Visiting Minnesota and looking for some fun activities? Wanting to spend some quality family time without paying money? Whether you are a resident or a tourist, there are many great places to visit in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Here are some free ones, enjoyable for any age, in the St. Paul and Minneapolis area.
Como Zoo and Conservatory – This beautiful zoo has indoor and outdoor exhibits of numerous types of animals. Whether you prefer big cats, sea life, reptiles, and monkeys, you are sure to find some enjoyable creatures to learn about and watch. For those more interested in plants, the conservatory has seasonal flower shows, a fern garden, orchids, and lovely tropical rooms. Outside are walking areas, picnic areas, and a Japanese garden. There is also an activity room for children, gift shop, carousal, and Como Town, a fun little carnival in the summer with rides and booths. If you enjoy animals and the outdoors, this is a great place to visit on a sunny day. Be sure to see: The Sunken Garden and polar bear Any fees: Only suggested donation for the zoo and conservatory, but Como Town rides and activities costs money Website: comozooconservatory.org
- Mall of America – The one of the largest malls in the world, this shopping center has just about everything in it – clothing, restaurants, toys, hotels, beauty products, movie theaters, sports equipment, mirror mazes, infomercial products, and much more. Some of the main attractions are the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park, Sea Life aquarium, the Lego store, the American Girl store and restaurant, and the Barbie Dreamhouse experience. Plus, a huge addition is currently being added. Although a bit overwhelming, this mall has something for everyone to enjoy, even if you do not buy anything. Be sure to see: The LEGO store Any fees: Stores and food will cost money as would Nickelodeon Universe and Sea Life Website: mallofamerica.com
Landmark Center – Not only is this an amazing piece of architecture, this building also houses many cultural and historical exhibits. For example, visitors can view artwork such as a sculpture of instruments in the Schubert Club Museum and learn about woodworking in the American Association of Woodturners Gallery. Sundays at the Landmark are special events open to the public that celebrate diverse ethnic groups and cultures. Food, dance, crafts, music, costumes, and educational programs happen on these Sundays. Numerous concerts, plays, classes, tours, and other fun events also take place at this historic site. Be sure to see: Sunday event Possible fees: Parking nearby, tickets to some events, and any purchases Website: landmarkcenter.org
- Minnehaha Falls Regional Park – If your family is a bit more outdoorsy and adventerous, you might enjoy one of the many parks in the Twin Cities area. Minnehaha Falls is one of the best because of its cascading falls, large picnic areas, and creek leading to the Mississippi River. There are paved and dirt trails through woods along the large creek and around the surrounding area that are ready to be explored. Be sure to see: The falls and Minnehaha creek Possible fees: Parking Website: nps.gov/miss/planyourvisit/minnehah.htm
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts – A great art museum attached to the Children’s Theater, this has many treasures from all eras and countries. An Ancient Egyptian mummy, Asian marble works, one of the four Roman copies of the Greek Doryphoros, and African headdresses can be found on one floor while Medieval and Renaissance paintings, armor, statues, and jewelry are one flight higher. Modern art is also well-represented. Some of the famous artists exhibited include Salvador Dali, Edgar Degas, Rembrandt, Vincent Van Gogh, and Diego Rivera. From photographs to machines to marble cities, there are many beautiful works of art around every corner. Be sure to see: The veiled woman made of marble Possible Fees: Entering the special exhibit Website: new.artsmia.org