It may not always be true that you get what you pay for. Sometimes the best things in life are free. Here are five free attractions near Minnesota that are certainly worth visiting.
Minneapolis Institute Of Art
2400 Third Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Dates: General admission is free all day, every day, Tues. through Sun. Some special exhibitions have a nominal admission fee.
Minneapolis Institute of Art holds one of the finest and most diverse collections in the country. Its depth of resources of more than 89,000 works of art embrace the great masters and great cultures of the world that date back 5,000 years. Thrill to the imagination and creativity of Rembrandt, van Gogh, Monet, Matisse and the cultures of Italy, Greece, China, Africa and other points of the earth. The Institute also displays sculpture, contemporary art, decorative arts, textiles, new media and photography. Special period rooms will give you a snapshot in time with many of the artifacts of the day.
Franconia Sculpture Park
Highways 8 & 95
29836 St. Croix Trail
Franconia, MN 55074
Dates: 365 days a year
What was started in 1996 by a small group of professional artists, is now 40 artists residencies that attract over 100,000 visitors every year. Wandering across the 25-acre park, one will encounter hundred enormous sculptures. Take a free tour of the park any Sunday throughout summer and fall.
Minnesota Historical Society
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Dates: Every Tues. from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Normally adults pay $12 and seniors pay $10 to enjoy the Minnesota History Center. However, The Historical Society allows admission at no cost for all its great exhibits on Tuesday evenings. Do not miss the two new exhibits opening April 30, 2016. “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation” touts the breakthrough scientific, artist and cultural contributions of those who came from India. This synergistic exhibit melds Indian American professional, political and cultural contributions to Minnesotan life with a dynamic panel display created by the Smithsonian. “What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” is all about how Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and the other creative characters came to be.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55103
Dates: October through March daily at 10:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. April through September daily at 10:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m.
Price: Free. Suggested donation is $3 for adults and $2 for children.
Como Zoo features free animal exhibits, both indoor and outdoor. Some of the main attractions are a variety of large cats and primates such as monkeys, orangutan, gorilla, reindeer, bison, zebra, giraffe, polar bears and aquatic animals. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is also free. It is a massive greenhouse showcasing permanent tropical plants as well as seasonal plants and flowers. Also free is the Leonard Wilkening Children’s Gallery. This is space set aside in the conservatory for youth to learn by doing. The gallery houses plants and animals such as the Ribbit Zibit frog conservation exhibit.
St. Paul Welcome Hat
Hosted at The Minnesota Historical Society
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Dates: Tues. May 3, 2016 and the first Tues. of every other month at 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Are you new to Minnesota? Get a free fuzzy-warm hat as you connect to a variety of local organizations and businesses. A local celebrity will greet you and honor you in a ceremony at 6:00 p.m. with an official ear flapper, faux fur-lined Minnesota toasty warm hat. Enjoy food, beverages and live music bi-monthly on Tuesdays at the Minnesota History Center.
Related: Best Budget Attractions In Minnesota
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.