2024 Memorial Day Weekend Activities around Minnesota

10 Fun Memorial Day Weekend Getaways Near Minneapolis for Families

Many Minnesota families consider Memorial Day Weekend the unofficial kick-off to summer. With rising temperatures, a day off from work and school, and clear roads, it’s easy to see why Memorial Day Weekend is a beloved time for road trips and family getaways. To help you plan, we’ve rounded up some of the best vacation spots for families in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. These weekend getaways for Minnesota families feature everything from city adventures and shopping to hiking, biking, and long days on the lake. Plus, some of the best lake resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin offer epic weekend escapes for kids of all ages. From lakeside fun to cozy cabins, Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time to make new memories with your kids. Keep reading to learn more about our top picks for the best Memorial Day Weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids (all within 4 hours!).

Fun Memorial Weekend Getaways in Minnesota for Families 

If you want to stay in the state during the long weekend, there are plenty of fun Memorial Day Weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids! Here are three of our favorite options in Minnesota with kids! From hiking to shopping, no matter what your family enjoys doing together, a great Minnesota destination awaits you this Memorial Day Weekend!

1. Mall of America/Bloomington, MN

Are you looking for fun weekend getaways in Minnesota for families but want to go within a reasonable distance? Bloomington is always in style! Plus, it’s only minutes from Minneapolis, which means you can skip the hotel or make it a staycation at one of the many kid-friendly hotels in Bloomington. In addition to the Mall of America, Bloomington features many other fun family activities for all ages. 

Want to experience one of the best museums in the Twin Cities with your kids? Take youngsters to The Works Museum to get hands-on with the science-inspired exhibits. Alternatively, engage in some family-friendly competition with older kids and teens at Whirlyball. This haven for family entertainment offers everything from bowling to escape rooms. Of course, the Mall of America provides a wide range of activities for all ages, including dining, hotels, and shopping. Get your thrills at Nickelodeon Universe as you race down exciting amusement park rides. Then, visit marine creatures at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium or engage in mind-bending tricks at the Museum of Illusions.

dad and daughter at Sealife in mall of America in bloomington Minnesota on our list of Memorial Weekend Getaways

Hyland-Bush-Anderson Lakes Park Reserve is a great outdoor spot for Memorial Day Weekend adventures. Make the “chutes and ladders” playground your first stop if you have littles! Meanwhile, those with older kids can hike or bike on one of the many paved or unpaved trails. Summer visitors can also rent a kayak or canoe to explore the on-site waterways. Continue your outdoor exploration at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Kids can even borrow explorer packs (when the Visitor’s Center is open) to make the hike even more fun! 

2. Duluth, MN

Duluth is one of the best vacation spots in Minnesota for kids—and Memorial Day Weekend is no different! Just under three hours from Minneapolis, it’s an ideal destination for families seeking outdoor adventures, great lake views, and endless kid-friendly activities. Start your long weekend in Canal Park, where you can watch huge ships pass under the Aerial Lift Bridge. This is also a great spot to enjoy family-friendly dining, like Vitta Pizza and the iconic Grandma’s Saloon & Grill.

While exploring one of the best Memorial Day Weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids, you can’t miss adding the Great Lakes Aquarium to your itinerary. It features two floors of live animal displays, hands-on interactive exhibits, and much more. Then, the Lake Superior Zoo and Duluth Children’s Museum are two more great stops with young kids. Alternatively, those with older kids and teens may enjoy learning about maritime history at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in Canal Park. Kids of all ages will enjoy climbing aboard the William A. Irvin Museum and exploring a ship museum! Glensheen Mansion also offers family-friendly tours of its historic home and gardens. 

two bears swimming at the lake superior zoo in Duluth Minnesota

If you want to get on the water, Vista Fleet Boat Tours has several unique boat tours, from sightseeing to dining cruises. You can also explore fun, kid-friendly hiking trails at Chester Park LoopLester Park Trail, or Hartley Nature Center. If you want a breathtaking view of the Duluth skyline and Lake Superior, check out Enger Tower. Finally, Spirit Mountain offers an exciting Adventure Park and mountain bike trails in the summer.

3. Winona, MN

One of the best weekend getaways for families near Minneapolis is a fantastic road trip down the Great River Road to Winona. Just over two hours from Minneapolis, Winona is a beloved destination for its outdoor adventures, art, history, and more! Your Memorial Day Weekend adventures can include everything from canoeing and hiking to boat tours down the Mississippi River.

