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A Pride Month Guide to Minneapolis, According to a Local Family

Tips for outdoor recreation, cultural attractions, and more all-ages fun, thanks to married violists and parents of two young children, Rebecca Albers and Maiya Papach

An aerial view of crowds lining the streets to watch the annual Pride Parade on Hennepin Avenue in Minnesota.

Families and friends gather to watch as the annual Pride Parade heads down Hennepin Avenue.

Courtesy of Explore Minnesota.

“There’s an incredible community here,” says Rebecca Albers, the principal violist of the Minnesota Orchestra. The inclusivity of Minneapolis-St. Paul is a big part of what led her and her wife, Maiya Papach, the principal violist of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, to put down roots in the city and start a family. “One of the things that we particularly love is that we’ve never felt ‘other’ here,” Albers says. “We feel safe and comfortable being out.”

Minnesota’s longstanding reputation for inclusivity goes back to 1972 when a small Pride demonstration marched down Nicollet Mall, a pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining district in downtown Minneapolis. Twenty-one years later, Minnesota became the first state in the country to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Today, the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival held in Minneapolis each June is one of the largest in the country and includes programming throughout the city, like the Minnesota Orchestra’s concert featuring the work of LGBTQ+ composers. The main event takes place this year June 28–30 and runs parallel to the Mall where it all began, ending at Loring Park, where attendees can celebrate love and inclusivity as they enjoy live music and dance performances, international food trucks, and family-friendly games and crafts.

As parents of an 18-month-old and a four-year-old, Albers and Papach shared that any time of year, there’s a lot to love about Minneapolis-St. Paul for families. Kid-friendly activities abound, no matter the weather, and, to put it in their words, Minnesota is a “fair” place, which is extremely important to them as queer parents. The couple said their love for the state was solidified after seeing their neighbors supporting Minnesota’s fight for marriage equality in 2013, a sign that they could count on their community to treat them equally. Keep reading for their recommendations to fill a trip for all ages in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Enjoying parks, zoos, and lakes in Minneapolis and beyond

People sitting in lawn chairs watching a concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minnesota

Summer evenings are perfect for a concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

Courtesy of Explore Minnesota.

Albers and Papach often take their kids to Lebanon Hills Regional Park, a 2,000-acre recreational area with trails, beaches, and sledding located in nearby Eagan, or they explore some of greater Minnesota’s beautiful state parks. When they’re staying a bit closer to home, the family likes to head to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul (open 365 days a year and always free) or explore options in Minneapolis, like a few of Minnesota’s famous lakes.

“My sister and my mom both live in Minneapolis, so we like going around the [Chain of Lakes] together,” says Albers. Five small lakes make up Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes, each with sandy beaches and well-maintained walking and biking trails. While motorized watercraft aren’t allowed, rentable sailboats, kayaks, and canoes make for an accessible adventure for families in the serene setting.

On the south end of the chain, the Lake Harriet Bandshell hosts regular concerts and movie screenings, a popular family activity on warm summer nights. While there, picnic with sandwiches, popcorn, and mini donuts from the bandshell’s restaurant Bread & Pickle.

Kid-friendly cultural experiences

Two people dressed in summery clothes walking into the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA).

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) offers plenty of family-friendly programming for all ages.

Courtesy of Explore Minnesota.

“There’s a lot of culture and we really value the arts here. It’s incredible that this community supports not one, but two world-class orchestras. So that was one of the biggest draws for us, obviously as musicians,” says Papach. Check the Minnesota Orchestra’s calendar for their Young People’s Concert and Sensory-Friendly series, and get free tickets for children under 17 to attend a performance by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

“And it’s not just about the music, you know. There are so many great museums,” she says. “We go to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) with the kids, and it’s just great.” A leading art museum with no admission fee, MIA prides itself as a place for art appreciators of all ages. Its monthly Family Day and Mini MIA events involve gallery scavenger hunts, storytelling, and hands-on activities for children to use their imaginations and express their creativity.

Outside of Minneapolis, there are plenty of other family-friendly activities. Albers and Papach are also members of the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Children’s Museum, both located a few blocks away from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, where Papach works. The two institutions provide educational activities and sensory play for young children to learn about topics ranging from Minnesota’s native wildlife to Mississippi River tugboats.

With such a rich environment for children and a welcoming community, the couple loves living in Minneapolis-St. Paul. “We are really happy we ended up here…it feels more like home than anywhere else for both of us,” says Albers.

Explore Minnesota is dedicated to promoting tourism and livability in Minnesota. Visit exploreminnesota.com for travel inspiration, things to do, or to subscribe to free newsletters or travel guides. Get even more by following @exploreminnesota on Instagram, TikTok, Threads, Facebook, and YouTube. Explore Minnesota Travel Counselors are ready to provide personalized travel planning seven days a week by calling 888-VISITMN or by email.

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