38 Things to Do in the Twin Cities for Under $10

Published On 05/16/2016 Published On 05/16/2016
open streets minneapolis
Open Streets Lyndale 2015 | Bob Dixon/Open Streets Minneapolis

There's nothing wrong with being thrifty. Whether you're the type of person who enjoys exploring new ways to stretch a dollar, or someone on a budget looking for a not-so-expensive date idea, the Twin Cities is a place where you can do a hell of a lot without breaking the bank. To help beat your boredom (and keep that wallet fat), we've pulled together a variety of things you can do in this great land for under $10.

1. Run, bike, or walk around the Chain of Lakes

Price: Free
We’re in the land of 10,000 lakes, and cruising the walking or biking paths around the Chain -- Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet -- gives you the chance to see three of them without traversing town.

Bryant Lake Bowl

2. Bowl a Sunday Funday strike at Bryant-Lake Bowl

Lyn-Lake District
Price: $2/game, $2/person shoe rental
Whether you’re one of those people with a monogrammed ball, or just someone looking to do a fun activity with your kid on a Sunday, Bryant-Lake Bowl is the ultimate spot to have a good time without striking your bank account. (See what we did there?)

Acme Comedy Company

3. Laugh in your budget's face at Acme Comedy Company

Warehouse District
Price: Free
Every Monday night, Acme Comedy Company hosts its legendary open mic night, where you can see a combination of talented up-and-comers and established headliners working on new material. You’ll be doubled over in laughter, instead of waiting to be doubled over when you get your credit card statement.

4. Go gaming old-school style at Chatterbox Pub

Linden Hills (& other locations)
Price: Free
Whether it's a first date or family day, you can't go wrong with enjoying a drink and an app while playing retro video games (Nintendo, Atari, Sega) or kicking it old-school with classic board games like Battleship or Connect Four.

5. Hike Pike Island

Pike Island
Price: $5 for a one-day parking permit
Minnesotans are crazy-active, and part of the reason is because we take advantage of our beautiful state parks. Right outside of town, Fort Snelling offers a short three-mile loop on Pike Island. So take the ride, be one with nature, and see the sights. Plus, exercise is priceless, so, really, it’s a double win.

Yoga Sol

6. Namaste-what-you-can at Yoga Sol

Price: Suggested donation, $10/class
Yoga is for every body and everyone. That’s why Yoga Sol in Northeast Minneapolis offers a full lineup of classes, all available on a "pay-what-you-can-afford" model.

Walker Art Center | Flickr/Steve Chihos

7. Get cultured at the Walker Art Center

Lowry Hill East
Price: Free
The Walker is internationally recognized for its innovative, unique exhibits. You can enjoy Free Thursday Night -- where there's no charge for entering the gallery -- every week from 5-9pm, as well as free admission on the first Saturday of the month.

8. Eat at the Minneapolis Farmers Market

Price: Free
Open seven days a week, the Minneapolis Farmers Market is located just northwest of Downtown, and offers everything from fresh fruits and veggies, to perfectly cooked brats and handmade soaps.

9. Party on every block

Northeast (& Downtown)
Price: Free
Summer is block party season in Minnesota, with everyone from Pizza Luce to Red Stag Supperclub offering great music lineups, beer, and food at the right price of free-ninety-free.

Open Streets Minneapolis

10. Dance, bike, and play... in the street

Lyndale (& other locations)
Price: Free
Ignore what your parents told you and play in the street. All summer long, you’ll find Open Streets events throughout town, where entire areas are blocked off from pesky automobiles so that you can (literally) run free.

11. Bring back the '80s at the Roller Garden

St. Louis Park
Price: $5-$8 admission, $3 rentals
Regardless of whether you’re reliving old memories or creating new ones, the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park has family nights, as well as 30+ events, proving that roller skates will never go out of style at any age or decade. Neon, on the other hand, is debatable.

Fulton Beer Taproom

12. Suss out some suds at Fulton

North Loop
Price: Free
At the Fulton taproom, you can see how the delicious lineup of beers is made with a free behind-the-scenes brew tour. Taste as you go and pick up a little science along with your summer saison.

13. Go Happy Gilmore at Putt'er There mini golf

Price: $3-$6
This outdoor course in Como Park proves that miniature golf is a summertime classic. It's been family-owned and -operated for over 50 years, and features prices that seem like a blast from the past: just $3 for a half-round or $6 for a full 18 holes.

