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11 Exciting Weekend Getaways from Minneapolis for Families

A toddler girl sits inside an artistic replica of the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant
Duluth, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a great launching point for some of the best weekend getaways in the Midwest with kids! In Minneapolis, you’ll find a wide array of family-friendly things to do, but don’t discount the surrounding area. From outdoorsy adventures in Duluth, Minnesota to local gems in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, this list includes 11 Exciting Weekend Getaways from Minneapolis for Families. No matter the destination you select, these cities are sure to offer ample opportunities to connect and make memories together. Whether you are a local family or on an extended visit, we’ve compiled some of the best weekend trips from Minneapolis with kids to help you explore the area. Each of these locations boasts several things to do, restaurants, and hotels perfect for families. Finally, all 11 weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families are within four hours of the city!

Weekend Getaways in Minnesota for Families

If you’re wanting to stay within the state, we have rounded up the top weekend getaways in Minnesota with kids! From nearby locations like Stillwater to road-trip destinations like Duluth, these weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families are sure to please your whole family! Each location offers family-friendly things to do, including outdoor adventures, tours, delicious dining, and more. Finally, if your home base is already in Wisconsin or Iowa, these are also some of the best weekend getaways in the Midwest for families.

Duluth, MN

Gateway to the North Shore and Views of Lake Superior

First on our list of weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families is Duluth, Minnesota. Just over 2 hours from Minneapolis, Duluth is chock-full of family adventures. Starting in Canal Park, your kids will love watching large ships come into port, as well as throwing rocks into Lake Superior. Head out to the lighthouse for a great view! Then, watching the lift bridge come up and down is also a big hit with kids! Afterward, grab a slice at Vitta Pizza. Or check out Canal Park Brewing Company for a local, kid-friendly craft brewery and great appetizers. Kids will also love racing along the boardwalk, while parents enjoy stunning views of Lake Superior. Up the hill, explore the area around Enger Tower. Or, tour the historic Glensheen Mansion, which offers a look into the past and manicured gardens. Finally, get into nature with a hike around the Chester Park Loop.

Where to Stay in Duluth with Kids

Since Duluth is one of the best road trips from Minneapolis for families, you’ll need to find a place to stay for the weekend. Firstly, Canal Park Lodge offers rooms right in Canal Park, some even have views of Lake Superior. Additionally, they offer a complimentary hot breakfast, indoor pool, and fitness center. Be sure to ask the front desk for discounted tickets to local kid-friendly attractions. Then, along the shores of Lake Superior, the Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark offers a resort-style hotel with an on-site waterpark and arcade. The South Pier Inn offers spacious suites next to the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge. From here, you are within walking distance of the beaches of Park Point and the shops and restaurants within Canal Park.

Stillwater, MN

Charming Riverside Town with Fun Family Finds

Stillwater, Minnesota, is an ideal location for weekend getaways near Minneapolis with kids. About 30 minutes from Minneapolis, it’s also the closest location on this list. Set along the St. Croix River, families will adore this idyllic town. Upon arrival, explore the downtown area with a 45-minute narrated Stillwater Trolley tour. Or, see the area by water with an authentic paddlewheel riverboat tour or a gondola ride. Stillwater River Boats is a family-friendly option for public cruises or private charters. Looking for something unique? Take a magical hot air balloon ride! Kids will delight in taking in the sights from the skies while on one of the best weekend getaways in Minnesota for families. Then, don’t miss the chance to explore the whimsical Teddy Bear Park. Finally, take a stroll over the historic lift bridge into Wisconsin. Eat at Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop, Coffee Paw Cafe, and Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter.

Viator offers a Stillwater Tour & St. Croix River Cruise. Book it here!