Make the Minnesota Marine Art Museum your first stop. You can peruse beautiful pieces from famous artists like Picasso and Van Gogh here. Alternatively, explore the arms and armor collections in the castle-inspired Castlerock Museum in nearby Alma. Afterward, the National Eagle Center is a must-see when visiting the Winona area with kids. It’s home to several non-releasable bald eagles year-round. And provides a nesting place for hundreds of others who winter here. To try and see more eagles in the wild, hike along the many trails at Great River Bluffs State Park.

Families can also get on the Mississippi River with a tour from Winona Tour Boat. The narrated tours make this experience a great way to learn about local history and wildlife. Additionally, families will love exploring the underground caverns at Niagara CaveLocated about an hour south of Winona, this tour takes you past an underground waterfall, 450 million-year-old fossils, and incredible rock formations! Back in Winona, don’t miss munching on old-fashioned filled donuts at Bloedow’s Bakery in Winona. Or, indulge in a sweet treat at Nate and Ally’s Frozen Treat Creations (perfect after a long hike!). 

Fun Memorial Weekend Getaways in Wisconsin for Families 

Memorial Day Weekend is a great time to embark on a Wisconsin weekend getaway with kids! If you are looking for some of the best Memorial Day Weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids, these Wisconsin cities are within about 4 hours.

4. Eau Claire, WI

One of the best weekend getaways for families in Wisconsin awaits you in Eau Claire. Only 90 minutes from Minneapolis, Eau Claire is an excellent option for all ages. The city is entertaining with young kids and tweens. Start your long weekend with a thrilling afternoon at Action City. This is a great spot to let kids loose and have fun together, featuring an arcade, go-karts, mini-golf, and much more. Make Memorial Day even more memorable for your family by staying on-site! Metropolis Resort provides several accommodation types and endless on-site entertainment (including an indoor water park!).

park in Wisconsin on the Memorial Weekend Getaways list

Then, families with young kids can head to the newly renovated Children’s Museum of Eau ClaireAfterward, take advantage of the Eau Claire Sculpture Tour. It is the nation’s most extensive self-guided sculpture tour, with 70+ unique sculptures scattered throughout the city. You can even start seeing sculptures just outside of the Children’s Museum! The downtown area also features several boutique shops and restaurants. Then, head to Carson Park to play at the colossal playground. Meanwhile, older kids and tweens may prefer the interpretive exhibits at the Chippewa Valley Museum. While exploring Carson Park, snag a photo with Paul and Babe the Blue Ox.

If you want to enjoy time in the sun, stroll through beautiful Phoenix Park. This is also the location for the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market, held on Saturdays (which resumes in May). Alternatively, let kids splash in the stream at River Prairie Park. There is also a lovely natural playground here. When kids are done playing, challenge them to find the park’s resident trolls. Finally, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and kayaking are available in Eau Claire over Memorial Day Weekend.

5. Madison, WI

Madison is undoubtedly one of the best Memorial Day weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids! Just four hours from Minneapolis, Madison has excellent museums, lovely parks, and great restaurants. Start your long weekend by exploring State Street. This pedestrian mall spans half a mile and is home to Madison’s best shopping and dining. Afterward, check out the Wisconsin State Capitol building. Take one of the free guided tours or self-guided tours if you have extra time; they are offered year-round. Enjoy perusing the Dane County Farmers’ Market, which surrounds the state capitol building, on Saturday mornings.

Summer days are best enjoyed at Babcock Hall Dairy Store, where you can indulge in campus-made ice cream. Afterward, head out to the Terrace at Memorial Union to relax in colorful chairs with beautiful lake views. Then, those traveling with littles can add the Madison Children’s Museum to their itinerary. This museum offers several exhibits on art, gardens, and more. Alternatively, those traveling with tweens and teens can check out the Wisconsin Historical Museum or Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Finally, the Chazen Museum of Art is free on UW-Madison’s campus. 

inside the Madison children's museum

If the weather is nice, stay outside and meander the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Or, head to Vilas Park or the UW-Madison Arboretum. Each one showcases lovely walking paths and fresh early summer blooms. Henry Villas Zoo, located in Vilas Park, is another excellent stop for young kids and tweens. Home to 650+ animals, like aardvarks, bison, and Amur tigers, admission is always free (donations are encouraged). 

