Trekaroo Family Travel Blog kids. trips. tips. Wed, 01 Jul 2020 20:29:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trekaroo Family Travel Blog 32 32 9953755 Top 10 Fun Things to do in Ohio with kids! | Ohio Family Vacation Wed, 01 Jul 2020 15:00:19 +0000 From theme parks and racetracks, to hall of fame museums and Amish Country, Ohio offers a stunning array of adventures for families to enjoy. The residents of this state have made substantial contributions to pop culture, sports competition and history. They took great risk to stand up against unfair laws, and faced the unknown while exploring outer space. Not only have they inspired amazing experiences for your family to visit, they’ve left great messages about courage, conviction and harmony that your family will be talking about long after your trip ends. Here is Ohio’s top ten:

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From the thrilling roller coasters of Cedar Point Amusement Park to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, there are lots of great places to visit on an Ohio family vacation.

Past residents of this state have made substantial contributions to pop culture and aviation history. Today, families can learn about America’s rock and roll history in Cleveland at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t know what to do in Ohio? From the shores of Lake Erie to the Ohio River in Cincinnati, here are Trekaroo’s top 10 fun things to do in Ohio with kids.

Fun Things to Do in Ohio with Kids  

10.   Root for the Home Team across the State of Ohio

Fun Things to Do in Ohio with Kids Tour Great American Ballpark
Great American Ballpark | Photo by Melissa Moore

The favorite summer activity for many Ohioans is a visit to their local ballpark. In Cincinnati that is the Great American Ballpark overlooking the Ohio River. The stadium, home of the Reds, allows families to bring in their own food so that your visit to the ballpark with the kids is more affordable.

If your family is a fan of the Reds, you might already know that they have amazing Hall of Fame and Museum. Even if you aren’t fans, the whole family will certainly enjoy the museum where older kids can practice pitching, and little ones can dress up in uniforms.

Of course, the Reds aren’t the only major league baseball team in the state. Families can also enjoy an Indians game in Cleveland.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame celebrates all that is professional football.  It is a must visit for families to whom tailgating and tossing the pigskin around is a reverent activity. The Hall of Fame honors those who’ve made outstanding contributions to the sport, preserves artifacts, and promotes football’s place in American culture.

Another part of the Hall of Fame’s mission is to host kid-friendly events like First Play. First Play is a commemorative event where nearly 2,000 youngsters line a two-mile route passing an official NFL football from the site where the National Football League was founded back to the Hall of Fame.

Find the lowest prices on family-friendly hotels in Ohio

Columbus, OH |  Cleveland, OHCincinnati, OHCedar Point, OH 

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9.  Learn about Aviation History in Dayton, Home of the Wright Brothers 

What to do in Ohio for free go to National Museum of the Air Force
National Museum of the Air Force | Photo by Melissa Moore

Ohio has much to offer in the histories of aviation and space exploration. Neil Armstrong and the Wright Brothers are among the native sons who have taken flights of fancy whether on the earth or around it. The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park marks the birthplace of plane travel.

The National Park visitor center looks small from the outside, but the inside is full of modern, family-friendly exhibits that will inspire future pilots. Kids enjoy the interactive exhibits that demonstrate the physics of flight. Exhibits also tell the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s early years in Dayton setting the scene for their flight in North Carolina.

Looking to check out some airplanes in Ohio? The best place to do that is at the National Museum of the Air Force. It is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. There are four hangars of United States Air Force aircraft dating from World War II to the Cold War. Admission to this museum is free.

The state’s contributions to space flight are most notably celebrated in the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. The museum was named for Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. Appropriately, the items on display include the Gemini VIII spacecraft, Apollo 11 artifacts, and a moon rock.

Need lodging in Dayton? Find a great hotel.

8.  Bike along the Canal at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Fun Things to Do in Ohio with Kids Bike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Biking in Cuyahoga Valley National Park | Photo by Melissa Moore

The scenic Cuyahoga River has been shaped by the people and industries that have thrived along its banks. First, in the 1830s, the Ohio and Erie Canal was built connecting the Ohio River with the Great Lakes. Only 50 years later, trains began running through the valley as this part of the country became industrialized.

Today, this land has been set aside for the people as Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Families can bike beside the river on the flat Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. The railroad, once carrying coal, is now Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. This scenic railroad transports visitors and their bikes the length of the national park.

The park is also scattered with hiking trails. There are trails to waterfalls, like the popular Brandywine Falls. Another family favorite is the Ritchie Ledges Trail because it winds in the shade of towering sandstone cliffs and hemlock trees.

While you’re in northeast Ohio, be sure to stop by Ohio’s Amish Country just south of the national park. This region of Ohio is home to the world’s largest Amish and Mennonite settlement. Thus, visiting Ohio’s Amish Country is a charming way to take a break from the hectic pace of modern life.

Families can ride a horse-drawn buggy, tour an Amish home and learn about daily life in this community at Schrock’s Amish Farm in Berlin.

7. Celebrate Freedom at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati

Places to visit in Ohio the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati | Photo by Melissa Moore

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati has been telling the stories of Ohio’s Freedom Trail for almost 15 years. Ohio’s Freedom Trail was the way to freedom for many slaves west of the Appalachian Mountains.

At this history center in Southeast Ohio, families can learn about the pathways that led slaves to freedom by playing interactive, kid-friendly games. These games allow modern children to make choices about escaping slavery as if they were a slave child over 150 years ago.

Appropriately, the Freedom Center looks south onto the Ohio River. The Ohio River once divided the western part of the nation into the slave-owning states of the South from the North.

Ultimately, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is so much more than a museum about the Ohio Freedom Trail. It also challenges visitors to consider human trafficking and modern slavery.

As a result, the Freedom Center stands among America’s top museums as a leader in educating the next generation about the importance of freedom using examples from the Underground Railroad and Civil Rights Movement.

Don’t forget to grab some Graeter’s ice cream while you’e in Queen City! Check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 Things to Do in Cincinnati with Kids.

6. Stay at an Ohio State Park Lodge

What to do in Ohio stay at an Ohio State Park Lodge
Hueston Woods State Park Lodge | Photo by Melissa Moore

Sometimes you just want to get away from it all and relax. The State Park Lodges are probably the best place for families to do that in the state of Ohio.

Whether your family spends one night at a lodge on a road trip or stays for a full week in a cottage, the time relaxing in nature will surely be memorable. In total, there are eight of these historic lodges spread across the state for families to enjoy.

At Hueston Woods State Park, families can enjoy 200 acres of virgin timber forest. Matthew Hueston set aside these towering old growth beech and sugar maple trees back in 1797  for his descendants. Now, the state park has a full network of trails through the forest for mountain biking, hiking, and disc golf.

After a day spent outdoors, families can then return to the Hueston Woods State Park Lodge for dinner with a view of Acton Lake. Order the bananas Foster for dessert, and you certainly won’t regret it!

