3 Day Twin Cities Itinerary with Middle Schoolers

Downtown Minneapolis

My Mother-in-Law is looking to take a trip with her niece and nephew to visit family living in St. Paul. What’s fun for her generation isn’t quite in line with what’s fun for the kids, so she asked me to put together an itinerary they could all enjoy!

The Cast: 68 year old retired teacher, 12 year old girl, 10 year old boy

Timeline: 3-4 days during summer vacation

Special Interest: Baseball, Visiting Family

3 Day twin city itinerary

Day 1 (Friday):


Kick the trip off right and get some fresh air with a kayak tour! The “Working the Local Channel” tour last 2.5 hours and the earliest tour leaves at 9am everyday from May to October. The guide will give you some info on the history of Minneapolis, the ecology of the area, and you’ll get beautiful views from the Mississippi! Prices range from $76-120/person.


Smack Shack is close by and will just be opening for lunch when the kayakers return. They have simple kid friendly items like fried chicken and burgers and classic seafood offerings. 4 stars on yelp and outdoor seating.


After lunch everyone takes a nap and then heads over to Minnehaha Park. Wear sneakers and plan on walking to the upper and lower falls, but also be willing to take them off and splash around. This is a great time for the extended family to join you.

Dinner and Evening:

Grab a hot dog, a coke, and some cracker jacks and get ready to root for the Minnesota Twins or the St. Paul Saints! Both teams have frequent home games from May-September. Saints tickets start as low as $7 for Berm seating on Fridays nights (with post game fireworks) and the Twins start at $15 for Friday nights. Definitely check their websites because baseball teams always have promotions going on. Remember that family that joined you at the park? They should be right next to you in the stadium!

Downtown Minneapolis
Photo by flickr user m01229. CC 2.0

Day 2 (Saturday):


Historic cave tour of the Wabasha Street Caves. The tour starts at 11, costs $8, and fills you in on the crazy history of the mushrooms, the gangsters, and the speakeasies housed in the caves. Bonus points if you get the kids reading some gangster books before they come. I’d be surprised if the local family has done this, so make sure they come along!


Grab something close and easy like Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant. Hopefully the kids will try something new but if not, there’s always rice and chicken kabobs.


Keep the history going with a visit to the James J. Hill house to get a feel for how the upper crust lived in the late 1800s. Hill was a railroad tycoon, but also a participant in one of the first monopolies broken up by President Theodore Roosevelt. Surely there’s something in this house that will reinforce what the kids are learning in school? Tours start every half hour until 3:30 and last 75 minutes. Seniors are $8 and the kids are $6.

After the tour head back for a quick nap before dinner.

Dinner and Evening:

How can you be on the bank of the Mississippi and not set out on a riverboat? The kids need to read Huckleberry Finn to really appreciate the experience! They don’t offer this every Saturday night, but Padelford Riverboats has a $53.35 Rib dinner with blues music and a 2 hour cruise every other Saturday night in the summer.

Bridge over Mississippi River
Photo by flickr user media601. CC2.0 Share Alike

Day 3 (Sunday):


Get up early for 8 am mass at Cathedral of St. Paul and take in the neoclassical architecture the way it was intended to be appreciated, from the pews.

After mass make sure to snap some photos outside the famous church before taking a deep breath and setting your GPS for Mall of America. Continue taking deep breaths the whole way there, but know that this is about to be the highlight of the kid’s trip.


You’ve only got time for the food court because you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. I recommend something light at Subway. 😉


MofA is the largest mall in America and it is far more then just a place to shop. Let the kids set the priorities (you definitely won’t have time for everything) but make sure they consider:

I know, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Wear sneakers and prepare to hydrate.

Dinner and Evening:

For the last night the plan should be to hole up at a good bar and restaurant and spend the evening with family. Patrick McGovern’s Pub & Restaurant or the Dubliner Pub seem like good places to spend a few hours. Just make sure you go someplace where you can keep ordering drinks long after the food has been cleared away.

Mall of America
Photo by flickr user Aine. CC 2.0 Share Alike

Any Twin City natives out there? Anything left out? Does anyone else have an upcoming trip they’d like me to research for them?



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2 responses to “3 Day Twin Cities Itinerary with Middle Schoolers”

  1. Jeanette Gretsch Avatar
    Jeanette Gretsch

    We went to the Twin Cities for an ultimate tournament. Minnehaha was great and you can rent bikes and rickshaws to tool around in, great for older folk who might now be able to walk as far but great fun for kids. The locals all raved about the fish taco place in the park, we thought they were fine. Best thing at the Mall of America were the Lego Store and fried cheese curds. Can’t go to Wisconsin and not get cheese curds!


    1. magnetsfromeverywhere Avatar

      Thanks! Cheese curds seem like a pretty safe bet, I’ve seen them on every restaurant menu I looked at!


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