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100 Free Things to Do in Minneapolis and St. Paul


Looking for free things to do in Minneapolis? Here's a list of over 100 free things to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul. In no particular order, here are 100+ free events, activities, sights to see, and things to do in Minneapolis.

  1. Visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. A phenomenal collection of art and historical objects. Free to all every day, closed on Monday.
  2. A huge variety of free classes, club meetings, presentations and events at the library - most all Twin Cities metro area libraries have free events.
  3. See a cutting edge art show at the Altered Esthetics Gallery in Minneapolis.
  4. Hang out at one or more of Minneapolis' chain of lakes - Lake Calhoun, Harriet, Isles and Cedar. Each has its own distinct character.
  5. Learn how to make maple syrup at local parks, and taste some samples. Spring.
  6. Go on a free tour of Surly Brewing in Brooklyn Park, and enjoy free samples of Surly beer. Or, tour Summit Brewing or Flat Earth Brewing in St. Paul.
  7. Watch one of the cross country ski races during the City of Lakes Loppet, particularly the beautiful nighttime Luminary Loppet. Late January or Early February.
  8. Hudson Hot Air Affair is a celebration of hot air balloons. The multitude of bright color balloons against the white snow are a great sight. Early February.
  9. See cloth and fabric in an entirely new way at an exhibition at the Textile Center in Minneapolis.
  10. Cinco de Mayo Festival in St. Paul's west side has a car show, music and entertainment. Early May.
  11. Tour the Minnesota State Capitol - free tours every hour most days of the week, including the golden horses on the roof if weather permits.
  12. Free music at the 331 Club in Northeast Minneapolis - indie, folk and rock acts almost every night, and never a cover.
  13. Ride to the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival with bike events and races, incluiding thr awe-inspiring Uptown Minneapolis Criterium. June.
  14. Lake Harriet Kite Festival. Watch the pros flying, or fly your own kites on Frozen Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. January.
  15. Minnesota Sinfonia offers free concerts for adults and for children and families around the Twin Cities.
  16. The Cathedral of St. Paul is a stunning European-style cathedral overlooking downtown St. Paul. All are welcome to worship, and it's free to visit the cathedral when it's not being used for a service.
  17. First Thursdays in the Arts District sees around 200 painters, scuptors, printmakers, textile artists and more open their studios in the Northrup King Building to the public.
  18. Visit the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, a peaceful garden in Minneapolis. Join in free regularly scheduled birding walks and nature hikes at the garden from spring through fall.
  19. Watch Free music in parks in Minneapolis, St. Paul and across the Twin Cities
  20. Visit St. Paul City Hall to marvel at the glamorous art deco interior and colossal marble Vision of Peace statue, a Native American bearing a peace pipe.
  21. The Hexagon Bar in Minneapolis is a proper dive bar, but despite that, the Hex hosts some of the hottest underground bands in the Twin Cities on weekend nights, with no cover.
  22. A vast privately owned, intricately detailed lego world lives in the Thorpe Building in Northeast Minneapolis. Lego Brick World is open to the public on the second Saturday of the month.
  23. On St. Patrick's day, drink free beer at the Nomad World Pub... Until someone needs to use the bathroom.
  24. The free Minneapolis Aquatennial Festival has parades, soap box boat racing, and a block party with national music acts in downtown Minneapolis.
  25. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has monumental sculptures opposite the Walker Art Center, including a gigantic Frank Gehry glass fish, and the iconic Cherry and Spoonbridge sculpture.
  26. Take a free class at the Midtown Global Market - cooking, yoga, dance and kids classes are on offer, and most are free.
  27. Get free admission to a museum or gallery in the Twin Cities with a Museum Adventure Pass - available from your local library.
  28. Make the annual Holidazzle Parade part of your holiday tradition.
  29. See tropical flowers in bloom all year round at the Marjorie McKneely Conservatory in Como Park. In summer, admire the adjacent Japanese Gardens.
  30. Enjoy the river - take a stroll, hike, run or bike ride along the miles of trails along the Mississippi River, Minnesota River, or St. Croix River.
  31. Sad that Delta bought up local airline NWA? Relive NWA's glory days at the independently-operated NWA History Center in Bloomington. Also great for anyone interested in the glamorous days of aviation.
  32. Get psyched for the season - summer or winter - with free product demonstrations, presentations, samples and raffles, and discounts and deals on gear at Midwest Mountaineering's Bi-annual Outdoor Expo.
  33. Go snowshoeing. All you need is snow, and open space. Minneapolis parks offer snowshoe classes at various locations, either free or low-cost.
  34. Visit a nature center. Eastman Nature Center in Dayton, Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville, Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul, Maplewood Nature Center, Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes, and others in the Twin Cities preserve wild areas in the metro area for families to enjoy. Nature center buildings have free admission to their exhibits and childrens' activities, and organize regular family-friendly nature events and hikes.
