There are so many fun and family-friendly FREE things to do in the Twin Cities. If you haven’t visited Minneapolis-St. Paul before, I highly recommend that you do! And, here are a few tips to help you save money when you do.
*Many thanks to the Roseville Visitors Association, Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit St. Paul, and Meet Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association for sponsoring my recent press trip to the Twin Cities.*
How to Save Money on a Family Vacation to the Twin Cities
It’s no wonder that Minneapolis is listed on National Geographic’s Happiest US Cities. Called the City by Nature because of its great outdoor spaces, it also serves up delicious food, has amazing indoor activities, and a deep appreciation for the arts. Minneapolis is definitely worth a family vacation! Here are a few tips to help you save money on a family vacation to the Twin Cities. Because if you haven’t been, you need to go! No excuses.
1. Find Free Things to do in the Twin Cities
One great way to save money on family vacations is to find free things to do. Luckily, the Twin Cities has more than its share of amazing things that are free. Your entire family will find something fun to do for FREE in the Twin Cities with the following list. Most of these are outdoors, but you can also find more free things on this list of the top 7 family friendly activities to do indoors as well!
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
This free zoo has been a Twin Cities destination for over 100 years. In the beginning, the Como Zoo housed animals in little cages which you can still see (no longer in use). Over the years, the zoo has changed significantly and focuses their efforts on animal conservation and leaving visitors with an appreciation of all living things. It’s a beautiful place to spend a day!
Your kids will enjoy watching the polar bears, penguins, and feeding the giraffes is always a big hit – one of the many fun free things to do in the Twin Cities. Plan your trip to Como Zoo here!
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is must-see destination for visitors of all ages. It’s open 365 days a year, from 6 am to 12 midnight. You could spend hours taking in all of the amazing exhibits. I loved Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock, a huge, bright blue rooster, and of course, the iconic Spoonbridge & Cherry sculpture is a must see!
Kids will enjoy swinging on the iron Arikidea sculpture and listening to the 47 windchimes in Pierre Huyghe’s wind chime sculpture! Be sure to download the interactive park guide to sneak in a bit more education to your visit, and use the free park wifi to really experience this amazing park.
Find the Peanuts Statues in Rice Park
Located in Rice Park near Landmark Center are lots of fun sculptures of the Peanuts Gang and also F. Scott Fitzgerald. Both Fitzgerald and Charles Schultz were born in the area and these fun sculptures were made to honor both amazing men. While you’re in the area, make sure to head over to the Landmark Center and take a FREE tour of the building to learn about St. Paul’s gangster history!
This lovely park is situated in Minneapolis and features hiking trails, a disc gold course, wading pool for kids, picnicking spots, as well as bike rentals and more! Even though he never saw this gorgeous 53 foot waterfall in real life, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sang its praises in his poem Song of Hiawatha. Minnehaha is really a lovely spot to spend a gorgeous afternoon.
Stone Arch Bridge and Mill Ruins Park
Part of the US National Park Service, the Mill Ruins Park is located at the base of the Stone Arch Bridge is a great place to learn about the early history of Minneapolis and the Native Americans who used to gather at the the St. Anthony Falls. Make sure to hike across the Stone Arch Bridge while you’re there and take in the beauty of the city!
2. Don’t forget those museum memberships
Do you belong to any museums in your area? Make sure to double check for reciprocity! If they do, you could very well get your entire family into Twin Cities museums for free. To find out about reciprocity, just head over to your home museums’s website and look at the membership benefits. They should clearly state who they have reciprocity with and knowing this information could save you lots of money!
3. Stay in Roseville
The name, Twin Cities, is actually a misnomer since many more than two cities make up the Metro Minneapolis area. Roseville, for instance, is perfectly positioned in the Twin Cities – just north of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, only ten minutes from both cities, and within twenty minutes of most attractions listed here and on my indoor guide too. Roseville also has one of the lowest lodging tax rates in the metro Twin Cities area so you might be able to save money by staying in Roseville! We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott on our recent press trip to the Twin Cities and really enjoyed our stay there.
4. Request Guide Books and Coupon Booklets
Another way to save money is to reach out for visitor’s guides – great places to find coupons – and most destinations will send you a book for free! Request information or view and print coupons for Roseville, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington from these links.
5. Save money on gas and parking by walking, biking, or riding public transportation
If possible, stay at a hotel with free parking and then ride public transportation to and from destinations. We found Nice Ride to be a fun, convenient, and cheap way to get around the city! If you want to wear a helmet though, you have to bring your own.
6. Eat in for two meals and splurge on one!
Food can be a huge expense with a large family. We love to eat out, but we also love to save money too. One way we try to accomplish both is to pack our own for two meals a day and splurge on only one meal a day. We either find a hotel that includes breakfast, or stop in at a grocery store and buy food for quick breakfasts and easy meals. Eating out only one time per day is a great money saver for us when we’re on family vacations. Keep in mind that lunch specials can be a great way to save money on dining when you’re traveling with your family!
For more information on the Twin Cities, check out these articles:
Of course, the activities in this list are specific to the Twin Cities, but everything else can be applied to most family family vacations! Do you have a best tip for saving money on family vacations? I’d love to hear!