It’s time to plan the next family vacation, and you’re looking for a good Minnesota locale to visit this year. No matter how big or small your family is, we’ve got exciting things to do in North Branch, Minnesota along with sights and activities for everyone to enjoy on this list. From restaurants and shops to petting zoos and historical sights–North Branch has it all!
The Best Restaurants in North Branch, MN
Geared toward adults who want to enjoy the feeling of being a kid again, The Fort provides craft beers and handcrafted cocktails with names like the “merry-go-round margarita” to take you back in time. This cozy bar features cozy bar food like burgers and fries from Tiki Tim’s Food Truck and never disappoints. Don’t leave without trying their to-die-for hand-battered cheese curds!
The Merchant’s Cafe
Serving breakfast and lunch only, The Merchant’s Cafe is also a catering service. They have all the classic American breakfast foods including omelets, french toast, and country-fried steak, and lunch foods including salads, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. If you’re in need of bulk amounts of these kinds of foods while visiting North Branch, check out their catering menu.
Tomo Hibachi and Sushi
An authentic, fresh, tasty Japanese restaurant, Tomo Hibachi and Sushi is worth the pricy cost of their delicious foods including sushi. If you’re in the mood for hibachi chicken, shrimp yakisoba, tuna roll, California roll, sweetheart roll, or the like, you’ll find it at Tomo.
The Pizza Pub
If you’re looking for a family-owned, kid-friendly restaurant in North Branch, don’t let the “pub” in the title fool you. The Pizza Pub is THE PLACE to take your kids for a bite to eat. With Kid-sized everything and a huge kid’s menu, even your picky eater is sure to find something he or she will love. They have a little of everything from pizzas to salads, from wraps to baked mac ‘n cheese.
Interesting Natural and Historical Sites in North Branch, MN
Clayton Anderson Family Memorial Nature Park
If you’d like to walk a short trail and spend a little time in nature, the Clayton Anderson Family Memorial Nature Park is the place to visit near North Branch, MN. It’s a nice, quiet, little-known area perfect for a refreshing moment alone in the middle of a busy family vacation.
Franconia Sculpture Park
Located in the scenic St. Croix River Valley of Minnesota, about half an hour from North Branch, Franconia operates a 50-acre outdoor museum. They also run an active artist residency program and a large community arts programming for a diverse and engaged public. They feature new and experimental artists with outdoor exhibitions on a regular basis. Check their website for what exhibitions are running now. Even if you don’t plan to visit, take a look at their exhibition archives page. There’s some really fascinating art on there!
Snake River Fur Post
Learn about how the fur trade originated hundreds of years between Native Americans, voyagers, and European traders at the Snake River Fur Post. Visitors are welcome to tour the site on their own or take a forty-minute guided tour. Highlights include a reconstructed Ojibwe encampment with a birchbark wigwam and a reconstructed fur trade outpost. The outpost includes a view of the Snake River and samples of items that would have been traded for furs at the time such as iron tools, beads, axes, and kettles.
The Best Places to Shop ‘Til You Drop in North Branch, MN
North Branch Makers Market
A clothing, craft, and home decor center, North Branch Makers Market features new small business vendors every single week. This is the place to visit to support small businesses in North Branch, and it’s a great spot to stock up on Christmas gifts. There’s something for just about everyone in these nifty, crafty stores, so take the opportunity to get ahead on your Christmas shopping and support small businesses at the same time.
Located right on Main Street inside the old Coca-Cola building, Simplicity Boutique is the place to shop if you’re looking for a boutique experience. Simplicity features the chicest ladies’ clothing in all of North Branch, and you just can’t leave North Branch without checking this place out. In fact, if you’re planning to stay in North Branch for a little longer, check out the Nostalgia Room, a gorgeous residence for rent located right above Simplicity.
For a boutique experience featuring more than just women’s clothes, check out Diamond Jill’s. With comfortable and good-looking clothes for men, women, and children, this is a shopping trip the whole family can enjoy.
Exciting Things for Kids to Do in North Branch, MN
Fully equipped with a playground, basketball court, and pretty gazebo, there’s a spot for everyone in the family to enjoy the outdoors in North Branch’s Central Park. It’s a great opportunity to spend some time outside and let kids play off some of that incredible energy before hitting the road to the next attraction.
Next on our list of great things to do in North Branch is to visit Harder Park. Have you and your family ever tried playing disc golf? It’s a really cool game played by the same rules as traditional golf, only there are no gold balls, putters, or holes in the ground. Instead, the goal is to land a frisbee in a suspended chain basket by throwing it with your bare hand. Harder Park features a disc golf course, ballparks, more playground equipment, and a shelter for picnicking and escaping any inclement weather.
Toys R Us Outlet
What’s better than the biggest toy store ever? The outlet location for the biggest toy store ever! All the toys your kids have been asking for–but at discounted prices. Why not reward kids for good behavior on the family trip with a visit to the Toys R Us outlet where they can get two new toys for the price of one? If you make this spot one of your last stops toward the end of your trip, the new toys can keep the kids entertained during the car ride home.
Possibly the coolest place to take a kid in all of North Branch and the surrounding area is Sustainable Safari, a delightful petting zoo located inside the Maplewood Mall. This experience is worth the half-hour drive from North Branch because there are tons of animals to see, including capybaras, porcupines, and even anteaters. And the best part is, you aren’t just limited to seeing them.
There are opportunities for kids and adults to meet and feed almost every animal at this zoo. Many of them you’re even allowed to touch! For those who would rather look on than touch an animal, there’s plenty to see as well. A parakeet flook, a guinea pig village, and a prairie dog trio named after potatoes, just to name a few. This is one spot you don’t want to miss on your trip to North Branch, MN.
Wrapping Up Things to Do in North Branch, Minnesota
That wraps up our list of fun and exciting things to do in North Branch, MN. Where do you want to visit first? Let us know in the comments!
Did we leave out an important part of the North Branch experience? Let us know in the comments if you think we should add another North Branch attraction!
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.