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Budget, Cheap, and Low Cost Children's Activities in Minneapolis and St. Paul

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Children can be expensive little things. Here's a selection of budget, good value and low cost ideas to entertain tots in Minneapolis, St. Paul and around the Twin Cities.

And if cheap is still too expensive, here's some free children's activities in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

1. Coffee Shops with Playrooms

Another one for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Several local coffee shops have playrooms with toys to entertain younger children for the price of a latte for mom. Java Train in St. Paul, and Sovereign Grounds in Minneapolis are two of the most popular, and there are several more kid friendly coffee shops around Minneapolis and St. Paul.

2. The Minnesota Children's Museum

A single entry to the museum runs around $8 for anyone over age one. But the Minnesota Children's Museum is on the list for the great value memberships. $80 covers everyone in a household for free admission to the museum for a year. A family of four only has to visit three times to make a membership worthwhile and if you have small children, they will want to come back again and again. And again and again and again!

3. In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Workshops

In the Heart of the Beast puppet theater on Lake Street in Minneapolis has regular Saturday morning puppet shows for children. Each show is unique and children adore them. Admission is by donation, they suggest $2 for local residents and $4 for people who live elsewhere. HOBT also has monthly free Friday morning puppet shows for preschoolers.

4. Izzy's Ice Cream

OK, older children will object to only getting a tiny ice cream. But little kids and toddlers love "Izzys", mini scoops of Izzy's ice cream in a mini cone for 75c. At Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe in St. Paul, and at coffee shops around the metro area like Java Train, that serve Izzy's.

5. Matinees at the Riverview Theater

The Riverview Theater in southeast Minneapolis is cheap to start with, but the retro theater shows children's movies on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and admission is just $2 for adults and children.

6. Cheap Art Supplies

ArtScraps in St. Paul sells remnants, overstocks, defective and random items perfect for art, craft and projects. Everything is starving artist cheap and a bagful of interesting, random bits and bobs will last a couple of afternoons of children's art projects. There are sample projects on display and an artist-in-residence to give your children inspiration.

7. Join a Moms or Dads Playgroup

Make new friends for yourself and your children by joining a parents group. Groups organize playdates and activities with other moms, dads and families. Activities are usually free or low cost.
  • Social website Meetup.com has listings for about 20 groups for moms and families covering almost all of Minneapolis, St. Paul and the Twin Cities.
  • MOMS Club, an international organization of mother's groups, has a couple of chapters in the Twin Cities.
  • Minnie Moms is an online forum for local moms, and also organize playdates in the real world.
  • Yahoo groups. has several moms groups based in the Twin Cities for online and real world playdates and activities.
  • And dads can join Minnesota Dads At Home to connect with other stay-at-home dads.

8. Children's Activity Planner

GoCityKids has a calendar of children's events and family friendly events in Minneapolis, St. Paul and around the Twin Cities. All the event listings have the cost listed, so the many free events are easy to spot.

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