Free Summer Fun for Twin Cities Kids & Families 2020
The Twin Cities has so many fun activities and events for kids and families – but did you know that many are FREE?
I’ve shared many of these freebies over the years, but this year was a bit more challenging than previous years of course due to COVID-19.
At the start of summer, there were more cancellations than things happening. But more and more there are new options being added, both in-person and online.
10 Simple Ways to Save Money and Energy at Home
And since we’re all spending more time at home, check out my tips: 10 Simple Ways to Save Money and Energy at Home! And if you’re a Minnesota Energy Resources customer, check out this video for additional ways you can save money!
Here are ideas for FREE summer fun for
kids & families in the Twin Cities 2020!
(NOTE: All of these listings are subject to change. Be sure to check before you make plans or go!)
Indoor and Outdoor Adventures
Free Bowling – Kids Bowl Free is a national program designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure and fun way for kids to spend time this summer. There are dozens of bowling centers in Minnesota that participate. Just sign up on their website!
Free Construction Shows – Extreme Sandbox in Hastings is an awesome place offering FREE Drive Thru Experiences for families! You can watch them from your car! They also are open for regular business. Check out my deals!
Free Fishing – Minnesota residents can fish without a fishing license in most Minnesota state parks, including ice fishing. You can also check out a free fishing kit at select parks. This map shows where you can fish for free state-wide.
Free Airplane Flights for Kids – The EAA Young Eagles program gives kids ages 8-17 their first experience flying in an airplane. The flight lasts approximately 20 minutes. Just look up the closest program coordinator in your area via their website and contact them. (These may be affected due to COVID-19.)
Free Splash Pads and Wading Pools – The Twin Cities has many splash pads and wading pools that are free for all, and many are open this summer. Check with your local city for one near you. Minneapolis has a great list of their wading pools. You can also explore Twin Cities splash pads and wading pools on this interactive map (above) though this doesn’t show which ones are open and which ones are closed. To see which ones are open see these:
- Minneapolis opens 20 wading pools on July 4th, 2020! Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced opening 20 wading pools across Minneapolis on July 4th! They’ll be open 7 days a week from noon to 6:30pm. Capacity is limited to allow for social distancing.
- St. Paul has opened select splash pads for summer 2020. St. Paul has opened some splash pads to help families cool off this summer! Splash pads are available to use free of charge during the summer at Conway Park, Lewis Park, Parque de Castillo, and Phalen Beach.
Free Parks – The Twin Cities has so many parks available to residents. Get started exploring on the Metropolitan Council website, or on the Three Rivers Park District’s website. Some of my family’s favorites are Central Park in Maple Grove, Madison’s Playground in Woodbury, and Schaper Park in Golden Valley.
Starlight Cinema offers a FREE summer movie series at Ojibwe Park in Woodbury with social distancing guidelines. (Movies include “Frozen 2” and “Aladdin.”) Starts July 9th!
Free Summer Concerts – The Minneapolis Music in the Parks Series is virtual this year. Check out the schedule!
Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids – Kids can earn rewards for reading this summer! View my full list of Free Summer Reading Programs for Kids including Chuck E. Cheese and Pizza Hut.
Free Local Library Curbside Pickup and Virtual Events – Libraries may have closed and cancelled in-person events for the summer, but there are ways to stay connected. For example, at Ramsey County libraries, kids can pick up a Summer Learning Program participation bag with a free prize book via curb-side delivery, while supplies last. In addition, “Read. Make. Do. Kits” filled with fun activities to do at home will be available starting in July! Learn more here.
Free Virtual Storytimes – Libraries and bookstores alike have free virtual storytimes for kids and families at this time, and make a great, quiet summer break from the heat or rain. For example, Wild Rumpus Books in Minneapolis has two free virtual storytimes each week.
Free Build-a-Bear Virtual Workshop Every Wednesday – Build-a-Bear is offering free Virtual Workshops every Wednesday! There are activities, crafts and free printables. It will definitely help keep your kids busy during this time!
Free Omnifest at the Science Museum of Minnesota (Stream at Home) – The Science Museum of Minnesota is offering 9 IMAX movies for streaming, including FOUR that are FREE! Of the free ones, there’s one new one, “America’s Musical Journey” in addition to Dinosaurs Alive!, Mummies and Wild Ocean!
Free Minnesota Zoo Virtual Fun – The Minnesota Zoo is actually offering drive-thru visits, though they cost $50 a vehicle. If you can support the zoo, it’s a great event. If you can’t, check out their website for free online options!
Free Minnesota Printables, LiveCams and Activities to Do at Home – Check out my roundup of interactive, online Minnesota fun!
Free “View Saint Paul from Home” (Free Virtual Experiences) – Visit Saint Paul launched a new virtual resource, the “Saint Paul from Home” microsite. It’s loaded with ways to experience and connect with Saint Paul from your home or anywhere!
