10 Free Things To Do With Kids In Downtown Minneapolis This Month

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Oh, Wow! School is starting soon!  In the meantime, how do we keep the kids from trashing the house all day?

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 this would be 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.  Hurry, though, some of these activities end at the end of August.

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 go at the right time, 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.  You don’t need to register for the tour and families are welcome, just show up at any of these times:

  • Monday (2nd and 4th of each month) — 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday (1st and 3rd of each month) — 6:30 p.m.
  • Sunday (last Sunday of the month) – 2 p.m.

(Just a reminder, we always suggest calling ahead if your day will be ruined if the event isn’t happening. Things change and we don’t always catch the changes. Also, groups of 15 or more, or people with mobility issues, contact Rochelle at 612-543-8120 or rhenry@hclib.org).

2. Made Here Pop-up Shops

I’ve been walking past a pop up shop by Erik Pearson every morning on my way to work that has inspired some at-home art with my kids. (You’ll hear more about that next month in my Crafty Wednesday article). Made Here is a project of Hennepin Theatre Trust in which vacant spaces are filled with art and other art-inspired experiences.  Find an Interactive Map and Download an Audio Tour Here.  I like self-guided tours with kids, because if I see the interest waning, we can quit without feeling rude.

Find Drop-In Family Fun at Peavey Plaza.

Find Drop-In Family Fun at Peavey Plaza. Image Courtesy of the Downtown Minneapolis Council.

3. Play bean bag toss – weekdays through August 28

Even with a stroller, the kids are going to need a break. That’s when you head to Peavey Plaza. You can pull out the picnic you packed and play a game of Bean Bag Toss.  It’s available to play throughout the work day, so swing by any time (but maybe not during the noon-hour when you would be competing with suits on breaks).

4. Play a song or two on our pianos – weekdays through August 28

Like many other places around town, Peavey Plaza has public pianos. Kids love pianos. Adults love pianos. If you don’t want to pull out your old piano standards, you can just stop and listen to others play.

5. Borrow, contribute, add or replace games and books – daily

Whoever invented Little Free Libraries should win the Noble Peace Prize. Seriously. That attitude of sharing has really spread and Peavey Plaza has taken it a few steps further.  Not only do they have a book collection to take and leave, they also have a stockpile of games that will be available for use (at the plaza, I assume). After lunch, while the baby naps in the stroller, you could play board games or read books with the older kids for a bit.

6. CorePower Yoga classes (noon-1pm Tuesdays & Fridays) or Fitness Insanity Class (noon-1pm Thursdays)

Pick the right day, and your Peavey Plaza lunch break could include a little exercise break. CorePower Yoga is offered on Tuesdays and Fridays; and a Fitness Insanity Class on Thursdays.

7. Minneapolis Farmers Market (Thursdays or Saturdays)

This year, the Nicollet Mall Farmers Market is on Hennepin Avenue, but still on Thursdays. On Saturdays, the Mill City Farmers Market can be found on Chicago Mall by Guthrie Theatre and in Mill City Museum’s historic train shed.  The Saturday Farmers Market has weekly themes and activities.

8. The Market – Mondays, 4:30-8:30pm

Live Music at the Market. Image courtesy of Minneapolis Downtown Council.

The Market is a little like a farmers market for art and entertainment for evening downtown visitors.  You can watch musicians, browse “an eclectic group of pop-up shops”, watch a movie on the Target Field Station big screen, or even grab something to eat.

9. Live Music at Peavey Plaza (5-8 pm weekdays)

Another option for free music concerts is Peavey Plaza (again). Featured every weekday evening, you can find the line up here.

10.  Self-guided audio tours of The Guthrie


One more self-guided tour — The Guthrie.  If you haven’t taken your kids out on the Endless Bridge take your iPod and Download any of six FREE audio tours audio tour led by a celebrity guide. If you don’t own an iPod, you can rent one from the Box Office for $5 during Box Office hours — 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. on performance days and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on non-performance days.

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About the author

Joy Peters

Joy Peters - co-creator and writer for FamilyFunTwinCities.com.

Besides Family Fun Twin Cities, I spend my 9 to 5 at a day job pursuing my weird passion for calendars and organizing things as a legal secretary. When I get home I spend my time with my four kids, 10, 6, 4 and 1. My amazing husband is both a full-time musician and full-time stay-at-home dad. Together we run a small radio empire — SiaNet Radio — playing, promoting and enjoying the wide variety of local music and art in the Twin Cities. I juggle all this while writing about exploring the Twin Cities with kids. I couldn’t be happier.


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