Activities in the Twin Cities That Are Free Or Cheap To Do

I remember when I first decided I was going to move to Minnesota. I was excited and nervous, all at the same time. Of course, I had heard the horror stories about the cruel winters, but I didn’t care. Something was calling me there. And honestly, the first winter I was here, was the calmest one I have experienced to date. They are no joke, but the summer makes up for it a hundred times over. There is not one minute to waste during the warmer months, so it is important to go and explore. There are many activities in the Twin Cities to do, all year round, but here are some of my favorites that I have done. 

One of the highlights of Minneapolis is Minnehaha Falls. It was one of the first things I wanted to see when I visited Minnesota before moving here a few months later. It just might have sold me on living in the land of 10,000 lakes. There is metered parking all around Minnehaha Regional Park. It does not cost anything to view the falls! It is a beautiful walk to get to the falls. Where I usually park, there is the John H. Stevens house as well as the Pergola Gardens on the way to the falls. You get to see the top of the waterfall first by crossing over a bridge. In front of you, you will see the Sea Salt Eatery. If you turn to your right, walk a little bit, and turn back toward the bridge you crossed, you can see a perfect picture view of Minnehaha Falls. After you have snapped your pictures, keep going the way you were and you will see some steps leading down. These will take you to the bottom of the falls, but be warned, there are lots of stairs, at least to me there are. I think the view is worth it so, so I trudge on. Of course, signs are blocking off access to get closer to the falls, but I have seen so many people ignore these so use your discretion wisely. There is also a walking trail that starts at the falls and takes you to the Mississippi River. It might extend further, but this is usually where I turn around and head back. You don’t want to miss out on this historical and beautiful treasure.

Check the Minnehaha Regional Park website for additional information: Minnehaha Regional Park

A fun fact about me is that I love history! And one place that you have to go to experience a lot of it is the Minnesota State Capital in St. Paul. I have always wanted to visit since I moved up here and just recently did I make myself go! All I can say is that I wasted a lot of time not coming here sooner! It is free to tour the place by yourself and also for a guided tour, but it is nice to tip your tour guide for a job well done! In places such as this, I always try to take my time and read all the information by the pictures. I did find most of the former governor’s pictures in the building. There were also 2 beautiful murals in the east and west corridors that had hidden objects within the pictures. I couldn’t find them, but I also have very bad eyesight, even with glasses. There were lots of field trips in the establishment on that Wednesday afternoon, but it made my solo adventure that day that much more fun. I did not take the guided tour, but I would recommend doing so as you get to go up on the roof! My only option to go on one was with 40 7th graders, with me being the only one outside the group going on the tour, so I decided to pass this time. Sessions were happening when I went, so I did not get to see inside those rooms and didn’t get too close. I only realized after the fact that you can go to the third floor and go to the galleries when they are in session to see the chambers. I will have to remember that for next time. My favorite part of the whole day was a security guard who told me that I had come on a very great day because it was the anniversary of Minnesota becoming a state, back in 1858. There was a grand chandelier that was lit due to this special occasion and it was amazing! They said this is not on all the time so I picked the best day to come without even knowing it! And I haven’t even mentioned how beautiful the structure itself is! You will just have to visit it for yourself! I promise you won’t be disappointed! 

Check out the Minnesota State Capitol website for more information: Minnesota State Capitol

Next up on the list is a unique stop that will put a smile on your face! It’s the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens. The first and only time I have been there was in July 2017. This is also free to go to and see, but please consider donating to the Walker Arts Center to maintain and preserve the sculptures. I’m sure they have changed a little since I have been there last, so I am excited to go back hopefully sooner rather than later. It’s also a great place to come and sit on the grass and just relax while taking in the sights. The main attraction is Spoonbridge and Cherry, which is a huge spoon with a cherry on top! It is the thing that brought me to the gardens in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, there are many different and interesting works of art here, but you can’t miss the piece that started it all!

Check out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden website for more information: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Now, this next activity in the Twin Cities is only open for 12 days a year. But boy, do thousands and thousands of people flock here, enough to break attendance records every day. I’m talking about the Minnesota State Fair! If you are ever planning a getaway to the chef’s hat state during the end of August or early September, don’t you dare skip The Great Minnesota Get-Together! The admission ticket prices range from $15-$17 per person (grandstand events and attraction tickets are sold separately). There is everything to do and more here! They have great entertainment every night and rides for every type of person. However, the real reason people come and come back every year is for the food! I’m sure whatever you are looking for, you can find it here. They have your classic fair food such as corn dogs, funnel cakes, and lemon shake-ups, but they also have new things to try every year. Some of my favorites are curly fries, pork chop on a stick, and in saving the best for last, Sweet Martha’s cookies. My best tip for tackling the fair food scene is to share with your group and only take bites of things so you can eat all the food you want! I know one of the years I went, I think I tried 8 different things. So if you weren’t planning to visit during this time, I hope this helps make your mind in when to come to Minnesota! 

Check out the Minnesota State Fair website for more information: Minnesota State Fair

For an extra, this next place isn’t technically in the Twin Cities. It’s about 45 minutes to one hour south of there but thought I should include it as it is my absolute favorite place to spend a sunny, summer afternoon. Welch Mill Canoeing, Tubing, and Kayaking, or Welch as I like to call it, holds a special place in my heart. The first time I went was in 2017 during my first summer in Minnesota. I immediately loved this place and the people. I have only done the tubing, or floatin’, here, but have seen many people on kayaks or canoes. It costs $15 to rent a tube. You will load up on a bus and they will drive you up alongside the river and drop you off at a certain spot on the river, then you will float back to where you started. They have a short trip or long trip and depending on the water levels and the trip, this could take one hour to four hours. Now I will warn you, there are really shallow parts of the river where you either have to lift your butt out of the water and pray for the best or you have to get up out of your tube and walk to where the water is deeper. There have been many bruised butts and laughs when going through these parts. On the long trip, which is the one that I normally go on, there is a perfect place to get out and stretch your legs and if you’re lucky, a hot dog stand will be there for you to get a snack. I know this probably isn’t a place for everyone, but I do hope that you will give it a chance. I have been at least once every summer since 2017 and don’t plan on breaking that tradition anytime soon. 

Check out the Welch Canoeing, Tubing, and Kayaking website for more information: Welch Canoeing, Tubing, and Kayaking

There you have it! Four activities in the Twin Cities that are cheap or don’t cost a dime to do! And don’t forget about the fifth and final place! When you do travel to the land of 10,00 lakes next, I hope you find time to cross one or all of these fun activities off your list! 

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