Kid-friendly Downtown

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April 11, 2005 // UPDATED 1:53 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Nicholas Forte
Nicholas Forte

When you think of Downtown, you probably don't think of children. However, there are plenty of activities and places to visit with nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, or grandkids in the heart of the city.

Here are a few urban outing ideas to help get you started.

TOURS AND RIDES

Kids of all ages like trains. Consider zooming along in the light-rail, or Hiawatha Line. You could take the train from 5th Street Downtown to the Mall of America or Fort Snelling, or you could just zoom back and forth on the 11.6- mile stretch. There are several stops in Downtown Minneapolis, such as Nicollet Mall & 5th Street and Hennepin & 5th Street in the Warehouse District.

Cost, non-rush hour and weekends: under 6, free; youth 6-12, 50 cents, adults, $1.25.

For further information, log onto www.metrotransit.org/rail/index.asp.

Minneapolis Rivercity Trolley runs May 8 to Oct. 31. Tours begin at the Minneapolis Convention Center on 13th Street & 2nd Avenue South and run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour takes approximately 60 minutes and shows off Downtown and nearby sights.

Cost: Single tour: children 12 and under and seniors, $5; adults, $10. All-day pass: children under 12 and seniors, $10; adults, $15.

For further information, log onto www.rivercitytrolley.org.

MUSEUMS

Mill City Museum teaches local history in such a cool way that kids probably won't even notice that they're learning something. Take the Flour Tour ride, for example. As the multimedia elevator ride/show takes visitors up eight floors, old-time voices and videos wrap them in the story of the one-time flour capital of the world.

They also have outdoor activities such as riverfront tours and architectural digs, along with special events such as their Mother's Day Brunch, Sunday, May 8. For a complete schedule, check out www.millcitymuseum.org and select "events."

Location: 704 S. 2nd St.

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

Cost: children under 5, free; kids 6-17, $4; adults 18-64, $8; seniors, $6.

For further information, try 341-7555 or www.millcitymuseum.org.

The Wells Fargo History Museum is a more conventional, plaque-heavy setup, but kids are sure to get a kick out of seeing a genuine stagecoach, and it's free.

Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: 6th and Marquette Ave.

Cost: Free.

For further information, contact 667-4210 or www.wellsfargo.com/about/museum_info.

The Walker Art Center, which reopens April 17, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden feature bright modern art many kids are attracted to. Plus, kids are free to touch the sculptures in the outdoor garden.

Hours: Walker hours to be announced. Garden is open6 a.m.-midnight daily.

Cost: The Garden is free.

For further information, contact www.walkerart.org/index.wac or 375-7600

Location: 1750 Hennepin Ave. S.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is renown for its collection of works, but they also have a family center on the first floor featuring fun art games for the whole family. And on Ford Free Sundays, the next is April 24, families enjoy treasure hunts and tours, and kids can make their own works of art. All for free.

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday,10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: Free. (With the exception of the occasional special exhibit.)

For further information, contact www.artsmia.org.

Location: 2400 3rd Ave. S.

MOVIES

Crown Theater at Block E has 15 screens of first-run movies, including at least one meant for children. The theater also sponsors a free kids' summer film festival. Watch the Skyway News calendar for details.

Cost: kids 3-11 and seniors, $5.50; students with ID, $6; adults, $8.25; seniors, (Matinees are $5.75 for all.)

For further information, contact 338-5900 or www.crowntheatres.com.

Location: 600 Hennepin Ave. S.

St. Anthony Main

After a nice walk along the river, you can catch a movie at St. Anthony Main. At least one of the five movies playing there at any given time is sure to be family friendly.

Location: 115 Main St. SE

Cost: Kids, students and seniors, $5.50 at all times. Adults, $5.50 before 6 p.m. and $8 after.

For further information, contact 331-4723.

SPORTS AND GAMES

The Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Lynx, need we say more?

Cost: Prices vary. Lynx games are the least expensive.

Locations: The Metrodome, 34 Kirby Puckett place, for the Vikings and Twins; Target Center, 6th Street & 1st Avenue North, for Timberwolves and Lynx games.

For further information:

Vikings, www.vikings.com or 338-4537.

Twins, Minnesota.twins.mlb.com or 375-7454.

Timberwolves, www.nba.com/timberwolves/ or 1-800-4NBA-TIX (462-2849)

Lynx, www.wnba.com/lynx/ or 673-8400.

The Milwaukee Road Depot offers year- round skating and a terrific indoor water park.

Skating rink

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m. and 9 p.m.-11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-1:15 p.m. and 7 p.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Cost: kids 17 and under, $5; adults, $7.

For further information, contact 375-1700.

Location: 225 3rd Ave. S.

Water park

Hours: Thursday, 3 p.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Cost: Prices vary; call ahead.

For further information, contact 375-1700.

Location: 225 3rd Ave. S.

In addition to the chance go play vedieogames outside of the house, GameWorks at Block E also offers bowling and other family-friendly activities. Games range in price from a dollar up; they use prepaid cards, which come in many preset amounts.

Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-midnight.

Cost: At least a couple dollars per kid, but it's up to you.

For further information, contact 656-7300.

Location: 600 Hennepin Ave. S.

BORN FREE

Loring Park offers three playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts. However, the courts can get pretty busy, and you will need to bring your own gear. A kiddy-pool opens in the summer.

Some people also like to watch the geese and ducks. (It's also fun to feed them, but, unfortunately, this isn't good for the animals' health.)

Cost: Free.

For further information, contact 370-4929.

Location: 1382 Willow St.

The skyways are great for those of you who are watching a lot of kids. Of course, you have to keep a close eye on them, but they're in an enclosed space and can't run out into traffic.

The skyways also connect you to many of the stores and attractions Downtown; the skyways are not only a destination, but also a safe way to see Downtown in comfort.

Cost: Free.

Hours: depends on the skyway, but they're usually open business hours.

Location: See map on page 26.

Nicollet Mall offers a great place to people watch and shop. The kids can also run around in Peavey Plaza on 12th Street & Nicollet Mall, or you can shop for fresh food together on Thursdays once the Farmers' Market on the Mall is in full swing.

Cost: Free (unless you want to shop).

Location: Nicollet Mall, it's an avenue if you didn't know.

KID MENUS

Applebee's has a great kid's menu. Not only is it filled with children's staples, but mazes, word games and connect-the-dots to keep them happy.

Kids meal cost: $3.49-$3.99.

Location: 600 Hennepin Ave. S.

The Hard Rock Caf will keep the kids looking at all the memorabilia on the walls.

$6.99 Kids meal cost: Child must be under 10.

Location: 600 Hennepin Ave. S.; main entrance at North 7th Street & 1st Avenue North.

Rock Bottom Brewery is a good place for kids and parents. The mellow, comfy atmosphere and wide range of food options are sure to satisfy everyone.

Kid's meal cost: $3.99-$4.99.

Location: 800 La Salle Plaza; main entrance on Hennepin Avenue South.

T.G.I. Friday's offers a great menu that includes both traditional children's fare with hamburgers and pizza, as well as smaller portions of adult treats such as ribs.

Cost: $3.49- $5.99 (kid's meal prices).

Location: 615 Hennepin Ave. S.