Families can enjoy the waterfront and bird watching in the marshlands at Maumee Bay State Park on the shores of Lake Erie. This is also a nice place for families to bike because it has an extensive network of flat bike paths.

The indoor pool area with a cute splash pad and the adjacent indoor toddler play area in the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge is a favorite for families with little ones.

Check out Trekaroo’s full guide to your Ohio Weekend Getaway at an Ohio State Park Lodge.

5. Visit the Shores of Lake Erie

Places to Visit in Ohio Marblehead Lighthouse
Marblehead Lighthouse | Photo by Melissa Moore

Did you know that the Great Lakes make up 84% of the all the fresh water in North America? At Toledo’s National Museum of the Great Lakes, families can learn many interesting facts about the lakes that define America’s Midwest.

This modern museum has interactive exhibits where kids are able to explore the ruins of historical underwater shipwrecks. Even tots can learn about the industry on the lakes by shoveling coal pieces made of foam from train to canal boat to ship’s engine.

Another museum highlight is touring the Col. James M Schoomaker, a retired steam-powered cargo ship, docked outside the museum.

Lake Erie has just about 312 miles of shoreline in the state of Ohio. The Marblehead Peninsula features picture-perfect sunrises and a quaint waterfront village lifestyle. Out on the peninsula’s jagged edge is a state park that is home to the Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operational lighthouse on the Great Lakes.

The shores of Lake Erie may be one of the best places for families to enjoy a relaxing vacation in the entire state. Thus, a favorite Ohio vacation destination is the small, seasonal town of Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island. On the island, families enjoy biking the flat roads out to scenic points on the coastline.

Another island family favorite is a visit to Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center where families can tour a butterfly house or play mini golf. Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to take in the view from the top of Perry’s Monument.

Looking for more things to do in Toledo along the shores of Lake Erie? Check out Trekaroo’s Things to Do in Toledo with Kids.

Look for deals on family-friendly hotels in Toledo, Ohio

4.  Appreciate American Pop Culture in Cleveland

Places to Visit in Ohio Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland | Photo by Melissa Moore

Cleveland deejay Alan Freed unwittingly put a match to a fuse in the early fifties when he spun an R&B record during his nightly radio show and called it, “rock and roll.”  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame houses the most impressive and iconic collection of music artifacts you’ll ever find under one roof. This Cleveland museum continues to expand its priceless collection including concert posters, rare recordings, and offbeat items. 

If viewing the movie, A Christmas Story, is a holiday tradition in your household, then Cleveland has a treat waiting for you. You can actually visit Ralphie Parker’s dysfunctional and fun household. The home used for the movie’s exterior shots is open to visitors, and the photo opportunities abound! Your family can try on aviator hats and pink bunny suits and gather around leg lamps for that wacky Christmas card picture.

Cleveland is a great place for families with teens. The Cleveland Museum of Art has many digital experiences that kids are sure to love. 

Explore Trekaroo’s Top 10 Things to do in Cleveland with kids!

4. Play and Learn at COSI in Columbus, Ohio

Fun Things to Do in Ohio with Kids got to COSI in Columbus
COSI | Photo by Melissa Moore

Looking for a place that will encourage your child’s curiosity and get them thinking about the natural world around them? Columbus’ COSI, Center for Science and Industry, has a vast collection of hands-on interactive science exhibits.

Have a 6-year-old who is obsessed with dinosaurs? At COSI’s new American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery, kids can make discoveries about flight by playing with a puzzle to create dinosaurs and birds with certain wing and body specifications.

Gadgets, on the second floor, is the perfect place for those interested in engineering to explore mechanics. Curious kids can even take apart old machines and computers at the Gadget Café.

There are opportunities for family fun to be found throughout Columbus in Central Ohio. In 2018, Franklin Park Conservatory opened a new children’s garden designed to inspire young children to learn about Ohio’s ecosystems through play. Older children can watch as an artist molds glass vases and ornaments outside the conservatory in the Hot Shop.

Do you have a child that is artistically inclined? The Columbus Museum of Art has an entire floor, the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity, with interactive experiences for families. It’s a great place to bring kids for indoor play on a rainy day. 

Check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 Things to Do in Columbus with kids!

➟ Check for deals on the top family-friendly hotels in Columbus 

2. Ride the Coasters at Cedar Point

Fun Things to Do in Ohio with Kids Cedar Point Amusement Park
Cedar Point | Photo by Melissa Moore

Cedar Point Amusement Park has over a dozen roller coasters and more than 70 rides. Those seeking the world’s tallest and fastest coasters will be happy at “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”

As my son reminded me repeatedly during our visit, Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster currently ranks as the world’s second highest coaster at 420 feet, and it tops out at a speed of 120 miles per hour. 

However, the younger crowd will be happy in the three park areas dedicated entirely to them. From friendly Peanuts characters to bounce houses and tot-sized coasters, little ones can also play the day away.

If your family finds that they need a break from all the thrilling drops and spinning rides, Cedar Point even has its own beach located on the shores of Lake Erie where you can splash in the water.

➟ Book a hotel near Cedar Point

1.   Go Wild at an Ohio Zoo

Fun Things to Do in Ohio with Kids Go to an Ohio Zoo
Toledo Zoo | Photo by Melissa Moore

The state of Ohio has seven AZA accredited zoos. While these zoos make education and conservation a priority, most of these zoos have something special and unique as well. That’s why going to the zoo is our pick for the top thing to do with kids in Ohio.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is simply the best in the state because it has everything from creative play areas to large animals in expansive enclosures. Most noteworthy is the 43-acre Heart of Africa exhibit featuring lions, zebras, and giraffes.

Kids can even play in a model of Jack Hanna’s African safari tent all while watching monkeys jumping around in the adjacent enclosure. Animals from the continents Asia, North America, and Australia are also found at this massive zoo.

Toledo Zoo and Aquarium

The Toledo Zoo is home to animals from around the world, from hippos to penguins. The zoo’s primary conservation focus, however, is right in their own backyard. The zoo is responsible for releasing hellbender salamanders into the wild, cultivating wild prairies in northwest Ohio, and reintroducing lake sturgeon to the nearby Maumee River.

 As far as my kids are concerned, the highlight of the Toledo Zoo is a 763-foot zip line. On the zip line, you can sail over the animals in the Expedition Africa exhibit, including a herd of giraffes.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Ohio’s tradition of animal conservation and education can’t be beaten. The Cincinnati Zoo is the second oldest zoo in the United States, and it is home to Fiona the baby hippo, famous across Ohio. It also features some of the best educational programs.

Have you ever wanted to see a cheetah run? You can at the Cincinnati Zoo during one of their educational programs. The manatees are also a highlight at the Cincinnati Zoo. There is even a map showing where the zoo has re-released manatees across the state of Florida.

Cleveland Metro Parks Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo features an African savanna with ostriches, giraffes, and zebras. However, the real highlight of this zoo is the Australian Adventure exhibit area. Visitors can even spot a koala bear up in the eucalyptus trees.

