January 15, 2018

Midwest Restaurants With Memorable Breakfasts

In the Midwest, breakfast is not just the most important meal of the day, it’s the best. As a travel blogger who specializes in this region, I’ve had a few stand-out breakfasts at Midwest restaurants, but I’m always on the hunt for the next one to visit. So, I asked the experts, those have frequented more than a few: Midwest travel bloggers.

This group has some fantastic suggestions!

Here’s a collection of the most memorable breakfast experiences at Midwest restaurants:

Illinois

Charlie Parker’s Diner, Springfield, Ill.

“The breakfast horseshoes are so good. And they make a gigantic pancake that is served on a pizza pan. Also just super fun nostalgic place – interesting quanset hut building.” Recommended by Carrie, who wrote about it at Chicago Foodie Sisters

Jellyfish, Chicago, Ill.

“The brunch menu includes a variety of signature cocktails, soups and salads and sharing plates of everything from stuffed french toast to eel benedict to fruit sushi.” Recommended by Carrie, who wrote about it at Chicago Foodie Sisters

The Goldmoor Inn, Galena, Ill.

“French toast with peaches and waffles with wild blueberries were the stars of our mornings. You can always order eggs made to order if you’d like something other than the daily specialty. Fresh muffins and scones from their pastry chef Tara were decadent and delicious.” Recommended by Sue, who wrote about it at Food Travelist

SafeHouse Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

“I went to their new brunch a few months ago and it was a very cool experience! It is a James Bond spied theme restaurant with a themed brunch menu.” Recommended by Jamie, who wrote about it at Corn Fields and High Heels

Sunda, Chicago, Ill.

“My favorite would probably be the Tempura French Toast. The Oxtail Potstickers were pretty awesome, too.” Recommended by Carrie, who wrote about her brunch experience there at Chicago Foodie Sisters

Timmerman’s Supper Club, East Dubuque, Ill.

“Timmerman’s Supper Club offers an amazing Sunday brunch buffet complete with mimosas and awesome bluff top views over the Mississippi River! The buffet features a range of typical breakfast items, a fruit and salad bar, a taco station, a huge selection of desserts and a live omelette and carved meat station. There’s something for everyone…make sure you visit with an empty stomach!” Recommended by Kylie, who wrote about it at Between England and Iowa

Indiana

Cafe Patachou, Indianapolis, Ind.

“Really good upscale breakfast that was featured in Bon Apetit magazine as a top breakfast spot in the county. Nice downtown location overlooking capitol grounds.” Recommended by Carrie, who wrote about it at Chicago Foodie Sisters

Creighton’s Crazy Egg Cafe & Coffee Bar, Warsaw, Ind.

“Small town, farm-themed restaurant that will take you by surprise. A pleasant surprise! Simple but unique menu and a full-coffee bar. Located in the middle of nowhere, on a farm!” Recommended by Jamie, who writes at Cornfields and High Heels

Eggshell BistroCarmel, Ind. 

“… stepping inside the Eggshell Bistro is like stepping into a Parisian cafe except here no passport is required…Order a coffee, ask for a recommendation if needed, sit back and enjoy the ambiance of this bistro while forgetting that your feet are still firmly planted on American soil. The menu is an eclectic mix of international flavors and all the menu items have an egg included in it. When you go be sure to order the Kedgeree: house-smoked/sorghum-glazed wild salmon, jasmine rice, curried-spice mix, onion, caper, scallion, soft-boiled hen’s egg. Seriously delicious!” Recommended by Deb, who included the restaurant in her post “Fantastic Foodie Finds + More In Hamilton And Hendricks Counties Indiana” at Just Short of Crazy

Grilled cheese at Milktooth in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy Emily Hines

Herrold on Hill, Wabash, Ind.

“Breakfast was the crowning glory of our stay…Alan made us some amazing protein waffles with strawberries and blueberries and double smoked ham Sandy topped off our meal with a fresh tomato and basil salad because, ‘We have vegetables at every meal.’” Recommended by Cindy, who wrote about it at Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl 

Milktooth, Indianapolis, Ind.

