Before your kids can even THINK about uttering the word “BORED”, arm yourself with our huge list of free activities going on across the Twin Cities during the month of August: OUTDOOR CONCERTS and MOVIES IN THE PARK, it’s still swim season at Twin Cities BEACHES, WADING POOLS & SPLASH PADS, classic community SUMMER FESTIVALS keep weekends lively and much more. In order to better serve our readers, we’ve organized our usual roundup of activities by regions of the Minneapolis-St Paul (Twin Cities) metro area. As always, if you don’t see a favorite event listed in YOUR hometown, please drop us a line and we’ll add it. Happy August savings from FFTC!
THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND IN MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL
Want to find free things to do in the Minneapolis-St Paul area this weekend with your kids? Find our current TWIN CITIES WEEKEND FAMILY GUIDE, packed with suggestions.
TWIN CITIES AUGUST OUTDOOR FUN IN THE PARKS: FREE SUMMER MUSIC, MOVIES AND MORE ENTERTAINMENT
There is tons of fun to be had out in our local communities during the month of August. Literally, something to do every day of the week (consult our TWIN CITIES GUIDE TO ACTIVITIES THIS WEEK for hints) and much of our carefully curated community events are FREE: local parks are buzzing with festivals, theater in the park, farmers markets and the puppet wagon. Live music is performed most nights of the week. The beaches and pools still welcome swimmers for a few more weeks. Bike trails beckon. And don’t forget – libraries don’t take a summer break. There is FREE programming going on all summer long.
Visit FREE TWIN CITIES NATURE CENTERS in August
Nature and outdoor interpretive centers are wonderful places that offer free admission and hands-on exhibits and outdoor play opportunities most days of the week. Find our complete listing of TWIN CITIES NATURE CENTERS.
Minneapolis & St Paul
Live music and movies screened across multiple Minneapolis parks most nights during the month of August. And yes, all free! See the 2023 Calendar for bands, movie titles and park locations.
Target Field Station, 335 5th Street North Minneapolis, MN 55401
Reasons to get outdoors in downtown Minneapolis that are kid-friendly: Family Fun Day at the station (August 19, 11am-1pm) offers free activities and givewaways. And free outdoor movies at Target Field Station – August 3 (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), August 17 (Encanto – plus free sno-cones) and August 31 (Top Gun: Maverick). 7pm-9pm.
1 Theodore Wirth Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55405
A naturalist hosts a different nature themed story each week within the Garden followed by an activity. Meet just outside the Visitor Shelter. Bring a blanket to sit on. Ongoing Thursdays (10-10:30am) & Saturdays (2-2:30pm) in August 2023. FREE.
West River Road, Minneapolis
Amazing free waterski tricks to amuse you Thursday evenings on the Mississippi River. Make sure to bring your own seating and maybe a picnic dinner. Ongoing Thursdays in August 2023, 6:30pm.
1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103
Seasonal events in August include the Summer Flower Show in the Conservatory’s sunken garden. Make sure to take along our COMO SUMMER CHECKLIST to hit all the seasonal highlights. Suggested donation of $2/child & $3/adult, but all welcome whether or not you choose to donate. 10am-4pm.
Lil Explorer Thursdays are back! The hall between the Visitor Center & the Conservatory is filled with hands-on activities, manipulatives, art projects and games perfect for the 4 & under set. Explore a different theme each week. Ongoing Thursdays in August 2023.
Free carousel rides in August: CAFESJIAN’S CAROUSEL in Como Park offers free spins on August 29, 2023.
George Latimer Central Library, 90 W 4th St, St Paul, MN 55102
Fresh, free entertainment including live music, puppetry, magicians, storytelling and more. Saturdays, August 5-26, 2023, 11:30am.
