Summer is here (finally!) and if you and are your kids are already tired of staring at each other and wondering what to do, here’s a list ofÃ‚ Free Summer Fun 2014Ã‚ to give you some inspiration.
This isÃ‚ notÃ‚ a list of crafts and games, but rather a roundup of fun places to go and events to check out in the Twin Cities area this summer with your family.
In addition to what we’ve listed here, many cities have local outdoor movies, concerts, farmers markets, etc. – I encourage you to check your local website to see what’s going on in your area.
On to the list!
- Free sailboat ridesÃ‚ at Lake Calhoun courtesy ofÃ‚ Sailing Lake Calhoun. Rides happen seven days per week, weather permitting, from afternoon to sunset.
- Free fishing. Fishing is free, no license required, in mostÃ‚ Minnesota state parks. Plus, more than two dozen state parks also have loaner fishing equipment available; all you need to do is bring the bait.Ã‚ This DNR mapÃ‚ outlines the details of the Fish for Free program.
- Free rock climbing.Ã‚ Sure, you could climb in some area parks, but indoors you can climb for free inÃ‚ Midwest Mountaineering’s bouldering cave. If you need to rent climbing shoes, those are $3.
- Free water ski shows.Ã‚ All the area ski teams do free shows. TheÃ‚ Twin Cities River RatsÃ‚ perform every Thursday night on the Mississippi just off West Broadway and 94. TheÃ‚ Ski OttersÃ‚ perform every Sunday night on Little Goose Lake in White Bear Lake, andÃ‚ ShockwavesÃ‚ performs on various dates and locations throughout the metro area.
- Free fitness classes.Ã‚ St. Paul Parks & Recreation is offeringÃ‚ Fitness in the Parks, a new free exercise program that brings a variety of fitness activities to many parks in St. Paul. No registration is required and classes are open to all fitness levels. Check out the full calendar of classes as well as updates on cancellationsÃ‚ here.
- Microsoft Camp.Ã‚ Registration is open forÃ‚ free YouthSpark in-store campsÃ‚ at the MOA Microsoft retail store. Camps are each two hours long and cover topics like photography, making movies, video game design and computer coding for video games. Kids ages 8-13 are eligible to participate. Pre-register onÃ‚ Microsoft’s website.
- Apple Camp.Ã‚ Kids ages 8-12 can learn to make movies or create an interactive book by storyboarding ideas, shooting video, and creating an original soundtrack in Apple’s camps. These are held inside Apple stores. Space is limited and pre-registration is required onÃ‚ Apple’s website.
- Virtual Doll Diaries Camp for girls who love American Girl dolls.Ã‚ This is a daily camp you can do from home with girls who love American Girl dolls. Each weekdayÃ‚ DollDiaries.comÃ‚ shares a new camp activity and craft for your girls to make. The crafts help their dolls enjoy a summer camp experience while fostering your girls’ creativity. Catch up with previous camp activities and find new ones atÃ‚ DollDiaries.com.
- St. Paul sports camps.Ã‚ Family Fun Twin Cities foundÃ‚ two free sports camps in St. Paul, both in July – one is for lacrosse (grades 5-8), and the other is for football (grades 5-8 and 9-12).
- Free golf camp (via scholarship).Ã‚ Children ages 8 to 17 can get free golf and golf lessons through The First Tee scholarship program. Scholarships are available for children from groups identified as underrepresented in golf with girls topping the list. Those with financial need, minority youth and children with disabilities are also eligible. Scholarships can be used at Eagle Lake, Cleary Lake, Glen Lake and Baker National golf courses.
- Camp Sunrise youth camp.Ã‚ Camp Sunrise provides youth from Minneapolis and St. Paul with the opportunity to experience a free residential wilderness camp. It’s located on the St. Croix River near Rush City. Each year, 250-300 youth ages 13 to 18 are involved in the Camp Sunrise summer and school year programs. Check out the Camp Sunrise website for more information.
- Free soccer camps.Ã‚ The Sanneh Foundation offers free soccer clinics at selected recreation centers and parks in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Players receive a t-shirt, instruction from professional coaches, and three hours of soccer each day. Snacks are included at most sites and essential soccer equipment is provided for those in need.
- Earn free books for reading.Ã‚ When kids read at least eight books and completeÃ‚ this printable reading journal, then Barnes & Noble will reward them with a free book from a select list of titles. Also, Half Price Books will give your child $5 in Bookworm Bucks if they read 300+ minutes in June and July, tracking their work onÃ‚ this printable form. Pottery Barn Kids offers a free book when you complete theirÃ‚ Summer Reading Challenge, as well.
- Free night sky observation with U of M astronomers.Ã‚ TheseÃ‚ free night sky observationsÃ‚ happen at various park locations across the state. The evening beginnings with a short presentation, then sky observation until 10 or 11 pm. Events will happen at both Eastman and Dodge Nature Centers in June and July. Check outÃ‚ the complete schedule.
- Free drawing club.Ã‚ Rain or shine, you can join other artists and doodlers for aÃ‚ free drawing clubÃ‚ outside the Walker Art Center every Thursday now through August 7. Supplies are provided and artists of all ages and abilities are welcome. Come and go as you please from 4-8pm each evening.
- Free museum admission.Ã‚ TheÃ‚ Minneapolis Institute of ArtsÃ‚ is free every day (free gallery tours, too!), and there are plenty of otherÃ‚ free museums in the areaÃ‚ to check out in case the weather is less than ideal. TheÃ‚ Bakken MuseumÃ‚ offers free admission on the second Saturday of each month, and theÃ‚ Minnesota Children’s MuseumÃ‚ lets you in for free the third Sunday of each month.