“Named one of the best restaurants in the WORLD by CondeNast Traveler, Milktooth in Indianapolis is an all breakfast/brunch restaurant located in the heart of Indianapolis. This ‘fine diner’ serves up the classics with a twist: Think dutch baby with manchego cheese, grapefruit, and brussel sprouts and a grilled cheese topped with truffle honey and a duck egg. Their award winning food makes this place insanely busy, especially on the weekends but it is worth the wait!” Recommended by Emily, who wrote about it at Em’s On The Road

Iowa

Caroline’s in the Hotel Julien, Dubuque, Iowa

“Classic breakfasts like biscuits & gravy and sweet and unique choices like bananas foster’s french toast are just the tip of the iceberg. Impeccable service and small touches like a saucer with your coffee make this dining experience top notch!” Recommended by Katy, who wrote about it at Flint & Co.

Country Kitchen, Marion, Iowa

“Country Kitchen in Marion, Iowa has the fastest service and most delicious breakfast options around. I could eat there all day with the selection they have but I enjoy their breakfast most. Kids love their chocolate chip pancakes and parents love their value” Recommended by Melissa from ThirtySomethingSuperMom

PM Park, Clear Lake, Iowa

On our first visit to Clear Lake, I was determined to have a lakefront meal. It wasn’t as easy to find a place as I had anticipated, but luckily, there was PM Park. While our meal was being prepared, the kids played on the pirate ship outside and I could sit inside sipping my coffee. Try the french cake (pretty much a french toast pancake). I wrote about it in the Great Iowa Road Trip post.

 

Kansas

The Chef, Manhattan, Kan.

“In a college town where fast-food chains dominate the breakfast scene, The Chef stands out. While there’s nearly always a wait, you can sip coffee and create a sidewalk chalk masterpiece to help pass the time. The Pancakes Bananas Foster and Buenos Dias Frittata are two of our family favorites!” Recommended by Sage from Everyday Wander.

You can watch your breakfast being made if you sit at the counter at Doo Dah Diner.

Doo-Dah Diner, Wichita, Kan.

“…perhaps the best restaurant breakfast meal of my life! Here, cooked from scratch breakfast and lunch items fill the menu. You will drool just reading the descriptions!” Recommended by Melody on The Yum originally and reshared on Visit Wichita (her primary blog is Whereever I May Roam)

Michigan

Breakfast at Tiffiny’s, Portage, Mich.

“Made fresh/from scratch and great healthy choices! Serves lunch too…but breakfast all day!” Recommended by Joan at Gramcracker Crumbs

Bunde’s Bakery, South Haven, Mich.

“Bunde’s Bakery is an adorable neighborhood coffee shop you’ll want to pop into during your summer beach vacation. Grab a delicious cinnamon roll with your latte but get there early if you want your pick of the baked goods and breakfast sandwiches.” Recommended by Lindsay, who wrote about South Haven at Let Me Give You Some Advice

Minnesota

Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis, Minn.

“Hell’s Kitchen service staff wears their jammies, ridiculously scary decor and really good food.” Recommended by Diana, who wrote about it at Mojotraveler

Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mickey’s Diner, St. Paul, Minn.

“If you want a unique breakfast experience, we recommend Mickey’s Diner in downtown St. Paul. It’s a dining car that has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can sit on a stool at the counter and watch the cooks fry your bacon and flip your pancakes. My family loves the blueberry pancakes. Breakfast is served 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! I also have a general post about how small town cafes serve up the best breakfast you’ve never had! We could eat breakfast for three meals a day!” Recommended by Victoria, who included the diner in her Small Town Cafes roundup on the blog That Was A First

Note: I’ll second this recommendation! They put some magic in their omelets. I’ve never had one so fluffy and cooked absolutely perfectly. It was one of our favorite restaurant stops during our Great Minnesota Weekend.

World’s Best Donuts, Grand Marais, Minn.

“The cake donuts alone make the World’s Best Donuts worthy of its moniker: Lighter in texture than a traditional cake donut, superb when coated with a thick dusting of cinnamon sugar. There are also raised donuts, twists (try the chocolate covered one), cream or jam-filled bismarks, long johns, apple and blueberry turnovers, jam-filled croissants, caramel pull-aparts, and cream cheese and maple swirls. A small selection of gluten-free items is also available, baked off-site at a gluten-free facility. Besides the cake donuts, my favorite item was the skizzle, a flat piece of fried dough coated with sugar–basically a thin version of American Indian fry bread.” Recommended by Stacy, who wrote about it on Tangled Up In Food

Missouri

Cielo at the Four Seasons, St. Louis, Mo.

The winner of the best view at breakfast in the Midwest has to be handed to Cielo, located on the rooftop of the Four Seasons. Definitely order the chicken and waffles.

Eggtc, Kansas City, Mo.

