Frugal Things To Do When You’re In Minneapolis, Minnesota

Frugal Things To Do When You’re In…

A few blogging friends and I decided to put together a series of posts called “Frugal things to do when you’re in…“, where we each choose our favorite city or hometown, and put together an article with frugal things to do while you’re there. I decided to put together an article talking about my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Each person in the series will be talking about each of their home areas, and highlight frugal things to do there when you’re visiting (or if you live there). Once you’re done reading this article, feel free to check out the other articles in the series (links at the bottom of the page) for frugal things to do in other cities!

So without further ado, here are frugal things to do when you’re in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis, A Great Place To Live And A Wonderful Place To Visit!

Minneapolis, at approximately 380,000 people, is the largest city in Minnesota. The name “Minneapolis”, means “The City of Lakes” in a mash-up of the Dakota word minne and the Ancient Greek word polis, which refers to the city’s 22 natural lakes.

Having lived in Minneapolis and surrounding areas for most of my life, I love living here, and think it is a true treasure, a beautiful place to live or visit. There is always something to do. You can enjoy the outdoors in one of our many parks. Or if you prefer you can attend a world class Broadway show downtown. The cuisine is delicious and the nightlife is hopping. In short, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Minneapolis.

So what are some ways that you can keep things on the frugal side when visiting Minneapolis? Below I’m going to list some of the best ways that I know to make your trip fun and exciting, while at the same time not breaking the bank.  Some of the suggestions will be right in Minneapolis itself, while others may be in the greater Twin Cities metro area.  (all photos in the post were taken by me!)

So first let’s start with transportation:

Transportation

Minneapolis has plenty of public transit options to help you keep things affordable.  If you’re flying into Minneapolis St. Paul International airport, a good option for getting to the downtown area is to take the light rail transit.  Light rail is a relatively new addition to the Twin Cities area, and if you’re going to certain areas of the city it can be an affordable option to get from point A to point B.  Fares will be anywhere from $1.50 to $2.75 for the express.

Along the light rail route include such highlights as the airport, the Mall of America (one of the largest malls you’ll ever see), Minnehaha Falls, and ending up in downtown Minneapolis at the Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings, at least until their new stadium is built sometime in the next few years. See the Metrodome light rail stop in the picture above.  It goes a few blocks further ending right near Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.

Minneapolis also has plenty of buses running just about round the clock, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding transportation in the city.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of driving around the Twin Cities (probable if you want to see some things in outlying areas), try using a discount car rental website like hotwire.com or priceline.com to get a good deal on a car rental.  It is definitely easier to get around in Minneapolis if you have a car.

Enjoy Our Parks And 10,000+ Minnesota Lakes

Minneapolis is known as the city of lakes, and with 22 of them – there is a good reason.  Any one of those lakes makes a great place to take the family for a picnic, take a canoe ride, or just to enjoy some sun. Here are a few of my favorite parks and natural spaces in Minneapolis and surrounding areas.

  • Lake Calhoun:  A great place to go for the day to enjoy some sun, a canoe ride, maybe some beach volleyball and a nice walk around the 3+mile lake.   It is the place to see and be seen in the summer months (FREE)

  • Minnehaha Falls: The falls are a natural wonder, and definitely a must visit for shutterbugs. In the area surrounding you can take nice long walk from the falls down to the Mississippi river, or have a picnic.  Beautiful! (FREE)

minnehaha falls

  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: A 1,047-acre garden and arboretum about 20 minutes outside of Minneapolis. Because of it’s natural beauty this is often a chosen as a great spot for weddings and for just getting some great pictures. (15 and under free, $7 adults.  Free all day Thursday in the winter, and free on Thursday evenings from 4.30 p.m. until 8 p.m. or sunset in the summer)
  • Lyndale Park Rose Gardens at Lake Harriet:  Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis has a beautiful Rose Garden that has been blooming every year since 1907-1908.  It’s a popular place for weddings, photography and peaceful reflection.  If you’re going to Lake Calhoun anyway, stop by the Rose Gardens, it is just a short walk away.   Also, right across the street is a beautiful Japanese Gardens (FREE)

Major Attractions

  • Mall of America: If you like to shop, or even just people watch, this place will be heaven.   At the time it was built it was largest mall in america, and one of the largest in the world.   Fun place just to visit, even if you don’t spend money. Also has an indoor theme park.  If you prefer, you can go a few miles up the highway and visit the country’s first enclosed climate controlled shopping center , Southdale Center. (FREE + any money you spend shopping)
  • Minnesota State Fair:  At the end of Every August, the Minnesota State Fair is the most happening place to be with over 1.7 million visitors every year.  While it probably won’t be completely frugal, if you enjoy eating, riding rides and viewing state fair exhibits, this is one of the best fairs in the country.  (Admission: $12 + food + rides).  How to save at the Minnesota State Fair.