- Free nature centers. Why not check out a nature center in your area? Most (if not all) are open to the public for free, and many offer free programs throughout the summer. Some of the more popular nature centers includeÃ‚ Eastman Nature Center,Ã‚ Tamarack Nature Center, andÃ‚ Wargo Nature Center.
- Free State Capitol tours.Ã‚ Educate the kids with a free guided tour of the State Capitol building – tours are available on the hour daily during regular hours. And if the kids need some extra convincing, tell them that they can see theÃ‚ State Capitol LEGO Model DisplayÃ‚ while you’re there – this model is made of more than 75,000 bricks and took more than 150 hours to build.
- Free hands-on workshops. Kids ages 5-12 (accompanied by a parent) can come toÃ‚ Home DepotÃ‚ on the first Saturday of each month for aÃ‚ free workshop. Lowe’s has a similar program for kids calledÃ‚ Build & GrowÃ‚ about twice a month. Advance registration is strongly recommended for both stores as spots do fill up.
- MELSA Library activities. There are many,Ã‚ manyÃ‚ free activities for kids from babies to teens in the MELSA Library system – crafts, LEGO building, movie and video game nights, and much more. Find events happening at your local library byÃ‚ searching the MELSA dateBOOK.
- Open House at Brickmania Toyworks.Ã‚ Every Saturday and Sunday you can bring your LEGO-loving kiddos toÃ‚ Brickmania Toyworks in MinneapolisÃ‚ to aÃ‚ free open house. Besides checking out their collection of models, dioramas, sculptures and mosaics, they also have a creative play area with LEGOs and DUPLOs for the younger kids.
- Family Fridays at Midtown Global Market. Every Friday from 5-8pm you can bring the family toÃ‚ Midtown Global MarketÃ‚ for music andÃ‚ free family-friendly activities for all ages.
- Free Minnesota History Center Admission.Ã‚ Stop by the Minnesota History Center on Tuesdays from 5-8pm to getÃ‚ free admission to the museum exhibits. After checking out the museum, step outside forÃ‚ free outdoor concertsÃ‚ every Tuesday in July and August.
- Ordway Summer Dance Series. Here’s a fun one for the family:Ã‚ Ordway’s Summer Dance SeriesÃ‚ offers free dancing and live music in Rice Park on Thursday nights starting at 6pm. Start out with a basic lesson by professional dance instructors, then dance the night away with a live, local band starting at 7:15pm. The kids can join in, too, or just get a kick out of seeing Mom & Dad tearing up the dance floor.
- Como Zoo.Ã‚ I can’t let a free summer fun roundup go by without mentioningÃ‚ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul. Besides checking out the animals, you can also see theÃ‚ Sparky the Sea LionÃ‚ show, rideÃ‚ Cafesjian’s CarouselÃ‚ ($2/person) and bring your elementary school-aged kids toÃ‚ Project PassportÃ‚ on Thursdays from 10-11:30am. They have aÃ‚ free shuttle serviceÃ‚ to help you avoid parking hassles. Note: They do appreciate a voluntary donation of $3/adult and $2/child, if you so choose.
- Free wading pools.Ã‚ Last year local blog Growing Up Minnesota put together a totally fabulous map ofÃ‚ Twin Cities Splash Pads and Pools, many of which are free. I couldn’t find an updated list for this year, but this is a great place to start if you want to cool off without having to pay for it.
Rainy Day Activities
- Free bowling for kids.Ã‚ Through two different programs your kids can bowl free this summer. The first program is calledÃ‚ Kids Bowl FreeÃ‚ – kids get two free games every day this summer at participating locations. The other program is forÃ‚ AMF Lanes; kids get up to three free games each weekday. Pre-registration is required for both programs.
- Free movies.Ã‚ Every Saturday morning theÃ‚ Theatres at Mall of AmericaÃ‚ offers a free family movie starting at 10am.Ã‚ Muller Family Theatres,Ã‚ with eight locations across the metro, is offering free movies every Wednesday at 10am now through August 13.Ã‚ Paragon TheatersÃ‚ in Burnsville and Rochester has free movies on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through August 14.
- Free Chuck E. Cheese’s tokens.Ã‚ Your child can earnÃ‚ ten free tokens to Chuck E. Cheese’sÃ‚ when they complete a rewards calendar. There are 21 themed rewards calendars to choose from including a graduation certificate, reading rewards, daily chores – even one for no nose-picking! Print a rewards calendarÃ‚ here.
- Free Toddler Tuesdays at Mall of America.Ã‚ Each Tuesday from 10am-12pm, bring your toddlers to the MOA forÃ‚ free entertainment and activitiesÃ‚ as well as kids eat free deals at participating restaurants.
- Free crafts.Ã‚ Swing by the American Girl store at the MOA for aÃ‚ variety ofÃ‚ free themed craftsÃ‚ all summer long. These crafts are intended for girls ages 8 and up. If you have a younger crowd,Ã‚ Lakeshore LearningÃ‚ offers free crafts for kids ages 3 and up from 11am-3pm every Saturday.
- Free story times.Ã‚ Wild RumpusÃ‚ bookstore has “Tail Time” every Monday at 10:30am, andÃ‚ Red Balloon BookshopÃ‚ has story time every Monday through Thursday at 10:30am, as well.
- Free roller skating. Kids Skate Free is a nationwide program that offers free skating for youth. Wooddale Fun ZoneÃ‚ participated in this program with free skating on Wednesdays from 12-3pm and on Sundays from 12-4pm for children ages 10 and younger; you do need to register online at Kids Skate Free, then you’ll be emailed free passes on Sunday night to use the following week during the free open skate times. (Skate rental is $3 extra.)
Your turn:Ã‚ What other free summer fun activities are you looking forward to enjoying with your kids this summer?