Eggtc is regularly featured on “best of” breakfast lists for Kansas City for good reason: It’s delicious. What made it all the more memorable (from a tired, traveling parent’s point of view), was the waitress thoughtfully got us a to-go cup for our coffee after we were done with breakfast. I wrote about it in 24 Hours In KC With Kids.

Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe, Springfield, Mo.

“History and modern convenience meet at Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe in Springfield, Missouri. An open kitchen allowed us to watch the cooks prepare our unique dishes in this renovated turn-of-the-century pharmacy building. Try a Freedom Waffle for a cheery and colorful way to start your day.” Recommended by Jeff, who wrote about it at Our Changing Lives

Fruit display at the brunch served at The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks. Photo courtesy Postcard Jar

The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks, Branson, Mo.

“The Sunday brunch at College of the Ozarks was amazing! Sunday brunch at College of the Ozarks is more than a meal — it’s an experience. We enjoyed a leisurely brunch in the beautiful Keeter Center there which included full breakfast selections and personalized omelets and waffles all made with farm-fresh ingredients grown on the campus. Details like an ice sculpture, hand-cut fresh seasonal fruits, domestic and imported cheeses, crudités, and made-to-order Caesar salads took brunch to a new level. We loved the award-winning carved ham and were entertained by students who sang and played the piano while we dined.” Recommended by Ann who writes Postcard Jar Travel Blog with her husband, Steve

Nebraska

Culprit, Omaha, Neb.

“I adore Culprit. Their specialty donuts and morning buns are a great welcome-to-Omaha breakfast when you’ve just picked someone up from the airport and want to simultaneously nourish, spoil and impress them — but need to save room for lunch. If you’re feeling more indulgent, you can linger over their perfect, decadent quiche and a Spanish coffee.” Recommended by Jenna, who writes The Beaspora

The Green Gateau, Lincoln, Neb.

This charming downtown Lincoln restaurant has the feel of a European bistro. The food is exceptional and fresh. I always add a beignet to my order. And a mimosa. Always a mimosa. Expect a wait for brunch if you don’t have reservations.

Upstream Brewing Co., Omaha, Neb.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is have breakfast outside at Upstream Brewing Co., while watching the farmers market shoppers. I usually order the french toast. For more Omaha dining recommendations, read this post.

Ohio

Bagel Street Deli, Athens, Ohio

“Best bagel sandwich I’ve had to date at Bagel Street Deli in Athens.” Recommended by Nedra at Adventure Mom

Oklahoma

Dilly Diner, Tulsa, Okla.

“Dilly Diner treats their employees amazing, and their food is absolutely amazing. Their employees are genuine and sweet. Feels like home.” Recommended by Linda

Waffle Champion, Oklahoma City, Okla.

“Flip the menu – one side is sweeter offerings, the other more savory (think bacon, egg, and cheese, or fried chicken) and all of it is delicious. I had the Blueberry Sunrise waffle: blueberry-thyme compote, lemon goat cheese spread, with an oat crumble sprinkled on top. When I asked if they could add pecans, the answer was, ‘Sure! Are espresso pecans all right?’ Um, YEAH, duh.” Recommended by Sheila, who wrote about it in a post called “5 Places to Live Like Local” on the blog Perceptive Travel

South Dakota

And the winner of the tastiest donut in Wall, South Dakota, goes to…the maple donut.

Wall Drug, Wall, S.D.

Wall Drug is about the cheesiest and touristy stop you can have in South Dakota, and it will also be one of the most memorable. For quick but very tasty breakfast, wait in line and get yourself one of their famous cake donuts. I sampled all of their flavors, and can confidently tell you to order the maple donut. I included Wall Drug in this post about our Nebraska and South Dakota Adventure.

Wisconsin

Frank’s DinerKenosha, Wis.

“Frank’s Diner is in an old street car diner. Very cool. And you have to get the garbage plate. Delish!” Recommended by Carrie, who wrote about it at Chicago Foodie Sisters. Sheila from Perceptive Travel also recommended Frank’s Diner, writing “Two visits to this town. Two breakfasts at Frank’s Diner in downtown Kenosha. Batting 1.000 so far.”

Mocha Moment, Janesville, Wis.

“It’s a family-owned and operated coffee shop and cafe in Janesville, Wisconsin. Tucked away from the road, it’s surrounded by the woods. The owners’ son sources and roasts their coffee, and all the delicious pastries are made in house. It’s definitely a local hot spot and was packed with regulars the morning I visited.” Recommended by Erin, who included it in her post about the 10 Best Breakfast Spots of 2017 post on The Epicurean Traveler

Simple Cafe/Simple Bakery & Market, Lake Geneva, Wis.