Where to Stay in Stillwater with Kids

If you’re headed to Stilwater, discover comfort and luxury at Hotel Crosby. Nestled in the heart of the city, you’ll find cozy rooms and suites perfect for families. Plus, they also offer a roof-top hot tub and on-site spa! Then, families also like the Aurora Staples Inn. Located only three blocks from downtown, this charming B&B has Victorian-style rooms and suites. If you love historic accommodations, consider the Lowell Inn. Listed on the Historic Registry, it has been in operation since 1927. They provide several rooms and suites, as well as fine dining options. 

Northfield, MN

Quaint Town Offering Tons of Outdoor Adventure

A young girl pokes a stick in the water on a sunny day in Northfield, Minnesota, one of the best weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

From a fun day trip location to one of the best weekend trips from Minneapolis with kids, parents love Northfield, Minnesota. Take a 45-minute drive south of Minneapolis to visit this charming town, nestled along the Cannon River. Firstly, wander the historic main street. Peek into a few shops, then stroll over to the riverfront to see if kids can find ducks or geese. Afterward, enjoy a meal at Tandem Bagels, Hogan Brothers, or the Ole Store. In Northfield, you can also appreciate the local alpaca farm, blueberry farm, or Japanese Garden. Kids will delight in discovering these local hidden gems. Ready for a hike? The Cowling Arboretum has over 850-acres of preserved natural lands. Let kids roam rustic trails in the lower arb or paved paths in the upper arb. From boutique shopping to outdoor adventures, Northfield is one of the best weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families!

Where to Stay in Northfield with Kids

If you’ve decided on a weekend trip to Northfield with kids, you’ll need a place to stay. Firstly, the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Northfield offers everything from standard rooms to 1-bedroom suites. Some rooms even come with a river view! A stay here also includes a complimentary hot breakfast, fitness center, and indoor pool. Not to mention, it’s within walking distance of downtown! Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Northfield is another option families can consider. Finally, be sure to check Vrbo or other home rental sites for cozy home-style stays!

Red Wing, MN

Outdoor Adventures Along the Mississippi River

A riderless bike rests on a trail with a scenic overlook near Red Wing, Minnesota, one of the best weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families.
Photo Courtesy: Visit Red Wing

Just over an hour away, Red Wing is next on our list of weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and savor sweeping views atop enchanting bluffs! If you’re looking for outdoor adventures, Red Wing offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking. Certainly, families need to explore Frontenac State Park, only 15-minutes from Red Wing. Not only can you glimpse stunning views of the Mississippi River, but it’s also a great spot for bird watching too (challenge kids to spot local bald eagles)! Don’t miss the chance to check out the Red Wing Marine Museum (entrance is free!) Featuring exhibits on the robust history of the Red Wing Motor Company, families will appreciate learning more about the local area. Then, shop at Red Wing Shoes or the Scandinavian-inspired UFFDA Shop. Eat at Staghead, The Smokin’ Oak Rotisserie & Grill, and Scarlet Kitchen & Bar.

Where to Stay in Red Wing with Kids

If Red Wing is your selection from this list of weekend getaways in Minnesota kids, consider staying at one of these hotels. Families looking for an enchanting hotel in the heart of Red Wing will love St. James Hotel, 1875. Steeped in history, you can select from standard guest rooms, suites, and apartment-style accommodations. They also offer bike rentals for those interested in exploring Red Wing on wheels. Families can also consider the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson or the AmericInn by Wyndham Red Wing. Finally, be sure to check Vrbo or other home rental sites for local, home-style stays.

Winona, MN

Scenic Views Atop Pituresque Bluffs

A winding, wooded path in the Great River Bluffs State Park, located in Winona, Minnesota, one of the weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families.
Photo Courtesy: Tony Webster

One of the best road trips from Minneapolis for families is just down the road! Winona is about two hours from Minneapolis. Here, discover outdoor adventures, art, history, and more! From canoeing in the summer to ice climbing in the winter, Winona is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Firstly, head to Great River Bluffs State Park for a scenic hike. Then, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum showcases pieces from world-renowned artists like Picasso and Van Gogh. Additionally, get a closer look at the Mississippi River with a tour from Winona Tour Boat. These narrated tours will educate families about local history and wildlife. In the mornings, head to Bloedow’s Bakery for old-fashioned filled donuts. Or, treat kids at Nate and Ally’s Frozen Treat Creations after a long hike. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Winona is one of the best weekend getaways in Minnesota for families!

