10 Ideas for Free or Cheap Family Fun in July

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Bring on July, a month fit for beaches and ice cream, outdoor games and perhaps even evenings that can stretch a little later than usual. We’re back with 10 more ideas for low-budget family fun – plus our Top 10 Fireworks Displays and FFTC’s Guide to the Aquatennial could help round out the rest of your family’s free time in July.


eidem homestead

Daily Life on the Farm @ Eidem Homestead, 4345 101st Ave N, Brooklyn Park, 55443

When: July 8 & July 22 (Wednesdays)
Cost: $5/pp, ages 4 & under admitted free
Details: Travel back to the turn of the 20th century at this historic farmstead. Kids can get as hands-on as they’d like — participating in farm chores such as feeding animals, picking crops, and hauling wood. Inside the farmhouse, work in the kitchen or assist in spinning wool. Want to visit the farm for free? Attend one of their Storytimes (Tuesdays in July, 10am-noon w/ the exception of 7/28 when stories are read 7-8pm).

grimm farm historic site

Grimm Farm Open House & Lowry Nature Center @ Carver Park Reserve, 7025 Victoria Dr, Victoria, 55386

When: Saturdays in July, 2015 • 1-4pm
Cost: Free
Details: Step back in time for a few hours at the historic home of Wendelin Grimm and his family. My kids have done this event and enjoyed the old-fashioned porch and lawn games, and the peek into daily life inside the farmhouse. Leave time to explore the Lowry Nature Center (also located within Carver Park Reserve) and its nature playground.

snail lake regional park beach

10 Twin Cities Beaches & Playgrounds to Try This Summer

July is the ultimate month to hit the beach and we’ve rounded up 10 that we think are worth checking out. Most are free, a few charge a small entry fee, and all have access to playground equipment, splash features, and other fun attractions. Note that on July 7 (and all first Wednesdays of the month), entrance fees to all Washington County parks are waived making it FREE to swim at the popular Lake Elmo Park Reserve Swim Pond!

Ramsey County Fair @ Ramsey County Fairgrounds, 2020 White Bear Ave, Maplewood, 55109

When: July 15-19, 2015 • find hours here
Cost: Free admission, $3 parking
Details: There’s plenty of free fun to be had on the grounds of the Ramsey County Fair – live music, art activities, 4-H demonstrations and lots more. Get the full entertainment schedule here.


free ink day – highpoint center for printmaking

Free Ink Day @ Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W Lake St, Minneapolis, 55408

When: Saturday, July 25 • Noon-4pm
Cost: Free
Details: Have your kids try their hand at creating an original monoprint. Printmaking can be a lot of fun and is suitable for young children (w/ a lot of adult cooperation), but I have a couple tips to share before you go. Free Ink Day is hosted three times annually so be sure to watch their calendar of events if you can’t make it this month.

Best Days of the Bakken @ The Bakken Museum, 3537 Zenith Ave S, Minneapolis, 55416

When: July 21-25 • Daily 10-5pm (8pm Thursday)
Cost: Free
Details: Admission is FREE to The Bakken Museum, a fun space full of exhibits about electricity, during the run of the Minneapolis Aquatennial! This is a great deal for a family. Read about our take on the Bakken here.

bowl for a buck – st. paul student center

Fun at the University of Minnesota – St. Paul campus

Ice cream @ U of M Dairy Salesroom (1354 Eckles Ave, Andrew Boss Lab of Meat Science): A hidden little gem of an ice cream shop stocked with delicious products made onsite by students. Open Wednesdays only, 2-5pm. $3.50 per pint.

Bowling @ St. Paul Student Center (2017 Buford Ave): Bowl for a Buck (plus $2 shoe rental) every Wednesday until 5pm.

Raptor Center tours @ Gabbert Raptor Center (1920 Fitch Ave): Tuesday – Friday from 10:30am to 3:30pm, tours step off every half hour. Check out their renovated raptor exhibit, and, if possible, guides will present an age-appropriate tour for your kids. Read about our experience here.

gabbert raptor center

Family Farm Tour @ Dodge Nature Center, 365 Marie Ave W, West St Paul, 55118

When: Saturday, July 25
Cost: Adults/$3, kids/$1.50
Details: Meet the animals, tour the hayloft, and explore the grounds. It’s also possible (and free) to visit Dodge Nature Center on your own and take a self-guided tour (though the buildings are not accessible unless you’re on a guided tour). Read about our wanderings through Dodge here.

PicMonkey Collage dodge nature 2

dodge nature center


Camp Arbor @ The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, 12459 Elm Creek Blvd N, Maple Grove, 55369

When: Tuesdays – July 7, 14, 21 • 10:30-11:15am
Cost: Free
Details: Camp Arbor is a fun and educational themed morning camp for children ages 3-10. All events will be held in Arbor Park and campers must be accompanied by an adult. No pre-registration necessary.

minnesota history center

9 Nights of Music & Free Tuesdays @ Minnesota History Center,  345 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, 55102

When: Tuesdays in July • 6:30-8:30pm
Cost: Free
Details: Free gallery admission from 5-9pm allows you to explore hands-on exhibits like “Then Now Wow”, “Grainland” and “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation” plus the Minnesota History Center hosts live music from 7-8:30pm. Get the music lineup here.

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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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