Spring Break Road Trips from the Twin Cities

Published on February 15, 2022 - Updated on May 11, 2022

Spring Break is a great time for families to explore their local area and beyond. With the additional days off from school, Twin Cities families have a variety of exciting nearby options that will get them adventuring and making memories together. From staycations to week-long road trips, this list covers some of the best spring break destinations for families within a 6-hour drive (or less!) from the Twin Cities.

If you can't go far, try a staycation in Bloomington. Alternatively, families will love spending a weekend in Duluth, exploring Lake Superior and Canal Park. Have more time? Head all the way up the North Shore to Grand Marais. Or, take a short flight for a little city and culture in Chicago. Regardless of which option you choose, families will be able to get outside, connect, and embark on a great family spring break trip from the Twin Cities.

Day Trips from the Twin Cities for Spring Break

If you're short on vacation days, try these day trips from the Twin Cities! Each location is within 45 minutes of Minneapolis. Plus, they all offer a variety of family-friendly things to do, including outdoor adventures, shopping, and delicious restaurants.

Staycation in Bloomington


Can't get out of the metro area? Try a staycation in Bloomington! This Minneapolis suburb is an exciting location for families to spend Spring Break. Here, families can enjoy thrilling kid-friendly attractions at the Mall of America, like Nickelodeon Universe, Crayola Experience, and the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium. Choose one or try them all! The Mall of America offers never-ending fun for families, not to mention all the dining and shopping! Near the Mall of America, kids will love playing at Running Park and Playground. From the zipline to the small sledding hill, families are sure to have a blast here. Alternatively, outdoorsy families can explore Hyland Lake Park Reserve. This regional park is one of the best in the Twin Cities. It even offers cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and a sledding hill during the winter.

If you're interested in making it an overnight trip, families adore staying at the Great Wolf Lodge. In addition to themed accommodations, families can spend time playing at the indoor waterpark, arcade, and ropes course. Alternatively, families also love Radisson Blu Mall of America, which provides a kids' club and a fitness center.

Stillwater, Minnesota


Just 30 minutes from Minneapolis, Stillwater is a great choice for a family day trip. Nestled along the St. Croix River, this darling town has a lot to offer adults and kids alike. Start your day at Pioneer Park. Parents can enjoy a cup of coffee overlooking Stillwater and the river while kids play on the huge playground equipment. Afterward, take a walk across the historic lift bridge, which connects Minnesota and Wisconsin. Kids will love the chance to touch Wisconsin and go back! Ready for lunch? Try Coffee Paw Cafe or Leo's Grill & Malt Shop. After lunch, head to William O'Brien State Park, offering a winter wonderland just for families to explore on foot. Finally, be sure to check Stillwater's calendar for upcoming winter events like ice skating, dog sledding, and more winter activities.

Families staying overnight will love their options, including Hotel Crosby and Lowell Inn.

Northfield, Minnesota


Just 45-minutes from Minneapolis, Northfield is an ideal day trip from the Twin Cities with kids. Start your morning at Brick Oven Bakery. This charming cafe offers delicious breakfast fare, including caramel rolls. Or, grab a coffee to go and start your adventure. Along Division Street, families will discover a variety of shops. Be sure to check out Content Bookstore, which has a great kid's section. For lunch, try Tandem Bagels or Hogan Brothers. In the afternoon, embark on a hike at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Here, kids can enjoy the train-themed play area and search for the frozen waterfall. Closer to town, the Cowling Arboretum, part of the Carleton College campus, showcases over 850-acres of preserved natural lands, ideal for winter hiking or cross-country skiing.

Making it an overnight? Stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Northfield, which includes breakfast each morning and a pool.

Weekend Trips from the Twin Cities for Spring Break

Families on spring break have a variety of options for weekend road trips near Minneapolis with kids. Whether you have one night or a long weekend for a family getaway, these three options offer tons of family fun! Plus, they are all less than 3 hours from Minneapolis!