Where to Stay in Winona with Kids

When your weekend getaways from Minneapolis with kids take you to Winona, you’ll need a family-friendly place to stay. Firstly, families can consider Vrbo home rentals for a cozy option with all the amenities that make your stay feel like home. Then, The Plaza Hotel & Suites offers families a welcoming atmosphere, family-friendly pool, and on-site restaurant. Finally, families with older kids may prefer booking one of the poolside suites at the Express Suites Riverport- Conference and Event Center.

Hastings, MN

Cozy Small Town Vibes Close to the Twin Cities

Just 30-minutes away, Hastings is an ideal location for quick weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families. From the historic downtown to outdoor recreation opportunities, Hastings provides a quaint backdrop for a quick day trip or weekend fun for families. Firstly, get outside on foot or by bike! Including paths nestled along the Mississippi River, there are numerous options for biking and hiking here. Vermillion Falls will surely be a highlight for kids! After working up a sweat, head into town and get a treat from Schoolhouse Scoop. If you’re visiting in the fall, add one of these nearby apple orchards to your itinerary. Afton Apple Orchard even offers a maze, playground, and petting zoo. Of course, parents will also enjoy tastings at the local vineyards or breweries. Finally, those looking to do a little shopping will delight in wandering the riverfront and peeking into vibrant boutiques and shops.

Where to Stay in Hastings with Kids

Hastings offers one of the best weekend getaways in Minnesota with kids. But don’t wait to book your stay. Finding charming options on Vrbo or Airbnb to make your stay feel like home. Then, just across the river in Prescott, Wisconsin, the Port of Prescott Boutique Hotel offers a variety of well-designed suites. Need more options? Consider The Nichols Inn or the Hastings Country Inn.

Weekend Getaways in Wisconsin for Families

If you’re looking to get out of the state, here are the best weekend trips from Minneapolis for families in Wisconsin! These three options are still under four hours of Minneapolis. Take one of the best road trips from Minneapolis with kids to visit these cities. From outdoor activities to delicious restaurants, these locations are sure to inspire family fun and memories!

Eau Claire, WI

Historic Downtown Area with a Huge Music & Art Scene

Just 90 minutes away, families love exploring Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Certainly, one of the best weekend getaways from Minneapolis with kids, this area offers an amazing array of things to do for families! Start your visit with a stroll along the river in Phoenix Park, near the historic downtown. Check the schedule for local shows and the weekly summer farmer’s market. Families with young children can also check out the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, filled with exciting exhibits. Then, if you want to catch a show, kids will adore the family-friendly productions at either the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre or the Pablo Center at the Confluence. In fact, the growing art and music scene make Eau Claire one of the best road trips from Minneapolis with kids! In the fall, expect to visit local orchards and farms for autumnal adventures. Ferguson’s Orchards is a great option for families!

Where to Stay in Eau Claire with Kids

If you’re wondering where to stay in Eau Claire with kids, we’ve got you covered! Consider The Oxbow Hotel. Located in the heart of the historic downtown area, this family-friendly hotel offers studios, suites, and flat-style accommodations. They also offer unique amenities like a vinyl library in the lobby (for in-room listening), as well as a game lawn for local favorites like kubb and beanbags. Then, The Lismore Hotel Eau Claire – a DoubleTree by Hilton is another family-friendly option, featuring a fitness center and on-site restaurant. The Metropolis Resort is located just off highway 94. With your stay, you also enjoy quick access to on-site dining, Action City (including everything from mini-golf to laser tag), and Chaos Waterpark.

