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Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud - Totally Free Things To Do In Minnesota

5 Totally Free Things To Do In Minnesota (2024)

Going on vacation to Minnesota does not mean that you will rip a hole in your pocket. There are plenty of attractions and activities in the state that are completely free for visitors. You can experience the robust arts scene in the state or enjoy the great outdoors as you prepare for a family hike. From discovering the hidden stories of Minnesota to frolicking at a lively festival that takes place around the year here in Minnesota, there are plenty of things to do that won’t damage your budget.

5 Totally Free Things To Do In Minnesota

Here’s a look at the totally free things to do in Minnesota.

1. Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud

The Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens are two distinct but adjacent gardens located on the banks of the majestic Mississippi River. The gardens are open daily from 6 in the morning to 10 in the night, right from spring to fall. There is no admission fee for the gardens.

The beautiful Munsinger Gardens are home to many tall fragrant pine trees, with winding flower-bordered paths. The garden dates back to 1915, when the city bought over the former site of a sawmill to turn it into a park. The gardens were primarily constructed in the 1930s.

The Clemens Gardens is a relatively newer one as compared to the Munsinger Gardens and were developed in the 1990s by Bill and Virginia Clemens. The Clemens Gardens includes six gardens developed in a formal European style with American plantings and fountains. The six gardens include:

  • Formal Garden: This area has beautiful flowers with fountains.
  • Perennial Garden: Perennials are strong against the Minnesota winters. This garden also includes a 12-foot (3.7 meters) high, a cast-iron replica of a pre-Civil War fountain that was designed after the original one in Columbus, Georgia.
  • Rest Area Garden: This garden is home to many clematis and rose vines, and it has one of the tallest outdoor fountains in Minnesota.
  • Treillage Garden: This is known for an arbor trellis which is 104 feet long and has a central dome that is 24 feet (7.3 meters) high. There is a fountain under the dome, and four single-color gardens surround it.
  • Virginia Clemens Rose Garden: There are 1100 roses here, including tree roses, floribundas, hybrid teas, grandifloras, and shrub roses.
  • White Garden: This was designed after the beautiful Sissinghurst Castle.

2. Check Out The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a famous park that is home to the state’s renowned giant spoon sculpture called Claes Oldenburg’s Spoonbridge and Cherry. This 11-acre park was established in 1988, and it is located near the Walker Art Center. The park is home to over 40 beautiful works of sculpture from the nearby walker Art Center’s collections. The crown jewel of the garden is the giant spoon, which is said to be one of the most photographed sites in Minneapolis. Throughout the year, the garden plays host to various outdoor educational activities and concerts for visitors of all ages.

The garden attracts millions of visitors every year who come from near and far to view the iconic works on display here, including Spoonbridge and Cherry. Other notable installations include Wind Chime by Pierre Huyghe and Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch. Entry to the garden is free of cost for all ages.

3. A Day of Fun at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is a popular family attraction in St. Paul. The Como Park Conservatory was built in 1915, and it is one of the biggest attractions in the city today. This is the perfect place to spend an entire day of fun for all ages. It is also budget-friendly as the entry is free.

The zoo is home to a variety of animals from all over the world, including monkeys and polar bears. One of the most popular animal interactions here is feeding the giraffes, and visitors of all ages can feed these gentle giants some Romaine lettuce right from their hands.

The zoo recently underwent an expansion of $20 million, during which a new Como Harbor exhibit was added. This is going to be a new home for otters, penguins, and two giant octopuses.

Apart from the zoo, there is a lot more to see in the park. While here, make sure you make a stop at the conservatory to check out a variety of heat-loving plants. A visit to this beautiful glass building will make you feel like you have stepped right into the tropics. The Sunken Garden is also another exhibit you must check out. This is a colorful area full of many beautiful and fragrant plants that continuously change throughout the seasons and is an excellent place for clicking pictures.

4. Take in the Art and History at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Popularly known as Mia, this is an impressive tourist destination that is regularly ranked as one of the top ten art museums in the United States. And the museum is so huge that it will take you multiple trips to finish seeing the 90,000+ works of art showcased here that spans over 5000 years and six continents. Admission to the museum is free, but you may have to pay an extra fee for seeing any of the special exhibits.

5. Go Hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT)

One of the top-most free things to enjoy in Minnesota is to go hiking on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). The SHT is the crown jewel of hiking trails in Minnesota. This trail includes the entirety of Lake Superior’s North Shore, which is one of the most scenic places in the state. No other hiking trails in Minnesota will give you such breathtaking and stunning views as you get to take in the vast and open-water landscape of the Lake Superior shoreline. With pebble beaches, forested ravines, and majestically jutting cliff sides, there’s not a dull moment on this trail.

Stretching over 260 miles from Duluth to the US-Canadian border, the Superior Hiking trail will take you in and out of the shoreline. The trail allows you to get up close to the rugged landscape as you venture through some of the most beautiful state parks in Minnesota.

You will come across many beautiful attractions like the Split Rock Lighthouse, the charming towns of Lutsen and Silver Bay, and many other scenic sights. There are trailheads located along this trail every ten miles, and there are over 90 free backcountry campsites where you can pitch your tent. For the true adventurer, the average end-to-end hike of the Superior Hiking Trail will take around three weeks to accomplish.

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