Things to Do in Minneapolis
Whether you’re new to the city or simply exploring your own backyard, there are lots of the fun and intriguing attractions that Minneapolis has to offer that won't break the bank! Enjoy this robust list of 21 destinations and activities for your family to enjoy for free in the Minneapolis area.
- Take a refreshing retreat from the big city and relax on the grounds of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Admire the 40 permanent displays and the many fabulous rotating art exhibits dispersed throughout the 11 acres of serene green space. From May through December, enjoy free guided garden tours as well as an 18 hole mini golf course, and the glorious gardens in bloom during this time of year.
- Right next door to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, discover the prestigious Walker Art Center which can be explored for free on Thursday evenings from 5pm-9pm. In addition, teenagers have the treat of free admission during gallery hours and there are lots of teen centered activities available here. The Art Center hosts a large permanent exhibition along with rotating exhibits, live performances, films, lectures and other educational programs.
- Head on over to the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis and visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Free Family Days are offered on the second Sunday of every month and feature a different theme and focus each time. Enjoy hands on art creations, go on art themed adventures and meet a variety of talented artists as you explore the wonderful world of art.
- Embark on a healthy and active adventure by exploring the Chain of Lakes which features close to 14 miles of paved pathways for walking, running or biking. In the wintertime, play some ice hockey, go ice fishing, or ice skating, ice surfing, or snow shoeing on one of the breathtaking frozen lakes. Enjoy the plethora of waterside activities as you navigate some of the 10,000 lakes in the area.
- Go on an ice fishing Excursion on on of the many lakes in the area. Some favorite lakes for ice fishing include: Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Nokomis. Each are known for their best catch of fish from Northern Pike to Crappies, to Walleye.
- Stop and smell the roses at the second oldest public rose garden in the United States at the Lyndale Park Rose Garden. Stroll through this lovely little park next to Lake Harriet for a pleasurable afternoon . Take a photograph in front of the bronze and marble fountain that was made in Florence, Italy, disassembled and shipped to Minneapolis and donated to the garden.
- Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city with a visit to the Wabun area of Minnehaha Park which features the breathtaking Minnehaha Falls and a variety of family friendly activities. This section of the park is the ideal spot to unwind and offers a frisbee golf course, volleyball court, lovely bike trail and several picnic shelters complete grills, lights and electricity that you can reserve ahead of time. In addition, you can find a playground, wading pool, and spray park for all to enjoy.
- Find some shade and take a break or have a picnic under the Pergola at Minnehaha Falls. The beautiful Pergola was serves as a connecting feature between the Minnehaha Depot, Stevens House and Minnehaha Falls. The garden surrounding the area features North American native plants, trees, shrubs, and an extensive variety of both woodland and prairie plants.
- Head over to the stunning modern architectural of the The Guthrie Theater. The Theater offers public lobby days every day. Download FREE audio tours as a podcast on iTunes. iPod tours feature the voices of local celebrity guides who will introduce you to the Endless Stone Arch Bridge, the Amber Box, glass floors, intriguing spaces and other Guthrie delights all at your own pace.
- Admire the 23 arches of the historic Stone Arch Bridge that spans the Mississippi River. Take a guided walking tour of the bridge which links to the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, which has walkways and bicycle lanes for those looking for some fit and active time.
- Admission is always free at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. Make a visit on a Saturday or Sunday at 1 p.m. for a 1 hour tour from a Weis-guide who will entertain and inform you on a variety of topics that range from to the building architecture to current art exhibitions.
- For a very small admission fee, head over to the John Stevens House, which belonged to an early settler in St. Anthony in 1849. He built the first wood frame house on the west bank of the Mississippi River which would later become the city of Minneapolis. The historic home offers many programs and events throughout the year and offers guided tours with reservations. View life as it would have been for the early settlers.
- Walk the massive Mall of America and do some window shopping and people watching. There are endless activities to suit any budget available at the most famous and certainly one of the most impressive malls in the world! You'll find an unyielding amount of store and restaurants, a flight simulation center, and a Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park.
Stroll through the Como Park Zoo for free with a recommended small donation. The lovely zoo is home to a ton of different animals from Giraffes to Polar Bears to Gorillas, sea lions and many more. Bring along a picnic lunch to avoid the high prices of food within the zoo gates and enjoy a day observing and interacting with the animals.
Accessible via the Como Park Zoo is the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Enjoy the exotic plants and serene environments to be discovered within over a dozen different themed gardens. Treat your senses to the wide array of fragrances, textures and beautiful displays throughout the conservatory.
- Visit Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store. The candy store is located about twenty minutes south of Valleyfair Amusement Park in Jordan, Minnesota and fun place to stop on your way. The place is huge and you can spend lots of time perusing many unique and awesome candies and foods inside this special yellow building.
Get your Minnesota State University spirit flying with a day out to watch the Vikings train at a Minnesota Vikings Training Camp. Watch the Vikings toughen up and prepare for the upcoming season. Grab an autograph from your favorite Vikings player at autograph sessions that are open to the public for 25 minutes following the designated practices during Training Camp.
Take a guided or self guided tour of the fully restored Minnesota State Capitol Building. Explore the capitol's history, art and architecture and visit the chambers where government decisions are made. The building went under 3 years of renovations to restore it to its original 1905 look.
- Experience the Beauty of Nature as you meander your way through the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary at Theodore Wirth Regional Park. While there is a parking fee at the state park, there is plenty to see and do to make a day of it throughout the area. Enjoy the over 500 plant species and 130 bird species throughout the garden and sanctuary. Check out the beach or the hiking trails that are located are just outside the garden gates.
Visit any metro library in Minneapolis with you library card and pick up two free admission passes to local museums and attractions. Some of the free passes offered for the area include : The Minnesota Zoo, the Children’s Museum, Bell Museum of Natural History and more. There are a limited number of passes and are available on a first come first serve basis.
Visit the hidden gem of Enger Park and stroll through the Japanese Peace Garden. The garden features ancient rocks, bronze sculptures portraying the ancient art of origami, and a bridge built with granite peace stones from the WWII rubbled remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The gardens are artfully maintained and the walking paths take you into other hidden gardens.
While visiting Enger Park and Tower, be certain to climb up the tower which offers beautiful sweeping views of Duluth and Lake Superior. Take advantage of the quiet areas for meditation or even a picnic lunch in the surrounding gardens throughout the park. Even if you are not able to climb the tower, the park itself is filled with beautiful views to delight you.
- Visit Indian Mounds Regional Park to learn about rich Native American history and culture from the region. The park is a burial site for at least two American Indian cultures and the mounds themselves date back to between 1-2000 years ago by the Hopewell and Dakota Indian populations. Traverse the bluffs on the paved trails and enjoy an outstanding view of the Mississippi River and of the St. Paul and Minneapolis skylines.
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