La Crosse, WI

Outdoor Adventures Abound Amongst the Bluffs and Mississippi River

La Crosse, Wisconsin is under two and half hours from Minneapolis. As one of the best weekend getaways in the Midwest with kids, families flock to this area for outdoor activities along the Mississippi River. For hiking, check out Grandad Bluff Park or the Mathy Tract – Mississippi Valley Conservancy (a local hidden gem). Need another outdoor adventure? Head to nearby Perrot State Park (30 minutes north) for amazing views. Additionally, kids will delight in doing a 90-minute trail ride on horseback with Redrock Trail Rides LLC. Families can also visit the National Eagle Center to meet local eagles and learn about these incredible creatures through interactive exhibits. Then, the Children’s Museum of La Crosse is great with young kids in tow, featuring exhibits on fire trucks, rivers and bridges, and more. Finally, get the full Wisconsin experience by dining at Digger’s Sting Restaurant, a local supper club.

Where to Stay in La Crosse with Kids

When visiting La Crosse with kids, here are some local hotels to consider. Firstly, The Charmant Hotel offers a variety of rooms and suites. Kids will be tickled pink learning this building started as a candy factory! Then, the GrandStay Hotel & Suites La Crosse has an indoor pool, exercise room, and small playground. Families can also consider Radisson Hotel La Crosse and the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott La Crosse Downtown. Be sure to check Vrbo for home rentals in La Crosse and the surrounding area.

Bayfield, WI & The Apostle Islands

Island Hopping on Lake Superior

A series of colorful kayak rest on a beach on Madeline Island, one of the best weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families.
Photo Courtesy: Madeline Island Chamber

Embark on one of the best road trips from Minneapolis for families! Set your GPS to Bayfield, Wisconsin. The entry point to the Apostle Islands, Bayfield is sure to charm family travelers of all ages. Located on Lake Superior, this city and combination of islands are chock-full of adventure. Whether you stay on the mainland or head to Madeline Island by ferry, you can hike, bike, kayak, swim, and canoe. On Madeline Island, check out the Madeline Island Museum to learn about local island life and history. Back in Bayfield, explore the Bayfield Maritime Museum. Here, kids can learn about the shipping industry, Lake Superior, and more. If you’re visiting in the summer or early autumn, be sure to visit Blue Vista Farm to pick in-season fruit and enjoy a day of farm life. Finally, be sure to eat the catch of the day at The Copper Trout!

Where to Stay in Bayfield with Kids

If you’re headed to Bayfield on one of the best weekend trips from Minneapolis for families, check out these accommodation options. Firstly, the Woodside Cottages of Bayfield offers quaint private cottages with fireplaces and kitchenettes. Or, consider The Bayfield Inn, providing standard rooms, suites, and vacation rentals. Here, you can also access on-site dining, as well as all the nearby attractions in charming Bayfield. You can also find options through the local campgrounds and marinas. Finally, be sure to check Vrbo for other local home-style accommodations to ensure you have all the creature comforts of home!

Reserve top-rated guest accommodations at Bayfield, WI through VRBO here!

Weekend Getaways in Iowa for Families

Next on our list of weekend getaways from Minneapolis with kids are two locations in neighboring Iowa. Just across the border, you’ll find these great options that truly make you feel like you’re on vacation! Within four hours of Minneapolis, embark on some of the best road trips from Minneapolis for families!

Ames, IA

College Town Offering Plentiful Parks

A bridge within Brookside Park shrouded in a fall leaves and foliage in Ames, Iowa, one of the weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families.
Photo Courtesy: Carl Wycoff

Desire a park-filled getaway with kids? Take one of the best road trips from Minneapolis with kids to Ames, Iowa. After arriving, head to Furman Aquatic Center for a day of fun in the sun with kids. They’ll love spending the day splashing and swimming! Then, visit Iowa State University to enjoy Reiman Gardens, where kids can practice their plant and butterfly identification. Or, spend the day hiking or fishing at Ada Hayden Heritage Park. Here, you’ll also find paved bike paths, picnic tables, and on-site restrooms. Head to Brookside Park for a kid-friendly walking path, playground, and wading pool. Plus, McFarland Park offers several local ecologies for nature-loving kids, like woodlands and streams! Families will also appreciation spending gorgeous summer nights listening to music at Bandshell Park. Certainly, one of the best weekend getaways in the Midwest with kids, Ames offers everything you need for a fantastic summer getaway.