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin


Approximately 90 minutes from the Twin Cities, Chippewa Falls offers a darling downtown area and tons of outdoor winter activities for families. After settling into your accommodations, take a walk down around the historic downtown. Kids will love finding all of the street art around the city. Afterward, head to Irvine Park & Zoo. Here, you can find a large playground, walk along the paved road throughout the park, and visit the animals at the small zoo (including black bears and tigers!). When you're ready to explore further afield, head to Lake Wissota to go ice fishing. There are multiple access points, and the fishing is good (especially on the small lake)! Alternatively, go hiking or snowshoeing at Old Abe State Trail or Lake Wissota State Park. Other winter activities nearby include ice skating, snow tubing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Back in town, eat at family favorites like the Wissota Chop House, the Sheeley House Saloon, Bridge Street Brew for lunch, and Olson's Ice Cream (a local favorite!).

Families love making their home base at the Inn on Lake Wissota, which includes breakfasts, an outdoor fire pit, and hiking. Cobblestone Hotel & Suites - Chippewa Falls is a great option in town, providing a pool, free parking, and on-site dining.

Duluth, Minnesota


Duluth, Minnesota, is a hit with kids of all ages! With so many things to do, families should plan to trek to Duluth for at least 2-3 nights. Just two and a half hours from the Twin Cities, Duluth is one of Minnesota's best spring break destinations for families. Here, you can do everything from downhill skiing to watching ships come into port in Canal Park. Firstly, hit the slopes at Spirit Mountain, where you can soak in views of Lake Superior, as well as put kids group lessons. Off the slopes, go hiking, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and more! If the weather gets cold, head indoors and enjoy the Duluth Children's Museum or the Great Lakes Aquarium. In Canal Park, you can explore a variety of cute shops (including a candy store), walk along the water, and watch ships come into port near the lighthouse. When you get hungry, enjoy kid-friendly meals at Canal Park Brewing, Vitta Pizza, or OMC Smokehouse (to name just a few!).

To make your weekend extra fun, stay at Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark, which includes an on-site waterpark and arcade. Families also love Canal Park Lodge, offering complimentary hot breakfast and a pool (plus, you can ask the front desk for discount tickets to local kid-friendly attractions). Finally, consider South Pier Inn, which has large family suites and views of the stunning Aerial Lift Bridge.   

La Crosse, Wisconsin


Located less than 3 hours from the Twin Cities, La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a great choice for a spring break road trip with kids. With epic winter activities like downhill and cross-country skiing, families have a lot to look forward to in La Crosse. Begin your weekend at Mount La Crosse, which offers snowboarders and skiers the most diverse terrain in the Midwest. Families who adore cross-country skiing have phenomenal options, including La Crosse River State Trail and Hixon Forest. Then, try something unique like birdwatching at the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge. Kids will also love meeting the eagles at the National Eagle Center, certainly one of the best things to do in La Crosse with kids. The Children's Museum of La Crosse is another great indoor option for families with young kids. Finally, families can't miss hiking Grandad Bluff to soak in the epic views. When tummies start growling, complete your Wisconsin experience by eating at Digger's Sting Restaurant (a local supper club).

Looking for family-friendly hotels stays? Try, The Charmant Hotel, GrandStay Hotel & Suites La Crosse (includes an indoor pool and a small playground), or the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott La Crosse Downtown

Road Trips from the Twin Cities for Spring Break

Looking for a weeklong road trip during spring break with kids? You'll love these options within seven hours of the Twin Cities. From north woods adventures to urban escapes, these four options are perfect for spring break.

Bemidji, Minnesota


Looking for a forest hideaway? There is a cozy cabin waiting for you in Bemidji, Minnesota! Located less than four hours from the Twin Cities, Bemjidji is a winter wonderland for families. Firstly, head to Itasca State Park, where you can take a short walk to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Then, check out other nearby trails for more snowy hiking. Closer to town, Lake Bemidji State Park is another amazing location for winter hiking, with views of the forest, frozen marshes, and the lake. Other outdoor adventures in Bemidji include snowmobiling, snow tubing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. Then, head into town and meet Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. These huge statues are ready to welcome your family to Bemidji! Then, take a walk around town to see the local art installations. Hungry? Russel up some grub at Bemidji Brewing Company or Giovanni's Pizza

Book your week in a cozy cabin at Kohl's Resort. Or, if you're looking for a traditional hotel stay, try Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, which offers a pool and breakfast.

