Museums are great spaces to sparks kids’ learning and imagination. From hands-on exhibits to access to authentic objects, museums offer intriguing ways for children to connect with things that interest them that you just can’t find in other places. With plenty of multi-sensory, interactive opportunities, museums also speak to the concrete and active way many kids learn. In other words, planning a family trip to a museum will not only provide a great bonding experience, but it will also help foster a love of learning in your kids.

Maple Grove situates you super close to an abundance of amazing museums. So, Crème de la Crème of Maple Grove put together this list of five amazing museums, all either in Maple Grove or a short drive away, that you just have to check out.

Minnesota Children’s Museum

A front view of the Minnesota Children's Museum near Maple Grove, MN

Minnesota Children’s Museum St. Paul, MN” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by puroticorico

If you’re looking for an experience designed specifically with kids in mind, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Located nearby in Saint Paul, this museum offers an interactive experience that will help foster a love of museums for your family.

The museum is geared toward children ages 1 to 10 years old, but kids even older can have fun. The hands-on exhibits appeal to various age groups and interests, and there’s something everyone can enjoy no matter where you go. You have to check out “Sprouts,” a discovery landscape complete with water tables, for kids ages 3 and younger. Many exhibits also have areas designated as “Tot Spots” with aspects tailored to the youngest visitors. If you’re visiting with older kids, “The Studio” and “Super Awesome Adventures” are surefire favorites.

You’ll need to make a reservation in advance to book your ticket. Visits are limited to two hours, so make sure you get there on time for the visit you book. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Historic Pierre Bottineau House

Budding history buffs are in for a real treat right here in Maple Grove. Our town is home to the Historic Pierre Bottineau House, the perfect place to take kiddos who want to take a trip back in time. You’ll find this museum near the chalet in Elm Creek Park Reserve.

The restored Pierre Bottineau House was constructed in 1854. At the time, it was Maple Grove Township’s first wood-framed house. Although the home has been moved multiple times since it was first built, the current location in Elm Creek Park Reserve replicates its historic natural setting. The house was moved there in 2009. 

You can either attend scheduled public programs or schedule your own visit, but keep in mind that the historic house is only open during programs and appointments so you’ll need to plan ahead.

Once there, you’ll get to see exhibits highlighting the life and times of Bottineau as well as his roles as a hunter, trader, entrepreneur, and city founder. Bottineau played a key role in the development of Minnesota, making this a worthy learning experience for anyone who calls our state home. The house itself functioned as a farm out-building, first a granary and then for equipment storage, for most of its existence. Now that the structure has been restored to its original appearance, it makes the ideal backdrop to connect visitors with Pierre Bottineau’s life.

Maple Grove Historical Preservation Society

Want to delve even deeper into local history after an inspiring trip to the historic Bottineau house? Pay a visit to the Maple Grove Historical Preservation Society. This organization strives to explore and preserve memories, places, and artifacts of our community for future generations.

That translates to a great place to visit these days as well. The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month. They accept donations but don’t charge admission.

Bell Museum

Once your kids catch the museum-going bug, you don’t have to travel far at all to access amazing fun and educational opportunities. Case in point: Bell Museum, Minnesota’s official natural history museum, is located right at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus in Saint Paul.

Whether your kids want to take a journey through the cosmos at the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium or explore the wildlife of our very own state through the museum’s world-famous dioramas, there’s something for everyone here. Children are sure to love the Touch & See Lab, which features living plants and animals along with fossils dating back 10,000 years.

Bell Museum is currently open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance via the museum website or by phone. The museum offers separate tickets to its galleries and planetarium shows, but you can enjoy savings when you buy a combo ticket if you want to check out both during your visit.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Art aficionados of all ages are sure to delight in a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Whether your brood is into sculpture, photography, or anything in between, you’re bound to find something inspiring with every visit to the museum known as “Mia.”

Mia’s collection spans more than 90,000 artworks, featuring works from six continents created over the course of 5,000 years. You’ll even find artifacts from 40,000 years ago along with recent contemporary works, not to mention masterpieces famous around the world.

The best part? You can always visit Mia for free! You’ll need to get timed tickets before you enter, though. You can make reservations up to 12 weeks ahead of time for visits of up to two hours. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

That wraps up Crème de la Crème of Maple Grove’s list of easy-to-access museums that offer a ton of family-friendly fun. Whether you’re looking for history, art, or science, our area has it all. Does your family have a favorite museum we didn’t include on this list? Let us know if you do so we can check out your go-to museum and add it here!