The Twin Cities is filled with opportunities for family fun. Plan a weekend to explore these communities, their lakes, their museums and zoos and their amazing restaurants. Here are a few favorites to check out.
——— Friday ———
Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum
1110 Carson Park Dr., Eau Claire
It can seemingly be a long drive to the Twin Cities from Milwaukee – about 5 hours. But stop to stretch the legs in Eau Claire and step back in time to the 1890s. Visitors to the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum can explore an authentic logging camp. The kids will especially enjoy Paul's Tall Tales Room, which is filled with games and interactive exhibits.
The Blue Door Pub
3448 42nd Ave. S, Minneapolis
(612) 367-4964, thebdp.com
Ever hear of a Juicy Lucy? It's a cheeseburger that has the cheese inside the meat. The origins of this tasty burger are in Minneapolis. And The Blue Door Pub's version is The Blucy, as seen on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. It's loaded with blue cheese and garlic. Need we say more? Kiddos are welcome at any of the three locations, and the kids' menu offers a choice of applesauce or veggies and dip as substitutions for fries. But it's worth getting an order of the deep fried pickles. Yum!
——— Saturday ———
Day by Day Café
477 7th St. W, St. Paul
(651) 227-0654, daybyday.com
Start your day off with the basics of eggs, pancakes or French toast. Or you can go for the Pigs Eye Porridge of oats and wild rice or the Smoked Salmon Scramble with hollandaise. If the weather is nice, sit outside on the patio and enjoy the koi fish pond.
1225 Estabrook Dr., St. Paul
This is one of our favorite zoos! And it's free! From Polar Bear Odyssey and Wolf Woods to the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden and Gorilla Forest, there is something for every member of the family. Next door to the zoo is Como Town Amusement Park, which has rides for little kids and big kids.
Sniffy's Malt Shop
244 Cleveland Ave. S, St. Paul
Como Zoo does have food for sale, and you can also pack a picnic lunch. But if you'd like to dine out, head on over to Snuffy's Malt Shop. The classic 1950s diner, offers classic burgers and malts as well as soups, salads and sandwiches.
Minnesota Science Museum
120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul
(651) 221-9444, smm.org
Plan on spending a few hours at this museum with has exhibits on everything from dinosaurs and Native Americans to the Mississippi River and the human body. It's also located on the banks of the Mississippi and a short walk from the Minnesota Children's Museum, giving several options for fun.
600 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis or 777 Grand Ave., St. Paul
(612) 379-3030 or (651) 224-1302
Go for the Gumbo Fried Rice bowl and stay for the Spicy Masa Corn Cake. This southern food joint (with two locations) is a fun place for families, with vegetarian and gluten-free options. The kids' menu goes beyond the grilled cheese to include sweet and spicy beef, roasted pork, pulled chicken and Roasted chicken. Sides include grits, yuca and rice and black beans.
——— Sunday ———
2548 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
(612) 874-0481, uptown-diner.com
Hello, Uptown! Stop in the vibrant Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis for breakfast at Uptown Diner. The kids will love the sweet options, including Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pancakes and the Caramel Apple Crisp Waffle.
Calhoun Parkway, Minneapolis
With a full belly, head southwest to take a stroll around Lake Calhoun before you make the long trek back to Milwaukee. Wheel Fun Rentals offers several options, including canoes, kayaks, bikes and pedal boats. If the weather is warm, head to Lake Calhoun North Beach for lake access. Before heading out of town, stop at Sebastian Joe's at 4321 Upton Ave. S for some amazing ice cream.■
Liz Paulsen is the editor of Metroparent and a proud graduate of the University of Minnesota.