Whether you’re a fan of the Twin Cities’ glittering blue lakes and lush parks or its many artsy offerings, there is plenty to do for free or for only a parking fee. Even better: Exploring without a car has never been easier. The Green Line light rail train runs between Minneapolis and Saint Paul and connects Target Field to Mall of America and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport.
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Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis
Weisman Art Museum
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Weisman Art Museum 

Modern installations and famed artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe make these University of Minnesota galleries appealing for art-lovers, but the metallic silver museum (designed by Frank Gehry) ranks as the showstopper with curves and angles that dramatically gather morning and evening light.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory 

This century-old attraction has drawn generations of visitors with giraffes, a sea lion show, gorillas and a polar bear. It's technically free, but a $2 to $3 donation is requested. Be sure to leave time for a trip through the tropics and seasonal flower shows at the conservatory.

Minnehaha Falls
Minnehaha Falls
| Credit: John Noltner

Minnehaha Falls 

Enjoy a 53-foot waterfall and the inspiration behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha" poem at this 193-acre urban oasis. After a hike along the limestone bluffs, dine on a picnic or eat on the patio at the popular Sea Salt Eatery.

Minneapolis park movies and concerts 

Summer performances, including big bands, pop orchestras, classics and family blockbusters, and 250-plus events entertain park-goers at spots such as Nicollet Island on the Mississippi River and the Victorian band shell at Lake Harriet. 

Stone Arch Bridge and Mill Ruins Park 

Take a ride or stroll across the 21-arch stone bridge that has spanned the Mississippi River since 1883. Both riverbanks have historical sites from Minneapolis' flour milling heydays with paths, interpretive signs and ruins at Mill Ruins Park near the Mill City Museum.  

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Art
| Credit: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Minneapolis Institute of Art 

Collections in this sprawling free museum span 5,000 years and a global scope of art, from ancient textiles and scrolls to Monet paintings and Prairie School architecture. The museum is internationally known for Asian art, including a historical Japanese audience hall and a teahouse.

Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul
Minnesota State Capitol
| Credit: Bob Stefko

Minnesota State Capitol 

The architect of the U.S. Supreme Court, Cass Gilbert, designed this 1905 stunner in Saint Paul. A three-year, $310 million renovation restored it to its early 20th century glory. Free guided tours leave at the top of the hour.

Mall of America

Sample the free perks of Minnesota's top attraction: the Lego store play area (with inspiring Lego art work and sculptures), frequent concerts and celebrity events, and Toddler Tuesdays with free activities.

Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Credit: Robin Pfeifer

Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden 

The center's free sculpture garden, with the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture and more than 40 other works of art, reopened after a $33 million makeover.  The neighboring Walker Art Center is free on Thursday nights (reserve timed admission tickets online).