Fun Memorial Weekend Getaways in Iowa for Families 

Plan one of the best Iowa weekend getaways with kids this Memorial Day! From early summer days on the lake to fun city adventures, these Iowa cities are some of the best weekend getaways near Minneapolis for families.

6. Des Moines, IA

Are you looking for exciting Iowa weekend getaways with kids this Memorial Day? Pack your bags; let’s go to Des Moines! Families love traveling to Des Moines with kids. From its Midwestern charm to its robust, family-friendly attractions, the city is filled with fun things to do for all ages. Plus, Des Moines is less than 4 hours from Minneapolis.

Start your Memorial Day Weekend at the Science Center of Iowa. Located in the heart of Des Moines, this interactive museum makes learning fun and engaging for all ages. Blank Park Zoo is the perfect addition to any Des Moines family itinerary. The zoo is home to many amazing animals like tigers, seals, lions, giraffes, red pandas, and rhinos! Plus, visiting in May means enjoying the Blank Park Zoo’s Wild Lights Festival. For a unique experience with kids, climb aboard one of the Saturday excursions offered by Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad & James H. Andrew Railroad Museum. Aboard the historic train car, your family will delight in splendid scenery and learn about railroading history in Iowa. 

Want to explore the great outdoors together? Ledges State Park features beautiful sandstone cliffs and dense forests. This unique state park is a fun, family-friendly place to hike together. Alternatively, Neal Smith TrailSaylorville Lake Shore Trail, and Des Moines River Trail are great options for kids. Or, head to the Downtown Farmers’ Market for fresh produce and new foods to try. It’s been ranked the #2 Best Farmers’ Market in America! Finally, top off your Des Moines adventures with dinner at The Hall. This German-style food hall is a fun spot to ensure everyone gets to eat what they like. Options range from German fare and burgers to pizza.

7. Okoboji, IA

Okoboji, Iowa, boasts the perfect blend of nostalgic lake experiences, kid-friendly activities, and lake resorts. Seven distinctive communities surround this chain of glacially carved lakes, creating a haven for families looking to unwind, connect, and have a little fun in the sun. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the best Memorial Day Weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids! It’s only 3 hours away.

Memorial Day Weekend is a great excuse to pack up the kids and head to the lake. When you’re ready to explore, fishing enthusiasts can spend a little time on the lake with Campbell Fishing ExpeditionsA good day’s catch will undoubtedly lead to a walleye cookout with your kids while swapping fish stories! Don’t want to fish? You can take a public cruise with Okoboji Boat Works instead. Then, Ainsworth-Orleans Beach showcases a long, sandy beach ideal for sunny weather. There is also a playground and restroom on site. Arnolds Park Public Beach is another excellent option. Both offer plenty of opportunities to splash and play together.

Then, Arnolds Park Amusement Park is a thrilling experience for all ages. The park features amusement park rides, a beachfront with boat tours, and a maritime museum. They also have off-the-water activities, like mini-golf and a summer theater. Alternatively, Boji Splash Waterpark at Bridges Bay offers a huge outdoor pool, indoor waterpark, and zipline. If you want to learn about local history, head to Abbie Gardner Cabin & Museum (which reopens Memorial Day Weekend). Finally, your family can hike during your Memorial Day Weekend getaway at the Dickinson County Nature Center or Mini-Wakan State Park.

kids on roller coaster at Arnolds park in iowa on our Memorial Weekend Getaways things to do with the family

Fun Family Resorts for a Memorial Weekend Getaway near Minneapolis 

Want to plan an epic weekend getaway for your family without much fuss? Book one of the best lake resorts in Minnesota or Wisconsin. All within 2.5 hours of Minneapolis, these resorts offer tons of kid-friendly amenities, from lake access to indoor waterparks. You won’t have to leave the property to enjoy your weekend together! Keep reading to learn more about these fun Memorial Day weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids.

8. Madden’s on Gull Lake, MN

Just over two hours from the cityMadden’s On Gull Lake is one of the best Memorial Day Weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids. This lakeside resort boasts more recreational amenities than any other resort in the Midwest! Plus, make sure to attend Madden’s annual Memorial Day Weekend Parent-Child Golf Tournament (held on Saturday, May 25).

Dedicated to honoring the unique needs of all families, Madden’s On Gull Lake provides a wonderful array of accommodation options. Select from multi-bedroom houses, traditional guest rooms, villas, and more. Which one you choose depends on your family size, budget, and preferred style of stay during your Memorial Day Weekend getaway.