Vali-Hi Drive-In | Flickr/bradleypjohnson

14. Triple the fun at Vali-Hi Drive-In

Lake Elmo
Price: $8.50/person ($1/person ages 6-12)
Why not swap out your modern entertainment for an old-fashioned drive-in movie theater? At Vali-Hi, you can catch not one, not two, but three films for one low price. So, please, shut off that Netflix and get off the couch.

15. Tour the historic Wabasha Street Caves

Price: $6
Go underground and uncover the secrets of the city. One of the coolest and least-known places in St. Paul is the Wabasha Street Caves. This place offers a variety of differently themed tours, along with a killer coffee shop and seasonal special events like ghost or gangster tours.

Bauer Berry Farm

16. Pick a peck at Bauer Berry Farm

Price: Free
Located about 30 minutes outside Minneapolis in Champlin, Bauer Berry Farm is the perfect way to keep your kids engaged in something that doesn’t require Wi-Fi. Admission is free, but naturally, you’ll need to pay for the berries that end up in your basket.

17. Assert pop culture dominance with Trivia Mafia

North Minneapolis (& other locations)
Price: Free
When it comes to bar trivia, no game does it better than Mafia. This has been running at bars all over the Midwest for the past 10 years, and invites people to gather up their smartest, most savvy friends and battle it out for trivia supremacy (even if most of it is useless knowledge).

Como Zoo | Flickr/lankforddl

18. Go wild at Como Zoo

Como Park
Price: Voluntary donation, $3 adults, $2 children
Check out both exotic and local wildlife at the famed Como Zoo on the city’s east side. It has all kinds of flora (and fauna in the conservatory), along with special shows and events featuring pretty cool breeds like polar bears and gorillas.

19. Throw darts or shoot pool at Williams Pub & Peanut Bar

Price: Free
Whether you’re looking for a casual happy hour with a co-worker, or you’re ready to dominate at darts, Williams is the perfect spot to hone your skills at bar games. Pool, video games, Big Buck Hunter, and The Claw also fill the basement, and there are over 80 beers on tap, so you’ll have all the hydration you need for these intense athletic contests.

20. Sing your heart out at the VFW Post 246

Lyn Lake
Price: Free
Whether you have big dreams of becoming the next big thing, or you’ve just had one too many beers and feel the burning need to express yourself musically, there is no better karaoke spot than the VFW in Uptown. No cover, cheap drinks, and of course, free karaoke!

21. Take a Nice Ride

Downtown (& other locations)
Price: $4 per half hour
Take advantage of the more than 1,700 shiny green bikes stationed all over the Twin Cities as part of Minnesota’s bike-sharing program. It's been a great attraction for visitors and locals alike, one that gives you the chance to ride the river, cruise to brunch, or pedal your way to a Twins game. It’s easy, cheap, and super convenient. Plus, everyone looks cool on a green cruiser, right?

Minneapolis Music & Movies in the Park

22. Catch music & movies in the parks under the stars

Various locations
Price: Free
There’s nothing better than being outside on a warm summer's eve watching classics under the night sky. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, parks all over the Minneapolis metro area host weekly movies and live music -- perfect for anyone looking to enjoy a film or a show with the city skyline as a backdrop (instead of in a dark, freon-fueled theater).

23. Step into the weird and wonderful House of Balls

Cedar Riverside
Price: Free
The most bizarre, fascinating art space in all of Minneapolis is the House of Balls, located right across from the new US Bank Stadium. Stop in to see how artist Allen Christian has transformed materials like air ducts, animal skulls, and bowling balls into amazing works of art.

Milkjam Creamery

24. Scream for ice cream

Various locations
Price: Varies
Whether it be Sebastian Joe’s, Milkjam Creamery, or Izzy’s, there are plenty of places in town to indulge your sweet tooth all year round.

25. Do a figure 8 at The Depot

Downtown Minneapolis
Price: $6-$9
Take advantage of one of Minnesnowta’s most beloved winter pastimes without dealing with the brutal cold: ice skating. On top of offering amazing views of the Minneapolis skyline, The Depot hosts college and military discounts, making it an even more affordable way to spend an afternoon.

St. Paul Saints

26. Check out a St. Paul Saints game

Lowertown St. Paul
Price: $6 (General admission)
There are plenty of great deals to be found when it comes to scoring cheap game day tickets in the Twin Cities, but none are more fun than a St. Paul Saints game. Theme nights, food & drink specials, and the occasional Bill Murray sighting make this stop a perfect choice -- whether you’re serious about sports or just enjoy the occasional post-game fireworks show.