There is also a walk-through kangaroo and wallaby area. We were certainly excited to spot a mama wallaby with her little joey just a few feet off the trail. Kids love the huge Yagga Tree treehouse complete with a rope bridge and a high, snake-like slide.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is another fun place for animal-loving kids to visit in Cleveland. 

Special thanks to Kristine Dworkin who contributed to this article and wrote the first version originally published in 2012.

Disclosure: Trekaroo contributors have been hosted by cities across Ohio to compile this list of the top 10 things to do in Ohio. All opinions are our own.

Featured photo by: Shutterstock


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Top 10 FUN Things to do in Oklahoma with Kids! Tue, 30 Jun 2020 07:42:45 +0000 Oklahoma - a state where diverse landscapes and rich cultures beckon visitors to explore and enjoy. From museums to native American history, we've listed the top 10 experiences that your family will love.

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national cowboy museum photo
Photo by Marcin Wichary

Oklahoma  is a state where diverse landscapes and rich cultures beckon visitors to explore and enjoy.  There are so many great things to do in Oklahoma with kids, many of which celebrate the history of this great state.

Early settlers grabbed a piece of Oklahoma land before it was officially released by the Homestead Act; sooner, rather than later and thus the nickname “the Sooner State” was established.  I guess those land grabbers already knew how wonderful Oklahoma would be. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein may have described the state best with their lyrics for the musical, Oklahoma!

“And the land we belong to is grand! And when we say YEEOW! A-Yip-I-oee-ay! We’re only sayin’ you’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma—O.K.” 

Continue humming that catchy little tune while reading about these great things to do and planning your Oklahoma vacation. 

Best Things to do in Oklahoma with Kids

1. Celebrate Oklahoma’s Rich Native American Cultures

Learning about Native American culture at the cherokee heritage center is one of the great things to do in Oklahoma with kids
Weaver at the Cherokee Heritage Center | Photo by literacythree

Oklahoma’s rich Native American history is evident in the symbols displayed on the official state seal, flag, and license plates. Families can learn more about the state’s Native American history and cultures while visiting several sites honoring native tribes and their rich heritage.

Chickasaw Cultural Center is the largest tribal cultural center in the United States and offers families a glimpse into Chickasaw history and culture.  Children will especially love all of the colorful interactive displays, live storytellers, and hands-on classes.  

Step back in time and experience living history at the Cherokee Heritage Center where a replicated ancient village demonstrates Cherokee life before European contact.  

Visit the Spiro Mounds site, a prehistoric Native American archaeology site featuring artifacts preserved among 12 prehistoric burial mounds across 150 acres.

2. Take a Flight

Tulsa Air Space Museum is a fun place to visit in Oklahoma
Simulator at the Tulsa Air & Space Museum | Photo by: Flickr/travelokpics

 Every era of Oklahoma’s rich aviation heritage is showcased at the Tulsa Air & Space Museum, from hot-air balloons and vintage aircraft to fighter jets and space modules. Children will love learning about the state’s contributions to the aerospace industry through all of the hands-on interactive exhibits. 

You might want to bring a recording of the Top Gun theme song, because this museum allows kids to climb on board many of the aircraft displayed! Once inside the museum’s Viper F-16, crank up the music because kids can actually operate this fighter jet as it pitches, rolls, and yaws through a wind tunnel.  

If you have a space enthusiast in your family, check out one of the daily shows offered in the planetarium’s Spitz SciDome which is included in your admission.

3. Teach Kids Remembrance & Honor at the Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City Memorial
Oklahoma City Memorial | Photo by:Flickr/glovision

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 was tragic, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and injuring more than 650. 

The Oklahoma City National Memorial was erected to honor these victims, their families, and the heroic rescuers.  The memorial sits on hallowed ground – a solemn place to teach kids about honor and remembrance. 

The National Park Service overseas this memorial with on-site rangers offering talks and opportunities for kids to earn an Oklahoma City National Memorial Junior Ranger badge.  The memorial houses symbolic segments, such as the “Gates of Time,” reflecting pool, Rescuers’ Orchard, and field of empty chairs. 

Be sure to tour the Children’s Area, where hand-painted tiles created by kids are exhibited.  Chalkboards align this area allowing kids to share their feelings and continue to honor those impacted by this tragic event.

While you are in Oklahoma City, here are some other spots to visit.

4.  Play and Learn at Oklahoma Childrens Museums

Leonardos Discovery Warehouse Oklahoma
Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse | Photo by: Flickr/mhowry

Learning is synonymous with play at two fun filled children’s museums in Oklahoma: the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum, and Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse.  

Kids can try out a career at the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum’s imaginary town where role playing is mandatory. When “work” gets too tiring, kids can step outside to play in the gigantic castle maze or hop on the supersonic express train. 

If only the real world worked like that! 

The Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse knows how to mix art, science, and fun. Inside kids can experience several hands-on exhibits: fly the space shuttle, create a sculpture, explore a rain forest, or put on a play.

Once art and science have been mastered, kids can step outside to Adventure Quest, a colossal castle and outdoor science playground.  Who says, art, science, learning, and play can’t coexist?

Check for hotel availability in Oklahoma

5. Walk on the Wild Side

Oklahoma City Zoo

Photo by: Flickr/katsrcool

Animal adventures await your family at premier zoological institutions in Oklahoma. Be sure to check out the new children’s zoo at the Oklahoma City Zoo.  It offers kids the chance to touch, splash, crawl, and swing, just like the multitude of wildlife displayed throughout the zoo’s grounds. 

Tulsa Zoo combines natural history with over 2,500 animal exhibits, resulting in an entertaining and educational zoo experience.  It has all the classic animals such as lions, tigers (bears, oh my!), penguins, elephants, and a variety of primates. 

The Endangered Ark Foundation is home to one of the largest Asian elephant herds in the country. It is home to several former circus elephants and is dedicated to educating the public about these beautiful creatures.Public tours are available by appointment. 

6. Admire Some Bones

Bones Museum of Osteology Oklahoma
Photo courtesy of The Museum of Osteology

No bones about it, kids are sure to find interesting skeletal displays in Oklahoma.  Take a walk through the Hall of Ancient Life at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History where 4 billion years of Oklahoma natural history comes to life through an impressive collection of paleontological specimens. 

Let the kids’ imaginations run wild at the “Clash of the Titans” display where prehistoric Jurassic bones demonstrate a life or death struggle.  

Expose kids to the form and function of skeletal remains at The Museum of Osteology where educating kids about the natural world is top priority. Here little ones can witness a diverse collection of over 300 skulls and skeletons from around the world.  Better yet, kids are actually encouraged to touch all of the bones in this diverse collection.

Look for the best hotel prices in Oklahoma

7. Get Back to Nature in an Oklahoma State Park

hochatown photo
Hochatown State Park | photo via Flickr

 Outdoor recreation abounds throughout the state where ten different ecosystems prevail. Oklahoma is home to 35 state parks providing plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities for nature-loving families.  

