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28 Family Friendly Things to do in Minneapolis on a Budget in 2024

Minneapolis and St. Paul are great places to visit in the Midwest.

Both cities offer a rich culture, beautiful natural scenery, and a lively food and drink scene, making them great destinations for all kinds of visitors.

And the best part? You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy all the Twin Cities have to offer.

We’ve all been there, budgets get tight, but that shouldn’t limit the fun. There are tons of inexpensive things to do around the cities. The best things are all the free parks, parades and festivals around Minneapolis.

Let’s explore some of the best ways to experience Minneapolis and St. Paul on a budget, from free museums to affordable dining options and more.

Whether you’re on a budget or just want to make the most of your money, here are our best tips for exploring the Twin Cities without breaking the bank.

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28 Family Friendly Things to do in Minneapolis on a Budget

Visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The sculpture garden is located next to the Walker Art Center and is free to the public. Visitors can view over 40 works of art, including the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture.

The Spoon Bridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Explore the Chain of Lakes

The Twin Cities have many free-access lakes where you can swim, hike, bike, and have a picnic. Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, and Lake of the Isles are popular options.

Visit the Minnesota State Capitol

Guided tours of the Minnesota State Capitol are free and available throughout the day. Visitors can learn about the history of the state and view the building’s impressive architecture.

Inside the MN State Capital

Walk across the Stone Arch Bridge

The Stone Arch Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. It offers great views of the river and the city skyline.

Check out the Twin Cities’ many parks

The Twin Cities are home to over 200 parks. All of which offer free activities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking. Popular options include Minnehaha Park, Como Park, and Theodore Wirth Park.

The Best Things to Do in Eden Prairie MN

Visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is a world-class art museum that offers free admission to its permanent collection. Visitors can view over 90,000 works of art from around the world.

Explore the Midtown Global Market

The Midtown Global Market is a multicultural market located in south Minneapolis. Visitors can sample foods from around the world, shop for unique gifts, and attend cultural events.

Visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum

The Minnesota Childrens Museum offers free admission on the third Sunday of every month. Kids can explore interactive exhibits, climb through a giant ant hill, and learn about science and art.

The Minnesota Childrens Museum isn’t the only free museum either, there are tons all around the city, including the Minnesota History Center and so much more.

Rainy Day in the Twin Cities. Your kids will love the Minnesota Children's Museum. It just reopened with all new activities! Check out some of the great new things to do.

Explore the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

The Como Zoo is free to visit, but there is a suggested donation of $3 per adult and $2 per child for the conservatory. Kids can see animals from around the world, explore the conservatory’s gardens, and ride the vintage carousel.

The MN Zoo is a good option, but there aren’t many discounts available except for those using MN Care or other assistance programs.

The Como Zoo in St Paul MN

Attend a family-friendly festival

The Twin Cities are home to numerous festivals throughout the year that offer free or low-cost family activities. The Minnesota State Fair, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Irish Festival and the Mayday Parade and Festival are just a few examples. Tickets are all under $20 for admission and kids are often free.

Go hiking or biking

The Twin Cities have numerous parks and trails that are free to explore. Children can explore Minnehaha Park, bike around Lake Calhoun, or stroll in the gardens at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden.

Go ice skating

In the winter months, many of the Twin Cities’ parks offer free outdoor ice skating rinks. Kids can rent skates for a low cost or bring their own, and enjoy a fun day on the ice.

Click now to find the top spots for ice skating in Minneapolis and experience the thrill of gliding across frozen lakes!

Centennial Lakes Ice skating

Explore the Minneapolis Central Library

The library offers free events for kids of all ages, including story times, craft workshops, and puppet shows. Kids can also explore the library’s extensive collection of books and media.

Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The arboretum offers free admission for children ages 12 and under. Kids can explore over 1,200 acres of gardens, woods, and prairies, and participate in special events and activities.

MN Landscape Arboretum

Attend a free concert or performance

The Twin Cities have many free outdoor concerts and performances all year, such as Music in the Parks, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and the Como Park Summer Concert Series.

