Free Things to Do in Minneapolis

Free - one of our favorite words.

It's the classic dilemma: you want to get out and experience the thrill of a vibrant city, but you're on a budget. Going out doesn't have to cost you the big bucks if you're in Minneapolis. Experience our robust arts scene or get your blood pumping on a hike. Frolic at a lively festival or put your thinking cap on and learn more about Minneapolis at one of our iconic landmarks. 

The adventure is waiting for you, and it's free! Check out our Top Free Things To Do in Minneapolis and never settle for boredom again.

Explore the Art Scene

The Walker Art Center:

The Walker Art Center features casual and fine dining, theater, cinema, dance and more. Admission to the museum is free the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and every Thursday night from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. The newly renovated outdoor sculpture garden is adjacent to the Walker Art Center and is free every day, every season.

Explore, engage and get ready to get a little artsy at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). You’ll find one of the finest and most extensive art collections in the country, along with intricate exhibitions and plenty of opportunities to foster your creativity and get your hands dirty. Take in over 89,000 artworks from all over the globe spanning across 20,000 years. Plus, admission is FREE. Not many other places offer the quality that Mia does, and free of cost.

The 60 by 150-foot Kaleidoscope mural is located on Hennepin and S. 5th Street, and is one of the most popular murals in the city. It was created by Eduardo Kobra in 2015 with the intention of revitalizing the downtown’s Cultural District.

Located in Uptown on 26th Street and Hennepin Avenue, this mural was painted by Minnesota-based artist Rock “Cyfi” Martinez in April 2016 as “a gift to the City of Minneapolis”.

Housed in a striking stainless steel and brick building designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Weisman Art Museum is both educational and approachable. The museum’s collection features early twentieth-century American artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, as well as a diverse selection of ceramics and contemporary art. They always have a great selection of events, so be sure to check their calendar to see what’s in town. Admission is free every day of the week

Since 2002, The Museum of Russian Art has served as the Twin Cities’ window to Russian art, history, and culture. Housed in a beautifully renovated historic building, the Museum’s multi-level galleries provide a tranquil and intimate setting for their exhibitions and educational events. A one hour tour is free with admission.

The Guthrie Theater is one of the most renowned performance centers and architectural designs in the nation. Explore this awe-inspiring place -- from the amber box to the endless bridge -- with a self-guided iPod audio tour.

Visit an Iconic Building

Mall of America:

Mall of America, the largest indoor shopping center in the nation, has earned a national reputation for entertaining guests. Although it is a shopping mecca, there is no need to spend a dime as it constantly features free events from musical acts to celebrity appearances to fashion shows. Plus, there’s no sales tax on clothing and shoes in Minnesota, so you’ll save big if you do shop!

Stop by for free visitor information located at Nicollet and 5th Street, directly across from the Nicollet METRO stop. Find out where to go, what to see and what to do in and around Minneapolis, take a peek at locally crafted gifts from Minnesota Makers and grab a free visitor map.

First Avenue appeared in Prince’s 1984 “Purple Rain” and many of the film’s music performances take place at the venue. The nightclub has helped launch many Minneapolis artists, each of which are displayed on the building’s exterior famous wall of gold stars. Take your photo in front of the wall to commemorate your favorite artists. 

The Legacy Ship, located at the main entrance, is comprised of fan made bricks and includes several historical markers that highlight some of the milestone moments in Vikings history. It is free to all fans and open during event and non-event hours.

Marvel at the seven-ton Father of Waters statue, the five-story Rotunda adorned with stained glass windows, the stately City Council Chambers, and million-year-old fossils. Explore the building with a self-guided brochure or join a guided tour every third Wednesday of the month, beginning at noon in the Rotunda (enter on 4th Street).

The Minneapolis History Museum offers hands-on family fun highlighting Wells Fargo history, North Western National Bank, and their shared heritage in Minnesota. Examine an authentic stagecoach from 1863, see the glimmer of real gold nuggets and coins, send coded messages by telegraph or ride in a rocking stagecoach. Find it  on the skyway level of the Wells Fargo Center at 6th Street South and Marquette Avenue. Admission is free.

Take a guided tour, take a look around on your own, or listen to the slide presentation all about the rich local history and famous memorials of Lakewood Cemetery. Of course, the tour and presentation are both completely free. 

This historic site has been a cornerstone of the Catholic faith in Minneapolis since 1914. View the stunning interior and learn about the makings of the first Basilica in the United States.Take a self-guided tour or learn from a docent. All tours are free.

This tour consists of 60 bilingual plaques (English and Spanish) including information and photos that tell the history and evolution of Lake Street. The plaques branch off into three separate tour options that highlight the three segments of Lake Street: the Uptown tour, Midtown tour, and East Lake Street.

Take in The City By Nature

Mill City District:

Home to the inspiring St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River as a dramatic backdrop, as well as the “Most Explosive Museum in America” in the Mill City Museum. Breezy and tree-lined, this park setting in downtown Minneapolis is the perfect place to unwind, explore and entertain.

Heralded as America’s most important urban scenic byway, bike, walk, skate and more on this 50-mile loop through the city (and yes, in all seasons!). Along the way stop by popular sites such as Minnehaha Falls, Lake Harriet Rose Garden and Quaking Bog.

One of the most popular places in the city to walk, run and bike, Bde Maka Ska, formerly Lake Calhoun, is a great spot to get moving or sit back and people watch. 

One of Minneapolis' oldest and most popular parks features a majestic 53-foot waterfall, limestone bluffs, and river overlooks, attracting more than 850,000 visitors annually. 

See the animals you want to see, and in habitats that allow you to get up close. Observe the Arctic Fox, a Glapagos Tortoise, lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) and many other creatures of the zoo. The Zoo & Conservatory is open year-round and admission is free to the public.