Pitch a tent or reserve a cabin at Beavers Bend and Hochatown State Park where rugged terrain and crystal clear water beckons families to hike, bike, fish, and swim.  

If your family is searching for a unique nature experience, tunnel below at Alabaster Caverns State Park which offers daily guided tours through one of the largest gypsum caves in the nation. 

Oklahoma also boasts a vast family friendly sandbox at Little Sahara State Park where activities range from dune buggy rides to sand castle building.   What kid doesn’t love playing in the sand?  Get back to nature and explore all the diverse state parks in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is also home to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. This lush area is a great place for hiking, swimming, fishing, and camping. 

Explore the best of our nation’s national parks with kids

8. Experience Hands-On Science

Science Museum Oklahoma photo
Science Museum of Oklahoma | Photo by Wesley Fryer

 What can the largest spiral slide in the world teach kids about science? The Science Museum of Oklahoma tackles that question, as well as many more scientific inquiries throughout its 8 acres of science fun. 

Do you remember the formula used to calculate force, “W (work) =F (force) x d (distance)”? The Science Museum of Oklahoma has figured out just how to demonstrate this formula to kids using a giant tree house and a few simple machines.  

Kids will especially love testing their driving skills while tackling an obstacle course on a Segway. Once Segway driving is mastered they can step aboard the Apollo Command Module Mission Simulator and learn how rockets defy gravity. Who knew science could be so much fun?

9. Get a Taste of Agritourism

Orr Farm Oklahoma

Photo by: Flickr/travelokpics

Agritourism is alive and well in Oklahoma, exhibited in a fun-filled way at the Orr Family Farm. Here, visitors can jump aboard a replicated transcontinental locomotive or whiz along a zip-line to explore this farm.   

Kids will especially love feeding their favorite farm animals, fishing in Hidden Lake, panning for precious gems, and riding on the farm’s vintage carousel. 

If little ones want to experience a real working farm, be sure to check out the Braum Family Farm, home to one of the largest dairy operations in the world where 1,600 cows are milked every hour. Here families can tour the processing plant and bakery, then taste samples of dairy fresh ice cream. Agritourism never tasted so good.

10.  Cowboy Up

national cowboy museum photo
Photo by Marcin Wichary

Whether you’re a city slicker, or an experienced buckaroo, a visit to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum shouldn’t be missed. This museum is home to a plethora of cowboy art, artifacts, and plenty of kid-sized cowpoke fun. 

Here kids can step back in time pretending to be a wild western wrangler while exploring Prosperity Junction, a replicated turn of the century western town. Little buckaroos will enjoy the museum’s interactive hands-on displays and plenty of photo-worthy cowpoke dress-ups located in the Children’s Cowboy Corral.  

Kids might just want to gallop across the open frontier, wrestle up some grub at the museum’s cattle drive chuck wagon, and then settle down for a good night’s rest at the wrangler bunkhouse.  

Lead Photo by:

What state do you want to visit next? Top 10 50 states series

From coast to coast, we’re determining the Top 10 Things to do with Kids in each state of our great nation.  

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Top 10 FUN Things to Do in New York State with Kids Tue, 30 Jun 2020 07:40:40 +0000 The beating heart of modern business and culture may be rooted in New York City, but the rest of the state cradles the Big Apple’s metropolitan onslaught with classic Americana. Sweeping beauty, majestic mountains, Olympic spirit, and early American history is painstakingly and lovingly preserved in the Empire State for all to enjoy.

The post Top 10 FUN Things to Do in New York State with Kids appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

The beating heart of modern business and culture may be rooted in New York City, but the rest of the state cradles the Big Apple with classic Americana. Sweeping beauty, majestic mountains, Olympic spirit, and early American history is preserved in the Empire State. Here are the top 10 things to do in New York State with kids.

Stay at these family friendly hotels in New York.

The Top Ten Things to do in New York State 

1. Hit a Homerun in Cooperstown

things to do in New York State include visiting the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown.
Baseball Hall of Fame | Photo by: Sharon Rigney

Baseball fans young and old love Cooperstown. Set on an idyllic lake, The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum houses an extensive collection of baseball artifacts.

Don’t miss exhibits on the women’s league and how African Americans contributed to our national pastime. Every true baseball fan should make a pilgrimage to this renowned museum!

Also located in Central New York is the state’s second most popular year-round destination, Howe Caverns. Discovered in 1842, regular tours take visitors deep underground.

Adventurous families can enjoy the experience the way cavern discoverer Lester Howe did — in the dark. On the Family Flashlight Tour adults are issued flashlights and children are outfitted with headlamps to make their way through passageways.

2. Go Play! At the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester

things to do in New York State include visiting the Museum of Play in Rochester
Strong Museum of Play | Photo by Melissa Moore

The Strong Museum of Play is devoted to the study and exploration of play, even logging comprehensive research on the topic. 

The National Toy Hall of Fame is housed here as well so that parents can reminisce with their favorite childhood dolls and video games as their children play in the 150,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space.

Kids can leap into the world of Narnia and other favorite childhood story books, take a train ride, spin on a carousel, or spend time in the garden.

Explore more of Rochester! Check out Trekaroo’s Top 10 Things for Families to Do in Rochester.

You’ll certainly be tired after playing all day! Find a place to rest your head in Rochester.

3. Appreciate the Struggle for Women’s Rights

things to do in New York State with kids include visiting Susan B Anthony's House
Photo by: Melissa Moore

Susan B. Anthony was one of the many activists who worked tirelessly to get a vote for women of the United States. She was even arrested for voting herself in 1872, decades before it became legal for women to vote.

Did you know that Anthony and many of her fellow suffragists lived, worked, and met in Rochester and Seneca Falls? Families can tour Susan B. Anthony’s house, stroll through her neighborhood featuring a bronze statue of her drinking tea with fellow activist Frederick Douglas, and learn the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls about an hour away.

Today the National Park Service manages the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. The park educates the next generation about the struggle of women to achieve equal voting rights across America.

Want More Information on Visiting Upstate New York’s Women’s Right Historic Sites? Check out Must-Visit Susan B Anthony & Women’s Rights Sites in Upstate New York

4. Enjoy a Fall Road Trip through the Hudson Valley  


Things to do in New York State include visiting the Hudson Valley
Hudson Valley | Photo by: Bigstock/NancyKennedy

The beauty of the forest as the seasons change is richly complemented by history in the Hudson Valley. Views from Mohonk Mountain House are vibrantly colorful in the fall months. Families are surrounded by nature yet only 90 miles from the Big Apple.

One of the Americas’ most popular Presidential homes is also an essential part of any Hudson Valley leaf-peeping road trip. Springwood is the home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt is a National Historic Site.

Springwood offers tours and a Junior Secret Service program for the kids. It is also the location of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, which guides visitors through the four terms of FDR’s legendary presidency. (FDR’s Springwood home is pictured above.)