“Simple Cafe/Simple Bakery & Market is a favorite of locals and in-the-know visitors. The farm-to-table fare features fresh twists on breakfast classics and designer omelettes. The menu changes with the season (pumpkin bread pudding anyone?) Their bakery’s chocolate croissants are TO DIE FOR.” Recommended by Tabitha, who wrote about it at Trippin’ Midwest Mama

 

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January 7, 2018

What Young Kids Like At Science Museum Of Minnesota

On our recent weekend in the Twin Cities, I flip flopped in deciding whether we should go to a children’s museum or a science center. You can’t really go wrong with either place when your kids are 6 and 8. So, we opted for The Science Museum of Minnesota.

Full disclosure: I chose the Science Museum of Minnesota because I wanted a “Stranger Things” shirt. Not for my kids’ enjoyment. J/K (not really, I wanted that T-shirt). Also, our tickets were complimentary so I can review.

Science Museum of Minnesota

Here’s what our kids – both in early grade school – enjoyed at Minnesota Science Museum:

Sportsology

This new addition to the museum was a favorite of the entire family. The kids had simulated races against athletes and T. rex, measured their reflexes, and studied their soccer moves on video. It’s a well-designed space, and a lot of fun.

The only “athlete” the kids could beat in a footrace –
the gopher.

Dinosaurs & Fossils

Dinosaurs capture the imaginations of young kids. There are real fossils on display and replicas, as well as a small area with puppets that appealed to my youngest. Don’t skip seeing the Triceratops – it’s one of only four real Triceratops on display in the world.

One of the few Triceratops fossils on display in the world can be found at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Experiment Gallery

This one has a lot of hands-on fun things to engage the little ones (the museum says “Please do touch”). Both kids enjoyed playing with the wave tank, and they liked the opportunity to build things.

The Mississippi River

Climbing up to the top of the Charles E. Towboat was fun for both kids, who got a kick out of pretending to control the boat while soaking in the view from up high. I nearly dismissed this area, but I’m glad the kids pushed to explore it.

Both kids loved playing with the solar system table.

The Collectors Corner is another neat spot: We saw kids trading rocks for other real objects like a fossil or minerals. If you think of it, have your kids bring along a natural object for your next visit.

Science Live

My youngest enjoyed watching the show on the Science Live stage. She got to be one of the selected participants for the program. To see the list of shows on the schedule, visit here.

First time at Science Museum of Minnesota

This museum is quite large, so if this will be your first visit, I recommend the helpful First Time Visitors page. I, of course, did notice this page until after our visit, but it has a lot of good tips (ie. you can bring your own food in to eat, or eat at one of the cafes).

How much time to spend

We allotted just over two hours for the museum since we had a long drive home. You’ll want more time than that. If you’re including a movie at the Omnitheater, you’ll need a minimum of three hours (if you’re fine skipping some exhibits).

If you go

Science Museum of Minnesota

Where:120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, Minn.

When: Check hours here

Cost: Adults, $18.95; children (4-12) and seniors, $12.95; children 3 and younger; FREE. FYI: Expect to pay for parking.

* * * * *

Want to plan your own Great Minnesota Weekend?You can get some inspiration from my Holiday Weekend In Minnesota and Roseville & Twin Cities Bucket List now, or check out these upcoming posts:

Christmas at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis

Where To Stay Near The Twin Cities

 

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Want to read more about another great, kid-friendly science center in the Midwest? Check out this post about Science City in Missouri.

December 26, 2017

Where To Stay Near The Twin Cities

Our recent Minnesota Holiday Weekend adventure was spread out over three cities: Minneapolis, St. Paul and Roseville. We needed a hotel near the Twin Cities so we decided Roseville’s location made a perfect home base for our explorations. Think of the cities as a triangle with Roseville be about equidistant from the others. Our visit was hosted by Visit Roseville, who put us in the ideal hotel for traveling families: Residence Inn.

Family-Friendly Features

My favorite part of this hotel is the layout. We had a two-bedroom suite, with two bathrooms, kitchen and living room.I’m not going to lie: After spending a full day together, it was nice to give everyone their own space once back at the hotel.

The suite at the Residence Inn in Roseville had two identical rooms, each with its own full bathroom, and a living room connecting the two. It’s great for families.

