BEST PLACE TO TAKE THE TOTS Minneapolis 2000 - Minnesota Children's Museum
Get those screaming tykes out of your claustrophobic house even in the dead of winter--and without ever having to set foot inside the Mall of America! If the smaller members of your household can tear themselves away from the arts and crafts and storytelling stations set up throughout the museum, they're likely to find a gallery that brings out some precocious skill or another. In the Earth World Gallery, kids can don an ant suit and scramble through what must be the world's largest man-made anthill. In the World Works Gallery, they can drive a giant crane. Even the tiniest Twin Citians can while away hours in the Habitot Gallery, the section of the museum reserved for babies and toddlers, staring up at shiny faux rain and rolling across a water-filled "pond" pillow. No two visits will be the same; the museum always offers a traveling exhibit ("World Circus" runs through May 21). A family membership (price varies with level of benefits) is a good idea if you have more than one child or plan to make more than one trip a year. Grandparents and child-care providers are eligible for membership, too. The museum is closed Mondays in the winter, and open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Thursday, when the doors close at 8:00 p.m.