Both West Point Military Academy and the nearby Storm King Art Center are other essential stops for any fall road trip along the Hudson River. The view of the river from the campus of West Point is breathtaking. At the 500 acre world-renowned Storm King Art Center, families can walk outdoors among spectacular art sculptures.

Is travel all about the food for you? The Catskills are a foodie paradise: Family Fun In New York State’s Catskill Mountains

5. Channel the Olympic Spirit

things to do in New York State including stopped at Lake Placid to visit the Olympic facilties
Photo Courtesy of

Lake Placid hosted not just one, but two Winter Olympics. There’s plenty around here to inspire visitors.

Watch historical footage of the 1980 Miracle on Ice at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, glide around the Olympic Speed Skating Oval and where Eric Heiden won five gold medals and ride the elevator to the sky deck at the top of the 120m jump tower of the Olympic Jumping Complex.

Olympic lore aside, there’s lots of beauty to behold in this area. Catch the Cloudsplitter Gondola at the Main Base Lodge and ascend to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain.

With the Adirondacks laid out at your feet, all we can say is “Wow!” There’s even an observation deck and picnic area so pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery at your leisure.

If your family loves a good road trip, don’t forget to drive the scenic Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. While the winding road has lookout points and picnic areas to breathe in mountain air and take in sweeping views, it’s at the “castle” where things really get adventurous.

Are you planning to visit?  Check availability at these hotels.

6. Float on the Finger Lakes

things to do in New York State include vacationing at the Finger Lakes
Photo Courtesy of New York Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance

A summer week spent relaxing by the water is a tradition for many New York families. From pristine lakes of still water perfect for kayaking, swimming, and boating to streams, gorges, and waterfalls that beckon the more adventurous, this vacation destination has it all. Take a boat ride on Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes, or simply stroll through one of the quaint towns on its shoreline.

While you’re in the region, be sure to stop at the Corning Museum of Glass. Part art museum and part science museum, the museum tells the story of the historic Corning Glass Works. Additionally, it shows off glass as art and illustrates how glass is used today.

There are all sorts of demonstrations from how glass breaks to how it is made. Yes, this may sound like a disaster waiting to happen for families with little ones, but there are so many interactive things for kids to do that everyone has fun visiting the Corning Museum of Glass.

7. Hit the Beach on Long Island!

things to do in New York State
Photo Courtesy of Discover Long Island

While the Hamptons conjure up notions of swanky beach getaways for the rich and famous, there’s no reason your family shouldn’t be among them.

Maybe pack a gourmet picnic and head to lovely Main Beach near the charming town of East Hampton. Or if you’d prefer something more low-key and casual, the surfer’s haven of Montauk is just 12 miles up the road.

Perched on the furthest point in the Hamptons and surrounded by water on three sides, Montauk has six seaside state parks, a quaint village, and the historic Montauk Lighthouse to put visitors in a laid back state of mind in no time!

For a more immersive nature experience, venture over to Fire Island National Seashore. The park staff runs a variety of programs to help kids and their families learn more about the park. Whether you sign up for a ranger-guided canoe trip, join in a seaside crafts and stories session, or go for your Junior Ranger badge, there’s a lot to explore in this park.

Are you ready to shake the sand from your shoes? Learn some colorful area history on the Long Island Heritage Trail or pay a visit to Theodore Roosevelt’s Victorian home, Sagamore Hill.

8. Feel the Mist of a Waterfall at a New York State Park


Niagara Falls is one of the best things-to-do-in-New-York-State
Lower falls Letchworth State Park| Photo by: Bigstock/R.Babakin

Honeymooners, barrel riders, and daredevil tightrope walkers may be the first things you hear about in conversations centering on Niagara Falls. But, there’s so much more to the daring draw of this force of nature.

Get up close and personal with a Maid of the Midst Boat Tour. Operating since 1846, this boat tour was originally a ferry service between Canada and the States. After the service lost riders to the more convenient (and drier) Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, it rebounded as a tourist attraction.

Operating from late April/early May to October each year, a boat leaves every 30 minutes, traveling the Niagara River near Rainbow Bridge, past American and Bridal Veil Falls before disappearing into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of Horseshoe Falls, then emerging to bring patrons back to their starting points.

Meanwhile land lovers enjoy Cave of Winds Tour, an exhilarating walk into the mist zone where visitors navigate wooden walkways along the Niagara River to the Hurricane Deck where tropical storm-like conditions are created by the rush of the falls.

But Niagara isn’t the only waterfall worth visiting in New York State! There are 180 state parks in the state of New York and many of the them feature spectacular waterfalls.

Take a hike along the “Grand Canyon of the East” in Letchworth State Park. In just a couple of hours you can visit three amazing waterfalls appropriately named Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls (pictured above).

Of course, children love splashing along the gorge as they encounter waterfalls big and small at Stony Brook State Park, which even features a natural swimming pool with lifeguards in the gorge.

9. Take in Some of the Most Amazing Museums in Manhattan

things to do in New York State include visiting the Natural History museum
Natural History Museum | photo by Melissa Moore

New York City’s amazing collection of museums offer visitors exposure to art, science, nature, history, and some of the best in the world.

The Guggenheim is a cylindrical-shaped building and is seriously something to see. But as fascinating as its architecture is to the eyes, the building’s contents are even more so. A renowned collection of paintings reside here but before you decide nothing would bore your children quicker, the museum staff would like the opportunity to show you otherwise.

Next, pick up a family activity pack at the museum’s information desk. Chock full of games, picture books, sketch pads, and artwork-specific question cards, your kids will leave with a higher art IQ and unaware they just spent the last few hours learning.

Of course, the Guggenheim is not the only prestigious art museum in town. The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses a comprehensive collection of art spanning 5,000 years and representing the best of human creativity worldwide. From ancient Egypt to the Impressionist era, get ready for globetrotting adventure your children will never forget.

Another “not to miss” museum is The American Museum of Natural History, which is a favorite New York museum for many Trekaroo families. This storied museum has been around since the 1869. Today, it covers 25 buildings housing exhibits featuring animal habitats, a full-sized model of a Blue Whale, and a planetarium. Then get a close look at a massive 31 ton piece of the Cape York meteorite and the largest sapphire in the world!

Next, experience New York’s history at The Lower East Side Tenement Museum where actors bring the stories of a tenement apartment back to life in this living history tribute to the immigrants who settled in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Visitors can interact with these true life characters, seeing firsthand the meager conditions they lived under after arriving in the U.S.

Explore our Top 10 Things to do with kids in New York City. Then discover over 30 Great Restaurants to take Kids in NYC, and 15 Great Things to do with Teens in NYC.

Stay at these Family Friendly Hotels in New York

10. Visit Lady Liberty

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty | Photo by Melissa Moore

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the Statue of Liberty. Recognizable to American kids of all ages, a visit to Lady Liberty is simply the most important place that families can visit on their visit to New York City.

Together families can take a moment to reflect on their history and how they came to live in the United States of America, likely as immigrants in search of freedom and opportunity.

