Free Activities in Minneapolis

Minneapolis lives up to its logo “City by Nature,” located on the confluence of the mighty Mississippi River and the Minnesota River. Nature plays a large role in the city’s landscape, which features 180 parks, 16 lakes, ponds, wetlands and creeks. The city also contains abundant blooming flowers. The natural landscape weaves through a skyline filled with skyscrapers. The park system offers free space for outdoor lovers. As the social center of the state, Minneapolis also provides free activities for those who love the arts and culture. Whether visitors love the outdoors or culture, Minneapolis caters to their fancy.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has brought the arts to the city of Minneapolis since the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts was established in 1883. Opening in 1915, the institute features a collection of more than 8,000 works of art and approximately 80,000 objects from around the world. Its curatorial areas include Arts of Africa & the Americas; Contemporary Art; Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture; Asian Art; Painting; Photography and New Media; Prints and Drawings; and Textiles. The MIA’s collection covers more than 5,000 years. Located on the first floor, the MIA Family Center contains nursing areas, games, computer and quiet reading areas. It offers free admission year round, as well as free monthly family events.

Minnehaha Park

Minnehaha Park, the oldest park in Minneapolis, sits on a 193-acre area overlooking the Mississippi River. The 53-foot Minnehaha Falls greets visitors as they enter the park. Managed by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, it consists of two sections. The upper section consists of manicured grounds like other city parks, while the lower section has a wilder terrain and steep area popular for climbers. The park has a network of various trees – oak, elm, silver maple, hackberry and cottonwood, as well as native wildflowers. Visitors enjoy the park’s beauty via a series of walking and biking paths. Minnehaha Park also features sculptures, including a mask of Chief Little Crow – a chief killed in the 1862 Dakota conflict.

Weisman Art Museum

The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota has been a teaching museum since 1934. Designed by architect Frank Gehry and completed in 1993, the museum sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The museum gets its name from Frederick R. Weisman, a local art collector who wanted to share his love of the arts with others. The museum’s collection includes more than 17,000 pieces, including American modernism, ceramics, Mimbres pottery, and Korean furniture. The museum features more than 30 pieces of public art all over the university campus, many showcasing historic events and people. Admission is always free, but the museum accepts donations.

Mall of America

Opened in 1992, Mall of America has become more than a place to purchase the latest fashions; it’s a tourist attraction, with more than 520 stores and 50 restaurants. It is in Bloomington, a suburb of in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The mall, the largest enclosed shopping center and entertainment complex, in the United States, is so grand than seven Yankee Stadiums fit inside it. It sits on the former location of Metropolitan Sports Stadium, the old home of the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins. It hosts 400 events a year, including Free Family Flicks and Sensory Friendly Films, Toddler Tuesdays and the Mayo Clinic Mile. Mall of America offers shuttle service to and from area hotels.

Chain of Lakes

Chain of Lakes, operated by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, is part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, parkland that surrounds the city of Minneapolis. Chain of Lakes consists of five lakes – Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. It has as 12-mile system of walking and biking paths, boating and fishing docks, and a beach. Visitors have two miles of water on which to canoe. Lake Harriet has 67 land acres and 344 water acres, with two beaches with a floating swimming dock. The Lyndale Park Peace (Rock) Garden near Lake Harriet contains miles of greenery and a bronze sculpture entitled The Spirit of Peace. Chain of Lakes also contains picnic areas and ski areas during winter.

Minneapolis celebrates its love of nature by letting visitors explore its parklands free of charge, offering opportunities to investigate them by land or by water. The city also proves that it is a center of culture and the arts by giving even those with little money to spare enjoy creative endeavors of people from around the world. Both young and old find something that they can enjoy free of charge in the city that’s motto is “City by Nature.”