Many world-class attractions and interesting art, history, and entertainment museums in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area charge nothing to visit. Additionally, there are several that usually charge an admission fee but have designated free-admission days.
Without spending a dime, you can check out 12 cultural riches that the Twin Cities have to offer.
Admission is always free, gallery tours are free, and free music and art events happen frequently at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This is a world-class art museum on a beautiful 8-acre site.
Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum is the University of Minnesota's modern art museum, which serves as a teaching museum for the university. The new flowing structure was designed by Frank Gehry. Museum admission may be free, but parking is not. In fact, finding free or cheap parking may be difficult.
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is always free, except when special events are happening in the garden. Since opening in 1988, the Garden has welcomed millions of visitors, showcasing more than 40 works from the Walker Art Center’s collections, including the iconic "Spoonbridge and Cherry." The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is located near the Walker Art Center in an 11-acre park in central Minneapolis.
The Minnesota State Capitol building in St. Paul offers free guided tours that are conducted every day. Self-guided tours are available as well. The tour shows visitors around the restored 1905 classical revival building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It underwent a $310 million restoration from 2013 through 2017, which involved regilding the roof's massive gold quadriga (a chariot with a driver and four horses). The structure, modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, has the second-largest unsupported marble dome in the world.
The Minnehaha Depot is a free historic train depot in Minnehaha Park that was built in 1875 and referred to as the "Princess" because of its delicate gingerbread canopy. Minnehaha Depot operated the first railroad line west of the Mississippi River that connected Minneapolis with Chicago.
Since before Northwest Airlines (NWA) and Delta merged in 2008, there has been the NWA History Centre, a free museum of NWA history and memorabilia at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. The museum has plenty of retro memorabilia from the glamorous days of air travel. Airplane buffs will especially love the museum.
The Como Zoo and Conservatory has an amazing variety of animals, beautiful plants, and flowers all displayed in an elegant conservatory. Owned by the City of Saint Paul, the attractions are free although a small donation is requested.
The Museum of Russian Art has a stunning collection of Russian art, mainly from the Soviet period, housed in a beautifully renovated historic building with multilevel galleries, exhibitions, and educational events. Students are admitted free or with a donation. For all other guests, there is a general admission charge.
The Walker Art Center offers free admission on the first Saturday of the month, and Thursday evenings after 5 p.m. All other days and hours there is a general admission charge, although the museum is free to anyone under the age of 18. The Walker Art Center is a world-class multidisciplinary contemporary art center in the Lowry Hill neighborhood of Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Children's Museum is a good place to bring younger children for playful, interactive exhibits that feature state habitats and a rooftop park. There is free admission on the third Sunday of the month. There is a general admission fee for all other days for visitors over age 1. The museum is closed on Mondays.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is free on the third Monday of the month from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Children under age 15 are always free. And University of Minnesota students are free, too.
In the summer, there are free family events and music in the 1,137-acre horticultural garden and arboretum just west of Chanhassen, Minnesota.
The Minnesota Historical Society holds occasional open houses with free admission to its sites. Also, it hosts special free admission days, notably on holidays that relate to a particular site. For free days, check out the society's monthly calendar online or call.
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution dedicated to preserving the history of Minnesota through research, grants, preservation, and education. It was founded by the territorial legislature in 1849 almost a decade before statehood.