Then, take in the view across the Hudson River of the city skyline, complete a Junior Ranger booklet at this national park site and discuss your personal family history as you stroll around the island. Also noteworthy is a stop at Ellis Island, the point of entry for millions of immigrants coming to America by ship for over half a century.

Looking for some tips on making the most out your visit to New York with kids? Check out Trekaroo’s Road School: An Immigration Tour of New York City.

Lead image by: Bigstock/Kamira

Top 10 50 states seriesWhat state do you want to visit next?

From coast to coast, we’re determining the Top 10 Things to do with Kids in each state of our great nation.   

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Top 10 Things to do in Mississippi with Kids Mon, 29 Jun 2020 07:28:52 +0000 The state of Mississippi has more than just a great name though, it's a place full of natural wonders, city fun, and lots of history for families to explore. Come with us on a journey through the family-friendly fun of Mississippi!

The post Top 10 Things to do in Mississippi with Kids appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

Mississippi is the state that every American school child loves to spell in a chanting voice- M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I! The state has more than just a great name though, there are lots of fun things to do in Mississippi with kids.

It’s a place full of natural wonders, city fun, and lots of history for families to explore. Come with us on a journey through the family-friendly fun of a Mississippi vacation!


1. Do Something Uniquely Mississippi

Visiting the elvis birthplace is one of the fun things to do in Mississippi
Elvis Birthpalces in Tupelo | Photo by Ron Cogswell

Mississippi has lots of fun activities that are unusual and family-friendly at the same time. Does your family love Elvis? Tupelo is home to the Elvis Presley Birthplace Complex.

Here you can see the home where Elvis was born, the church he attended as a child, and a museum full of lots of Elvis artifacts! Nearby is the Tupelo Automobile Museum, which houses over 100 classic and collectible vehicles, including one given as a gift by Elvis to a friend.

In Starkville visit the Mississippi Modern Homestead Center, where visitors can experience a working model of a modern homestead, which includes bees, gardens, a greenhouse, chickens, and pigs. Enjoy a variety of classes at the Homestead Center on a range of topics including gardening, outdoor recreation skills, home arts and crafts, to name a few.

For a really unique experience, how about heading to Biloxi and taking part in a Biloxi Shrimping Trip? This boat ride will educate guests about the shrimping industry of Mississippi, while learning about the marine life that the boat’s net pulls up from the water!

2. Have a Blast at the Stennis Space Center 

 Stennis Space Center photo
Photo by Marek Cyzio

Just across the border from Louisiana, the INFINITY Science Center at the John C. Stennis Space Center will blast families off into space.

Begin with a bus tour of the rocket testing grounds and then visit the huge museum dedicated to teaching all about space exploration through hands-on activities and exhibits. Big kids will love the motion and cockpit simulators and the walk-through International Space Station exhibit, while little ones will be entertained by a LEGO table and playground!

For more down-to-earth science fun, head to Jackson, to find the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. This museum has been teaching families about science since it opened in 1932 and now includes over 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a large aquarium, walking trails, fossils, animals, and more!

3. Explore Mississippi’s Natural Beauty on the Natchez Trace

Natchez Trace is one of the fun things to do in Mississippi with kids
Cypress Swamp Along the Natchez Trace | Photo by visitmississippi

Mississippi has lots of ways for families to get out and enjoy nature together. The Natchez Trace Parkwayruns through Mississippi (as well as Alabama and Tennessee) and gives families a chance to travel the same road used by Native Americans, settlers, and even U.S. presidents!

It’s more than just a place to take a scenic drive. The Parkway has multiple places to stop and enjoy a hike, explore an archaeological dig, visit a prehistoric mound, or just take in breathtaking views.

Visiting one of Mississippi’s State Parks is also a great way to enjoy nature. Trekaroo families especially enjoy Paul B. Johnson State Park, which has a beautiful lake and beach, camping, playgrounds, and lots of forest to explore.

4. Visit the Gulf Coast and Gulf Islands

Biloxi beach photo
Photo by visitmississippi

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is filled with family-friendly fun.

Don’t miss the Biloxi Visitor Center and Lighthouse. The free visitors center is full of art and exhibits detailing the history of the area and its industries, as well as a theater that shows films about the area and Hurricane Katrina.

Head upstairs for great views of the Biloxi Lighthouse! If you’re adventurous and up for a good climb, tours of the historic 1848 Lighthouse are also available.

Just outside Ocean Springs, you will find Davis Bayou Camp, part of the National Park Service’s Gulf Islands National Seashore where visitors can fish, hike, search for armadillos, camp, boat, or take part in one of the programs led by the Park Rangers.

Ship Island is home to Fort Massachusetts, which is run by the National Park Service and is open for tours. In addition to the fort, Ship Island is a great place to swim, surf, watch birds, hike, or just enjoy the beach and beautiful waters of the Gulf.

Check out this itinerary for awesome places to see while exploring Mississippi’s Gulf Coast with kids. 

5. Go Back in Time in Natchez


Mississippi is a great place for time traveling, and the city of Natchez is a fantastic place to start your journey. Natchez is home to beautiful antebellum mansions that are open for tours and will help your family learn about Southern life before the Civil War.

Go even further back in time with a visit to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians to learn about the lives and homes of the original Native American occupants of the area.

Another important part of Mississippi history is found in Clarksdale at the Delta Blues Museum. This museum is a great place to bring the family to learn about this uniquely American musical sound and how it developed in the area.

Check for hotel availability in Mississippi

6. Discover Mississippi’s Artsy Side


Have a budding artist on your hands? The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art located in Biloxi is a wonderful place to come to enjoy an eclectic collection of art. Although named after the local potter, George Ohr, much of the collection of the museum focuses on art by other artists.

Don’t miss the unusual buildings by Frank Gehry on the campus of the museum, as well as the chance to visit a reconstruction of a home built by a former slave woman. Trekaroo families recommend this museum for adults and kids ages 10 and up. 

The Mississippi Museum of Art is the state’s largest museum and is found in the capital city of Jackson. This museum has a large collection of American art, including art by Mississippi artists. It’s also home to a variety of temporary exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see when visiting!

7. Get Up Close and Personal with Mississippi Wildlife

Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge photo
Alligators at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge | Photo by USFWS Headquarters

The Hattiesburg Zoo is a small zoo with over 80 species of animals to see, in addition to a train and carousel to ride.

For a different animal encounter, head to the Center for Marine Education and Research. This is a destination that one Trekaroo family referred to as a “super fun place to learn about marine mammals and biology.” Reservations are required for visits since this is a working facility.

During the visit, you’ll have the chance to meet a variety of marine animals. On a recent visit, a Trekaroo family saw an exotic bird, an alligator, sharks, and stingrays, and even got the chance to interact with a bottlenose dolphin!

Another great place to see animals is the  Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. Learn about habitat preservation while also observing alligators, geese, bald eagles, deer, and fox in their natural habitats!