One of the top vacation spots in Minnesota, families love Madden’s On Gull Lake for its three sandy beachesinflatable water park, outdoor pool, and more. Kids ages 4-12 can spend carefree days at Adventure Cove. This supervised camp-style experience offers several activities and lunch (additional daily fee/child). Meanwhile, parents can take a mini-retreat to indulge in much-needed self-care at the on-site spa. Afterward, challenge your family to a round of lawn bowling, pickleball, badminton, or shuffleboard. Boat rentals are also available if you want to get on the water. 

madden resort view from the lake
Image: facebook.com/maddensresort

Finally, there are several on-site dining options for every meal, each featuring a kids’ menu. Before you book, check out the Memorial Day Weekend Kids Stay, Eat, and Play Free package

9. Grand View Lodge, MN

No one quite does summer like Grand View Lodge! One of the best lake resorts in Minnesota for families, this resort on Gull Lake provides a stunning backdrop for family fun over Memorial Day Weekend. The resort is just over two hours from Minneapolis. One of the perks of staying here is the summer Kids Club for ages 3-11, which kicks off Memorial Day Weekend. The Kids Club provides a variety of activities and lunch under the care of a highly-trained staff (additional daily fee/child).

Grand View Lodge offers various accommodation options and styles. You can choose from boutique hotel experiences, main property guest rooms, and multi-bedroom townhomes. If you’re planning a Memorial Day Weekend escape with another family or as a multi-generational family, this resort is a fantastic option! 

Families can spend Memorial Day Weekend hiking, biking, horseback riding, and roasting s’mores. Then, kids will delight in racing down the zipline course. Afterward, you can challenge each other in a lawn game! On the water, paddleboarding is an excellent option for enjoying the warm Memorial Day Weekend weather. Alternatively, families can splash and play at Northpark – the on-site indoor watermark. Adults can also enjoy the fitness center and on-site spa. Multiple on-site dining options complete the stress-free family weekend getaway experience. Even the pickiest of eaters will find something they love here.

grand view lodge building on our Memorial Weekend Getaways list

Before booking your stay, check their Memorial Day Weekend events for thrilling family activities for all ages. Finally, you can learn more about their family packages here.

10. Stout’s Island Lodge, WI

If you are looking for a unique Memorial Day weekend getaway near Minneapolis with kids, Stout’s Island Lodge may be what you’re looking for! Only two hours from Minneapolis, this breathtaking island resort is located on Red Cedar Lake in Birchwood, Wisconsin. From the ferry ride to the island to the wide array of family-friendly activities, families will marvel at the lodge’s historic charm and lake views.

Lodging accommodations sleep between 2 and 6+, while the two private island options can sleep even larger parties. Many accommodations feature top-notch amenities like gas fireplaces, patios, full kitchens, and stunning lake views. Note that some cabins are adult-only. Find their summer specials here.

While staying on the island, your family can enjoy all the nostalgic fun of a quintessential Midwest summer with s’mores and bonfires, lazy lake days, and more. When you want to get on the water, choose from activities like canoeing, swimming, hydro bikes, fishing, and boat rentals. There is even a swimming dock and raft reserved exclusively for swimmers. After you dry off, challenge your kids to a round of lawn jenga, badminton, or bocce ball. Plenty of nearby trails and rivers offer endless outdoor fun for the whole family. The main lodge has a game room, library, and plenty of board games to keep everyone busy. Make the long weekend memorable by arranging a family cruise on Elco Lake

Finally, on-site breakfast, lunch, and dinner dining completes the lovely weekend getaway experience. Reservations are required for dinner, and families with kids under 13 must be seated by 6:30 pm. A children’s menu is available for lunch and dinner.

Enjoy Your Weekend Getaway with Kids!

We hope this article featuring some of the best Memorial Day weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids helps plan your family escape. Including some of the top vacation spots in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa for families, these cities and resorts offer the perfect destinations for kicking off the summer and making memories with your kids.

As a reminder, Memorial Day weekend starts on Friday, May 24, 2024, and lasts through the holiday on Monday, May 27.

Antonia Grant is a Minnesota mom + freelance writer who loves encouraging parents to find ways to connect and make memories with their kids. She’s a firm believer in providing children with experiences over things. You can find more from Antonia and her family adventures on Instagram @knead.to.roam and on her website. She shares all things family travel, outdoor adventures, and their favorite foodie finds.

We hope you like our article as we shared fun places to go over Memorial Day Weekend! Find more places to visit in Minnesota with kids-

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