I second the Science Museum
. It's in St. Paul. Very nice. There's also some kid's exploratory museum-type thing in St. Paul too, but I don't remember what it is called. I wanted to bring my kids when we were last there, but it didn't work out. A GREAT thing to try would be the St. Paul Winter Carnival
. I don't know if they are doing an ice castle this year or not, but they do celebrate winter!
The Mall of America is something - although it isn't as magical to me anymore since Nickelodeon took over the amusement park. GIANT Doras and Spongebobs everywhere. Still an impressive retail space, and some fun kiddie rides.
In downtown Minneapolis, there is an extensive skyway system. Tunnels above ground. You can go for miles. That could be fun to explore a bit with your kids. There is also the metrodome, where they run a rollerdome
(you can even rent rollerblades). And there's Ice Skating in the old depot
on Washington Avenue, although you'd have to check times on both of those. There are other places to skate too - outdoors may be more fun if it isn't tooo cold.
I'd be sure to walk on a lake somewhere - there are lakes all over, in the city and suburbs, so it shouldn't be that hard to find one to try out.
Also, since you are complete skiing novices, a simple ski hill like Buck Hill
in Burnsville is close and would be fun.Theodore Wirth Park
has a lot of outdoorsy things. I used to cross-country ski there, and there is a nice little tubing hill as well. Looks from their site you can explore other stuff like ice fishing in the Minneapolis parks.
You can always ride the light rail trains too. That network is getting more extensive.
Well, that was fun! I love MN in the winter. I miss it terribly.