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For those traveling through MSP / Minneapolis St Paul Airport with kids, I have good news. The Minneapolis St Paul Airport is overall a pretty kid friendly airport!
**For the most part, the features that I am referring to relate to Terminal 1 (the main airport terminal) and not to Terminal 2 (the Hubert Hunphrey Terminal) except for where noted.***
Here are some of the kid and parent friendly features at MSP and tips for getting through the airport with little ones with the least amount of stress and headache possible.
Play areas: There are great kids play areas located in Terminal 1 near gate C12. For those flying out of the Hubert Humphrey Airport (terminal 2) there is a similar play area there. These are great places to wear the kids out before putting them on the airplane (hopefully for a long nap!)
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Observation Tower: At the beginning of the F concourse, there is an observation tower from which your little airplane enthusiasts can get a sweeping view of the gates and runways and see planes taking off and landing. It CAN be a little hard to get to as it is up a flight of stairs, but once you are up there, it is a relatively contained, quiet area with seating.
Baby item vending machine: Forgot diapers? Wipes? Missing some other important baby item? I have just the thing for you! There is a baby item vending machine located at MSP Terminal 1 right in the children’s play area (located by gate c12).
Nursing rooms: There are three nursing rooms in the Minneapolis St Paul Airport.
- There is a lactation room at the beginning of the F concourse (the volunteer at the information desk at the beginning of the F concourse can let you in). It has a small counter to set your pump and supplies and a sink.
- There is a “secret” nursing room on the G concourse between gates G4 and G9. This one has a comfy chair and a sink and it is self service (it does not require a key to get in.)
- There is a nursing room located near gate c12 (actually, there are two.) There is a “lactation room” nearby which a handy counter if you are pumping and need somewhere to set your stuff and wash your hands (it has a sink). If you are nursing a child, there is actually another room that the volunteer can let you into upstairs which has a comfy armed chair (but no sink). This is the “old” nursing room from before they put in the new one. The volunteer at the information desk next to gate C12 can let you into either room.
Family Center: Located at the beginning of concourse E at Terminal 1 of MSP, the family center offers comfortable seating, a family restroom, a rocking chair and a crib.
Companion care restrooms: These are great for families with kids, and they are conveniently located all over the airport. These are large, private restrooms with diaper changing stations that make bathroom stops with children more convenient (and this way you won’t need to share your family bathroom drama with strangers!)
Moving Walkways: Never thought of a moving walkway as a feature in a kid friendly airport? Think again. Children can find endless amounts of amusement on the moving walkways (trust me, I see the gleam of delight caused by the moving walkways in some child eye almost every day that I work)
Kids with Special Needs, Autism, etc?: The MSP Airport offers a unique program for children with special needs and their parents. The Navigating MSP Program offers the opportunity to visit the airport before you fly, go through security, board an airplane and meet a pilot and prepare for takeoff as a practice run for real travel.
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Best Family Friendly Restaurants in the Minneapolis St Paul Airport:
Of course, just like in any major airport, there are oodles of restaurants and food courts to find kid friendly fare. These suggestions skew towards offering suggestions for healthy, wholesome food that is a good value for a family:
- Cibo Food Hall and Market (near gate G3): This is a grab and go cafeteria style stop, so this is great if you have people with different food needs traveling with you, as everybody is sure to find something. They have a great salad bar, a hot buffet which serves a great breakfast in the AM and lunch/dinner entrees onwards. They have awesome pizza (the best and cheapest in the airport) and the best apple fritter that I have ever had. You can get a box of food to go and let the kids graze what they want. *** There is not a place to eat here, so you will want to take your food towards your gate or to another eating area in the airport with tables.***
- Black Sheep Pizza: This is an airport offshoot of a local pizza place in downtown Minneapolis. They were the first pizza place offering coal fired pizza and the new airport location continues to offer AMAZING pizzas that are sure to please the whole family. Casual seating and the ability to take out and eat at your gate make this a great choice for those traveling with kids.
- Pei Wei Asian Food: This is partially a mommy personal preference and partially a good, kid friendly recommendation. I LOVE their freshly cooked Asian cuisine and they do have kids meals that include a choice between quasi battered-ish sweet chicken bits or teriyaki chicken with choice of brown or white rice (You can ask them to add veggies to the dish for $1 more.)
- TwinBurger: This burger place at the busy end of the G Concourse has a great Jucy Lucy (a local specialty) as well as a selection of other sandwiches and entrees. They also boast the best macaroni and cheese in the airport, which comes in a kid friendly side dish sized portion, for your voracious little carb lover! You can get your food to go or eat at the tables tucked just around the corner from the restaurant.