Grab the stroller, hop the bus, bring a picnic or cash for lunch, and you can make a day (or more) of it in downtown Minneapolis. There is so much going on and much of it is free and family-friendly.
Why wait for an out-of-town guest to explore downtown? I’ve outlined 10 Free Things to Do with Kids Downtown to get you inspired. These activities are not all on the same day of the week, but it would make for a really long day if you powered through all ten activities at once. If you want to play tourist, you could probably get through all of them in a few days.
1. Visit Minneapolis Central Library
You don’t really need an excuse to visit Central Library. It is enough to sit in the kids area, let your kids browse books, read together, play with the giant blocks, and just relax for a bit. That just doesn’t get old. However if you call ahead, you can get a guided tour. Tours include the green roof, four fireplaces, an art gallery, a piano room, four-story atrium and an overview of the 2.4 million items in the library’s collection. Call 612-543-8033 to schedule a time.
2. Made Here Pop-up Shops
Made Here is a project of Hennepin Theatre Trust in which vacant spaces are filled with art and other art-inspired experiences. The Summer 2018 Artists are listed here. I prefer self-guided tours with small kids, because if I see the interest waning, we can quit without feeling rude. While planning your art tour, you can add Minneapolis City Hall to check out the El Camino Del Corazon mural that was unveiled in the summer of 2018. Or do a portion of this 6-mile self-guided tour of downtown public art.
3. Find Fun Activities at The Commons
Even with a stroller, the kids are going to need a break. That’s when you head to the new Commons green space. You can pull out the picnic you packed, play a lawn game like ladderball or beanbags, borrow a book to read together, or build with blocks. Tuesday evenings bring the Mill City Farmers Market with live music and food trucks. A variety of other activities – such as yoga and music classes and movie nights – are scheduled throughout the summer. Please check the website for dates and times.
4. Go Outside with Hennepin County
This program aims to get you exploring downtown Minneapolis this summer through free programming at Hennepin County Government Center South Plaza and Target Field. The plaza hosts activities Tues-Thurs and Target Field offers movie nights, an outdoor playroom, music, and other family events. Get the summer schedule here.
5. Ride the Light Rail
If you didn’t already take the light rail to get downtown. You could just take a ride from one side of downtown to the other and then hop back on and come back. This can be free if you took public transportation to get downtown and asked for a transfer. Otherwise it is a relatively affordable ride.
6. Visit Currie Park
On the southeast end of downtown on the green/blue light rail lines, Currie Park is just outside of downtown in the 7 corners neighborhood. It’s a good place to let your kids unwind when the busy downtown has gotten to be too much. If you plan to eat out, this is a nice area to pick a restaurant as well.
7. Visit Target Field
On the northwest side of downtown on the light rail is Target Field. While Twins games are not free, you can still walk around the courtyard, enjoy the public art, and get some fun photos in the giant baseball mitt.
8. Farmers Markets
Mill City Farmers Market is on Saturday mornings with another market in the Commons on Tuesday evenings. Besides fresh produce, it offers music and family-friendly activities. You can also visit the Downtown Farmers Market on Thursdays on Nicollet Mall (now that renovations are done) and Tuesdays at Government Center Plaza.
9. Live Music at Peavey Plaza (weekday and Saturday evenings)
Minnesota Orchestra hosts Sommerfest from mid-July to early August with free live music.
10. Visit The Guthrie
While the Guthrie no longer offers its downloadable, self-guided tours, the building is still open to the public 7 days a week. Take a little walk out onto the endless bridge.
More Downtown Minneapolis Ideas:
- 10 Things for Kids: Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis
- Enjoying the Historic Stone Arch Bridge with Children
- Downtown Mpls Christmas Checklist
- FFTC’s Guide to Kid-Friendly Food Trucks
- Loring Park and Community Arts Center
- Walker Art Center
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
- Mill City Museum
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