Twin Cities Northwest Metro Free Summer Event
Covering the Twin Cities, Minnesota, communities of Andover, Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Maple Grove, New Brighton, Otsego, Plymouth & St Anthony. Some highlights and family fun ideas from our NORTHWEST METRO SUMMER EVENTS GUIDE:
Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, 10360 W River Rd, Brooklyn Park, MN 55444
Drop in for free nature programs at MISSISSIPPI GATEWAY REGIONAL PARK. New themes each week. Sundays, August 6-27, 2023, 1-3pm.
4345 101st Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443
Travel back and experience the historic farm through self-guided walking tours, old-time demos and free special events during the summer including:
- OPEN GATE HOURS: Explore the farm grounds, meet animals and maybe even help with chores. Mon-Thurs & Sat starting at 10am.
- FAMILY CONCERT AT THE FARM: Mary Hall, August 3, 2023 & Sticks and Tones, August 17, 6pm.
- STORIES FROM THE PORCH: Tuesdays, August 1-29, 2023, 11am.
- SOUNDS OF SUMMER 2023 concerts include free kids shows on Thursdays and free outdoor movies every Friday in August. Town Green, 7991 Main Street, Maple Grove, MN.
Eastman Nature Center, 13351 Elm Creek Rd, Maple Grove, MN 55369
- Free Family Fun Days with Three Rivers Parks – Drop in for free nature programs at EASTMAN NATURE CENTER. New themes each week. August 13, 2023, 1-3pm.
700 Park Drive, New Brighton, MN 55112
Visit the restored train depot in LONG LAKE REGIONAL PARK and let your kids climb aboard the caboose. Open June-Sept, the museum exhibits are open weekends from 1-4pm. FREE admission.
2500 County Rd E, St Anthony, MN 55421
- Puppet Adventures & Let’s Get StARTed: Take in a puppet show followed by make-and-take nature-inspired art. August 13, 2023, 1-3pm.
- Silverwood OnStage: Outdoor live music. Plus, if it’s warm enough, bring a swimsuit for the beach in Silver Lake Park. Wednesdays, August 2-30, 2023, 6:30-8pm.
Twin Cities Northeast Metro Free Summer Events
Covering the Twin Cities, Minnesota, communities of Maplewood, Roseville, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights & White Bear Lake. Some highlights and family fun ideas from our NORTHEAST METRO SUMMER EVENTS GUIDE:
2170 County Rd D E, Maplewood, MN 55109
Operated by the Maplewood Historical Society, the farm is open during summer open houses and for special events. The public is permitted to walk the grounds and trails at any time. SUMMER EXHIBIT OPEN HOUSES – first Sun/Mon, June-August, 2023.
ROSEVILLE COMMUNITY PARKS – FREE SUMMER EVENTS
- ROSEVILLE PUPPET WAGON – Make way for the puppets, coming to 9 Roseville parks this summer. August 1-17, 2023, 9:30-11:30am.
- DISCOVER YOUR PARKS – Family activities at eight Roseville parks, refreshments and a bounce castle. Wednesdays, August 2 & 9, 2023.
- LIVE AT THE ROG! PERFORMANCE SERIES – Free concerts at the amphitheater in Central Park. August 1-13, 2023, please see the link for details.
White Bear Lake
What really shines at Tamarack is its glorious outdoor DISCOVERY HOLLOW & GARDEN, the ultimate nature playground for kids and perfect to visit in August. Bring a change of clothes and prepare to spend hours if you’re able.
Twin Cities Southeast Metro Free Summer Events
Covering the Twin Cities, Minnesota, communities of Apple Valley, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Rosemount & Woodbury. Some highlights and family fun ideas from our SOUTHEAST METRO SUMMER EVENTS GUIDE:
Explore Washington County Parks free on the first Tuesday of every month (non-holiday). No vehicle permit required. Find a listing of parks here. We recommend this as the perfect chance to swim at LAKE ELMO SWIM POND in Lake Elmo Regional Park without the vehicle fee. It’s a wonderful, sand-bottomed swim pond with a beach. August 1, 2023.