I once (briefly) worked at a Residence Inn, so I’m familiar with the spread they have for complimentary hot breakfasts. Families with picky kids can still find food to eat before beginning their own adventures.

The lobby and dining area at the Residence Inn is spacious with a lot of natural light.

The dining area is inviting, with a fireplace and cozy nook.

If you’re here for longer than a weekend, consider making use of their complimentary errand-running services to get food to stock your room’s fridge.

Suites at the Residence Inn in Roseville have a refrigerator, oven and microwave, which we didn’t use for our busy week, but would be handy for longer stays.

By far, the big hit at the hotel for my kids was the pool and hot tub. There’s also an exercise room if you’re feeling motivated.

We managed multiple trips to the pool at Residence Inn during our busy weekend. There’s also a hot tub that you can’t see in this picture.

There’s an outdoor patio and basketball court for to enjoy when the weather’s nicer. Visiting in December didn’t stop a group of boys from a pick-up game of basketball while we were there.

Affordability

We were surprised at the affordability of this hotel. While we received a complimentary stay so I can write about it, we did check out rates for a room like ours.

While it’s tempting to want to stay downtown and walk to attractions, the appeal of this hotel is its affordability, spacious suites, and free parking. Plus, we found none of our destinations were a long drive (see all that we visited in this post). And it’s near a Walmart for any of those emergency trips to buy toiletries your left at home.

If you go

Residence Inn by Marriott Minneapolis St. Paul/Roseville

Where: 2985 Centre Pointe Drive, Roseville, Minn.

Website

* * * * *

Want to plan your own Great Minnesota Weekend?You can get some inspiration from my Holiday Weekend In Minnesota and Roseville & Twin Cities Bucket List now, or check out these upcoming posts:

Christmas at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis

What Young Kids Like At The Science Museum Of Minnesota

December 14, 2017

Christmas At American Swedish Institute

Updated with 2018 information.

While everyone’s flocking to the beach when the weather gets cold, I’m taking the family up to Minnesota for fun holiday weekend. One of the reasons I chose the Twin Cities area to explore is the American Swedish Institute. It’s not because I’m Swedish (I’m only partly), it’s because the place is a castle.

Or looks like one. Doesn’t matter. I knew it would be a hit with my castle-obsessed son.

As luck would have it, we visited on the first weekend of December when ASI was hold its Julmarknad, a Christmas market with live music, Swedish treats, make ‘n take crafts, and lots of shopping opportunities. Disclosure: Our visit was complimentary so I could write about it. 

Julmarknad at American Swedish Institute

We tried the Swedish pepparkakor, a ginger snap cookie. The tradition is, if you tap the cookie in the middle and it breaks into three pieces, your wish comes true.

From the beginning, the Julmarknad was not like any other holiday festival I attended. As we waited in line to enter, we were given some gingersnap cookies called pepparkakor and told about the tradition of Wish Cookie. If you end up with three pieces, your wish would come true. Meanwhile, we learned about a huge Swedish horn.

Then we were swept inside with all the others. There’s a lot to see and do at the Christmas market. I should’ve had a better plan of attack, but I just wanted to soak it all in.

My son adding a wish to the display during American Swedish Institute’s Julmarknad.

My kids enjoyed the activities, like making a Lucia crown and the trying the fiskdamm, a little fish pond game where they won a bag of candy. They reluctantly met Tomte in the mansion salon, as well, since he too had candy. Tomte is a mythical Nordic creature associated with Christmas, and may be a little frightening to the uninitiated. They survived and got their candy.

Tomte may have frightened my kids, but he gave them candy, so they didn’t hold a grudge.

Another fun stop for families is on the third level of the mansion: Ulla’s Bakery was a kids play area. The play area is there year-round, not just for this festival.

We cruised through the castle mansion, and eventually made our way to one of the halls where they had a bake sale and were serving glögg (mulled wine), for an extra fee. My daughter opted for the safe choice of chocolate chip cookie, while the rest of us tried the kringla.

Fest! Merry Mansion

My photos don’t do the Turnblad Mansion justice. It’s beautifully decorated for “Fest! Merry Mansion” which runs through Jan. 7, 2018.

For a temporary exhibit while we were there, rooms in the Turnblad Mansion are decked out in displays of customs and traditions from the five Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

Don’t skip walking around outdoors to see the mansion. You won’t find lights strung up all around it, no, but it’s a pretty castle to see (in my kids’ words).

The American Swedish Institute is inside the Turnblad Mansion in Minneapolis.