27. Go people-watching at the Mall of America

Price: Free
What’s a weekend in Minnesota without a trip to the mall-to-end-all-malls? Whether you want to shop ‘til you drop at one of the hundreds of stores, ride the roller coaster at Nickelodeon Universe, or even get married in the wedding chapel, there is no shortage of weird and wonderful options for just about everyone.

Jim Lupient Water Park

28. Splash into summer at Jim Lupient Water Park

Northeast Minneapolis
Price: $5 for guests 42" and taller; $3 for guests 42" and shorter; free for guests 2 & under
If you have children, chances are they love water and playgrounds. Mix the two together and you’ve got Jim Lupient Water Park, a place that features three large slides (including an enclosed tube slide!) along with a log water walk and baby/toddler play area.

29. Catch a second-run movie at New Hope Cinema Grill

New Hope
Price: $2-$4
Were you dying to check out The Rock’s latest flick, but couldn’t get to the theater or justify spending $10 on a ticket? Well, stop by New Hope Cinema Grill and enjoy movies that are nearing the tail-end of their theatrical run.

Minneapolis Aquatennial

30. Check out the waterworks at Aquatennial

Downtown Minneapolis
Price: Free
The best three days of summer in Downtown Minneapolis take place every July with the annual Aquatennial, a celebration that features fireworks, parades, a 5K road race, waterskiing demonstrations, and a ton of other free events that pay homage to the City of Lakes’ heritage.

31. See live music at 331 Club

Northeast Minneapolis Arts District
Price: Free
Not only will hanging out at this place give you the opportunity to kick back, enjoy a number of great drink specials, and check out live music, but this favorite hipster watering hole never has a cover charge. Thus, you’ll look cool while secretly also being cost-conscious in front of your date.

Twin Cities Pride | Flickr/Tony webster

32. Party loud and proud during Twin Cities Pride

Loring Park
Price: Free
There are two things Minnesotans are good at: 1) breaking down bullshit preconceived notions about our city, and 2) partying our asses off. Every year, thousands descend on Downtown Minneapolis to celebrate the LGBT community via the Twin Cities Pride festival. Together, performers and attendees promote education, diversity, and equality -- all while still finding time to rage.

33. Hail a streetcar back in time

Southwest Minneapolis
Price: $2/person
Next time you’re complaining about getting tied up in traffic, harken back to the simpler time of streetcars. The Como-Harriet Streetcar Line runs all summer between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, and a round-trip ride takes about 15 minutes... you know, the same distance it takes to go 10 blocks Downtown at rush hour today.

34. Borrow a book at the Hennepin County Library

Downtown (& other locations)
Price: Free (unless you lose a book)
Yes, libraries still exist -- with books and everything! There are 41 Hennepin County libraries for you to choose from, which adds up to approximately 40.5 more locations than Blockbuster still has in business.

Minnehaha Falls | Flickr/Robert Oberle

35. Wander the waterfall at Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Parkway
Price: Free
The South Minneapolis wonder known as Minnehaha Falls is one of the most picturesque spots in the entire city. The park is beautiful, but its crowning jewel is the majestic 53ft-tall waterfall tumbling over limestone bluffs. If you descend to the falls’ base, you can follow the winding creek on a nice little walk. Just remember that you have to climb the stairs back up to get to the car.

36. Take the kids to the Castle

Phillips West
Price: $5/family
On the third Friday of every month, the American Swedish Institute runs the Kids at the Castle program, which provides activities for children ages 2-5 that range from circle time to music and crafts. Have more than one child in the family? ASI charges a blanket five bucks that covers them all!

37. Taste the world at Midtown Global Market

Price: Varies
Travel the world without leaving the enclosed comfort of Midtown Global Market. The internationally themed building houses more than 50 vendors from around the world selling food, clothing, jewelry, and art. For those on a lunch break, finding ethnic eats is easy for under $10. If your plan veers more towards toddler-taming than tasting, come to the market on Wee Wednesdays every week from 10:30am-1pm for free live puppet shows, dancing, and cooking projects.

38. Stop and smell the roses at Lyndale Park Rose Garden

Lyndale Parkway
Price: Free
Just across the street from Lake Harriet lies Lyndale Park Rose Garden, the second-oldest public rose garden in the US. It features more than 100 varieties of plants -- most of them roses -- and accompanying fountains, offering an array of beautiful colors and flowery aromas.

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Patrick Strait is a writer at Thrillist, and cheap enough to eat stuff he found on the floor. Follow him @patrickstrait