8. Play in a Children’s Museum

Visiting the Mississippi Childrens Museum is one of the best things to do in Mississippi with kids
Mississippi Childrens Museum | Photo by visitmississippi

What would a family trip be without a visit to a great children’s museum? Mississippi is home to both the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center and the Mississippi Children’s Museum.

The Mississippi Children’s Museum, located in Jackson, is a great place for kids to come both to play and also learn! Exhibits are focused on five topics: literacy, STEM, health and nutrition, cultural arts, and Mississippi Heritage.

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport is a favorite of Trekaroo families. They rave about the exhibits, both indoor and outdoor, and especially the two-story climbing structure, subdivision of playhouses, TV station, and train!

9. Visit the Capitol City of Jackson

jackson mississippi photo
Capital Building in Jackson, Mississippi | Photo by visitmississippi

Jackson, Mississippi is the capital city and the home aforementioned Mississippi Museum of Art, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. But wait, there’s more!

Did you know you can actually tour the home of the governor of Mississippi? Built in 1840, it has the distinction of being the second-oldest continually occupied governor’s mansion in the United States!

Your family can also take a tour of the state capitol building to see where state laws are made. For some free fun in Jackson, head to the Old Capitol Museum to learn about state government history while you walk the halls where monumental legislative actions, such as the decision whether to secede from the United States, actually occurred.

Jackson is also home to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The museum features exhibits  which  cover Mississippi’s tumultuous past and involvement with the Civil Rights Movement.

Look for the best hotel prices in Mississippi

10. Learn About Mississippi’s Civil War History


If your family is interested in learning about the United States’ Civil War, Mississippi is a great place to visit!

Visit Vicksburg National Military Park, the location of one of the turning points of the Civil War, and tour the battlefield or learn about ironclad gunboats at the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum while you take part in the great Junior Ranger program at the visitor’s center!

Vicksburg is also home to the Old Court House Museum, where families can check out memorabilia from the Civil War and other parts of American history, including a Teddy Bear from Teddy Roosevelt himself!

Over in Biloxi, families will find Beauvoir, the home of the president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. This house withstood Hurricane Katrina and is full of antiques and artifacts from the time that the Davis family lived there.

Lead image via Bigstock.

Top-10-50-states-seriesWhat state do you want to visit next?

From coast to coast, we’re determining the Top 10 Things to do with Kids in each state of our great nation. 





The post Top 10 Things to do in Mississippi with Kids appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

Top 10 FUN Things to do in Minnesota with Kids Wed, 24 Jun 2020 07:45:34 +0000 Minnesota is full of pristine lakes, full-service resorts, historically significant people and places, and lots of wild space.

The post Top 10 FUN Things to do in Minnesota with Kids appeared first on Trekaroo Family Travel Blog.

When most people think about Minnesota, they think of snow, hotdish, and nice folks, don’t ya know?  Though I believe we are nice and I love my own Top Secret Cheesy Wild Rice Hotdish, I am proud to report that there are also many fun things to do with kids in MN!

Minnesota is full of pristine lakes, full-service resorts, historically significant people and places, and lots of wild space. Sadly, this is not a top 100 list–because believe me, we could fill it! Here are the top 10 things to do in Minnesota with kids.

 Fun Things to do with Kids in MN | Top 10 Things to do in Minnesota with Kids

1. Have a Ball (or a Puck) at a Minnesota Sports Venue

Minnesota Twins Fans

You can have a ball or also chuck a puck —‘cuz we love our hockey! Minnesota is home to some professional greats. The Twins (call ‘em “Twinkies” if you want to sound like a local), the Minnesota Wild, the Timberwolves, and the Vikings all call Minnesota home.

Are you a LaCrosse fan? The Minnesota Swarm dominate Treasure Island Field in the Xcel Energy Center and will please those young fans in the family! You can even let your kiddos run the bases at Target Field,  home of the Minnesota Twins.

Our collegiate teams in Minnesota rival the rest of the country — watch the Golden Gophers or the Bulldogs as they take on foes!

If you want to partake in some extreme or obscure sports, participate in either the Freeze Ur Gizzard Blizzard Run or a Polar Plunge—both are popular winter events here in Paul Bunyan’s backyard.

Look for current hotel deals in Minnesota

 2. Explore Lake Superior’s Northern Shore

lake superior is one of the best places to visit in Minnesota
Lake Superior | Photo by Allen’s Photography

The “North Shore” of Lake Superior is a destination of its own. But, don’t forget the rest of Highway 61, which winds its way through some great Minnesota towns along the Mississippi River. This stretch of road is packed with family fun.

See the historic Naniboujou Lodge and have a fancy brunch or hike through time on the Grand Portage! There is no shortage of  Minnesota waterfalls, including the infamous Gooseberry Falls and High Falls of Grand Portage State Park.

Duluth  is always a fun afternoon stop. The maritime influence shines at the William A. Irvin, the beacon of  Splitrock Lighthouse, and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center are fun ways to learn and play. 

To truly appreciate the vastness of Lake Superior, you need to drive its shoreline! This epic road trip was made famous by Bob Dylan and is the namesake of it’s own summer festival outside of Duluth–it’s that good! 

Stop along the way to hike on some of the best trails Minnesota has to offer, including several State Park “hiker’s club” routes and the Superior Hiking Trail (which even National Geographic Adventure magazine gets excited about).

The National Eagle Center in Wabasha offers kids a glimpse of the American bald eagle (more likely a glimpse of several) along the banks of the river. From the bluff country and Winona to the shores of a Great Lake, this is more of a quest than a vacation. What will your family find when you embark upon the tarred trail?

3. Visit a Little House on a Big Prairie

Visiting the Laura Ingalls wilder museum is one of the classic things to do in Minnesota with kids
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum | Photo by Lorie Shaull

Who doesn’t have a soft spot for Laura, Mary, Pa and the rest of the Ingalls? I grew up reading the books and watching the adventures of Laura and Nellie when Little House on the Prairie became a TV series.

At the Ingalls Dugout site, visitors can walk along Plum Creek and imagine themselves living in the frontier days.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum includes Ingalls family artifacts, items from the television series, and getting into character with hands-on opportunities.

In July, the town of Walnut Grove has a Family Festival with pioneer demonstrations, hand crafts, and a outdoor drama based on Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you want to see some sod houses, similar to what families like the Ingalls would have lived in, head to Sod House on the Prairie in Sanborn, MN.

4. Embrace Midwestern Culture in Minnesota with Kids

Lake Kabetogama Walleye

Minnesota culture is a unique blend of food, the quirky, and history. We love our potlucks, lefse, and some of us even love Lutefisk. Our family loves to grab pizza at Sven & Oles. While it is not particularly culturally significant it’s IS very tasty and it’s an interesting place paying homage to the famed duo!

If the off-color is more your style (and this one is sure to make kids laugh), be a spectator at an Outhouse Race! Make sure you take the time to embrace all the different aspect of the past that shaped the culture of Minnesota today!