  35. Join in the annual Earth Day cleanup - help clean up Minneapolis and St. Paul parks on the weekends before Earth Day.
  36. Don't forget to grab free swag at the Minnesota State Fair. Yardstick, anyone? Late August/September.
  37. Celebrate Juneteenth at the annual festival in Minneapolis. Music, arts, entertainment and
  38. Watch a St Patrick's Day Parade - one at lunchtime in downtown Minneapolis, one in the evening in downtown Minneapolis.
  39. Join in celebrations at the Winter Carnival. See ice carving, snow sculpture, sporting contests, and the Torchlight Parade and overthrow of King Boreas. January.
  40. Ice skate on a temporary ice rink in the middle of downtown St. Paul from Thanksgiving until the end of January.
  41. Visit Lyndale Rose Garden, with 100 varieties of roses, on the shore of Lake Harriet.
  42. Bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket to one of the Nine nights of Music events at the Minnesota History Center on Tuesdays in July and August. An eclectic selection of musical acts play in the museum's courtyards, and there's free admission to the museum's galleries on Tuesday evenings.
  43. Watch a free water ski show on the Mississippi River on Thursday evenings during the summer - see human pyramids, ballet on the water and ski jumps.
  44. Rock out at the Pizza Luce Block Party, a day-long event with some of Minneapolis' most popular rock and hip hop artists. August.
  45. Watch an Art Car Parade. Usually around a lake in Minneapolis, and the Art Cars can be seen at other parades and events around the cities during the summer.
  46. Fly a kite and wish for peace at the free Wishes for the Sky Festival at Harriet Island in St. Paul. April.
  47. Celebrate July 4 at a free fireworks display. Downtown Minneapolis has the annual Red, White and Boom on July 4, St. Paul's celebrations are still in the works.
  48. Gaze at the stars during a free astronomy night, at the University of Minnesota's Physics department, or at one of their traveling Universe in the Park summer programs.
  49. Get outside at one of many free family events, hikes, nature events and special events at Three Rivers Parks District parks. Many events are free. All year round.
  50. Welcome spring at the community celebration MayDay Parade and festival, put on by In The Heart of the Beast puppet theater. Early May.
  51. See a free orchestral, band, choral or jazz concert at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, performed by students from the University of Minnesota's School of Music.
  52. Take in a diverse selection of free music at the Concrete and Grass Music Festival in Lowertown St. Paul. August.
  53. Admire Minnehaha Falls - both in the summer when they look like a traditional waterfall, in the winter when they have frozen into a curtain of ice.
  54. See the latest environmentally friendly technologies, attend workshops and presentations, and meet local green businesses at the Go Green Expo at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. May.
  55. Join in a bike rally, and listen to live music at the Lyn Lake Street Festival in Minneapolis. Mid May.
  56. Go on a day trip to the town of Taylors Falls, See the Franconia Sculpture Garden, interesting geological formations at Interstate State Park, and historic buildings in downtown Taylors Falls, including the cutest public library ever. All free, except for parking in the State Park - although you can park for free a short distance outside the park.
  57. Show your pride at one of the largest events in the nation - the Twin Cities LGBT Pride Parade and Festival. June.
  58. Watch a movie in the park. Minneapolis' Loring Park has music and movies, and other Minneapolis parks show movies on summer evenings.
  59. Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. Thursday is free admission day in winter. And in the summer, Thursday evenings have free admission, and there's also live music and family entertainment.
  60. Take Dad to the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts, with artists' work, performers, live music and a car show. Father's Day weekend.
  61. Bring your bike to the Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show at the 331 Club in Northeast Minneapolis. A fee to enter your bike in the show, but free to eye everyone else's bikes. Live punk and rock music accompany.
  62. Watch a Minnesota Twins game for free through one of the knotholes in the stadium walls, on Fifth Street.
  63. Visit temporary artists' residences and studios on a lake during the Ice Shanty Projects. January and February.
  64. Remember that the history of Minnesota goes much further back than the Fort Snelling and Mill City pioneers, by visiting 2,000 year old Native American burial mounds at Indian Mounds Park in St. Paul.
  65. Admire classic cars on one of the Saturday night Historic Hastings Classic Car Cruise-Ins. Alternate Saturday nights, May-October.
  66. Watch the Minnesota Vikings prepare for the season, get autographs, and go to fan parties at the Viking's training camp in Mankato, 90 minutes southwest of the Twin Cities. late July-Early August.
  67. See historic aircraft at the Air National Guard Museum at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. Open on Saturdays during the summer.
  68. See a piece of Minneapolis' railroad past at the historic Minnehaha Depot station, near Minnehaha Park.
  69. Take your little one to a free story reading at a local library or bookstore - local independent bookstores Wild Rumpus and The Red Balloon have excellent storytimes.
  70. See hockey the way it was meant to be played during the US Pond Hockey Championships. All the games are free to watch.
