10 Free things to do in St. Paul

Saint Paul, Minnesota- the other half of the Twin Cities aka “one of the coolest suburbs of Minneapolis to visit while you are here for the Super Bowl” according to a 2018 news report. All joking aside, the Minnesotan capital is an eclectic city mixing both contemporary amenities with historical charm. St. Paul displays its history on the banks of the Mississippi River through its many museums and architecture, while simultaneously offering modern cuisine and attractions. St. Paul is always bustling with its multitude of sporting events, concerts and exhibitions, but you don’t have to break the bank to see all this city has to offer. Below are our a few of our favorite free things to see in St. Paul.

1. See the animals at Como Zoo

This a great zoo with lots of free parking available (if you don’t mind a little bit of walking to the entrance). There is a box for donations if you feel moved to do so, but it is optional. You can see many different animals from all over the world! Arctic, Jungle, Plains and Desert animals are all available to view year round just to name a few. Every exhibit is very kid friendly, and there are even special exhibits that arrive throughout the year (although a few have had a small fee). A great stop for anyone that wants to embrace their “wild side”.

2. Stroll through the gardens at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

These gardens are located at the same property as the Como Zoo. There are so many cool exhibits here- a sunken garden with plants that change seasonally, a room full of ferns, edible plants and spices, a bonsai tree exhibit and even an outdoor Japanese garden to walk through!

3. Visit the State Capitol

The building was recently restored by the state and looks gorgeous! While admiring the building’s architecture, there is a large park surrounding the building filled with paths and memorials to explore, learn and reflect. Inside, you can take a free self guided tour including the Rotunda, the Senate and House of Representatives Chambers and so much more!

4. Free Brewery Tour

With a plethora of craft breweries to explore around St. Paul, you won’t have a hard time finding a new favorite brew! Summit brewing is one that offers free tours where you can see the facilities and learn all about the brewing process.

5. Visit the Markets

To get your fresh fruits and veggies, check out the St. Paul Farmer’s Market! During the summer months (May- October) you can find the market in downtown St. Paul on most Saturdays or Sundays. Check out the Farmer’s Market website for the schedule. If you aren’t visiting on a weekend, check out the indoor Keg and Case market! This market is in a historic brewery and features local restaurants, shops and breweries!

6. Union Depot

A transportation hub for thousands of travelers, Union Depot is a must see. They offer public tours on Tuesdays at 11am. There are also exhibits that change regularly that you can visit and learn about the history of the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and transportation. There is even a scavenger hunt you can do to make sure you don’t miss anything!

7. Stop by the Cathedral of St. Paul

This huge cathedral is rich with history. It showcases beautiful architecture and art while overlooking downtown from a hilltop. There are public tours available Tuesdays- Fridays at 1pm.

8. Walk along historic Summit Ave

This is a gorgeous street with hundreds of preserved Victorian Era homes! You can learn about the history of many of the buildings on the Visit St. Paul website.

9. Visit the Minnesota History Center

If you have a Bank of America card, you can visit this museum for free during the first weekend of each month. There are many exhibits to explore and even a fantastic spot to view the State Capitol!

10. Walk along the Mississippi River by Kellogg Park and Raspberry Island

There are so many great sculptures and trails here that allow you to walk, bike or scooter alongside the Mississippi River. You can also just sit, relax and watch the steamboats go by. A wonderful spot for a picnic!


Have you visited or plan to visit St. Paul soon? We would love to know what you thought about the city!

10 Free things to do in Minneapolis (Spring/ Summer/ Fall edition)

If you find yourself in Minneapolis and are looking for some budget friendly (free!) things to do, it is your lucky day! We compiled a list of some of our favorite free things to see and do in Minneapolis, MN. This list is in no particular order, we just added the items as we thought of them.

1. Visit the Sculpture Garden

The sculpture garden is part of the Walker Art Center, but its free! You can stroll along the paths and marvel at the art. The sculpture garden is home to the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry. There is some free parking available, otherwise there is a lot nearby that you can pay to use.

2. Stone Arch Bridge

The Stone Arch Bridge is an old railroad bridge that crosses over the Mississippi River. Now it is only available for pedestrians or bikers to use. From the bridge, you can get a great view of the St. Anthony Falls or the skyline of Minneapolis.

3. Shop at the Mill City Farmers Market

If you are visiting on a Saturday and are free in the morning, stop by the Mill City Farmers Market! There is a large variety of vendors- meats and cheeses, pastries and flowers, arts and crafts and much more. There are usually food trucks or stalls that are selling fresh hot foods for breakfast or lunch too. If you haven’t visited the Stone Arch Bridge yet, now would be a great time to go because you will be right there after visiting the market!

4. Visit Minnehaha Regional Park

This area is a huge park with a lot going on. First, there is Minnehaha falls that is beautiful to see any time of the year. There are bikes that you can rent, miles of trails to walk on, disc golf, picnic areas, gardens, restaurants, and more! If you take the stairs down from the waterfall, you can follow a walking trail along Minnehaha falls all the way to where it meets up with the Mississippi River!

5. Bike the Midtown Greenway

Minneapolis is a very bike friendly city. There are miles of trails dedicated to biking or walking throughout the city and the surrounding metro area. If you didn’t bring a bike, thats OK- there are stations all over they city were you can rent a Nice Ride bike for a few hours and explore they city by petal. The Greenway itself is a little over 5 miles long, but it connects to many other trail systems so you can take a nice long bike ride if you wanted to.

6. Visit Lake Bde Maka Ska

This is a very popular spot where people like to spend the day. It is not far from uptown and there are biking and walking trails that go around the entire lake. In addition to trails, there is fishing, kayak rentals, a beach area and a lot of space to put up a hammock or have a picnic. If you don’t mind walking a few blocks to get to the lake, there is free street parking available, otherwise there are pay lots available much closer to the beaches.

7. Smell the Roses at Lake Harriet

Right by another one of the lakes in Minneapolis is the Lyndale Park Rose Garden. The best time to visit is when the roses are in bloom and the fountains are on, but there are usually different kinds of flowers blooming throughout the late spring to early fall.

8. See the Midtown Global Market

The global market is collection of small local shops where you can find anything from food and coffee to art and souvenirs. There are some very nice murals and art inside the global market and the building is right off of the Greenway, so if you decide to bike the trail, it will bring you right here!

9. Stop by the Minneapolis Institute of Art

If you stop here, you will get a chance to see art from all eras from all over the world. There are 3 levels to this museum, so be sure to spend some time here! General admission is free and they have special exhibitions that cost a small fee to see.

10. Stroll along Nicollet Ave and check out the Skyways

Nicollet Avenue has all sorts of shops to visit and restaurants to try. If you are visiting in the winter and it is too cold to be outside, you can go explore downtown Minneapolis via the skyway system! If you can figure out how to read the map, please let me know because I am still puzzled by it. There are even free busses that go along Nicollet Ave so you don’t have to walk the whole way.

If you decide to visit Minneapolis and try out some of the things on this list, be sure to let us know what you think!

Happy Travels!