Family Favorites Editors' Picks

That picture of Granddad holding his tenth-birthday cake, including his mother's notation along the border, deserves a new life, enlarged and freshly framed. Mom and Dad's wedding portrait can be enlarged to poster size and signed by all the children and grandchildren in gold pen for a fiftieth-anniversary present. Collect pictures of family members as babies...or on their first day of school...or performing in a recital or play...or at graduation, and create a record that will inspire recollections, stories, and laughter for everyone.

Children are endlessly fascinated by a likeness of their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and especially their own parents as children. Create a photo album or dedicate an entire wall to those images and reassure them that everyone was young once. Awkward stages do pass eventually.



Best Renovation of a Museum

Bakken Electricity Museum

36th Street and
West Calhoun Parkway


(612) 926-3878


The Bakken is back! Following a renovation project, the museum is ready to once again receive visitors in a welcoming, hands-on environment. The facility is a stunning Tudor mansion, complete with gardens and a great room. Exhibits about magnetism, batteries, electric fish, and static invite examination and exploration. Children find it hard to resist the straightforward experiments that help explain how the world works. Cards are scattered throughout for collection and general information gathering. And the gift shop contains a number of moderately priced items that can help take the experience home. There are children's programs year-round for individuals and groups.



Best Spring Fling

Heart of the Beast Mayday Parade and Celebration

Powderhorn Park


(612) 721-2535


There's something very special about the way the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater has taught us to welcome spring. In what one participant calls "the only true anarchy that works," the people who come together to plan the event learn that they have the power, the talent, the ability, and the call to banish winter and create the most joyous of festivals. To be sure, it is possible to just show up for the parade and the party, but to get the most out of the event, a family might want to take the rare opportunity to create a bit of whimsy together.

Beginning in late winter and running both days and evenings each week, workshops are hosted by the professional and volunteer staff of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. During these workshops, anyone--families or individuals--may wander in and be directed to become a member of a construction unit, where they will be guided through the processes of frame construction, papier-mâché layering, and painting. Unit members make plans for the masks and costumes they will wear to march in the parade.

The first Sunday of May, participants meet and begin marching with their creations from 27th and Bloomington to Powderhorn Park. After the Sun is brought back over the lake, the festival begins. There is music, food, dancing, canoe rides, and the sort of cultural exchange that can only happen when people celebrate together.



Best Water Tricks

Jumping Water Fountain

Gaviidae Common

651 Nicollet Mall



Most children enjoy a saunter around the skyways now and again. There's something exciting about walking over the street and watching the cars, buses, and taxis zip along in a steady stream beneath their feet.

And if you find yourself looking for something to do in the skyways of downtown Minneapolis, make your way to the fountain in front of Neiman Marcus. This unique feat of engineering and art began leaping about in 1991, and it has amused and fascinated passersby ever since. There are times, now and then, when it requires an adjustment and isn't running. But this matchless water work by Wet Design of California is something every child, young and old, should visit a few times, just for the fun of it. Indulge your inner child and ooh and aah with the young ones.



Best Family Restaurant

The Malt Shop

Snelling Avenue and I-94

St. Paul



50th Street and Bryant Avenue South Minneapolis

(612) 824-1352


Simplicity and dependability are two vital attributes for a family restaurant. The Malt Shop offers these, and it has outstanding ice cream to boot. Oh happy day!

While the place has the look of a typical burger joint, the menu is varied and interesting, offering vegetarian entrées, sophisticated soups, and hearty stews--great for when you want a more fulfilling grown-up dining experience. The burgers are reliable and reasonably priced, the sandwiches a gratifying mix of classic combinations and unique variations.

And then there's the ice cream. Malts and shakes that boast fresh fruit in season and flavors like hot fudge, coconut, pumpkin, butterscotch, and peanut butter. Add-ins include classic candy as well as the likes of figs and bananas or cookies and cream.

Relax, savor, can't go wrong.



Best Park in Minneapolis

Theodore Wirth Park

Theodore Wirth Parkway between
I-394 and Golden Valley Road


(612) 522-4584


There's a treasure in Minneapolis. This 957 acres of woods, hills, marsh, and gardens is an easy place to go exploring together and enjoy the quiet sounds and the green smells. Venture down to the bog, and watch little feet scamper along the pathway. See why bogs are mysterious and romantic, and why they appear so often in stories about fairies, elves, and gnomes. It's a magical place, and when life seems a little extra hard, perhaps a bog walk could ease a troubled soul.

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