12550 Nicollet Ave, Burnsville, MN 55337
The public space is part of the area Burnsville calls the “Heart of the City“. Families will love the park’s amphitheater where the city hosts summer concerts, movies and story times. There is also room to picnic and a beautiful water feature to splash in.
- THURSDAY ROCKIN LUNCH HOUR concerts – bring a picnic lunch and swimsuits to enjoy the landscaped splash pad! August 3-17, 2023, 12pm.
- FRIDAY NIGHT FLICKS ON THE BRICKS, August 11, 2023. 7:30pm seating, show at dusk: Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.
1220 Diffley Rd, Eagan, MN 55123
Wander the self-guided trails through the sculpture park. Open 9am-8pm. FREE admission, donations appreciated. August special event: Catch a Community Iron Pour, August 12, 2023.
1507 Central Pkwy, Eagan, MN 55121
The Eagan Central Park grounds buzz with weekly concerts and themed nights including one devoted solely to families. Get some fresh produce and let the kids enjoy the splash pad. Ongoing Wednesdays, August 2-30, 2023.
Whitetail Woods Regional Park, 17100 Station Trail, Farmington MN 55024
Fun family entertainment, outdoors-based. August 4, 2023, 6-7:30pm.
WOODBURY COMMUNITY PARKS
- WOODBURY PUPPET WAGON – Traveling around Woodbury parks with fun puppet shows. Ongoing Mon-Thurs, August 1-11, 2023.
- STARLIGHT CINEMA OUTDOOR SERIES: The free movie series is hosted at Ojibway Park. Activities start at 7pm, movie at dusk. Ojibway Park, August 10, 2023, 7pm. Ojibway Dr, Woodbury, MN 55125.
Twin Cities Southwest Metro Free Summer Events
Covering the Twin Cities, Minnesota, communities of Bloomington, Chaska, Eden Prairie, Edina, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Minnetonka, New Hope, Richfield, Shakopee, St Louis Park & Victoria. Some highlights and family fun ideas from our SOUTHWEST METRO SUMMER EVENTS GUIDE:
Pond Dakota Mission Park, 401 E 104th St, Bloomington, MN 55420
Hands-on living history programs fun and free of charge. New themes each week. Saturdays, August 5-26, 2023, 1-4pm.
Three Rivers Parks locations
Drop in for free nature programs at RICHARDSON NATURE CENTER. New themes each week. Sundays, August 6-27, 2023, 1-3pm.
BLOOMINGTON ARTS IN THE PARKS – FREE EVENTS
- MONDAY MORNING KIDS SERIES – Final performances of the summer at MOIR PARK & VALLEY VIEW PARK. August 7 & 14, 2023, 10:30am.
- MIDWEEK MUSIC & MARKET – Music, food trucks, a farmers market and lawn games at Civic Plaza. Wednesday evenings, August 2-23, 2023. 5-8pm.
- THURSDAY BLOCKBUSTER SERIES – Normandale Bandshell, August 3 & 10, 2023, 7pm. W 84th St & Chalet Rd, Bloomington, MN 55437.
- SUNDAY FUNDAY – KidsDance DJ and a pop-up splash pad. WESTWOOD PARK. 3490 W 109th St Bloomington MN 55431. August 13, 2023, 4-6:30pm.
STARING LAKE PARK – ENTERTAINMENT IN THE PARK
- KIDSTOCK – Staring Lake Amphitheater, Tuesdays August 8 & 15, 2023, 10:30am. 14800 Pioneer Trail, Eden Prairie, MN 55347.
Edina’s crown jewel of a public park is a haven for summer entertainment. Free summer events are held daily Sun-Thurs and include family-friendly concerts at the outdoor amphitheater, Movies in the Park ongoing Thursday evenings, and the Farmers Market.
MINNETONKA ART IN THE PARK:
- MUSIC IN THE PARK & FARMERS MARKET – Live music and fresh products. Market runs Tuesdays, August 1-15, 2023. Minnetonka Civic Center Campus Ice Arena B Parking Lot, 14600 Minnetonka Blvd.
