Affordable Family Activities in Minneapolis

Is there a faster way to kill a vacation buzz than gathering up the receipts to see how much you spent? Family vacations can be super-pricey, but they don’t have to be.

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Is there a faster way to kill a vacation buzz than gathering up the receipts to see how much you spent? Family vacations can be super-pricey, but they don’t have to be. Your whole crew can have a lot of fun in awesome cities like Minneapolis without breaking the bank. In Mill City, you can discover cool art exhibits, relaxing parks, and pretty-as-a-picture walks that are guaranteed fun for everyone in the family. Plus, you won’t have to stress out when you get home.

Get Artsy

Front view of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, an ivory, stately building with columns in the front, washed in the early evening sun at dusk in Minneapolis

With almost 90,000 pieces of art from all over the globe, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is an awesome place to check out more than 20,000 years of art. Best of all — it’s totally free. Kids will love the interesting stuff here, like Nick Cave’s “Soundsuit,” a colorful sculpture made from scavenged items. Plus, the Institute’s Family Center will have you up to your eyeballs in toys and books for kids, so definitely drop in if you have little ones. But kids of all ages — yes, Mom and Dad too — will have a blast exploring here.

Shiny Steel and Big Heads

You have to check out the future-feel of the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, a shiny steel building designed by Frank O. Gehry. It may look expensive, but it won’t cost a cent. Exhibits here explore everything from drag racing through the years to the pop icon Prince to stories about the nation’s immigrants. And the art doesn’t end once you step outside. Public art is all over the university’s campus. Don’t miss George Sherwood’s “Humanaissance” sculpture on the east bank. It’s shaped like a gigantic head.

With a Cherry on Top

Want to check out a 1,200-pound cherry? Swing over to the free Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. With more than 40 massive sculptures, it’s one of the country’s biggest sculpture gardens. To see that big cherry, pop over to the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture before wandering your way over to the Whitney Footbridge. This suspension bridge is a great place to see some cool views. Did we mention the park is completely free? You can also check out the Walker Art Center directly across the street on its free days, and see if you can catch a concert or movie screening.

A Hole in One

Everyone in the family can try their hand — or is it wrist? — at a game of disc golf at Minnehaha Regional Park. You can also enjoy plenty of winding paths, and kids can get even more energy out on the playground or fall into a trance watching the 53-foot waterfall. If you’re lucky, you can even enjoy one of the free movie nights and concerts at Minnehaha and other parks, including Loring Park, Nicollet Island, and Father Hennepin Bluffs.

Stone Arch Bridge

Man in t-shirt and shorts tosses a Frisbee at a disc golf hole at Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis, MN late in the afternoon while surrounded by lush greenery

A Twin Cities landmark, the Stone Arch pedestrian bridge is a relaxing — and, yes, free — way to take in the skyline and the mighty St. Anthony Falls. Built in 1883 as a railroad bridge, it’s the only one you can find on the Mississippi River. Lots of folks run and bike around here, but we won’t tell anyone if you just stroll. Keep walking to Mill Ruins Park, which is right next to the bridge. There are cool ruins of 19th century flour mills and waterpower canals that you can check out.

Do you know how to feel like a million bucks without spending a dime in Minneapolis? Share your ideas for free family fun on our Facebook page.

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