  • Como Zoo: Located in St. Paul, this is one of two zoos in the area, and the only free one.  Even though its free it still has a wide variety of wildlife – everything from polar bears to tigers and gorillas.  One of the best free attractions in the cities.  (FREE: donations accepted)
  • Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park: A beautiful indoor conservatory/greenhouse that houses a plethora of beautiful plants year round.  A great place to go in the winter if you’re getting cabin fever, just take a walk through the tropical plants section and you’ll be just fine (FREE: donations accepted)
  • Sculpture Gardens & Walker Art Center: For a little bit of culture go and visit the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Gardens.  Considered one of the nation’s “big 5″ museums for modern art.   The museum normally costs $10 for adults, but is free to all every Thursday evening (5–9 pm) and on the first Saturday of each month 10 am–5 pm.  (FREE)

Museums

We have a lot of great museums in the Minneapolis area.  Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Mill City Museum:  Newly completed museum in downtown Minneapolis looking at the city’s past as the flour capitol of the world.  Beautiful riverfront location. ($10 adults, $5 children)
  • Science Museum of Minnesota: While it isn’t exactly cheap to go here, it is a great museum, and worth the price. They currently have a Star Wars exhibit showing. ($16 adults, $13 children)
  • Minnesota History Museum:  Museum looking at Minnesota history.  Beautiful museum building in downtown St. Paul. ($10 adults, $5 children.  See below for how to get a free pass)
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts: located in south Minneapolis, this museum houses a ton of classical art, traveling exhibitions and also houses the Children’s Theater. My personal favorite museum, and best of all, it’s free! (FREE)
  • The Bell Museum of Natural History: The Bell Museum is part of the University of Minnesota and is located on the University’s Minneapolis campus.  (Free admission on Sundays)
  • Visit Museums free Courtesy of Minneapolis Libraries and Macy’s: if you can get a resident to go to the library for you – you can get tickets to many of these and other great museums for free!! Details HERE.  Thanks to Crossinator for the tip.  Visit his site here.
  • Other free museums: Here is a link to free museums across the Twin Cities thanks to Nikki: Free Museums

Sports

  • St. Paul Saints Baseball:  Minor League baseball at it’s best.  An evening at a Saint’s game is one you’ll never forget.  From the goofy announcers and massages given by nuns, to the fan contests between innings, you’ll love going to one of these games.  (Starting at $5 adults, $4 children)
  • Minnesota Twins: Go to a Twins game all summer at the new Target Field in downtown. Major League baseball is always a good time, and it is doubly fun at the new stadium with panoramic views of the downtown skyline!  Look for promotions for cheap tickets during the week, or family packages on the weekend. (Starting at $10 general admission)
  • Minnesota Vikings: This isn’t going to be frugal, but going to a vikings game is an electrifying experience.  Will be even more so when the new stadium is completed in 2015-2016. (starting at around $30)
  • Minnesota Wild:  Probably one of the Twin Cities most popular teams, going to a Wild game at the Excel Energy Center is probably the best NHL experience you can get anywhere.  Again, not cheap, but well worth it if you like hockey.  (starting at $22)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves:  The red-headed stepchild of Minnesota sports since they traded Kevin Garnett and started over.  Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are a good draw now though. You can get some cheap tickets for one of these games .  (Starting at around $10)

Dining & Drinks

  • Matt’s Bar: Neighborhood pub in Minneapolis known for it’s Jucy Lucy cheeseburger (hamburger with melted cheese inside the burger).  Go here for a little neighborhood flavor, and a cheap meal! ($10-$15 per person)
  • Midtown Global Market: A global marketplace with foods from tens of different countries.  Food from Israel, Mexico, China, Africa, and more!  Fun place to shop and eat – or even take dance lessons- and you won’t have to spend a ton of money.  ($10-15)
  • Best Cheap Eats in Minneapolis: Check out this link for the city search Best Cheap eats in Minneapolis 2008 (LINKS HERE and HERE)

Other Frugal Entertainment

  • Comedy Sportz Comedy Club: A great place to go for family entertainment – they offer a hilarious clean show, and you’ll be rolling in the aisles. ($10 Thurs $12 Fri-Sat)
  • Music shows at one of the many fine music clubs in downtown Minneapolis:  There are a ton of great local music clubs in Downtown Minneapolis, particularly in the warehouse district.   Check out the Fine Line Music cafe or the Dakota Jazz Club on weekends for some great music at an affordable price.
  • Here’s a list of 150 things to do in Minneapolis

So there  you have it, my quick list of frugal things to do when you’re in Minneapolis.  Have your own suggestions?  Leave a comment and maybe I’ll add it to the list!

Other “Frugal Things To Do In..” Posts Below!

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Last Edited: 9th June 2014

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  1. says

    Wow that’s a great list. I’ve already hit some of them up (been here since Jan). It coincides well with the list we put together for my in-laws!

    Also, if you can get a resident to go to the library for you – you can get tickets to many great museums for free!!

    crossn81s last blog post..Marathon Training: Week 8

  2. says

    Great post. Nicely done! While looking for cheap places to eat in Minneapolis, I found this website. It’s a bit simple, but gets the job done. (www.ueatcheap.com)

  3. says

    I was born in Minneapolis and visit often (lots of family there). One of my favorite places to eat is Convention Grill in Edina. Best grilled cheese, fries, and a chocolate shake I have ever had.

    Also a fan of the Walker Art Center, just walking around the downtown skyways, and rollerblading around Lake Harriet, stopping at the end for ice cream at the band shell.

    If you are lucky enough to have an uncle with a boat, it is fun to ride around Lake Minnetonka. Make sure to bring your tube and water skis!

    • says

      Great suggestions! The Walker is great fun – as is walking around the skyways – you could get lost up there.

      Hitting the lakes on a boat is also a lot of fun. My in-laws sold their cabin and boat a few years back, so now we have to try to find friends who will take us out. :)

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