Pro Tip: Don’t want to go all the way to Ames? Take a shorter road trip to New Day Dairy and spend a fun-filled weekend on a working dairy farm! In fact, your common space will even look out onto the barn.

Where to Stay in Ames with Kids

If you’re spending a weekend in Ames, you’ll need a place to stay. For a traditional hotel, consider Courtyard by Marriott Ames, providing rooms and suites and a fitness center and indoor pool. Then, a stay at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Ames includes flexible workspaces, a fitness center, and an indoor pool. Additionally, they offer 1-king or 2-queen suites. Or, consider the Iowa House. Families will love the option to book a spare bedroom for the kids. All rooms include private bathrooms, as well as a gourmet country breakfast to start the day.

Okoboji, IA

Lake Life is the Best Life

A young girl and her dog sit at the back of a boat on Lake Okoboji at sunset, one of the best weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families.
Photo Courtesy: Andrea Grabow

The final city on our list of weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families is Okoboji, Iowa. Here, family fun centers around lake life! If you’re interested in a day at the beach, check out Ainsworth-Orleans Beach, featuring a long, sandy beach, playground, and on-site restroom. Arnolds Park Public Beach is another option. Or, embark on a public cruise with Okoboji Boat Works. They also offer paddleboard lessons for all ages. Fishing families can book time on the lake with Campbell Fishing Expeditions. Afterward, you can have a walleye cookout with your day’s haul! Then, kids will delight in a visit to Arnolds Park Amusement Park. Here, find thrilling amusement park rides, as well as a beachfront with boat tours and a maritime museum. From mini-golf to summer theater, you’ll find activities off the water too. No wonder Okoboji is one of the best weekend getaways in the Midwest for families!

RELATED: Best Lakes in the Midwest for Families

Where to Stay in Okoboji with Kids

Most families head to Okoboji choose to stay at local campgrounds or cabins. You can also consider Bridges Bay Resort. Kids will love the on-site waterpark and zip-line, while parents appreciate the array of accommodations from standard rooms to vacation cabin rentals. Additionally, many families appreciate Fillenwarth Beach Resort for its lakeside location, family-friendly ambiance, and several accommodation options.

Happy Travels!

Three kids sit on a large boat propeller that is now an art installation in Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota, one of the weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families.
Photo Courtesy: George Hartung
Duluth, Minnesota

We wish you happy travels on these weekend getaways from Minneapolis for families! We are sure you’ve found the ideal location for your family. Whether you are looking forward to the best road trips from Minneapolis with kids or need a location nearby, everything on this list is within four hours of Minneapolis. That means you don’t have to go far to experience one of the best weekend trips from Minneapolis with kids! Plus, a quick weekend trip also means more time to explore, connect, and make memories as a family. Happy travels!

Written by FLT Top Contributor, Antonia Grant. You can find more from Antonia and her family adventures in Minnesota and beyond on Instagram @knead.to.roam.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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Antonia Grant

Antonia Grant Writer Antonia Grant is a life-long learner and avid traveler. She loves equipping families with the tools and confidence they need to travel together. That is a major reason she is part of our fantastic team at Families Love Travel! Antonia is also a strong believer in the beauty of multigenerational travel. Her main travel buddies are her husband and young daughter. They have been traveling as a family since her daughter was 7 months old, and internationally since 13 months old! She’s always seeking new adventures to write about and share.
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