TWIN CITIES THRIFTY TRAVELER-SUMMER EDITION
A week of cheap or free things to do around the Twin Cities this summer
By Claire Noack
During the summer months, there are an endless amount of activities and events happening every day in the Twin Cities. What better way to see everything Minneapolis and St. Paul have to offer than for free? Get out there, embrace the warm weather and follow our week-long guide for a fun-filled week of free or cheap activities to keep you busy this summer.
Start the week off with a day trip to Mankato to see your favorite Minnesota Vikings players and get pumped for the upcoming season. Training camp goes from July 24 through August 8. Don’t miss your chance to see the pros in action and get autographs at Minnesota State University Manako’s Blakeslee Stadium. Practice times vary slightly, but are typically 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and again at 2:45 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. Free events during training camp, including a movie night and fireworks show, make for a great ending to a day full of football and fun.
When the team isn’t practicing this summer, visit U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis to see the home of Super Bowl LII. Make sure to stop by Downtown East Commons Park, just outside the stadium to get some of the best views of the skyline and grab food from the local food trucks that are parked on the street near the park.
Unwind from the day with a free yoga class in Northeast Minneapolis. Every Tuesday night, Free Yoga Northeast teaches a class in Logan Park at 7:30 p.m. Make sure to bring your own yoga mat (a limited supply are available) and a water bottle because summer in Minnesota means it can still be hot in the evenings. As you wait for the yoga class to start, Northeast is a great place to explore during the day. Known for its art district and its breweries, Northeast combines what’s best about local fare, beer and art, into one charming neighborhood.
Photo by German Gomez/flickr
Cool off midweek at the Phalen Park splash pad in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul. Recently opened this summer, the miniature water park is sure to make a big splash with the kids. The splash pad is located next to the beach and is free to use every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Adults can enjoy other free amenities at the park such as the sandy beach, BBQ grills, fishing pier, fire pits, baseball, softball and soccer fields, tennis courts, biking trails and more.
Spend the day wandering around downtown Minneapolis and exploring the newly renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The largest sculpture garden in the nation, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden features 17 new installations, as well as the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture.
End the night with a bang at the Twin Cities River Rats show. Walk or bike through downtown to the banks of the Mississippi River to watch the water ski show team perform amazing tricks and jumps on the water. Located just above the North Loop, the River Rats perform free shows every Thursday at 7 p.m. during the summer.
Try your luck at getting a hole-in-one at the Putt’er There miniature golf course in St. Paul’s Como Park. Play a half round for $3 or all 18 holes for $6. Alright, so this one isn’t free, but you’ve got to admit that it’s pretty cheap for mini golf. While you are there, take advantage of all the free amenities that the expansive park has to offer, including a sports complex, BBQ areas, zoo, conservatory and gardens.
Photo by John Kingman/flickr
Experience the natural beauty of the Twin Cities at the Lyndale Rose Garden. Located beside the shores of Lake Harriet, there is plenty to do around this beautiful area of Uptown Minneapolis. As you spend the day walking through the roses and wildflowers, make sure to go across the street to the Peace Garden to see the Japanese rock garden and waterfall. Both gardens are free and open to the public. Stick around at night and make the short walk to the Lake Harriet Bandshell to hear free live music at 7:30 p.m. almost every day of the week.
Insider’s tip: Bring a hammock and set up shop in the trees near the Lyndale Rose Garden. It’s the perfect place to spend a lazy day, taking in views of the flowers on one side and the lake on the other.
End your week with fresh produce and flowers at the St. Paul farmers’ market. Open every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the downtown St. Paul neighborhood of Lowertown, you’ll find the best local fruits and vegetables, along with handmade jams and honey, bakery items, and huge bouquets of unique flowers. The farmers’ market is free to enter. There is some street parking near the Saint Paul Saints’ baseball field, CHS Field, located next to the market, and valet parking costs $5. Try taking the METRO light rail that will take you directly into downtown St. Paul, just blocks from the farmers’ market for a cheap transportation alternative.