6335 Portland Ave, Richfield, MN 55423
Veterans Park (also called Veterans Memorial Park) is Richfield’s largest park. It is home base to a number of free events each summer including:
- KIDS ENTERTAINMENT IN THE PARK – Tuesdays, August 1-15, 2023. Shows at 11am.
- RICHFIELD FARMERS MARKET – Don’t miss getting your fresh produce at the weekly farmers market – let the kids have the run of the large playground while you shop. Saturdays in August 2023, 7am-12pm.
RICHFIELD COMMUNITY PARKS:
- FRIDAY FUN AT AUGSBURG ADVENTURE PARK – Storybook hike & end of summer dance party. August 11 & 25, 2023, 10am. 7000 Nicollet Avenue, Richfield MN.
SHAKOPEE COMMUNITY PARKS – FREE ENTERTAINMENT
- HUBER PARK PERFORMANCE & EVENT SERIES – Family entertainment on the riverfront. Wednesdays, August 3-19, 2023, 7pm. Fillmore St N, Shakopee, MN 55379.
Carver Park Reserve, 7025 Victoria Drive, Victoria, MN 55386
Step back in time with interpreters and old-fashioned lawn games. August 12, 2023, 1:30-4pm.
MULTIPLE TWIN CITIES PARK LOCATIONS
See our out-of-this-world Universe in the Park article to get more details on this stargazing opportunity. $7 vehicle permit required at programs in Minnesota state parks.
- August 4: Dodge Nature Center, Shepard Farm, Cottage Grove, 8946 70th Street S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
- August 5: Afton State Park, 6959 Peller Avenue South, Hastings, MN 55033
- August 11: William O’Brien State Park, 16821 O’Brien Trail North, Marine on St. Croix, MN 55047
- August 12: Lowry Nature Center, 7025 Nature Center Dr, Victoria, MN 55386
- August 25: Eastman Nature Center, 13351 Elm Creek Rd, Maple Grove, MN 55369
TWIN CITIES AUGUST FAMILY FESTIVALS WITH FREE ADMISSION
ANOKA: Food Truck Festival, August 19, 2023
BURNSVILLE: Party on the Plaza, August 24, 2023
CHISAGO CITY: Ki Chi Saga Days, August 17-20, 2023
EAGAN: Food Truck Festival, August 11, 2023
EDEN PRAIRIE: PeopleFest, August 1-5, 2023
FARMINGTON: Dakota County Fair – free admission, $10 parking. August 7-13, 2023
MINNEAPOLIS: Powderhorn Art Fair, August 5-6, 2023
MOUNDS VIEW: Festival in the Park, August 18-19, 2023
NEW BRIGHTON: Stockyard Days, August 11-13, 2023
NORTH HUDSON: Pepper Fest, August 18-20, 2023
ROCKFORD: River Days, August 11-13, 2023
SCANDIA: Spelmansstämma, August 19, 2023
SHAKOPEE: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi, August 18-20, 2023
ST ANTHONY: VillageFest, August 4-5, 2023
ST PAUL: IndiaFest, August 12, 2023
VADNAIS HEIGHTS: Heritage Days, August 14-20, 2023
WOODBURY: Woodbury Days, August 18-20, 2023
FREE AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
FREE TWIN CITIES SWIMMING, WADING & SPLASHING IN AUGUST
You don’t have to look far to find a free spot to take a dip in the Twin Cities. The following beaches, pools & splash pads beckon to little swimmers and charge no vehicle fee or admission. Make sure to double check the websites before packing up the swimsuits and heading out! These free swimming locations are open through August; most pack up Labor Day weekend.
Free Twin Cities Beaches
Note: BAYLOR REGIONAL PARK in Norwood Young America is closed for the remainder of 2023 due to water quality issues.
Free swimming beaches located at SCHULZE LAKE BEACH (Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Eagan) & LAKE BYLLESBY REGIONAL PARK (Cannon Falls).