Maybe you’d like to check off some obscure sites and odd attractions? Who knows what you’ll find out traveling through the Minnesota pines while researching your family tree? “Minnesota has 26 managed historical sites that provide a great time while still being educational.

Learn about lumberjacks or Native American history and the fur trade era. You can also opt to simply see a little bit of everything at the Minnesota History Center!

Those interested in Scandinavian culture might venture westward to the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, while The Runestone Museum is a good choice for those interested in Norsk history. 

You can find Caribbean Cuisine on Minnesota’s Iron Range at the Whistling Bird and after a belly full of grub, explore the vast immigrant history for which we can credit the melting pot of Minnesota natives today!

5. Have Double the Fun in the Twin Cities

minneapolis photo

The Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) are two very different experiences, offering a family days and days of entertainment and adventure.

Some of the best museums, art and music scenes, and family fun adventures can be found within just a few minutes of the area. Take in a game, see a show or a concert, shop ‘til you drop, swim and splash and slide, hike, and bike.

Take the city by storm on a bike, since nearly everything is accessible from the seat of a bike rented from Nice Ride. Kiosks which can be found in many parts of the metro during the warmer months.

Stay at the Depot Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel where you can skate and swim while getting rest in a hotel that is as cozy as home! Simply sit back and indulge in some fine cuisine and relax as you take in the big city life.

Check out these fun ideas for itineraries in both Minneapolis and St. Paul for your next family adventure! 

6. Get Away From it All in a Minnesota National Park or Wilderness Area

boundary waters canoe photo
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness | Photo by Crown Star Images

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is an epic adventure. It’s not for the faint of heart, so get tough!

If paddling and portaging, camping under the stars, and outsmarting the bears, without showers (or cell phones in most areas), is your kind of fun, welcome to our playground for the outdoorsy family!

There are a few fun towns that serve as jumping off points: Grand Marais is on the shore of Lake Superior while Ely is inland. My suggestion? Take in both of them!

The towns in and around the wilderness grant you access to Minnesota’s crown jewel (the lake) and have some pretty great adventures of their own! Check out the “Rootbeer Lady” and then be on the lookout for bears, wolves, and wild things.

Maybe the deep wilderness isn’t your thing, but you still want to be one with nature? Try Voyageurs National Park or the family friendly programming and trails of the Minnesota state parks. Some of the finest outdoor adventures can be had at one of many Environmental Learning Centers located statewide.

Family hiking trails criss-cross the land like spaghetti, so if you want to get out and “hoof it,” you’ve come to the right place. Travel across our four unique biomes and witness the amazing diversity of this gorgeous landscape! No matter your level of interest and experience, Minnesota can quench your thirst for outdoor adventure.

Check for hotel availability in Minnesota

For a true family challenge and adventure, build a boat at the North House Folk School.

7. Experience the Mall of America

One of the best things to do in Minnesota with kids is visiting Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe
Nickelodeon Universe | Photo by avatar-1

Enjoy the Mall of America (MOA), the most visited shopping mall in the world, located conveniently near the Twin Cities metro area. This isn’t a trip to the local shopping mall; this is a mall experience that will surely have something to suit everyone’s interests. 

Have you ever eaten in a rainforest? Here you can without applying for a passport! The Rainforest Cafe is a big hit with the kids, and a lot of the time parents can even enjoy the meal too.

There is so much to see and hear (ambient frog choruses, bird vocalizations, and the giggles of other kids having fun), that your kiddo will give you time to eat and maybe even savor your meal for once!

MOA offers unique fun within the confines of the mall walls, including the Minnesota SEAlife Aquarium, the LEGO Store, and Nickelodeon Universe, an amusement park inside the mall!

Feeling like all the fun has worn you out? Find a great place to lay your head (and have BIG fun) at the Radisson Bloomington-Waterpark of America —the largest indoor water park in the country. Conveniently located across the road from the mall, the Radisson offers visitors shuttle rides to and from MOA.

8. Enjoy Four Seasons of Fun!

ice fishing is one of the fun things to do in MN with kids
Ice Fishing Hut | Photo by Lorie Shaull
Minnesota is not just a state for summer frolics; visit Minnesota during the winter and try ice fishing, dog sledding, or winter camping. Just remember to pack your long underwear!
Since we have snow and cold weather for many months each year, there is always a winter-themed event to partake in. You will find that we have a lot of Christmas and holiday cheer as well. We have an entire guide dedicated to all the Christmas events in the Twin Cities
The fall color around here is nothing to ignore—there are many auto tours to take in the changing of the seasons. There are several places to enjoy hauntingly fun events, pick apples, and enjoy other harvest-time fun.
Spring means shoving off-shore for fishing. Every May, mothers across the state can either celebrate Mother’s Day with the family or send the family to the State Fishing Opener (which usually occurs the same day), leaving mom at home in the peace and quiet.
During the summer, head to the lake, farmers markets and a plethora of summer festivals and fairs take advantage of every day of warm weather that our state sees. No matter when you come or where in Minnesota you find yourself, rest assured your family will find festivities to incite fun! 

9. Fair Thee Well!

minnesota fair is one of the great things to do in Minnesota with kids
Minnesota State Fair Ferris Wheel | Photo by France1978

What better way to have a blast than to just declare an all out festival or fair? Have you ever been heckled by a jester? Have you met Twig? If not, The Renaissance Festival is where you need to go. Who doesn’t get excited when someone says “live armored jousting?” Join in by donning a period costume.

Have a hankering for foods that are deep-fried and served on a stick? The Great Minnesota Get Together, also known as the Minnesota State Fair, is a good place to start. Enjoy concerts, animals, and fair food: in my opinion, a perfect trifecta.

Take a ride on the Wild Thing at ValleyFair, a great amusement park in Shakopee. ValleyFair becomes ValleyScare around Halloween and is perfect for the tweens and older kids!

Minnesotans also devote wickedly wonderful celebrations to Bob Dylan, Ladyslippers, Lumberjacks, Blueberries, Grumpy Old Men (yes, the Grumpy Old Men), Catfish, Harvests, Hobos, and more.

Look for the best hotel prices in Minnesota

10. Make a Splash…or Just Reflect.

minnesota lake photo

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes so we should have a category just for them. Lakes are wonderful places where great memories are made!

After all, you can find food in them, catch a “lunker”, thaw out during the summer months, walk on the water during the winter months, and pose for holiday photos in front of the perfect scenic backdrop. All this time on the beach is sure to send positive ripples of happiness through each member of the family!

Consider taking in the water skiers on a warm Thursday night in Minneapolis on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. Part of the appeal of Minnesota is that we do have a lot of wild areas that are along the water so there are ample opportunities to just sit with your kids, roast marshmallows over a beach bonfire, and watch them play.

The recipe to make family fun and fond memories unfold is simple…just add water!

Stay at a lakeside family-friendly resort that provides the best in water sports, fishing, and family fun. 

Lead image by: Shutterstock

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