Need a way to keep the kids learning and still have fun as a family? Lucky for you, the Twin Cities has tons of activities that are low cost, no cost and easy to get to! Not only are these trips easy on the family finances, but are great ways to slip in a little learning and have some good quality family time. Here are some trips and tips for your family.
Como Zoo, St. Paul– A perennial favorite for the thrifty animal enthusiast, Como Zoo has no set admission price. They do ask for a donation for your admission, so try to drop something in as a token of your appreciation. Parking is free. The Zoo is open year-round, with the warmer climate animals indoors during the colder seasons. Even in the off season though, all animals are available for viewing. Definitely an adventure that you can make a full day out of, simply pack your own lunch and drinks and your set for a picnic.
SeaLife Minnesota at Mall of America, Bloomington– Formerly known as Underwater Adventures, the SeaLife MinnesotaAquarium is a great way to allow your children to get up close and personal with sharks and exotic aquatic species. Currently, Subway has coupons for a free children’s admission with a paid adult. This can save you up to $14.99 per child. Aside from using coupons, purchasing online before you go will save you $2 on every child admission and $3 on every adult. Also, children under 3 years old are free. As always, parking is free so no added costs there.
Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis- A wonderful collection of art spanning 5,000 years of history and all media types Can be found at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. This is the place to have your family experience the greats like Picasso, Titian and more. Open daily except Mondays. Admission and parking are free always to this jewel, but special exhibitions are extra. You can add to your experience with a Museum Adventure Pass and get 2 free special exhibit passes or free audio guides to tell you more about the art.
Children’s Museum, St. Paul A great place to allow your children to role play various community jobs, explore creatively, and learn about processes, nature and more. The 3rdSunday of every month the Minnesota Children’s Museumhas free admission for everyone. This program is sponsored by Target. Parking in the ramp still costs, but is at a discounted rate if you get your parking ticket validated by Museum security. The Museum can be quite crowded, so if at all possible, leave strollers at home and bring some snacks and drinks.
Science Museum, St. Paul– The Science Museum of Minnesotahas wonderful exhibits that will enthrall any kid. While their regular admission can be pretty steep, there is a program that can help low income families afford a day of exhibits. To obtain discounted rates, families need to visit the museum Monday thru Friday and show proof of receiving some type of assistance at the box office when purchasing tickets. This proof can be anything from a EBT card, letter of assistance approval, school district statement for free or reduced lunch, or a medical assistance card. These discounts can be used for regular exhibits, Omni Theater shows and special exhibits. As an example the regular cost of admission, Omni Theater movie and the current King Tut exhibit can cost a family of three $96- excluding parking. By showing assistance proof, that cost drops to only $24.
Fishing and Aquatics classes – The Minnesota DNRholds programs regularly throughout the year to teach children and families how to and about fish. These classes are held free of charge at William Obrien State Park and Ft. Snelling State Park. Everything is provided- poles, hooks and bait. Thanks to a recent state law, fishing from shore in a State Park no longer required a license either. Families only need a valid State Parks sticker to enter the park. Some additional fishing opportunities are available locally too. The Fishing in the Neighborhood (FIN)program provides fishing poles and sometimes bait at local parks with lakes. Fishing in FIN programs does require adults to have a valid fishing license, but any children under 16 do not need one. A complete listing of fishing classes is available on the Minnesota DNR website, and participating FIN parks are listed online as well.
Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley– Every year, the Minnesota Zoodonates thousands to passes to Metro area counties and community service agencies. The general public is welcome to request these passes for free admission and parking. Simply call your county’s community action program office and ask for them. You may have to go to the programs office and pick them up, but some counties will mail them to you.