10 Free Things to Do In May in the Twin Cities

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Spring is really and truly here, patient families. We could not be happier to be gathering ideas for free spring festivals, rambles through sculpture parks and outdoor free play. We’ve also got suggestions for celebrating Mom on Mother’s Day weekend and kicking off the summer season over Memorial Day. For FREE events, please check our Family Fun Calendar.


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1) MacPhail Free Family Music Series: The Jolly Pops | MacPhail Center For Music, Minneapolis

Open houses include concerts geared towards kids (including wiggle room and close proximity to the performers onstage – the Jolly Pops in this instance, celebrating the release of their new CD), a chance to play with instruments, snacks and more. 5/5/18, 10am & 11am concerts.


2) Family Day: Cardboard Creations | Minneapolis Institute of Art

Each second Saturday of the month, MIA invites families to come enjoy art through themed activities and cultural events. In addition to these extras, the galleries can be explored through tours, a gallery hunt and the Art Cart. May’s Family Day features that most versatile of construction materials – cardboard! What will your kids dream up to take home? 5/13/18, 11am-5pm.


3) Caponi Art Park | Eagan

Bring a picnic and prepare to expend some energy exploring the 60 acres that make up this woodland sculpture garden. Art pops up in unexpected places, down meandering paths, and it begs for interpretation! Open Tues-Sun, 9am-8pm. Admittance is free; donations are always appreciated.


4) Holz Farm Spring Festival | Holz Farm Park, Eagan

Holz Farm

Lots of old-fashioned farm fun to be had here and most of it at no charge: explore the chicken coop, do outdoor laundry, play in the corn box and churn some fresh butter in the farmhouse. Small fee for some activities and concessions. 5/20/18, 11am-4pm


5) Mother’s Day

Celebrate that most special lady in your life with a full schedule of Twin Cities events to choose from. If Mom would appreciate you stick to a budget this weekend, we’ve got some suggestions for family time:

Mom also scores FREE admission to the following Twin Cities attractions: The Works Museum, Minnesota Zoo, Oliver Kelley Farm, and free rides on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line.


6) Open House at Pond Dakota Mission Park | Bloomington

This lovely historic site is tucked in a quiet corner of Bloomington near the Minnesota River bottoms. Drop by Sundays for engaging house tours at 1:30 & 4pm and programs such as doll-making, needlework, period games and other demonstrations at 2pm. There is no charge to attend, but a donation of $2 per person is greatly appreciated to support these activities.


7) Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – outdoor green space of the Walker Art Center – underwent a complete makeover in 2017, adding dozens of new sculptures to the park. As it is managed between the museum and the Minneapolis Parks board, entry is always free. Families might like to download this guide to use while navigating the garden. It includes easy-to-digest notes on just a few of the dozens of sculptures and provides some thought-provoking questions about the artwork. Open daily, 6am-12am.


8) Public Works Open House | Bloomington

What better way for kids to learn about essential city services than by clambering over snow plows and giant lawn mowers? Plus demos, rides, refreshments and a chance to win prizes by paying a visit to each big rig. 5/19/18, 9am-12pm.


9) Nature playgrounds

May is an absolutely divine time to be playing outdoors – plenty of sunshine without all the heat, and the bugs aren’t out in force yet. This is our favorite time to visit the many “nature playgrounds” scattered throughout the Twin Cities – spaces where kids can build with natural materials, dig in the dirt, climb, splash and play freely. Nearly all of the spaces listed in our guide are located within nature center property and are completely free of charge to visit. A few of our favorite places to get back to green:


10) Memorial Day Weekend family events

Take a quick break from the backyard BBQ and check out the annual Memorial Day Celebration at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. A traditional service is held at 10:30am with tours, music and other activities to follow. Make a day of it riding in on the historic Como-Harriet Streetcar Line and catching the season-opening Music in the Parks concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell nearby.


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About the author

Anne Kingston

If we left it up to Anne to write her own bio, it would never get posted. She doesn't enjoy talking about herself, but Anne does love exploring the Twin Cities with her family and sharing her finds here. She, her husband and their four kids are lifelong residents of St. Paul.

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