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Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

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Escanaba, Michigan
posts: 1
Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

We are a family of 5 w/ 3 kids 9,5, & 2. We are going to be going to Bloomington area in June on a Mon-Fri. Besides the obvious MOA attractions & zoo are there any cheap or free things to do in the area (yes...I am a huge cheapskate)? I'm seeing a lot of things, but I didn't realize it sounds hard to get around esp. downtown Minneapolis. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Possible visits on our trip at this time include MOA, Minn Zoo, Como Park Zoo, Science Museum of Minn, Minn Institute of Arts, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, but I don't know how feasible any of these are driving/parking-wise bc we've never been to MN! Thanks!

Minneapolis...
Destination Expert
for Minneapolis
posts: 4,366
reviews: 18
1. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

Did I assume right that you will have a car?

I don't think it's terribly difficult to get around downtown Minneapolis. Just get a hang of avenues vs streets and the (generally) alternating one-way system of streets.

Free things to do:

picnic at Minnehaha Park, with a walk down to the river following the creek downstream for just under a mile or so. (reachable via light rail from mall)

Area beaches like Bush Lake in Bloomington, Carver Lake in Woodbury, etc

Walk across the Stone Arch Bridge downntown

Como Zoo (tho please do make some contribution)

Wayzata Beach and walk over for ice cream on Lake Street

Cheap:

Take the light rail downtown instead of driving. Your 5-year-old and 2-year-old ride free.

Wabasha Street Caves in St. Paul

minneapolis
Destination Expert
for Minneapolis, Minnesota
posts: 985
reviews: 164
2. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

Check with the city public libraries. In the past, they have offered free museum tickets. And the museums usually have at least 1 free night a week. The Walker is probably the most popular in the summer.

The city parks also have a ton of free movie & music nights.

The farmers markets are also fun and a big summer attraction.

If you have a car, one of my favorite free days is in the Linden Hills area of 44th & Upton. My little sister loves Wild Rumpus Bookstore, the free bread samples at Great Harvest and the historic trolley at Lake Harriet. You can later sun on the beach and enjoy entertainment at the bandshell.

Minneapolis...
posts: 250
reviews: 13
3. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

here is a book that has the information that you want. Dads Eye View, by Michael Hartford. 52 family adventures in the Twin Cities.

South Dakota
posts: 2,661
reviews: 146
4. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

Hyland Play area in Bloomington is a HUGE outdoor play structure and is free. Centennial Lakes Park in Edina is free and is a very pretty urban oasis, no playground equipment, though. The outdoor sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center is free.

South Dakota
posts: 2,661
reviews: 146
5. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

Forgot to add if you like hands on science stuff, The Works in Edina is about half the price of the MN Science Museum, although it's not nearly as nice or large. If you like amusement parks, Como Town amusement park is cheaper than Valley Fair and there's no charge to enter the grounds if you are a non-rider. It works on a ticket system similar to a carnival. It would be perfect for your age children because it caters to kids under twelve. Again, not as large as Valley Fair. There is also a restored state fair carousel in Como Park which is not affiliated with the amusement park. It's about a buck per ride.

If you go to Como Park get there relatively early as parking is limited.

Minneapolis...
posts: 52
reviews: 4
6. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

I second taking the light rail to Minnehaha Park. There is a waterfall there, but it's been so dry it might not be much. However the park also has surrey bicycles for rent and ice cream. Plus the hike down to the river where kids always seem to have a great time throwing rocks into the Mississippi.

If you take the light rail downtown, stop in the new Guthrie building. It has a cool viewing area over the river which is free. Nearby, the Mill City museum isn't free but it's interesting. Very hands on for kids and it's cool to see the workings of an old mill.

In the same area as Hyland Park reserve (NOT Highland Park which is a neighborhood) is the Richardson Nature Center. They have some nice educational exhibits for your young kids and a few raptors and snakes as well. The 3 dimensional habitat murals are fun for kids to explore.

Go to http://www.threeriversparks.org/ to see more.

Minneapolis
posts: 70
reviews: 10
7. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

The Art Museum you can go in and look at some great pieces of art for free too

8. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

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Woodbury, Minnesota
posts: 383
reviews: 7
9. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

Como Park would work good because you could do the zoo and rides at the same place. Maybe stay in St Paul instead of Bloomington?

You could drive about 10-15 minutes east of St Paul to Lake Elmo Park where they have a man-made beach/lake, hiking trails and a giant playground all for a $5 day pass.

Woodbury, Minnesota
posts: 383
reviews: 7
10. Re: Cheap/Free things to do around MOA/Minneapolis

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has free admission and kids program the first Saturday of each month. We're going tomorrow.