04/11/2014 05:41 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2014

Best City for Family Travel? Why Minneapolis Is a Win

With April vacation almost in the rearview mirror, many families are starting to plan their summer trips. As a frequent family traveler, I'm often asked where my family is headed on their big summer vacation getaway. If you want to steer clear of crowded, kid-friendly destinations like Orlando or the Poconos, a great (and perhaps unassuming) place to consider is Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This Midwestern Metropolis is perfect for families. Not only will it offer enough entertainment and culture to keep a smile on your kids' faces -- it does so at a cost low enough to keep a big smile on yours.

Here are a few of the fantastic family attractions in Minneapolis to consider:

1. The Minnesota Zoo- This zoo is awesome! It has a large outdoor section that allows you to see bears in their natural habitat, as well as traditional exhibits you'd expect to find at any zoo. The IMAX theater is also educational.

2. Catch Some Theater- Did you know that Minneapolis is second only to The Big Apple in live theater per capita? My favorite venue is the Children's Theatre Company, or CTC, since they since they specifically cater to entertaining families.

3. Catch a Ballgame- The Minnesota Twins aren't exactly world champions, but Target Field is definitely worth a visit with your family. The field is only a couple of years old and is easily accessible from all areas of town.

4. The Mall of America- My family usually isn't too into shopping, but the Mall of America isn't just any mall. The Nickelodeon Universe Amusement Park is what really keeps us coming back. It has over 25 different rides, and there's even an underwater aquarium.

5. The Chain of Lakes- For a little time outside in the summer sun, we like to bike around the Chain of Lakes. This is a series of parks consisting of Lake Harriet, Lyndale Park, Lyndale Farmstead, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake. Lake Harriet is a kid favorite because there's often live music and a cool bird sanctuary.

How about you--do you have any out-of-the-box (and cost-friendly) family vacation spots?