There are amazing places to go, things to do, and sights to see in Minneapolis, but you don’t need to break the bank to see some of the best spots in the city. Whether you are looking for a lovely afternoon activity, a full day of adventure, or somewhere fun to take the kiddos, Minneapolis has something for everyone. These 16 amazing places don’t cost a dime and definitely deserve a spot on your Minneapolis “must-see” list!
1. Minnehaha Park
This stunning city park sits right on the banks of the Mississippi River and is of trails to explore and beautiful scenery to enjoy. It's also home to the jaw-droppingly beautiful Minnehaha Falls. This 53-foot-tall natural wonder has been attracting visitors to the area since the 1800s and even served as inspiration for poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha" in 1855.
You don't have to wait for warm weather to appreciate this famous falls; it freezes over completely in winter and creates a incredible column of ice that is just as picturesque as the summer spillway.
2. Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art is considered one of the best, most comprehensive art museums in the country. The 89,000-piece collection features works from around the world, spanning more than 20,000 years of human history. You'll find everything from early artifacts to modern sculptures. Exhibits also include classical works of famous painters like Rembrandt, Claude Monet, and Henri Matisse, as well as images from celebrated photographers like Dorothea Lange.
The museum is free to visit and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m on Monday - Wednesday and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Thursday - Friday, and 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
3. Midtown Global Market
The Midtown Global Market, located in downtown Minneapolis, is an internationally-themed public market that attracts hundreds of vendors and visitors. Whether you are looking for unique gifts, delicious food, or excellent people-watching, this is the perfect place to poke around. You'll also find free live music and events, as well as dozens of free classes throughout the week. You can pop in for cooking classes, get your groove on in dance classes, find inner peace in yoga workshops... or just drop off the little ones at a kids class so you can get some shopping done!
The market is open Monday - Saturday from 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
4. Pick a park. Any park.
The public parks in Minneapolis are absolutely fabulous. In fact, CNN has called them the "best park system in the U.S.," and with 200 of them (as well as 22 local lakes) to choose from, it's not hard to see why.
5. Midtown Greenway
Grab your bike and hit the road on this incredibly scenic 5.5-mile ride through south Minneapolis. The Midtown Greenway runs from the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and connects with paths along the Mississippi River, so there are plenty of ways to extend your ride if you are looking for a longer adventure. The Greenway is open 24/7 for bikers and walkers to explore, and is even plowed in the winter!
6. Art Sled Rally
This vibrant event seriously can't be missed! The Art Sled Rally is free to attend and, if you are feeling adventurous, free to enter if you bring your own sled! You'll see all kinds of crazy, colorful, and creative sleds zip down the hill, much to the delight of the crowds the line the snowy chute.
There are two upcoming Art Sled Rallies, the first on January 28th, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at Powderhorn Park and the second on February 4th, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at Fairview Park. If you plan to enter your own sled, you will need to sign a waiver (and don't forget to bring a helmet!) If you need a little inspiration for your design, there are also Art Sled Workshops offered from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. on January 15th and 22nd, and from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on January 27th and 28th.
7. Como Park Zoo
Go wild with the animals at Como Park Zoo! Admission is free (although donations are gladly accepted) and you will some amazing animals, including lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!). The zoo is wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly, and there are tons of exhibits and events that are fun for the whole family.
Como Park Zoo is open daily throughout the year. Winter hours (October - March) are from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Summer hours (April - September) are from 10 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
8. Marjorie McNeely Conservatory
Once you finish up at the Como Park Zoo, head next door to this incredible indoor garden! The stunning floral displays change with the seasons, so you are always guaranteed a vibrant (and fragrant!) experience. The tropical palms and blooms will wisk you away to paradise, even on the snowiest days! When the weather warms up, there is also a beautiful outdoor Zen Garden to explore.
The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory operates together with the Como Park Zoo and share open hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. October - March and 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. April - September).
9. The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
Back in the good ol' days, there were no fancy ice rinks to play on! While it's small in comparison to many professional sports tournaments, The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships was included on ESPN.com's list of "101 Things Every Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die" and has been praised by many major sports networks as one of the best - and most underrated - events in the country.
Come watch the fast-paced action as best-of-the-best Pond Hockey teams compete for the Golden Shovel and the Silver Scoop at Lake Nokomis on January 26th - 29th, 2017.
10. Music & Movies in the Park
This fantastic summer concert and show series seriously can't be beat. These events take place routinely at seven different park venues in Minneapolis between Memorial Day and Labor Day. What better way to spend an evening than listening to live music from local bands, watching wonderful movies, and spending time in a beautiful park with friends and family?
Event dates have not yet been listed for the 2017 series, but check in with the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation website for updates closer to the summer season!
11. Hexagon Bar
If you simply cannot wait for Music & Movies in the Park, head on over to Hexicon Bar! This local-favorite dive bar is a diamond in the rough and they host tons of free live shows by upcoming local artists. No matter what genre you love, you'll find a new favorite here!
Hexagon Bar is located at 2600 27th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55406
12. Guthrie Theater
While the shows cost money, you are free to visit the public areas of this stunning venue during open hours. Head on over for a self-guided tour of this architectural gem and don't miss the incredible Endless Bridge and Amber Room. The glass floors and windows of this observatory will give you a whole new view of the city! There are several free
audio tour podcasts
available to download on iTunes to help guide you through the sights, sounds, and history of this amazing place.
The Guthrie Theater is located at 818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415 and the public spaces are open to visitors from on Mondays from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Tuesday - Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on non-performance days, and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on performance days.
13. Brewery Tours
Did you ever wonder how your favorite beers were created? Many local breweries offer free tours of their breweries (and several even include tastings!), including Summit Brewery in St. Paul (on Saturdays), Surly Brewery in Brooklyn Center (on Fridays, and Flat Earth Brewing Co. in St. Paul (for special monthly events). Grab some buddies and go for brews - you might even find a new favorite!
14. Lake Harriet Kite Festival
Kites are NOT just for sunny days on the beach! The Lake Harriet Kite Festival is an awesome, free event that takes place mid-winter on the frozen lake! Hundreds of colorful kites of all shapes and sizes dance through the sky, many flown by talented professionals from the Minnesota Kite Society, but visitors are welcome to bring their own and join the aerial party! Other festival events include ice fishing, snowshoeing, horse-drawn carriage rides, and many other family-friendly activities.
The 16th Annual Lake Harriet Kite Festival is scheduled for January 28th, 2017 and takes place on the north end of the lake.
15. Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center is full of mind-bending multimedia displays that will leave you in pure wonder. This one-of-a-kind museum showcases a wide range of visual and performance arts and features incredible works unlike anything you've ever seen.
Walker Art Center offers free gallery admission to the museum on Thursday evenings from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and all day on the first Saturday of every month. Teens are get free admission all day, every day!
16. Sculpture Garden
How could we possibly leave off the 'cherry on top' of this list of marvelous Minneapolis activities? It doesn't matter how many times you've seen the Sculpture Garden at Walker Art Center... it's still wonderful each time you visit. The playful outdoor exhibit includes more than 40 fun sculptures from the Walker Art Center collection, including the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry.
The Sculpture Garden is currently closed for renovations, but it will open back up, better than ever, in June 2017!
“There’s nothing to do in Minneapolis” is no longer a valid excuse. This city is bursting with energy and activities that anyone can enjoy on any budget. This list only covers a small sliver of everything Minneapolis has to offer, but these fantastic, free places are a great place to start your next adventure!