Travel For Two
How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Romantic Weekend in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
There’s so much to do — and for so little money! Let this be your guide to free and affordable adventures, outings and attractions in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region.
Want to plan a special or romantic weekend, but don’t want to break the bank? You’re in luck! The Twin Cities metro region offers a wealth of options for all kinds of budgets. We have the definitive guide to a memorable romantic weekend that will be fun for you, your special someone — and your wallet.
Keep an Eye Out for Free Admission
If you don’t mind kids or crowds, time your visits around free admission days. Many major museums have them, including:
- Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Thursday nights and the first Saturday of the month
- Minnesota Children’s Museum, Saint Paul, on the third Sunday of the month
The Minneapolis Institute of Art — with a collection that spans from “Monet to Matisse, Africa to Asia” — is always free, including its themed Third Thursdays each month. Other free attractions include:
- Saint Paul’s Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
- Franconia Sculpture Park near Taylors Falls
- Eagan’s Caponi Art Park
- Weisman Art Museum on the U of M campus, currently showing an exhibit, “Prince from Minneapolis,” drawing fans of the late musician.
Trade Tablecloths for Trucks
Saint Paul’s Seventh Street Truck Park serves up a taste of the State Fair all year long with several food trucks, a main bar and additional vendors. Pork carnitas? Yep. Pizza? Uh-huh. Sebastian Joe’s ice cream? Don’t miss the raspberry chip. A bonus: You can try your hand at ring toss, shoot hoops or catch a live music act while kicking back at the picnic tables.
Can’t make it to the truck park? Follow your favorite food trucks on social media to get updates on their latest locations or check sites like roaminghunger.com to find stand-alone trucks. It’s a great way to find delicious food on wheels, like Tot Boss, District del Sol’s El Burrito Mercado, or the bike-pedaling cart, Leprechaun’s Dreamcycle, serving cool treats on hot days.
Catch a Concert or Movie While Enjoying the Great Outdoors
Grab a blanket or lawn chair for a free concert during the longer days of summer. Minneapolis, as well as many other metro communities, offers a music series from Memorial Day through Labor Day at sites like Lake Harriet Bandshell, Nicollet Island, Father Hennepin Bluff, Minnehaha and Bryant Square Parks. In August, look for free movies in the parks, too.
In town on a Tuesday night? Head over to Stillwater for Summer Tuesdays, a free outdoor music and movie event beginning in July. Outdoor movies in Stillwater can be viewed from a picnic blanket on the riverfront or from your boat – the movie screen has two sides.
Take a Hike with Your Special Someone
Take a DIY hike at regional or state parks, or watch for programs led by naturalists who can help you learn to tap and make maple syrup, spot migrating birds returning for spring, explain unique geology, or tell you about nocturnal animals while taking a moonlit hike. Best bets: Fort Snelling State Park in Saint Paul, Afton State Park in Hastings and Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls. All have visitor centers or interpretive signs for learning more about the landscape and history. No fees are charged on National Get Outdoors Day, June 9, but regular entry fees are $7 for a day permit, $35 for an annual permit.
Act Like a Kid Again
Visiting museums and attractions can be a lot of fun, especially if you don’t have to worry about kids running around. Adults-only nights are becoming more popular at attractions like the Minnesota Children’s Museum, which offered its first kids-free night last fall.
Saint Paul’s Science Museum of Minnesota serves up drinks, music, special activities and unique exhibits (like musical stairs, tornados and prehistoric swamps) during Social Science nights. Tickets range in price from $14.95 to $18.95, or $3 for income-based discounts.
Bloomington’s Crayola Experience at Mall of America combines food, two drinks and crafts for Crayola After Dark on the fourth Thursday of the month for $29.99 per person.
Apple Valley’s Minnesota Zoo features adult nights too, usually on Fridays — check out the monk seals, penguins, gibbons and the new baby tapir for $10 (or free if you’re a member). Bring some extra cash for onsite food and drinks.
Tip: Reserve adult-night tickets early before they sell out and make sure you’re at least 21 years old, as drinks are often served.
Tour Around the Lakes for Great Views (and Even Better Company)
Choose pedals or paddles to explore beloved lakes, including Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Lake Nokomis or Lake Bde Maka Ska (formerly Calhoun). Look for neon-green Nice Ride bike-share stations that offer rentals for $6 per hour. Or, try Wheel Fun Rentals, offering tandem bikes for $17 per hour, canoes for $22 per hour, standup paddleboards for $20 per hour or a two-person pedal boat for $23 per hour. Wheel Fun also has seasonal locations at Minnehaha Falls, Saint Paul’s Como Lake and Richfields’s Veterans Memorial Park. If you work up an appetite, look for lakeside or park dining from Bread and Pickle at Lake Harriet, Sandcastle at Nokomis and Malt-T-Melt at Richfield.
Play a Little Golf — of the Disc Variety
Tone your throwing arm and hone your disc golf skills with a trip to Eden Prairie’s Bryant Lake Park, Maple Grove’s Elm Creek Park Reserve or Minnetrista’s Lake Minnetonka Regional Park. They all rent disc golf essentials (driver, putter, mid-range) for $5. There are dozens of courses throughout the Twin Cities metro region, and most are free.