So many free swimming opportunities to choose from at Minneapolis beaches: BDE MAKA SKA has 3 beaches alone (32nd Street Beach, North Beach & Thomas Beach), CEDAR LAKE also boasts 3 beaches (Cedar Lake East Beach, Cedar Lake Point Beach & Cedar Lake South Beach), LAKE HARRIET has a respectable 2 beaches (Lake Harriet North Beach & Lake Harriet Southeast Beach), You can also swim free at LAKE HIAWATHA BEACH, two locations at LAKE NOKOMIS PARK (Lake Nokomis 50th Street Beach & Lake Nokomis Main Beach) and WIRTH LAKE BEACH.
Many opportunities to splash and swim at well-maintained beaches within Ramsey County: LAKE GERVAIS COUNTY PARK (Little Canada), LAKE JOSEPHINE COUNTY PARK (Roseville), LAKE MCCARRONS COUNTY PARK (Roseville), LAKE OWASSO COUNTY PARK (Shoreview), LONG LAKE REGIONAL PARK (New Brighton), TONY SCHMIDT REGIONAL PARK (Arden Hills), TURTLE LAKE COUNTY PARK (Shoreview), VADNAIS-SNAIL LAKES REGIONAL PARK (Shoreview) and WHITE BEAR LAKE COUNTY PARK (White Bear Lake).
More Minneapolis-St Paul free public beaches:
- COLUMBIA HEIGHTS: Silver Lake Beach near SILVERWOOD PARK offers a small, free swimming beach.
- EDEN PRAIRIE BEACHES: Beaches free and open to the public in the community of Eden Prairie at the following parks: RILEY LAKE PARK & ROUND LAKE PARK.
- NORTH ST PAUL: Silver Lake Beach
- PLYMOUTH: Beaches available for free swimming at EAST MEDICINE LAKE PARK, WEST MEDICINE LAKE PARK & PARKERS LAKE PARK.
- ST PAUL: Phalen Regional Park – hosts the only swimming beach in the city of St Paul with a free beach and splash pad to enjoy during the summer months.
Free Twin Cities Swimming Pools & Wading Pools
The wading pools that dot Minneapolis parks are the perfect place for toddlers and kids who have not yet learned to swim but love to make a good splash. See the link for all the details on these free wading pools.
4300 Webber Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55412
Uniquely filtered by plants and boasting free admission – a great outdoor swimming deal in Minneapolis.
Free Twin Cities Splash Pads
Simple spots where you might beat the heat with your youngsters, there are more than 40 splash pads (or spray parks, interactive fountains, call them what you will) scattered throughout the Minneapolis-St Paul metro. Free to use and cool off in all July long.
Find our list of the best splash pads in the Twin Cities!
FREE TWIN CITIES FAMILY ARTS EVENTS - AUGUST 2023
725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Free gallery admission for the whole family every first Saturday of the month. Don’t forget to explore the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden! August 5, 2023, 10am-3pm.
Free art museums to visit in August
- Minneapolis Institute of Art – Daily free admission plus monthly themed art activities for families.
- Walker Art Center | Minneapolis – FREE Thursday evenings & First Saturdays of each month.
Explore the exhibits, including the brand new Shipwreck Adventures admission-free the first Sunday of each month thanks to Securian Financial. Reserve your tickets now! August 6, 2023.
2023 AUGUST SUMMER LIBRARY PROGRAMS
Unlike school, there is no “summer break” at your local library! This year many summer reading programs have been tweaked to provide activities and challenges you can complete at home. Remember, most locations are open for online checkout and curbside pickup! Find your local branches and full summer schedules below:
- Anoka County Library | Summer Adventures
- Carver County Library | Tails & Tales Summer Reading Program
- Dakota County Library | Summer Discovery
- Hennepin County Library | Summer Learning
- Ramsey County Library | Summer Learning Program
- Scott County Library | Summer Spotlight
- St Paul Public Library | Summer Spark
- Washington County Library | Summer Adventures