Free Storyline Online Summer Camp for Kids – Storyline Online® Summer Camp runs from July 6 through August 31 and seeks to create a virtual collaborative atmosphere of young storytellers sharing their favorite books—that they’ve read or written themselves—and letting the world know what the stories mean to them personally. Young readers can post their stories on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #StorylineOnlineSummerCamp, and their read-alouds will be shared on the Storyline Online® Instagram platform (@storylineonline) in its Summer Camp Stories so that every child “camper” all over the world can join in the fun and enjoy stories read by their friends and peers.
Free “The Wiggles” Virtual Summer Camp for Toddlers/Parents – Beginning the week of July 14th, The Wiggles will be partnering with Rascal + Friends to present a two-week virtual summer camp for toddlers and their parents, simply called, “Virtual Summer Camp with The Wiggles and Rascal + Friends.” There will be arts, crafts, singing, dancing, and some special pirate-worthy prizes. This camp is FREE and will take place LIVE for 20-minute sessions July 14, 16, 21 and 23 from Noon-12:20 pm ET. All sessions will be available to families throughout North America on both The Wiggles and Rascal + Friends Facebook pages. After airing live, all the Virtual Summer Camp sessions will then be available on both The Wiggles and Rascal + Friends Facebook sites for the duration of Summer.
Free Virtual Movie Summer Camp “CampDreamWorks” – DreamWorks Animation has created a free virtual movie summer camp called “Camp DreamWorks” and it launched June 22nd. Every week there are new show-inspired, easy-to-follow activities & livestreams for kids of all ages including Arts & Crafts, Sing-Alongs, Coloring Pages, Party Kits & more.
Free Apple Store Camp – Kids have a unique opportunity this summer to experience Apple Camp from home. Each project takes about an hour, but Campers can create and work at their own pace. The Activity Book will be a project road map, guiding them from idea to finished masterpiece. They’ll learn what to expect from each project during a live Orientation session, and drop in to live Q&A sessions to get help. If you find that all sessions are full, check back as they’re adding new sessions each week. In the meantime, Campers can download the Activity Book and work on their own (online valid on Apple computers).
Free Community Camps – The Sanneh Foundation gives kids ages 5-12 a safe, healthy and FUN camp experience every summer by offering FREE community sports camps throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. There are many camps offered. (This has grown a lot since the last time I posted about them!) Some spots are still open!
Museum & Attractions
Free Museum, Attraction & Concert Passes – The MELSA SmARTPass program offers library card holders in the Twin Cities area free passes to a wide variety of museums, theater productions and other art experiences. Just sign up on their website by entering your library card number. Though most opportunities are suspended at this time, login to see upcoming opportunities, even later this summer.
Free Museum Virtual Family Days – Many museums are closed, but some are starting to open. Here are some either opening soon or offering free virtual opportunities:
- Minneapolis Institute of Art – Free virtual family days offered the second Sunday of the month!
- Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens – The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is free, requires no tickets for admission, and is open from 6 am to 12 midnight every day. Please observe physical distancing practices and maintain a minimum of 6 feet from others while visiting the Garden.
- Minnesota Children’s Museum – They are opening August 1st! Save $2 per admission online any day with my code TCFM. (St. Paul)
- Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – Chaska. They are open for limited in-person visits! Read about our drive-through visit in May.
- Walker Art Center – They continue to offer Free First Saturdays for families, but now online.
Create Your Own Adventure!
A couple years ago I put together this list of fun places to visit called “Hidden Gems for Families in the Twin Cities.” Some of our favorites are the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport’s Aircraft Viewing Area and Brooklyn Park Library, Though you’ll need to check in advance which ones are currently open, take your family out and about to explore places on the list or discover your own!
Also visit my Deals & Events Calendar regularly for happenings in the area!
When All Else Fails
There are many virtual options listed in this guide, but when all else fails and the boredom hits at home, my 12-year-old daughter put together this list of 100 Things for Kids to Do at Home When Bored!
These times are hard on everyone, so check out my guide to Coronavirus Financial Relief & Resources for Minnesota Families!
Also check out my guide to Free Meals for Kids and Families in Minnesota during COVID-19.
DISCOUNTS DISCOUNTS DISCOUNTS
As things start opening up again, check out my Twin Cities Discount Guide for Families! You can save on many museums and attractions in the area, including the Crayola Experience at the Mall of America (get the lowest price via my special link!) and the Minnesota Children’s Museum (save $2 per admission with my special code!).
Also, limited income families can receive free or discounted admission to these museums and attractions in Minnesota. (Check with each attraction before going as some of this funding has changed.)
Twin Cities Newspaper Deals!
Twin Cities Newspaper Deals – Find more ideas for fun and save money with coupons when you subscribe to a local newspaper like the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press! I have some AWESOME summer deals! Check them out!
Do you have a FREE idea to add to this list? Do you have an update or correction? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.