Summertime Fun in the Twin Cities on a Budget!

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Summer is creeping up upon us and hinting with nicer weather! It is time to start to plan a vacation and money might not be in the budget for a far away one…start to plan a Minnesota Frugal Staycation.   Wait…what is a “staycation”?  A Staycation is a vacation that is close to your home…in other words…time to explore the state you live in without having to take a airplane or spend hours upon hours in a car driving!    No need to rent a hotel room either as these can be one day trips!

To explore even further and to save half price or more, be sure to check out the half price deal page for more Minnesota Frugal Staycation ideas.  Each day I get emails on half price deals for summer entertainment and activities.

Though Groupon has a GREAT selection of Getaway deals for a great discount in most any states!  Check out more summer fun ideas below…there are hundreds more and they keep changing!

Of course since it is summer, it is the perfect time to get outside and explore the outdoors too!  I highlighted just “some” of the many parks out there to explore.

Capture 3Have you tried the new craze Geocaching?  Grab your binoculars and GPS units and get ready to fly! The Minnesota State Parks and Trails Geocaching Avian Adventure offers modern-day treasure hunters a variety of challenges and bird-brained fun.

102_9718Minnehaha Park is one of Minneapolis’s popular parks.  It is home to the famous 53 foot Minnehaha waterfall located in the 193 acre park.  It is located at the intersection of Hiawatha Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway.  This park offers a little bit of everything including concerts, walking and biking paths, picnic areas, sculptures, playground.

102_9718Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Eagan – I was told about this gem from Samantha who loves to go their with her family.  From Dakota County Parks page:

“Containing almost 2,000 acres, the park offers miles of trails and many lakes for year-round outdoor sports, recreation and environmental education.

The Lebanon Hills Visitor Center, located in the eastern section of the park, offers park information, interactive nature displays, courses and programs, equipment rental and access to all the beauty the park has to offer.”

The park offers many activities including:  Camping, Canoeing, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Mountain Biking, Fishing , Geocaching, Hiking, Hunting, Nature Education, Picnicking, Play Areas , Swimming, and Recreational Bonfire.


Three Rivers Park District offers a magnitude of activities, but I personally love Elm Creek Park Reserve for their filtered, chlorinated swimming “pond” and their newly renovated kids play area (shown on left).    There is a fee to swim at the “pond”, but well worth it in my opinion.  The other park shown above on the right is Hyland Park Reserve.

Activities include:  Archery, Art Education, Biking (they have trails that seem to go on and on) , Boating, Camping, Disc Golf, Dog Off-leash, Dog Trails, Educational Farming, Fishing, Formal Gardens, Geocaching, Golfing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Nature Education, Paddling, Picnic Areas, Play Areas, Swimming


Fort Snelling State Park – Explore where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers meet.    There is an entrance fee of $5.

“There are 18 miles of hiking trails, 5 miles of biking trails, snowshoe and canoe rentals, picnicking, fishing, boating, and swimming. Fishing licenses are not required for Minnesota residents fishing on Snelling Lake but are required in other water bodies within the park.”


Historic Fort Snelling–  Step back into time and learn about the lives of the people who lived in and around the fort in the early 1800s, as well as the important role Fort Snelling played in Minnesota history.   What is neat about Fort Snelling is that there are costumed staff who share the fort’s history through conversation, demonstrations and lots of interactive activities. There is a cost of $11 for adults and $6 for Children 6-17.  Not “cheap”, but well worth it from what several people have told me.

102_9718Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden – (not sure on the cost of this, but super cool from the pics) From Nayru at Trip Advisor posted this:

“This has always been my go-to mini golf course. The sculptures are breathtaking and creatively used throughout the course. Many holes, all super fun. It’s a nice place to relax, and if you go at night they have bonfires. The goats are adorable to feed, they also have horses, cats, dogs, chickens, and other animals roaming around. It’s a bit far away from where I live, but well worth it. It’s family owned, so the service is super friendly.”

*My daughter went last year and had a great time!

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Minnesota Twins Game– What is a summer without going down to see the Twins play a game in their new outdoor Stadium and having your picture taken by the big golden glove?  Twins Tickets start at $8 per ticket.  Of course there is the cost of parking, but you can always try out the new Minnesota Light Rail.

102_9715While the Minnesota Zoo is a great place to go with a family, it can be pricey.  Be sure to check out Como Zoo and Conservatory where it is free to see the animals and the many flowers and plants in the Conservatory.  They do ask for donations of $2-$3 per person.  There are even FREE shuttles to get from one of the many parking lots in the Como area to get you to the zoo.

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While cruising around the Como Park Zoo’s website, I found the newly designed Como Pool (pic on left)!  They have a lap pool, lazy river, rock climbing wall, water slide, splash pool and even a zip line!  Their prices are pretty decent for what is offered!  Family Fun and Fitness Fridays!  Admission is just $2/person on June 20, July 25, & Aug 15…otherwise admission $4-$6.

Let’s not forget about the northern burbs where you can have both an indoor and outdoor pool fun at the Maple Grove Community Center (pic on right above).  $22 (resident) $25 (non Resident) for a family fun for the day is not a bad deal at all.  They also have ice skating, a large maze area and a gymnasium.  Check the site for those prices.

Bunker Beach is another great spot and it kinda reminds me of Wisconsin Deals, but their prices are $12 – $15 per day.

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Okay…the list can go on and on, but here are some more places to visit for FREE:

The Walker Art Center: Free admission on the first Saturday of the month, and Thursday evenings after 5 p.m.

The Bell Museum of Natural History: Free admission on Sundays.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum: Free admission on the third Sunday of the month.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts:   Admission is always free along with gallery tours and music and art events happen frequently.

Museum Adventure Pass is a free pass from public libraries in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the Metro Area. Each pass gives  you up to two free admissions to a museum or attraction.

Home Depot Kids workshops FREE on Select Saturdays during the month

Lowes Build n Grow Kids Workshops FREE on select Saturdays of the month

FREE or Cheap Summertime movies are a Must for those HOT days!  Keep an eye out on the Family Summer activities Page for cheap movies, summer reading programs and more!

One thought on “Summertime Fun in the Twin Cities on a Budget!

  1. We haven’t been geocaching but we do enjoy letterboxing. It’s similar but with compass type directions instead of a gps. Right now we’re working on a project called R is for Rhode Island. Basically it’s our own alphabet book filled with quintessential RI activities and places. It’s a lot of fun being a tourist in your hometown!

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