We twenty-somethings are always looking for ways to save money, but of course we still want to have a life outside of classes and work. Since I’ve been living in Minneapolis, MN for the past few months, I have discovered many a things you can do in the Twin Cities instead of sitting at home or feeling bad about spending too much money on the weekends.
My favorite museums in the Twin Cities are the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center and the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. One thing they all have in common is that they are completely free.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art, better known as MIA, is a world-class art gallery and houses prehistoric and 21st century art from all around the world. Apparently it has close to 100,000 pieces of art, which explains why I had to go multiple times to hit every section of the building. I especially recommend the Living Rooms and Contemporary Art collections. Search for the MacFarlane Meeting Room with its exquisite hand painted Chinese export wallpaper, and the giant bright white dog. And I’m talking huge white dog. You can’t miss it.
Find the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry that you see in most Minnesota brochures and advertisements at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. Best time to stroll through this park is during the summer months, so you can peacefully enjoy the works of art and not search for them under piles of snow or worry about yourself freezing into a sculpture and permanently joining the garden.
The Sculpture Garden is obviously a great place to visit during the summer months, so if you are wanting to breathe in some extra oxygen and warm up in the middle of winter the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory has several green houses that are nice and toasty. The green houses all connect, but make sure you don’t miss the Tropical Encounters section. It is designed as a tropical rainforest that is a home to both plants and animals. As you walk through the jungle, keep your eyes peeled for turtles, tree frogs, free-roaming birds, an anaconda, and especially for free-roaming Chloe the sloth. She is shy and usually perched up on a tree sleeping. If you’re lucky she will turn her head towards you and give you a big yawn.
Spring is just around the corner and this means Movies in the Parks here in the Twin Cities. Minneapolis is very dedicated to this activity playing a movie five nights a week. There is nothing better than catching a movie after class or work outside on the freshly mowed grass. Other than Movies in the Parks being a great way to really take advantage of the short summers here in the northland, it’s also the perfect way to explore different parks in the city, and there are plenty. Yes, it’s always nice to be in the know when it comes to new movie releases, but there is also something extra fun about watching old movies that remind you of your childhood such as Wizard of Oz, The Sandlot and The Goonies.
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, so you better take advantage. Also it’s exactly where you will find the locals all year round no matter what the weather brings. Come winter you’ll find ice skaters and hockey players gliding on the frozen lakes scattered within the Twin Cities, so if you have your own skates throw on your warmest furry hat and parka and join in on the fun. Come summer you’ll find bathing beauties soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible before the next winter comes rolling in. Since you have so many lakes to choose from, you can almost check out a new lake every weekend and several of them are free. A couple of the best free lakes include Lake Nokomis and Lake Calhoun, which connects to Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake.
Extra Sites Worth Seeing
Minnehaha Falls is one of the most talked about spots in the Twin Cities. The beautiful 53-foot falls are a site to see no matter the time of year. In the summer you will find them flowing and surrounded by luscious green plants, and in the winter they are a frozen ice sculpture in a winter wonderland. The 193-acre park includes not only the falls, but also several trails. Enjoy a picnic in the Wabun Picnic Area and follow the trails along Minnehaha Creek until you reach the Mississippi River.
The Stone Arch Bridge has been standing since 1883 and was built so trains could transport goods to and from either side of the river. It served as a railroad bridge until the mid-1960s, but is now accessible for only pedestrians and cyclists. This beautiful structure offers a spectacular view of the Minneapolis skyline and the St. Anthony Falls. Every June there is a Stone Arch Bridge Art & Music Festival that is entirely free. Enjoy a cool breeze from the falls on a hot summer’s day while listening to music, and maybe you’ll find a new piece of art for your home that you decide is worth splurging on.