Minnesota, Minneapolis has a large music scene, a wide array of delicious restaurants, and exciting outdoor adventures for families. With so much to offer, you may be wondering how to spend your time in this fantastic Midwest city. With budget-friendly activities in mind, this itinerary can help you plan a day filled with free things to do in Minneapolis with kids! Use this itinerary to plan a full day or mix and match these activities throughout your stay. Experience Minneapolis like a local with this Exciting Itinerary With Free Things To Do In Minneapolis With Kids!
Start Your Morning with a Historic Walk
Start your morning with a historic walk across the Stone Arch Bridge. This iconic Minneapolis landmark crosses the Mississippi River. Not only is it a lovely walk, but it offers a great view of the city and Saint Anthony Falls. This iconic view is certainly one of the best free things to do in Minneapolis with kids! Once the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River, Saint Anthony Falls was replaced with man-made falls in the 1860s to assist with one of Minneapolis’s first major industries – flour milling.
If you’re interested in learning more about this local history, you can head to the Mill City Museum, located on one side of the Stone Arch Bridge. Or, let kids play in the nearby Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, one of the best free things to do in Minneapolis for families. Additionally, families can try one of the nearby coffee shops, like Aster Cafe, for a quick bite to eat or a coffee for the walk.
Take Your Picture with the Iconic Spoon & Cherry
Afterward, head to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Here, see the famous Spoon and Cherry sculpture. It is a Minneapolis “must-see”. The Spoon and Cherry sculpture is also the perfect backdrop for a quick family photoshoot. Certainly, it is also one of the most Instagram-able places in Minneapolis!
As one of the best free things to do in Minneapolis with kids, families will love exploring the grounds searching for unique art installations. Kids will love the giant blue rooster, the charming wind chime tree, and the chance to run around the gardens. In addition, families can check out Skyline Mini Golf, located across the street at the Walker Center terraces (not free, but definitely a fun addition to the morning). The Walker Art Center is also worth a visit for those interested in art (entrance is free on the first Saturday of the month).
Eat Lunch with a View
Then, head to Minnehaha Park. Upon arrival, you can find paid parking flanking the park. Plus, there is a paid parking lot. Alternatively, if you go past the Dairy Queen, along Nawadaha Blvd., you can park in the neighborhood for free. Boasting an urban waterfall, plenty of biking and walking paths, and gardens galore, Minnehaha Park is ideal for kid-friendly outdoor adventures. Not to mention, one of the best free things to do in Minneapolis with kids!
Kids of all ages will love seeing the waterfall, passing sticks under the bridge at the base of the falls, and exploring the rustic trails. Minnehaha Park is also a fantastic place for lunch. When in season, Sea Salt offers a fantastic on-site option, serving delicious seafood and craft cocktails. Families can find a spot on the patio to enjoy the falls or a spot where kids can play nearby while waiting for food. Families can also grab to-go items from the nearby Dairy Queen for a picnic lunch. Finally, if you’re looking to splurge, Wheel Fun Rentals offers bike and family-friendly surrey rentals to explore the area around Minnehaha Falls.
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Enjoy an Afternoon Break with a New Book & Ice Cream
After leaving Minnehaha Park, head over to the Wild Rumpus. This delightful children’s bookstore is one of Minneapolis’s hidden gems! Offering a unique collection of children’s books, kids will adore exploring the nooks and crannies of this local book shop. Additionally, kids will be enchanted by the roaming cats and chickens. Plus, find birds and other fanciful animals around the shop too. It’s a nice break from the heat of the day, offering a chance to slow down and enjoy a good book. It truly lives up to its name!
Afterward, families can head up the road to Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream. A family-owned and truly local ice cream shop, Sebastian Joe’s offers unique Minnesota flavors like Nicollet Avenue Pothole and Honey Cinnamon Crisp. There is a wonderful patio outside to relax and enjoy the delicious ice cream. A little ice cream before dinner never hurt! Especially, after a full day of enjoying some of the best free things to do in Minneapolis with kids.
End Your Day with Dinner and a Stroll
Spend the end of your day exploring Minneapolis with kids enjoying the views from Lake Bde Maka Ska. You can stroll around this picturesque lake (approximately 3-miles around). Additionally, you will find beaches, walking paths, and two very kid-friendly playgrounds (I recommend the one on E Calhoun Parkway). Plus, you will gain a great understanding of why Minnesotans are home-state proud! If you stop during the day and want to splurge, paddle-boards, kayaks, and canoes are also available to rent from Wheel Fun Rentals. After enjoying the lake views, grab dinner nearby at Urban Eatery Minneapolis, Lake & Irving Restaurant & Bar, or Brim. Both, Urban Eatery Minneapolis and Lake & Irving Restaurant & Bar offer specific kid’s menus.
Two other nearby lakes offer wonderful evening strolls and dinner options too. At Lake Harriet (just south of Bde Maka Ska), find a gorgeous lake walk, huge playground, and scrumptious nearby fare. On-site, Bread & Pickle offers delicious, lakeside food like burgers and lobster rolls. Lake Harriet Pizza or Broders’ Cucina Italiana have great take-out options for a picnic near Lake Harriet. If you’re looking for something more upscale, try Broders’ Pasta Bar (which offers a seasonal patio too).
Then, Lake Nokomis is another nearby lake where families can freely play and stroll. Kids will love pizza and gelato from Fat Lorenzos. Or, eat the iconic Minnesota Juicy Lucy from the 5-8 Club (one of the possible originators of this cheese-stuffed delicacy). Visiting one of Minnesota’s many lakes ranks highly amongst the best free things to do in Minneapolis with kids!
Minneapolis is a fantastic city to visit with kids! With so much to do, you really can’t go wrong. I hope you found these free things to do in Minneapolis for families helpful in preparing for your visit. As a local, they are some of our favorite spots to visit and eat. I hope you enjoy them too!
Unless otherwise noted, all images in this article were taken by and are courtesy of Antonia Grant.
*Due to COVID-19, some of the free things to do in Minneapolis with kids and restaurants listed in this article may be closed or may be offering reduced services. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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