If You Go

American Swedish Institute

Where: 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis, Minn.

When: Jlmarknad will be held Dec. 1 and 2, 2018

Website

* * * * *

Want to plan your own Great Minnesota Weekend?You can get some inspiration from my Holiday Weekend In Minnesota and Roseville & Twin Cities Bucket List now, or check out these upcoming posts:

Where To Stay When Visiting The Twin Cities 

What Young Kids Like At The Science Museum Of Minnesota

Get More Family Travel Inspiration

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December 6, 2017

Holiday Weekend In Minnesota For Families

Updated on Sept. 6, 2018

I planned a long weekend getaway to Minnesota for my family in December, timing the trip to enjoy holiday festivities in the Roseville and Twin Cities while we were there. Lucky for us, the weather was mild, so we spent some time outdoors.

Where to stay

Our home base was in Roseville, Minn., a city perfectly situated between the attractions we wanted to see there and in the Twin Cities. Our stay was hosted by Visit Roseville, so we stayed at the Residence Inn Minneapolis St. Paul/Roseville. There’s free parking, free hot breakfast, large two-bedroom suites for families, and top selling point to my kids, an indoor pool.

We managed multiple trips to the pool at Residence Inn during our busy holiday weekend in Roseville and the Twin Cities.

Our hotel’s location conveniently located to get to everywhere we planned to visit in Roseville, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Read a review of our stay in the coming weeks.

Holiday fun in Minnesota

I love visiting Midwest cities during the holidays, and this trip to Minnesota didn’t disappoint.

Rooms of the American Swedish Institute were decorated in holiday themes from various countries. During the holiday festival, there were kids activities and live performances throughout the mansion (or caste, as my kids called it).

For indoor festivities, visit the American Swedish Institute, which is gorgeously decorated for the holidays. Our visit, the first weekend in December, timed well, so we got to enjoy Julmarknad, a holiday festival featuring live music, kids activities, demonstrations, shopping, and yummy food and drink. I couldn’t resist trying glögg and kringla. The festival is only one weekend a year, but you can visit during the holidays to see the decorations. Be sure to walk the grounds of ASI, too. The mansion is gorgeous.

In 2018, the Julmarknad will be held Dec. 1 and 2.

Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis is decked for Holidazzle, a free festival that runs through Dec. 23, 2017.

Downtown Minnesapolis is home to Holidazzle, which runs Nov. 23 through Dec. 23 each year. This FREE outdoor event has different activities like concerts, movies, and on the night we visited, fireworks. There are two huge animal sculptures made out of recycled materials that kids can help move. Those scared younger kids. The kids absolutely loved the kids play area, full of hay mountains to climb, a mini climbing station, a pipe rolling thing. We didn’t get to ice skate there, but that’s another activity. Since the weather was warmer than usual, the place was really packed.

Where to play

There are four floors of exhibits, including one of dinosaurs and fossils that include this guy – one of only four real Triceratops on display in the world and the largest complete specimen on display.

Depending on the weather, you may spend a lot of time indoors. One of the biggest hits with the kids was the Science Museum of Minnesota. We could have easily spent 4 to 5 hours here, but managed to keep it around 3 hours, zooming from exhibits about the body, mazes, dinosaurs, sports, engineering.

Netflix heads up: Science Museum of Minnesota is the museum with the “Stranger Things” shirt.

Artist-designed courses make Can Can Wonderland an intriguing place to visit.

One of the more unique attractions we visited was Can Can Wonderland, a whimsical mini golf center featuring 18 holes designed by artists, architects, electrical engineers and others. It was challenging and entertaining. There was about an hour wait to play, plus tack on another hour or so to putt. If your kids are young and struggle with putting, you might want to wait to visit because it can be an expensive.

The Holiday Flower Show is free to visit inside the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.

We made a quick stop at Como Park to tour the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul. This was one of the few FREE things we did during our trip. The Holiday Flower Show full of poinsettias was all of our favorite to see, though the tropical plants and pond were a close second.

The conservatory is next to a FREE zoo, the Como Park Zoo. It’s small, and in the winter, there isn’t a lot to see outdoors. However, kids can’t resist a zoo, so we walked through the primate house, and enjoyed watching the very active animals.

Our original plan was to visit the Oval Skating Park in Roseville for a spin, but the timing didn’t work out due to a speed skating tournament. However, we stopped by to see OVALumination at night, and caught the end of the races.

