Lakes dotted throughout town, tons of amazing museums, and delicious spots to eat, we loved our time in St Paul and Minneapolis. Our family has lived in five different cities so far and visited countless others but the Twin Cities remain one of the most family friendly places.
If you have kids, you’re probably already aware of the awesome Minnesota Children’s Museum, the Minnesota Zoo, and the incredible Science Museum of Minnesota. If you’re an outdoor fan hopefully you’ve headed to the U of MN Landscape Arboretum. These are staples of the area and they are guaranteed fun. I recommend a visit, but there are also many fabulous free or cheap kids activities in the Twin Cities for families. Below are our top 20.
20 Best Free or Cheap Kids Activities in the Twin Cities
When creating this list of free or cheap kids activities in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, I divided everything into indoor and outdoor because in Minnesota the weather definitely makes a difference. Most of these activities can be enjoyed year round as long as you and your children are dressed for the elements.
Outdoor Activities for Families
Visit the Walker Art Museum’s sculpture garden or head inside on Free First Saturdays.
Go swimming, walking, or boating on Lake Harriet or another Twin Cities lake.
Explore the huge Caponi Art Park.
Play at one of the awesome area playgrounds. The Chutes and Ladders playground in the Hyland Park Reserve is amazing. In the cities we love the Van Cleve Playground for it’s transportation theme.
Take a little road trip to the adorable Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater.
Go apple, pumpkin or berry picking. We love Afton Apple Farm.
Buy a fresh snack at the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market and then take a stroll down along the Mississippi River.
Spend a day at the entirely Free Como Park Zoo.
Explore indoors and outdoors at the Wood Lake Nature Center. Hike the trails and play in the nature center.
Indoor Activities for Families
Eat ice cream at Izzy’s. Midnight Snack is my favorite with a fun Izzy scoop on top.
Visit a Public Library for storytime and come home with a stack of books to read.
Ice skate at the Depot in Minneapolis each Winter.
Find a new favorite book in the magical Wild Rumpus Bookstore.
Learn about history, water, baking and more at the Mill City Museum.
Explore the Mall of America. Check their website for special events and attractions to plan your visit.
Explore animals and the natural world in the Touch and See room in the Bell Museum at the U of M
Run and slide and play at the Good Times Park in Eagan.
Learn about electricity and magnetism at the Bakken Museum.
Take in the art at the Free and surprisingly family friendly Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Play with trains at the back of the Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store. The shop is down the block from Izzy’s (#10) so make sure to pop over there as well.
Did I miss anything? Comment with your favorite free or cheap spot for families in the Twin Cities, or enter it in this form.
Erin Buhr is a freelance writer, early childhood educator, and mama of twins. She currently lives in New York City with her five year olds and high school sweetheart. Her absolute favorite place in the Twin Cities is the Landscape Arboretum and still misses the Midnight Snack ice cream from Izzy’s. She writes about family travel, children’s books, and preschool activities on her blog Bambini Travel. You can follow Erin on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.
For more locations shared in the Free or Cheap Family Activities series, view the whole list here or by clicking the image below.