Family Favorites Editors' Picks


So welcome on board friend

There's room for one more friend

To join us in St. Brendan's fine company.

We're bold and stout-hearted

Our course it is charted

We're travelers all

Crossing over the sea.


Best Place to Revere Nature's Force

Upper Lock and Dam Observation Deck

1 Portland Avenue



This glass observation tower allows you and your children to get up close and safely observe freight barges being lifted fifty vertical feet. It's free, it's mesmerizing for kids, and it's a teachable moment. The observation tower is open 9 a.m-9 p.m. daily.

Mayor of St. Paul

"Given the hectic schedules of our entire family, we value our time together dearly. One of our favorite things to do is visit Laurie's family cabin in northern Minnesota. This wonderful retreat is always bustling with children and parents and excitement and activity. It gives each of us the opportunity to be together and to enjoy something different about the cabin and the lake. Sarah and Jacob love to explore, Laurie and her sisters spend hours trading stories of their youth and I have the opportunity to get in some great fishing. I even turn off my cell phone when I'm on the lake! It's truly a great family get-together away from the hustle and bustle of City life."


--Mayor Norm Coleman


"I love taking my family to dinner at Buca di Beppo--a wonderful Italian restaurant. The food is not only excellent, it's served family-style, and we enjoy sharing a couple of different dishes together. At Buca, kids can laugh and talk a little louder than they do at the dinner table in the kitchen at home and the staff are fun and really make us, especially the kids, feel special."


--Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton

Best Place to Learn About Minneapolis

Foshay Tower

821 Marquette Ave. S.



Here at the Foshay tour you will find, if not the very best view of Minneapolis (which we've already credited to the Witch's Tower in Prospect Park), a very, very good view of the city. Plus, the Foshay tower has the distinct advantage of being open much more than one day a year. Visitors can take the Foshay tour Monday through Friday between 12 and 4 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $4 for adults and $2 for children under 12 and seniors. For that price, you will be able to gain access to the open-air observation deck thirty-second floor, mill about the tower's small museum, and view a video about the history of tower and its builder. And, if you visit the tower on a day when the Foshay's resident historian, Mort Levy, is on duty (he's only there on alternate days so you might be wise to call ahead), you can expect answers to almost anything you'd ever want to know about the history of the Foshay Tower or the city of Minneapolis.

Best Gift Shop

China in the Nude

3001 Hennepin Ave.


(612) 827-2575


As difficult as it sometimes is to find gifts for the special people in our lives, it's usually much more difficult to help a child with the same task. Father's Day ties would not be such a universal joke if the clichéd gift did not appear time and again on each third Sunday of June. And as they pass the stage of dandelion bouquets, children's wishes to give something lasting and desired may easily conflict with a limited budget and limited artistic acumen.

So with child on one hand and gift list in the other, we can enter a shop full of possibilities that cover all genders, ages, and budgets. Shopping becomes an experience to share, rather than a chore, as a selection is made from among the hundreds of yet-to-be-glazed ceramics. Coffee mugs, serving pieces, tiles, and pitchers are but a few of the possibilities that await a loving touch. Expert, low-key guidance is available to make suggestions and illustrate techniques. A return trip to pick up the finished product is required.

The most difficult part is keeping the secret. Children are delighted to creating something beautiful, but it is sometimes hard to wait until the opening. How lovely to learn the delicious anticipation of giving.



Best Athletic Entertainment

University of Minnesota
Sporting Events

ticket office: (612) 624-8080


Why pay the high prices the professional teams charge? Granted, there are hot-ticket events with limited availability at the University of Minnesota, too, but even nonalumni families can enjoy cheering the local college athletes to do their best. It's fun to have a team to regularly root for, and attendance can also serve to assist younger children in learning the rules of a game. If you have someone at your house who can't get enough of sports--any sports, all sports, all the time--try following some of the lower-profile teams. Learn more about an unfamiliar sport, go to men's and women's events, watch skills improve, pick up new techniques, and appreciate the talent and dedication displayed.



Best View of the Cities

Prospect Park
Water Tower

Seymour Avenue and
Malcolm Street SE



Some know it only as the Witch's Tower. Marking the trip between Minneapolis and St. Paul, it begs to have stories told about it and to be explored. Rumor has it that when the tower light is on the witch is in residence and busy with magical chores.

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