Visit the Walker Art Center

The Walker Art Center offers free admission on Thursday evenings from 5-9 pm. Kids can explore contemporary art exhibitions, participate in hands-on activities, and attend special events.

Visit the Weisman Art Museum

The Weisman Art Museum, located on the University of Minnesota campus, offers free admission every day of the week. Kids can explore the museum’s modern art exhibitions, participate in hands-on activities, and attend special events.

Check out a farmers market

The Twin Cities have many farmers markets all year, where you can buy fresh food, baked goods, and handmade crafts. Many markets also offer live music and entertainment. The Minneapolis Farmers Market and St Paul Farmers Markets. Don’t underestimate the value of local farmers markets.

Farmers Market

Mall Of America Events

The Mall of America hosts a variety of free events throughout the year, such as concerts, and workshops. Check the mall’s event calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.

Alternatively, you could buy a few rides at Nickelodeon Universe if you have the cash. Often in the Facebook Market Place you’ll find people selling discounted wristbands.

Nickelodeon Universe

Minnehaha Park

Located in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Park is a 193-acre park with a beautiful waterfall and miles of walking and biking trails. Admission to the park is free, making it a great option for a budget-friendly day out.

Explore it in Summer or Winter!

Minneahaha Falls in Minneapolis

Murals in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is home to numerous murals and street art installations, many of which can be seen for free. Take a self-guided walking tour of neighborhoods like the North Loop or Uptown to see some of the city’s best street art.

Kayak rentals

Minneapolis and St. Paul are both situated along the Mississippi River, which offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking and canoeing.

Nice Ride Minnesota’s paddle-sharing program allows you to easily rent a kayak and return it downstream.

Stillwater Trolley Company

Stillwater, Minnesota is a charming historic town located on the St. Croix River. The Stillwater Trolley Company offers affordable trolley tours of the town, highlighting its history and landmarks.

Stillwater Trolly

Stillwater Lift Bridge

The Stillwater Lift Bridge is a historic bridge that connects Stillwater, Minnesota with Wisconsin. The bridge offers great views of the St. Croix River and is a popular spot for photos and picnics.

Discover the best of Stillwater, MN! Click now to unlock the hidden gems and exciting activities that are sure to make your visit unforgettable.

Ninja Warrior Style Parks

Minneapolis is home to several indoor and outdoor obstacle course parks inspired by the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.”

These parks have challenging courses for all skill levels and are a fun and unique way to stay active without spending a lot of money. They are Grassmann Park in Jordan and Schaper Park in Golden Valley.

Ninja Park in Jordan

Mini Golf

Minneapolis has several affordable mini golf courses, including Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul, which features whimsical, artist-designed holes, and Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden in Minnetrista, which features unique sculptures and water features.

Ready to put your skills to the test? Click now to discover the best Mini Golf locations in Minnesota and start planning your next adventure!

Mini Golf

Food Trucks

Minneapolis is known for its thriving food truck scene. At any given time there are upwards of 100 trucks roaming the cities, serving up delicious cuisines throughout the city.

To find your favorite trucks’ location for the day and have a tasty meal without spending too much, follow them on social media.


Minneapolis has beautiful waterfalls like Minnehaha Falls, St. Anthony Falls, and Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul. You can easily reach many waterfalls by walking or biking. They provide a beautiful natural setting for a low-cost day trip.

Find out where all the waterfalls are hiding by clicking here.

Tips for Low-Cost Transportation

There are several budget-friendly transportation options in the Twin Cities, including public transit, biking, and walking.

The Metro Transit system offers affordable bus and light rail service throughout the region, with fares starting at just $2.

The Twin Cities have many trails and sidewalks, making it easy to explore on foot.

Don’t Stress on your Next Trip to the Twin Cities with these Budget-friendly activities

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul offer numerous family-friendly activities that are budget-friendly. From visiting museums, parks, and zoos to attending festivals and events, there’s something for everyone. The Twin Cities are also home to a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, ice skating, and swimming.

You can discover local food and drinks at farmers’ markets, multicultural markets, and affordable restaurants.

The Twin Cities is an exciting place for budget-conscious travelers and families looking for a fun day out, regardless of their interests.

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