Lastly, we made a quick stop at the Rosedale Center to do a little Christmas shopping, but ended up letting the kids build a new friend at Build-A-Bear.

Where to eat

Surly Brewing Co. was a surprisingly family-friendly beer hall and brewery to visit for lunch. The kids played outdoors while the adults enjoyed one of more than two-dozen beers on tap. We visited while a bunch of festively-dressed cyclists were there.

We had several great (totally-not-good-for-you meals) during our visit. Our favorite was at Surly Brewery Co., which was incredibly family-friendly. The kids enjoyed playing outdoors while we waited for our food. There were 35 beers on tap, and the food was memorable. If you’re adventurous, try to hog frites.

Our favorite breakfast was at Mickey’s Diner in downtown St. Paul. The omelet was, hands-down, the best we’ve ever had.

For breakfast, we tried Keys Bakery & Café, a family-owned restaurant with several locations in the area, as well as Mickey’s Diner. Mickey’s is an institution, having been featured on several TV shows, magazines, and miniaturized as a collectible. My husband’s omelet was the best we’ve ever had with the fluffiest eggs ever. Service is quick and food was the best kind of greasy spoon.

Tip: Mickey’s is a small diner and I wouldn’t recommend bringing a large family here, nor any kids who need high chairs.

For lunch & dinner recommendations, try Lucky’s 13 Pub in Roseville. This large restaurant was another great family-friendly spot, and the kids were particularly happy with the popcorn served while you wait.

We also couldn’t resist trying the cheese-stuffed burger this area is known for, the juicy lucy. We went to The Nook in St. Paul at a friend’s suggestion. It’s a hole in the wall bar with some pretty delicious food. The exterior doesn’t look kid-friendly, but it is. There’s a kids menu, and on Sunday evenings, kids eat free.

Driving from Omaha

These delicious truffles are worth the stop in Owatonna, Minn.

We were driving from the south, so we had to stop for lunch before we made it to our first destination. If you’re driving north on I-35, I recommend making a pit stop in Owatonna, Minn., for the delicious chocolate truffles at Costas Candies & Restaurant. It’s a busy week-day lunch spot, we discovered.

* * * * *

Want to plan your own Great Minnesota Weekend? You can get some inspiration from my Roseville & Twin Cities Bucket List now, or check out these upcoming posts:

Christmas At American Swedish Institute

Where To Stay When Visiting The Twin Cities 

What Young Kids Like At The Science Museum Of Minnesota

Get More Family Travel Inspiration

Family vacay inspiration every month! Subscribe to the FREE weekly e-newsletter sharing giveaways, Omaha & Nebraska tips, travel inspiration and more! Subscribe here.

November 5, 2017

My Roseville & Twin Cities Winter Bucket List

We’re braving Minnesota in the winter. Why? Silly question. The question should be why not – the Twin Cities have been touted as one of the top 10 winter vacation spots

To make the most of it, we’re staying in Roseville, who is hosting my family for the trip. Roseville give us easy access to attractions in Minneapolis and St. Paul while staying in a more affordable area (with free parking, a commodity in these parts).

Things to do in Twin Cities & Roseville

I’ve got more things on my bucket list than time allows, but isn’t that the fun thing about bucket lists? Dream big. If there’s something you think is a must-do or must-see while we’re there, please let me know in the comments section!

Roseville & Twin Cities Winter Bucket List

Play & Learn Indoors – Indoor activities will be a necessity during a winter visit. Some of our favorite places to visit on vacations are children’s museums and science centers, so we’re in luck with this part of Minnesota. There’s Minnesota Children’s Museum, which just opened after a major expansion and renovation, and the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. For pure fun, there’s also Can Can Wonderland (think a fantastical world of indoor mini golf, arcade games, and more). Other options include Minnesota Transportation Museum at Jackson Street Roundhouse, a former steam engine maintenance facility-turned historic gem which provides a unique opportunity for kids of all ages to experience railroading.

Three places I’d love to visit (from top going clockwise): Minnesota Children’s Museum, photo courtesy Minnesota Children’s Museum; Can Can Wonderland, photo courtesy Mike Krivit Photography; Science Museum of Minnesota, photo courtesy of Science Museum of MN.

Shop Pop-Ups & The Mall of America – This one’s more for me than anyone else. There are holiday pop-up shops throughout Minneapolis, not to mention the granddaddy of all shopping experiences, Mall of America. If we’re being truthful, if I go to Mall of America, it’d be more for the experiences than shopping though. I’ll save the shopping for local vendors at the pop-ups and then hit the big mall for things like Nickelodeon Universe and the giant ropes course (and zip line).

