Top Free Things to Do in the Twin Cities
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.
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
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
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.