Exploring the Southern Minnesota Childrens Museum

We were lost. I was not sure where the Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum was, but I was quite sure that we were no where near it. After hitting the one hour mark in the car, my three year old piped in from the backseat “Mom, I don’t feel good”, followed immediately by the sounds of vomit.

Our excursion was not starting out on a good note, and I feared that there was no way that this museum would be good enough to warrant the hassle entailed in getting there.

I was happily very wrong. The Southern Minnesota Childrens Museum was well worth the drive (vomit and all). Once I got us all cleaned up and sorted again, the kiddos had many hours of fun before being stuffed back I the car again for the ride home.

The museum has exhibits for kids of all ages.  One of the best features of the museum is that all of the exhibits are in one large, open space (relatively near each other), so one could stay near your little ones in the area designed for them while still watching older kids as they explored some of the other nearby exhibits.

The infant/toddler play porch is perfect for the tiniest explorers. It is fenced in and has enough challenges to keep the little ones entertained but still safe.

Southern MN Children's Museum
The nursing area at the Southern Minnesota Children's Museum
The nursing area at the Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum

As a bonus, there is a nursing area here, tucked in behind a fake willow tree, with a rocking chair.  My three year old even enjoyed playing here for a while with his sister, before moving on to exploring the rest of the museum.

My son really enjoyed the Grow it Gallery. He could plant and harvest play food, put it in crates and bring it into the market, then shop at the market (complete with a cash register, tiny shopping carts and check out belt) and take the food “home” to cook with in a play kitchen. My one year old could also be entertained in the same space while my older kiddo played, so they both had fun here.

The Grow It gallery at the Southern Minnesota Children's Museum
The Grow It gallery at the Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum

We also spent a fair bit of time in the Coughlan Quarry. There is a sand box here with trucks and shovels, as well as a play crane that the kiddos can manipulate to take up play quarry blocks and to the second level where they get dropped in a chute to come down again.

What I really loved about this space is the multiple opportunities for kids of different ages to work together. My three year old was loading blocks on a conveyor belt while the other kids were unloading them at the other end. One child could hook the blocks up on the crane and hoist them up while another stood up top to unhook them and send them back down.

The Coughlan Quarry at the Southern MN Children's Museum
The Coughlan Quarry at the Southern MN Children’s Museum
The Southern MN Children's Museum

The tree house was a little bit advanced for my three year old (it is recommended for 5 and up) but when he is a little bit older, this will be super fun! We are also looking forward to checking out the farmyard, which wasn’t open on this visit (still too early in the season).

The Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum was a little hard to find due to some construction going on around Mankato (so maybe it would be a good idea to call the museum before heading out, if you are not familiar with the area) but overall well worth the drive.

mankato childrens museum 1000/35
fun things to do in mankato 50/37
mankato activities 50/34
mankato mn restaurants 2900/38


I am a details obsessed family travel expert who helps busy families take the overwhelm out of planning epic vacations filled with cherished memories. 

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