  71. Enjoy live jazz music at the Twin Cities Hot Summer Jazz Festival, held in June in downtown St. Paul.
  72. Join a Gorilla Yoga class, yoga classes held in interesting locations across the Twin Cities. Free, but a donation is suggested.
  73. Watch a free kids movie every Saturday morning at the Mall of America.
  74. The Guthrie Theater is just as stunning inside as it is outside. Anyone is welcome to tour the public spaces inside the building, including the endless bridge and the Amber Room with a glass floor. Download a free audio tour as a podcast on iTunes.
  75. The annual Northeast Festival and Parade, one of the longest running community events in the state.
  76. The Minnesota Orchestra has regular free family concerts, designed to introduce young ears to classical music.
  77. Svenskarnas Dag, a Swedish heritage festival and celebration, is held annually in June in Minnehaha Park.
  78. Let your little ones burn off some energy during the winter at open gyms and tot time hours at recreation centers in parks across the Twin Cities.
  79. Get your Irish on at the Irish Fair, with major Irish-American music acts, sporting events, entertainment, live animals and all things Irish on Harriet Island in St. Paul. August.
  80. See local artists' work in open studios and galleries, watch live music and performances all across Northeast Minneapolis during Art-A-Whirl, the largest art crawl in the Twin Cities.
  81. Block Parties get more numerous every summer - The Red Stag, Barbette, Bryant Lake Bowl and other bars and venues host a block party during the warmer months.
  82. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a world class art gallery, is always free.
  83. Need some inspiration to ride your bike more? Join a free cycling club run by one of our local bike shops and join in some group rides.
  84. Another annual holiday tradition: Macy's Santaland.
  85. The creators of the MayDay parade do plenty of other things during the rest of the year - one activity is free kids' puppet shows at their Minneapolis theater on select Saturday mornings. Free but donations are appreciated.
  86. Watch the Twin Cities Marathon in October, which has many professional athletes competing. Or go for a run anytime.
  87. The Twin Cities Polish Festival has entertainment, dogs, music and polka dancing on Old Main Street in Minneapolis. August.
  88. See a family-friendly classical music concert from the Minnesota Sinfonia, held in locations across the Twin Cities metro area.
  89. Visit Lilydale Park in St. Paul, which has caves and kilns remaining from its days at St. Paul's brickyards, and even more ancient history - it's a popular fossil hunting ground. Buying a permit is needed to remove fossils, but it's free to look for them.
  90. Go to the beach - Lake Minnetonka has many beaches for beautiful people, Lake Calhoun does too, and your local lake has a beach for the rest of us.
  91. Blaine Aviation Days - admire vintage and modern aircraft and cars at Anoka County Airport. May.
  92. The Bell Museum of Natural History is free to all on Sundays.
  93. Tour Minneapolis' Riverfront District on foot or by bike - see the Stone Arch Bridge, historic mill ruins, Waterpower Park in the middle of the river.
  94. Join Garrison Keillor in opening the new A Prairie Home Companion season with a street dance in downtown St. Paul. October.
  95. The largest one day festival in the Midwest is the Grand Old Day festival, with a parade, kids activities, and live music at locations all along Grand Avenue in St. Paul. June
  96. Help monitor Minnesota's wildlife by volunteering for the Audubon Society's annual Christmas bird count in December.
  97. See local scientists, schools and inventors sail solar powered boats at the annual Solar Boat Regatta at Lake Phalen. May.
  98. Give blood at Red Cross donation centers. You'll get cookies after too, and special offers like free entrance to local festivals and events.
  99. Underground holiday 4/20 Day, is celebrated in Minneapolis, with a free 4/20 festival in Loring Park, and various other events around the Twin Cities.
  100. Merriam Park Ice Cream Social is a fun family friendly community event in St. Paul, and the ice cream comes from Izzy's. July.
  101. Craziness abounds at the annual Art Sled Rally, which sees improbable, dangerous, un-aerodynamic, hilarious, and/or flammable sleds taking to the slopes at Powderhorn Park. Free to spectate, and free to enter.
  102. New Belgium Brewery brings the Tour de Fat to Minneapolis' Loring Park every year, featuring music, performers, bike culture and mayhem. Summer.
  103. Once a month, see professional dancers perform for Ballet Tuesday at the Landmark Center in a free lunchtime performance.
  104. Go sledding.
  105. The Dragon Festival has Dragon Boat Races, martial arts demonstrations, at the Asian Pacific festival held at Lake Phalen in St. Paul. July.
  106. Walk along Summit Avenue and around Cathedral Hill to admire the architecture of the empire builders' mansions, and see some of F. Scott Fitzgerald's homes.
  107. Start the Holday season on Grand Avenue at the Grand Meander, special events at stores on Grand Avenue, a Christmas Tree lighting, and visits with Santa and his reindeer. December.
  108. Go ice skating on your local parks' outdoor ice rink.

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