When was the last time your family visited a new destination, such as, a park, museum, or main street, and then talked about it for days? When was the last time everyone went to a new restaurant, the family cook cooked a new recipe, or you did a little taste test of some new goodies that you picked up at the market? When was the last time someone said, “that was a first”?
If you didn’t have a good answer for any of these questions, then it may be time for your family to go on a little adventure. This doesn’t mean doing anything extreme or dangerous, it’s just means going out and exploring a new city and trying something for the first time. Welcome to our new series Top Five Family Adventures.
Top Five Family Adventures will give your family some ideas and inspiration to go on new adventures in various cities around the country. It will be a fun way for the whole family to learn something new, taste some local foods, and have countless memories of the fun for years to come.
If you are ready for your first family adventure, then it’s time to take a little vacation to St. Paul, Minnesota and experience some firsts. It’s time for your family to try a crazy hamburger, say hello to an Egyptian mummy, and take a spin on a carousel that is over 100 years old. Here are the top five adventures in St. Paul, Minnesota for the whole family.
Declare a Winner in the Juicy Lucy Battle
So, who is Lucy and who is she battling? Not quite. A Juicy Lucy (sometimes spelled Jucy Lucy) is a cheeseburger with the cheese on the inside. It’s greasy, cheesy, and probably the best burger you will ever taste! The battle is over who invented this Minnesota delicacy and, of course, who serves the best Juicy Lucy in town.
The main rivalry is happening on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis between Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Tavern. The two strong contender’s for best Juicy Lucy in St. Paul are Casper’s & Runyon’s Nook located on Hamline Avenue and the Blue Door Pub located on Selby Avenue.
Check out the many flavor combo’s that are on the menu at the Blue Door Pub and you won’t even know where to start. The Juicy Lucy’s are known as Blucy’s at the Blue Door Pub, and all of them are stuffed with gooey cheese. Try the Bacon Blucy (a burger stuffed with bacon cheddar cheese and more bacon) or the Baked and Loaded (this one is stuffed with colby jack cheese and is topped with bacon, potato chips, and green onion.
The menu at Casper’s & Runyon’s Nook is pretty crazy. They have their own unique burger flavor’s, and even offer the addition of a fried egg to your burger. Since the Nook was featured on Food Network’s Diner’s, Drive-In’s and Dives, someone has to order Guy’s Big Bite. It’s a burger that’s stuffed with pepperjack cheese and topped with roast beef, bacon, and more cheese. Wow!
No matter where you choose to go, you are in for a pretty good meal that your kids will expect you to be able to replicate the next time you grill out.
What do a Triceratops, Egyptian Mummy, and Towboat All Have in Common?
You can see all of them at the Science Museum of Minnesota! There’s more too! The Science Museum of Minnesota is full of family friendly exhibits that will teach you about the weather, gardening, dinosaurs, and even the Mississippi River which happens to be right outside!
Any dinosaur lover will think the dinosaur and fossils exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota is the best thing ever! On display, is one of only four Triceratops in the world and it really is an amazing sight to see. The kiddo’s imaginations will really be in overdrive after walking through the dinosaurs on exhibit, and they won’t even realize that they are learning something!
Another favorite exhibit for any young scientist is the human body. This is where you’ll find the Egyptian mummy, be able to perform biology experiments, and learn how humans grow and age.
Since the museum sits on the shore of the Mississippi River, your family can’t miss climbing aboard the Charles E Towboat. It’s a real towboat and not the roomiest of spaces, but it’s really cool to check out. You will also get a great view of the Mississippi River and a few lessons about it.
The Science Museum of Minnesota also has an Omnitheater that your family just has to experience. The screen is 90 feet and you will feel like you are in the middle of the action. Tickets are sold separately and there are movies showing throughout the day.
Eat Breakfast at the Counter of an Authentic Dining Car
Mickey’s Diner is one of the very first diners to be built in the art deco style. Does it look a little out of place under the towering buildings of downtown St. Paul? Yep, but once you see it, you know it’s going to be good! Mickey’s is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they are ready to serve your family one of the best breakfasts ever!
We’ve eaten breakfast here a few times, and the food never disappoints! We love the blueberry pancakes, pecan waffle, and The Two’s (2 cakes, 2 bacon/sausage, and 2 eggs). The best part about sitting along the counter at the diner, is that your food is being prepared literally right in front of you. The cooks are always up for some conversation, and some even have a little artistic flair proven by serving us up some flower shaped blueberry pancakes the first time we visited.
The lunch and dinner menu has a lot of variety that includes the typical diner fare. You can choose from burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, and full dinners of chicken, pork, or beef. I think my next order might be a One Eyed Jack (grilled ham and jack cheese with a fried egg on wheat bread, served with hashbrowns) or maybe I’ll get the Home Made Southern Fried Chicken and a slice of apple pie. Yum!
