surprises that has popped out of the recent questionable economy. All over, people are discovering travel treasures in their own back yards, and the Twin Cities is no exception. Here are some ideas to make this year’s Winter Break a memorable one.
Mall of America(MOA) – (Bloomington, MN) This may seem like too obvious a choice, and you may be thinking that after the frenzy of Holiday shopping that a mall is not exactly where you want to go. But there are a lot more things to do than go shopping, and many of them are new. Attractions include A.C.E.S Flight Simulator, Amazing Mirror Maze, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, Magiquest, Nickeloden Universe, and Underwater Adventures Aquarium.
Aside from having a wide variety of activities to choose from, there is a distinct upside of having these activities take place someplace warm compared to what’s going on inside. Whether you’re battling as a fighter pilot in a flight simulator, or strolling past Sting Rays and Sharks you’re sure to find something to make the day memorable.
Minnesota Children’s Museum – (St. Paul, MN) If you have small children, Minnesota Children’s Museum is a special treat. Unlike most museums, this place is interactive and fun. It was voted best indoor entertainment by MN Parent magazine, best children’s museum three years in a row by Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect!, and Cookie Magazine listed it on one of 18 must- see children’s museums.
The Children’s Museum has reasonable one time visit rates of $8.95, and well as offering memberships for regular visitors. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday during the school year. see the website for more details.
Science Museum of Minnesota – (St. Paul, MN) You don’t have to be a huge science buff to enjoy The Science Museum. As a kid, I wasn’t into science, but I loved the Science Museum. From the dinosaurs, to the weather exhibits, and of course the Omni theater. Current rates for Museum Admission + OmniTheater are $17 for adults, and $14.50 for kids 4-12. Lower rates are available for Museum or Omni only, but if you’re heading out there, you might as well do it all. For regular visitors, $95 a year will get two adults, and their kids under 18 free admission to exhibits and the Omnitheater. Other discounts are available as well for students and those with low incomes.
Minnesota Zoo with Imax – ( Apple Valley, MN) The Minnesota Zoo is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 4 pm, and offeres both one time visit and membership pricing. In addition, there is also an Imax theater onsite, which zoo patrons get a discount to blockbuster movies.
Zoo only visits for ages 12 and under is $10, $16 if IMAX theater tickets are included. Adults pay $16 for zoo only and $23 for zoo plus IMAX. Although some exhibits are closed during the winter, there is still plenty to see. For an even better deal, you can become a member, and get free admission. Rates start at $40 per year.
Minnesota History Center (St. Paul, MN) If you’re looking for something a little more low key, you may want to consider touring the Minnesota History Center, The History Center has their own regular exhibits, and also features other exhibits other that are on loan. Rates are $10 for adults, and $5 for kids 12 and under. Students also get an additional discount, and memeberships are also available.
If a part of you was always a little envious when you watched Charlie and the Chocolate factory, this may be your chance to get your just desserts. The History Center is holding an exhibit on Chocolate, but it’s only good until January 2nd.
Mill City Museum – (Minneapolis, MN) Compared to a lot of the other venues listed, the Mill City Museum is a little different. It’s built at the site of an old flour mill plagued by explosion and fire, but the site managed to hang on one way or another, and in the 1990s the actual museum was built– even though the site was around over a hundred years before that. It’s recommended to clear at least two hours to explore, even more if it’s warm enough to stroll along the Minneapolis Riverfront. Admission rates at Mill City are the same as the History Center.
The Depot- (Minneapolis, MN) The Historic Depot Hotel was established back in1899, and is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, and is definitely more than a place to sleep. Like many hotels there are comfortable rooms to sleep in, and a nice restaurant. A little more rare, however is the indoor waterpark and heated ice skating rink. Preferential treatment is given to hotel guests, but it is possible to enjoy these amenities even if you aren’t staying overnight. Non-Hotel guests can get day passes to the waterpark for $20, and ice skating costs are $8 for adults, $6 for children and seniors, with $7 skate rental. With glass walls around the rink you’ll almost think you’re skating outside– only it’ll be much warmer.
In addition to all this, there is always the traditional, movies, bowling, or driving around looking at holiday decorations in your neighborhood. But whatever you decide to do, the Twin Cities area is a great place to explore and spread holiday cheer over your winter break.
Mall of America(MOA)
A.C.E.S Flight Simulator,
Amazing Mirror Maze,
Moose Mountain Adventure Golf,
.Science Museum of Minnesota
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Minnesota Zoo with Imax
Mill City Museum