Minnesota Children’s Museum

226/365 - Our favorite spot at the MN Children...
Image by Micah Taylor via Flickr

Updated Feb 2014

Hours: Opens at 9 daily. Closing times vary from 5:00 pm to 8:00 PM

Prices: $8.95 per person ages 3 – 101

Location: 10 West 7th Street, St. Paul, MN

Parking: In the World Trade Center Ramp for $4 the first 3 hours

The Minnesota Children’s Museum is a favorite family attraction in the Twin Cities. This 4 story building contains interactive and imaginative play areas for children of all ages. 5 permanent exhibits are complemented with 2 traveling exhibits to create a new experience at every visit.

Earth World Exhibit

Earth World is located on the top floor of the museum. This room contains a giant ant hill for the kids to crawl through and explore. There are several mini slides that are a great size for the youngest visitors. The kids can also try to find the queen ant. When they tire of playing in this area they can explore the forest area, complete with an old log tunnel and a beaver lodge. This room has a second floor where there are animal displays of turtles and snakes. This room also has a small stream for kids to play in. The museum does provide waterproof aprons and a hand drier for use. This room is adjacent to the outdoor play area that is open seasonally.

Rooftop Art Park

The outdoor play area contains some great hands on fun. There is a large sand area where kids can sculpt and play with wet sand. The exhibit has water spouts that can be turned on to experiment with how water interacts with sand. There is also an area where kids can use paintbrushes to paint with water. The open air art studio is also open when weather permits. This area is a great place for kids to sit down for a few minutes to create their own artwork. The styles vary from crayons and paper to glue and collage. There are actually several locations in the museum where kids can stop to make items they can then take home. An example is the World Works area.

World Works Exhibit

The World Works exhibit is a hands on experience where kids get to play at building with blocks, making bubbles, experimenting with water and playing with shadows. They can use recycled paper to make a variety of crafts as they learn about how paper is made and recycled. This area also has a crane that kids can take turns using to move large ‘girders’ from one place to another. It has a play area filled with conveyor belts and square foam blocks. The kids can use the conveyor belts to move the blocks to a second story area and a shute to send them back down. There is usually a lot of interaction with other children in this area. Kids who enjoy building can also play with wooden blocks and magnetic gears in a separate section of the room.

The exhibit is large and has a water play area that is very popular. Kids can wear water proof aprons as they make large bubbles, race boats down a hill or maneuver Ping-Pong balls through clear plastic tubes. There are sinks and driers available for when they are done playing and need to dry off. Then they can go next door to the Our World Exhibit

Our World Exhibit

This is often the most popular exhibit in the museum. There are miniature versions of a grocery store, restaurant, post office, medical office and music studio. Kids can shop for their food and prepare it at the restaurant. They can pretend to deliver mail, drive a real bus or play guitar. There are many costumes in this area that kids can try on as they pretend to be whatever they want for the moment. This exhibit also has some features designed specifically for the smaller guests. An enclosed play area with a small slide is perfect to help keep the littlest guests from getting run down by the excited older kids. There is actually an entire room devoted to children ages 3 to 18 months called Habitot.

Habitot Exhibit

This exhibit has play structures designed for specific ages. A ‘pond’ of cushioned mats with mirrors and textures give the youngest set someplace to explore movement and texture. Slightly older children can crawl through tunnels or across a ‘bridge’ There are stairs to climb, a slide and several ‘caves’ with a natural theme. The room also has a bathroom and an private area for nursing mothers. This is the only exhibit in the museum with a door. The door is child proofed so that little hands can’t accidentally open it.

These are the permanent exhibits and they are complimented by 2 travelling exhibit halls. These travelling exhibits change about every 6 months or so and have included some wonderful displays. There are also other creative programs at the museum. There is a creative center where the kids can sit and make whatever they want with the supplies at hand. The supplies vary weekly and the kids can bring home whatever they make. There is also face painting available on the weekends. This is not the standard professional painting, but crayon like coloring that the kids can do on themselves. Guests will also want to listen to the periodic announcements as the museum has volunteers who read stories and bring out active toys to play with the kids.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Look for the costumes, almost every exhibit has them for the kids
  2. Do the scavenger hunt in the Earth World exhibit to see how many animals you spot
  3. There are benches and seats in every exhibit for adults
  4. Go early in the day as the museum fills in the afternoon and you may have to wait to get into the museum.
  5. Bring a backpack with several small plastic bags to bring home crafts that are made
  6. Bring your parking pass with you to get validated for reduced parking rates
  7. Parking ramps are automated, no live tellers so bring cash or a credit card to pay
  8. Listen for announcements for play opportunities in the ‘big’ play area on the 2nd floor
  9. Bring a friend so your child has someone to play with when you get tired
  10. The museum is particularly fun for ages 3 through 9.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum is one of the best places to visit on a rainy day in the summer or any day in the winter.

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