Mickey’s Diner was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the early 80’s and I guarantee that your family will have a great meal at this St. Paul institution!
Across the street from Mickey’s Diner is the Minnesota Children’s Museum. If you have younger kids in your family, then this has to be your next stop. Otherwise, families with older kids could walk the 3/4 mile to the Minnesota State Capitol Building and take a look around. Maybe a future politician is in your family?
Spend an Afternoon at Como Park among the Animals, Flowers, and the Historic Carousel
The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a favorite destination for kids and adults. It’s where the locals spend those first warm days of spring walking around the zoo and the lake. It’s where we go in the late winter to get a dose of summer.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory has a wide variety of animal exhibits, both indoors and outdoors. There are also educational programs held throughout the day, and you can’t walk by their fantastic gift shop without going inside.
During your journey through the zoo, be sure to stop by the amusement park (open only in the summer). Como Park has 18 attractions and rides, and there is bound to be a ride that everyone will just have to go on before the end of the day. There is no entrance fee for Como Park, so you have to purchase points to spend on the rides you want to go on. Check out their website here to get the info.
One attraction that you can’t miss at Como Park is the Cafesjian’s Carousel. This carousel was built in 1914 and really is a sight to see. The carousel has four rows of horses for a total of 68 options of which one you want to take a ride on. The cost of one ride on the carousel is $2.
The most colorful and best smelling (sorry animals!) part of Como Park just has to be inside the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Your family will feel like they are walking through a jungle in the Palm Dome and you’ll take a quick trip to Japan in the while viewing the Bonsai Collection. The Sunken Garden is where all the colorful and fragrant flowers are. I love walking through the doors and being hit with the fragrance of all the flowers. The display changes seasonally and is the perfect background for a few family photos.
Show Your Kids it’s Possible to Go Shopping Without Entering a Mall
Grand Avenue is where you want to go for the shopping, the cafes, bakeries, restaurants, and then more shopping. No, Grand Avenue isn’t a mall, it’s really a street that just happens to be lined with some unique shops, numerous restaurants and cafes, and even some chain stores that you may not expect to see.
I know that the youngest of kids, don’t find shopping to be fun, but there are some fun stores that will stop any whining that you may be hearing.
Take the kids into the Red Balloon Bookstore, and there just might be an event happening. There are storytimes, book launch parties, music together classes, and summer camps. Some events require registration, so check out their website here for info.
The Mischief Toy Store is another fun place stop into and do some browsing. You are bound to see some toys that you haven’t seen anywhere else. Besides all of the super fun toys that they have, they carry games, art supplies, comics, candy and more!
Since everyone is going to want to eat somewhere really really good for lunch, just 1/2 block away from Mischief Toy Store is Cafe Latte. This is the place to go for a casual meal that’s served cafeteria style. Grab your tray and start selecting your meal…no vegetables are required! Your salad and sandwiches will be prepared fresh and will be delicious, but save room for dessert!
Cafe Latte has a bakery that is full of delicious treats (don’t your kids wish their school cafeteria had a bakery?), but known for their Turtle Cake, and it is fabulous! Lucky for me, the recipe for their Turtle Cake was featured in an issue of Midwest Living magazine and we can now have this treat anytime!
One block over from Grand Avenue is Summit Avenue. Summit Avenue is lined with huge historic homes and will take your kiddos back in time. This is one of the most beautiful streets to take a walk along, and your kids will be calling “that house is mine” each time a new one comes into view.
An afternoon spent walking on Grand and Summit Avenues, will give your family a little bit of history of the city, a chance to shop local, and eat some delicious food.
So, how much fun do you think your family will have on their adventures in St. Paul, Minnesota? I guarantee that a visit to St. Paul will certainly add some fun first experiences into your family’s everyday life, and be a trip that will have everyone talking. Keep the adventures coming, and start planning your next one!
Looking for some more family fun in the Twin Cities area? Find some here:
- 9 First Experiences for the Whole Family at Mall of America
- A Look Inside the new Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington, Minnesota
- Follow my Family Travel in Minnesota board on Pinterest
Ok the Science Museum of Minnesota just moved to my #1 spot to visit in Minnesota right now! We’re looking to stay in the Midwest this summer and Minnesota is one place we haven’t spent much time at. I’m so glad you posted this list!! Plus Mickey’s looks fab!
Thanks Crystal! There is so much to do Minnesota, your family will have a great vacation!
We’ve been meaning to explore Minnesota more! Bookmarking this for our next family adventure.
How’d did I miss a cake like that when we were in St. Paul?!
It’s worth a trip back!