Grand Marais, Minnesota


Head up Minnesota's North Shore to experience a post-card perfect winter getaway in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Approximately four and half hours from the Twin Cities, this charming harbor town has a lot to offer families. Start your visit at Artists' Point & Grand Marais Lighthouse, where kids can toss rocks in the water. This is also the best spot in town to see a sunrise and sunset! Hike at local favorites like Judge C.R. Magney State Park, Cascade River State Park, or High Falls on the Pigeon River. In town, you can also go ice skating near the Community Center. Other winter activities here include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing in Lutsen, dog sledding, and more. If you need to warm up, head to the YMCA to use the pickleball courts or the pool. Grab your morning coffee from Java Moose, dinners at Voyageur Brewing, My Sister's Place, or The Fisherman's Daughter

Families will love making their home away from home at Sky Port Lodge, offering on-site dining, ice fishing, and other winter activities on the property. Alternatively, East Bay Suites and Best Western Plus Superior Inn are also great options with kids.

Chicago, Illinois


Hop on a short flight or take the less than six and half hour drive to Chicago, Illinois. Here, enjoy a week of family fun exploring museums, embarking on outdoor adventures, and getting your fill of Chicago's infamous deep dish pizza. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor things to do in Chicago with kids. On cold weather days, head inside and enjoy family-friendly museums like the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, or the Museum of Science and Industry. Then, head to Navy Pier to ride in the Centennial Wheel or explore the Chicago Children's Museum. Kids will also love ice skating in Millennium Park. If you want to take in the river views and the city's architecture, enjoy the Chicago Riverwalk. The Lincoln Park Zoo is another great option for outdoor activities in Chicago with kids. Finally, don't miss eating at kid-friendly favorites like the Nutella Cafe, Giordano's, and Lou Malnati's Pizzeria.

Chicago offers a variety of hotel options for families. If you're looking for a pool or special kid's amenities, try the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, or ​​The Langham, Chicago.

Marquette, Michigan


Looking for a paradise of outdoor adventure? Head to Michigan's Upper Penninsula! Just under seven hours from the Twin Cities, Marquette, Michigan, is certainly one of the best spring break road trips for families. In Marquette, families will delight in exploring Presque Isle Park. Here, you can take in lake views, spot wildlife, and stroll along a paved path. Then, the Eben Ice Caves provides adventurous families an afternoon of excitement. Take the two-mile out and back path to some of the most beautiful ice caves in Michigan (bring your ice cleats!). Other exciting hikes include Kitch-iti-kipi, Sable Falls, and Miners Castle Trail. Other outdoor things in Michigan's Upper Peninsula include skiing, snowmobiling, snow tubing, ice skating, and more. In town, families can also check out the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse or the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. When you're ready to eat, try kid-friendly options like Donckers, the Delft Bistro, and Jean Kay's Pasties.

For family-friendly hotels in Marquette, consider the Holiday Inn Marquette, an IHG hotel, Comfort Suites Marquette, or the Hampton Inn Marquette/Waterfront, all offering a pool and complimentary breakfast or on-site dining.

Do you have a great stop or overnight within driving distance from the Twin Cities? Let us know in the comments below! Or tag us with your photos on Instagram @gethappyly! We love to hear from you!

Decided to head a little further out for Spring Break? Check out our Dreaming of Travel series, and read up on great places like Maui, Chattanooga, Joshua Tree National Park, Cumberland Island, and more!

And don't forget to download the happyly app and get local, ambassador-recommended activities while you are on the go! It's the country's only mobile-first family activity planning app, for both local and travel destinations across the country.

Thoughtfully captured by:
Antonia Grant
Antonia Grant is a life-long learner and avid adventurer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loves equipping families with the tools and confidence they need to travel and adventure together. Antonia is also a strong believer in the beauty of multigenerational relationships and travel. Her main adventure buddies are her husband and young daughter. As a family, they love trying new restaurants, hiking, and traveling the world! By day she works at Carleton College, by night she is a Minneapolis ambassador for happyly. She’s always seeking new adventures to write about and share. Connect with Antonia on Instagram @knead.to.roam!
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