Not many zoos offer free admission these days, but Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul does (although donations of any size are always welcomed). This 100-year-old Twin Cities icon is home to gorillas, polar bears, flamingos, tigers and sea lions. During the summer months the adjacent Como Town Amusement Park opens and is ideal for ages 2-12. And while admission is free here, the rides do cost.
Location: 1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103
Rates: Free or donations
Saint Paul's Rice Park transitions into a winter wonderland over the cold months. Besides the holiday festivities and Winter Carnival, the city also hosts a free outdoor ice skating rink. Skaters of all ages love to bundle up for a day or evening of twirls and gliding. Afterwards, everyone heads to the nearby warming house for a cup of hot cocoa and snacks.
Location: 109 W. 4th Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102
One of the most famous Minnesota landmarks, Spoonbridge and Cherry, is located at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center. The best part is admission to the entire park is fee. Feel free to bring a picnic, your guitar or just a blanket to sit in the sun or the shade and enjoy the beautiful works of art.
Location: 726 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403
The Centennial Lakes in Edina always have something going on. June through August, free cultural performances are held outdoors at the Maetzold Amphitheater, and Movies in the Park are shown Thursday evenings in the summer. The rest of the year free concerts are held indoors at the Edinborough Park Amphitheater.
Locations: Maetzold Amphitheater, 7499 France Ave. S., Edina, MN
Edinborough Park Amphitheater, 7700 York Ave. S., Edina, MN
About 100 miles south of the Twin Cities is a museum that highlights the history of the famous meat brand SPAM. The spacious 16,500 square feet museum reveals little-known facts about the people behind the canned meat as well as its involvement in World War II. Guests begin the tour with a movie, then move into the museum which features exhibits such as simulated conversation between George Hormel and his son Jay about the Hormel Company and old-time radio jingles. The kids can even dress up as factory workers and pretend to can their own SPAM.
Location: 1101 N. Main St., Austin, MN 55912
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