Top Things to Do With Your Kids in MankatoVisit Mankato
12 of the Top Things to Do with Your Kids in Mankato
Make Greater Mankato your next family destination. Located an hour and a half from Minneapolis, Mankato offers a quick vacation getaway for nature and sports enthusiasts. Come explore its parks, bike trails and festivals. You’ll find child-friendly museums, a petting zoo and entertainment venues for kids of all ages. Mark your calendar and start planning: Here are the top things to do with your kids in Mankato, Minn.
Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
Show your kids what it’s like to be in your shoes at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. In an environment made for the imagination, they can pretend to be conductors, farmers and builders, interacting with life-like objects and settings. An indoor tree fort spans 17 feet wide, making it a paradise for kids to climb, swing, crawl and stretch through the maze.
For the very young, the museum has a designated Infant/Toddler Play Porch designed after a Betsy-Tacy story setting (written by local children’s book author, Maud Hart Lovelace), loaded with toddler-friendly toys. And for children of all ages, the museum’s farmyard offers a host of friendly livestock, including miniature horses, cows, sheep and baby chicks.
Take to the great outdoors at Sibley Park, perfect for both adults and children, and listed as one of Minnesota’s top 9 coolest playgrounds by NewsCastic. While admiring the landscape with gorgeous gardens along its trails, don’t forget to stop at the park’s farm-themed playground, with its bright red barnyard-shaped slide, immobile green tractor and life-sized statues of livestock. Adjacent to the playground is a live petting zoo where families can meet goats, cows, pigs, chickens and more. During the colder season, come see the month-long Kiwanis Holiday Lights, where one million LED lights are on display. Families are encouraged to bring their sleds to ride the snowy hills or skate on the outdoor rink.
WOW! Zone Family Entertainment Center
The games are on at WOW! Zone Family Entertainment Center. Start with a family bowling match and enjoy weekday specials like $3 bowling or $9.95 unlimited bowling. The alleys, lit up with black lights and sound effects, give families a one-of-a-kind psychedelic experience as they knock down pins with neon bowling balls. Other adventures include black light laser tag, miniature golf and an arcade room (considered the largest of its kind in the area) with more than 40 games from classic pinball machines and Skee-ball to newer features. Come hungry: There’s plenty of kid-friendly meals like pizza and hamburgers for everyone.
CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour
Introduce your kids to the world of art with the CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour, with around 30 new sculptures installed each year throughout the City Center. See artistic work from around the world on a family self-guided tour of Godzilla, eagles, abstract pieces and larger-than-life spectacles. At the end of the tour, your children can vote for their favorite sculptures. While on the tour, keep your eyes peeled for an additional treat: a variety of statues and power boxes covered with gorgeous murals (17 in total).
Songs on the Lawn
Be part of a decade-long tradition in Greater Mankato with ‘Songs on the Lawn’ at Civic Center Plaza. Every Thursday in June from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the outdoor stage comes alive with local musicians and bands. Families gather around the stage with their lawn chairs and picnic blankets, and listen to classic blues, rock, folk and more. Food vendors are on hand serving pizza, burgers and frozen custard from local establishments.
Minneopa State Park
Want to see natural beauty at its best? Head to Minneopa State Park, where waterfalls can be found throughout the area. Minneopa Falls, the largest waterfall in the region, offers a stunning view where families can walk across a suspended bridge. For a glimpse of the park’s latest feature travel through the enclosed 330-acre prairie at the park to see roaming bison.
There’s a reason Mankato’s city slogan is “It’s all so close!” Minnesota is among the top five best states for biking and families can easily see why in Mankato as they trek across town on its trails. Before beginning the journey, download a brochure with suggested loops of different distances, traveling through prairies, forests, cityscape, and rolling hills full of wildlife like rabbits, birds and deer. For visitors without bikes, rentals are available at Nicollet Bike for $20 a day. There are several multi-use bike trails that allow both hiking and skating, as well.
Make a splash year-round at Mankato Family YMCA’s pool. Families can take advantage of YMCA’s two indoor pools outfitted with a slide and splash pad during the colder weather season. One of the pools caters to younger children with shallow water and installed play stations so parents can assist their toddlers. During spring and summer, another place to go swimming is Tourtellotte Park, home to an Olympic-sized pool with eight swimming lanes. Picnic tables surround the pool for guests to enjoy lunch while watching others swim. Families may also use the sand volleyball courts, tennis courts and a playground. Spring Lake Park in North Mankato is a unique zero-entry sand-bottom pool that offers a lake feel without the weeds. Not far from Spring Lake Park is Hiniker Pond, a swimming park with a real sand beach and fishing pier.
YMCA Chesley Skatepark
YMCA Chesley Skatepark welcomes people of all ages to tackle its newly built park with several skate ramps and challenges (ranging from easy to hard). The park’s purpose is to encourage youth to socialize and enjoy the outdoors with their skateboards, bikes, scooters and inline skates. The skatepark is supervised by YMCA staff, making it a safe environment for kids.
Get involved in all things geek at Dork Den in Old Town Mankato, where game lovers gather to play. Functioning as a comic shop, Dork Den has a meeting space in the back for gamers to play Warhammer, Magic: The Gathering, and other role-playing games. Families with older kids and teenagers can swing by the shop and compete with other players. Continue building skill development at home with cards, board games, and miniature figures available for sale.
Feeling hungry? Stop by Dino’s Pizza, specializing in New York-style pies. Indulge in satisfying pizza dishes with quirky flavors like Buffalo Bill, Bloody Mary and The Dino. Kids are given pizza dough and encouraged to shape and roll the dough, feel its texture and get an idea of how pizzas are made. Host a pizza party for the kids at Dino’s, and each child gets to create his or her own pizza and ice cream sundae (with the help of a skilled chef).
Mom & Pop’s
What child (or adult) doesn’t have a sweet tooth? Head over to Mom & Pop’s, an ice cream shop where you can select from 32 flavors that rotate seasonally. You can order ice cream served in a homemade waffle wedge or a cup in awesome flavors like banana cream pie, strawberry cheesecake, pistachio nut and cotton candy twist. Other non-ice cream items worth sampling include 1919 Root Beer, hot apple cider, hot chocolate, smoothies and frappes. Mom & Pop’s also has soy and Italian ice flavors that are dairy free.