By  GALA Expert 

 May 29, 2023 


Minneapolis offers so much to do!

A stylized line drawing of a bird made from a treble clef, and staff paper


Festival will have nearly non-stop activities for you to participate in, all included in your delegate registration. But if you’re hankering for a change of scene, Minneapolis has several free and low cost ways to entertain yourself and your friends old and new. A small selection is listed here:

American Indian Cultural Corridor.  Franklin Ave between Cedar and Chicago Ave – a quick bus ride. