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Top 5 Free Things to Do in Minneapolis and Why

To understand why Minneapolis is top rated in nearly every livability index just read on. You don’t have to spend any money at all to have fun all weekend doing free things in Minneapolis. Moreover, these 5 things explore the core

1.) Grand Rounds Scenic Byway

What to Do:

Walk, bike or even drive a section of the 102 mile Grand Rounds. The most significant of the 7 sections is the 13.3 mile loop around the Chain of Lakes. The best part of the Chain of Lakes is the gorgeous Lake of the Isles. Enjoy a parade of historic and contemporary mansions around the most scenic of the four lakes. Lake of the Isles is about a 3 mile loop and it is connected to all of the other lakes by baths, roads, and waterways.

Why It’s Fun:

The lake is gorgeous, but the mansions around the lake are jaw dropping. It’s a free parade of the nicest homes in Minneapolis. It is remarkable that there are significant lakes inside the City of Minneapolis. It is even more remarkable that the Lakes are not gated communities, but rather free for all and open to the public. The Chain of Lakes is Minnesota’s most visited park with more than 4 million visitors per year.

Why It’s Important:

The parks define Minneapolis, and consistently rank in the top nationwide. There are more parks and recreational spaces in Minneapolis than any other city. Nearly 250. The Parks have contributed to the consistent top 10 livability score for Minneapolis.

Mia, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Free  and fun

2.) Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA)

Mia is like the Louvre in Paris in that there is something for everyone. It is huge in scope and varied in content. Best of all the Minneapolis Institute of Art is free for all. Plan on spending most of a day to explore the entire collection, but since it is free, with easy parking around it free also, you can spend 15 minutes or an hour.

What to Do:

Start in one spot and try to see it all. MIA is nationally renown as well curated and organized. Start on the first floor and work your way up. There is more Asian Art at MIA than anywhere else in the world outside of Asia. The museum is huge, It is over a half million sqft. You can see everything from contemporary art to textiles, You can see works by famous painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

Why It’s Fun:

Even though modern sensibilities frown on the Period Rooms on the third floor, they are a great way to view art. Actual historic rooms are assembled in the museum and the period artwork hangs as contemporaries would have seen it. There are is also period furniture, rugs and lighting. It is an incredibly immersive way to view historical pieces. Check out the Georgian Room with Furnishings donated from the Carpenter Family at 300 Clifton, an incredible Bed and Breakfast within walking distance of Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Why It’s Important:

300 Clifton is on the National Register of Historic Places, because the owner Eugene Carpenter started the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He was a visionary who recognized that the future of Minneapolis rested on the uplifting of all, which is why Minneapolis Institute of Art is free to all. Today the Arts define Minneapolis because of the work of Eugene Carpenter. 5% of all of Minneapolis jobs are in the creative sector. The NE Arts district was ranked the #1 arts district in the United States. Minneapolis has the 2nd largest theater market and it all started with the Minneapolis Institute of Art and 300 Clifton.

Free park for everyone to experience the inspiration and geology of Minnehaha Falls

3.) Minnehaha Falls

What to Do:

Minnehaha Falls is a gorgeous waterfall nearly anytime of the year, even when it is a cascade of ice in the winter. There is no entrance fee. It is completely free to enjoy the fun of Minnehaha Falls. Walk down the stairs to the bottom of the falls to get the most impressive view. Also walk down the trail to the Mighty Mississippi River, just a short way downstream. Don’t forget to visit the Longfellow House, built as a tourist attraction in the 1800’s accompanied by a zoo.

Why It’s Fun:

Waterfalls are rare in the Prairie. This waterfall is incredibly beautiful, and fun to walk around. Some waterfalls are daunting, but this one is big enough to be impressive and beautiful but not so big that it is deafening and unnerving. It is fun to follow the water from the Falls to the Mississippi and know that it must travel thousands of miles along North America’s greatest river way to get to New Orleans.

Why It’s Important:

There are two incredibly important aspects of Minnehaha Falls:

First, It was the inspiration for Longfellow’s poem, the Song of Hiawatha. You can read an excerpt here about Hiawatha’s love and devotion for his wife Minnehaha, as a refresher. The epic poem Hiawatha is important because it was revolutionary. It was the first time that a humanizing depiction of Native Americans gained wide appeal.

Second, Minneapolis is unique geologically, and that led to its prosperity. Minnehaha Falls gives a window into the geology that also made St Anthony Falls, the only Falls on the Mississippi River and a pivotal resource that made Minneapolis explode in the late 1800s.

4.) Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Totally free zoo and gardens. This is a must do. There is no reason why you would not visit Como Park on a trip to Minneapolis. It has a St Paul address but it is in the middle of the Twin Cities. It is next to the State Fairgrounds which is also shared by the two cities.

What to Do

Como Park Zoo is such a fun urban zoo. It is open every single day of the year, and there are programs every day. The giraffes are famous. Northern animals like polar bears and penguins love the Minneapolis weather and can be seen year round. Don’t miss the conservatory. It is mind-blowing beautiful.

Why It’s Fun

Zoos are fun because you get too experience and gain an appreciation for wildlife you would not usually see. The programs that are hoosted every day of thee year make the zoo fun and informative. The zoo is incredibly well curated, so the animals are happy and active, which means much more fun for the visitors.

Why It’s Important

Minneapolis is the #1 Philanthropy city in the United States, and the caliber of what you can experience for free in the Twin Cities is testament to that. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a free blessing experienced by thousands of locals and visitors to the Twin Cities. The gem of Como Park is the Bonsai Collection. The Bonsai Collection is said to be the largest bonsai collection outside of Asia.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Free to all, with views of downtown from the spoonbridge and cherry

5.) Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Sculpture Garden is a scenic and artistic focal point in Minneapolis. It is both a beautiful garden, and a display of important and iconic art pieces. It is free for everyone to enter at all hours day or night to enjoy.

What to Do

The best approach to the Sculpture Garden is walking from Loring Park across the pedestrian bridge. There is an overlook on the Sculpture Garden side which gives allows you to see the garden and plan your walk. For sure visit the Spoonbridge and Cherry which is iconic in Minneapolis. Also, there is a reproduction of the famous Love Park statue done by Robert Indiana, and it somehow seems much more fitting in Minneapolis than Philly. For sure get the app to better enjoy the Sculpture Garden.

Why It’s Fun

It’s fun to wander around the modern sculptures that are bizarre and surreal, but also inspiring and introspective. The location is incredible, right across from Loring Park and at the doorstep of the Walker Art Center. The views are also stunning. You can see the Basilica, the downtown Minneapolis skyline, and mansions on Lowry Hill above.

Why It’s Important

The Walker Art Center is a Big Five modern art museum in the United States, and the Walker curates the Sculpture Garden. It is extraordinary. There are 60 plus sculptures over 11 acres. Minneapolis is defined by its Parks and its Arts. The Sculpture garden is a partnership between the best Municipal Park Board in the world, and one of the best Contemporary Art Museums in the world.

300 Clifton Bed and Breakfast the #1 B&B in Minneapolis

300 Clifton Bed and Breakfast

300 Clifton Bed and Breakfast is the premier Bed and Breakfast in Minneapolis. It is a great springboard to all that Minneapolis has to offer. These 5 free fun things to do in Minneapolis would not be around if it were not for the original owners of the historic estate. Eugene Carpenter set Minneapolis on the trajectory which has made it the #1 Arts City, the #1 Parks City, and the #1 Philanthropy City. Learn more by staying at 300 Clifton.

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