Hockey Time – Since we’re there in the winter, why not go to a hockey game? The Wild plays in Minneapolis and there’s a game the weekend we’re there! Check the Minnesota Wild schedule here.

Holidazzle – We want to head to downtown Minneapolis to see Holidazzle, a FREE spectacle held Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24. Holidazzle events include outdoor movies, skating, an illuminated art installation, fireworks, Santa, Kid Zone, and more.

Twin Cities winter activities

Holidazzle is an annual festival in downtown Minneapolis featuring ice skating, Santa, free movies, fireworks and more. Photos courtesy Holidazzle Minneapolis

Take In A Live Show – Minneapolis boasts a fantastic theater scene. Since we’re there during the holiday season, shouldn’t we take in a show like “A Christmas Carol”? It’s playing at the Guthrie Theater. You know what sounds even more awesome? “A Stocking Full of Awesome VII: The Wreath of Khan,” a family-friendly comedy show presented by Brave New Workshop. The description is the kicker: “This show is appropriate for the whole family…as long as you consider guys throwing knives at each other appropriate.”

JulmarknadAmerica Swedish Institute‘s Christmas market, Julmarknad, is the largest holiday weekend at the historic Turnblad Mansion. First off, this mansion looks like a castle, so it already is going to be a hit with my son. Additionally, there is a ton happening at the market, including performances, kids crafts, Swedish foods for purchase, and a lot of vendors.  I’m hoping this times out with our weekend visit.

Ice Castles – Holy buckets, if this is open when we’re visiting this winter, I want to be there! Go look at pictures, the Ice Castles look amazing. website

Eat All The Good Food – If you know me, I usually plan trips around food. On my list, Hen House Eatery (word is they have a great kids’ pre-meal entertainment pack), The News Room (read headlines in newsprint-inspired decor), ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s in Minneapolis or Grand Ole Creamery in St. Paul, Midtown Global Market (on Fridays, they have Family Fridays activities), World Street Cafe, Hazel’s Northeast, Snuffy’s Malt Shop, Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar in Stillwater (this has been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” – plus I have a pirate fan in the family), and Mickey’s Diner (featured on the Food Network series “Unwrapped,” “Roker on the Road,” Rachel Rays’ “Tasty Travels,” and Alton Browns’ “Feasting on Asphalt”).

Inspiration for my Eat All The Good Food list came from bloggers (like Dining With Alice, who shared family-friendly tap rooms!, and others like Food + Wine, Star Tribune’s best restaurants with kid-friendly menus, and Eater kid-friendly lists (this and this).

Roseville and the Twin Cities have an abundance of breweries, including Bent Brewstillery. Photo courtesy Lane Pelovsky

Minnehaha Falls – What? A waterfall in winter? At southern Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Park, hikers stop at overlooks to see the Mississippi River, limestone bluffs and 53-foot-tall Minnehaha Falls. I’ve seen pictures of the falls frozen in the winter, maybe we’ll have luck? website

Wabasha Street Caves – This St. Paul site has me intrigued. website

Como Park Zoo – I happen to know from experience, zoos are great to visit in the winter. Tip from Working Mom’s Travels about Como is that it’s easy to visit in the winter since buildings are close together. Santa is at the Minnesota Zoo on Saturdays in December! The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at part of Como Park Zoo and looks delightfully decorated during the holidays. Como Park Zoo & Conservatory are FREE (voluntary donations are accepted).

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is decked out for the holidays. Photo courtesy Como Park Zoo Conservatory

Saint Paul Winter Carnival – OK, this one doesn’t fit into our travel timeline, but if only. It looks fun! Saint Paul Winter Carnival starts in January, though.

Outdoor Sports –  If we’re feeling ambitious, we could snowshoe or ski. Most likely, we’ll ice skate at Roseville Oval, for sure!

You can ice skate outdoors surrounded by holiday lights at the OVAL in Roseville. Photo courtesy Lane Pelovsky

Photo Opps – We might just swing by the Walker Art Center so the kids can get the iconic picture in front of “Spoonbridge and Cherry” at Walker Art Center. 

 

I want YOUR help. Help me plan our trip! Tell me your favorite things to do, places to eat, and all the other must-see things in Roseville and the Twin Cities! Suggestions don’t have to be for specifically kid-friendly things, but that is greatly appreciated.

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