Beat the heat!


Splish splash

The Twin Cities has become Splash Pad Central in recent years, including small neighborhood haunts as well as bigger spaces such as the 1-acre splash pad at Valleyfair’s Soak City waterpark in Shakopee.

We especially love the Central Park Interactive Fountain in Maple Grove (pictured above) and the Burnsville Lions Splash Pad at Cliff Fen Park because they both offer awesome adjacent playgrounds, too.

Check out all our top picks at

Wade it out 

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board operates 62 wading pools in neighborhoods throughout the city. Many are small and intimate, just right for half a dozen families at a time, such as the one at Brackett Field Park in Longfellow.

Others — such as the one at North Mississippi Regional Park, featuring rock walls and waterfalls — are more elaborate and spacious. And they’re free!

See them sorted by neighborhood at

Slip and slide

Lazy rivers, wave pools, waterslides and diving boards! Water parks are a good fit when you’re entertaining a variety of ages and you can find both indoor and outdoor options — so you can avoid the sun altogether if you wish.

St. Louis Park’s Outdoor Aquatic Center is a local favorite that’s in full sun, while the Tropics Indoor Water Park in Shoreview is entirely enclosed.

Don’t forget your essentials: Grab our indispensable list for swim outings at

See our list of top water parks at

Frolic in water fun

Como Town in St. Paul is offering free foam parties three times a day (12:30, 2:30 4:30 p.m.), featuring safe, non-toxic foam. (currently on pause)

Bring a towel for cleanup afterward and/or cool off at Como Town’s splash pad. 

Though the foam parties are free, Como’s splash pad entry is included with the purchase of a kids’ unlimited ride wristband or can be purchased separately. (currently on pause)

When you’re done, pop over to Conny’s Creamy Cone (only two miles away) for some soft serve. See

Walk among the Llama’s

Take a trip to the Andes—without leaving the Zoo! When you walk through Llama Trek, you’ll have minimal separation from the animals. Come see llamas lunching, munching, grooming, and snoozing. Llama Trek is included with your Zoo admission. For additional fees, you can feed a llama, walk a llama along a path, and take a camel ride.

Come climb at play areas or cool off at the splash pad. The water jets are running and ready! Bring a picnic or treat yourself to the Zoo’s menu of fresh food, cold drinks, and ice cream.

Go to

Play inside

Avoid the sun, but keep the kids active by visiting an indoor playground. Options abound in the Twin Cities, including some spaces reserved for ages 6 and younger — such as MiniSota Play Cafe in Maple Grove and The Little Village in Cottage Grove.

Many offer activities for school-age kids such as laser tag, bowling and arcades games, including our fave, The Burrow in Oakdale and Victoria.

See our list of  indoor play spaces at

Visit a museum

We often think of museums as dead-of-winter or rainy-day destinations, but museums are often less crowded in the summer and they’re delightfully cool, too, so they can help you escape from the heat.

This summer, why not try a museum you’ve never seen before? Our Family Directory ( lists 30 museums, including lesser-known gems such as Firefighters Hall and Museum in Minneapolis (ride on a real fire truck) and the Schubert Club Museum of Musical Instruments in St. Paul.

Plus, for the first summer in three years, the newly restored Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul is open for tours. Two other free options for families include the Walker Art Center (pictured) on the first Saturday of each month (see the newly revamped Minneapolis Sculpture Garden while you’re at it) and Family Days at Mia on the second Sunday of every month, both in Minneapolis.

See for a list of museums.

Explore the Minnesota Children’s Museum

The Minnesota Children’s Museum’s flagship location in St. Paul and it’s a breath of fresh (conditioned) air! The museum includes 10  exhibits and tons of space for visitors.

Don’t miss The Scramble (a four-story vertical adventure with climbing towers, a spiral slide and a netted catwalk); Sprouts (an area of discovery for babies and toddlers); and The Studio (where kids can tinker and create with real tools and authentic materials).

kids in the play structure at Minnesota children's museum in st paul minnesota

There’s also a cafe with a coffee bar!


Get Smaaashed 

Need a cool place to take the older cousins visiting from out of state? The indoor Mall of America amusement park known as The Fair on 4 features a multi-level indoor racetrack for electric go-karts — no fumes!

While you wait for your turn to race, you can check out an insanely good array of vintage arcade games, plus an axe throwing area, restaurant and bar (specializing in beers).

Find all prices at

Younger kids? Check out the Crayola Experience and Nickelodeon Universe (including Toddler Tuesdays) at MOA. See

Fly Over America

Go on a small-plane ride across America (and now Canada!) at this theater-style ride at the MOA.

Riders sit suspended in ski-lift-like chairs with their legs dangling 10 to 40 feet off the ground, as they move (wearing seatbelts) seemingly through a 15-minute film, projected on a wrap-around giant screen. Music and special effects — such as mist, wind, sounds and scents — make you feel like you’re truly flying through the scenes displayed before your eyes. Riders must be at least 40 inches tall.

See for more details.

Need more ideas?

Check out our Family Directory online at

Photo by Tracy Walsh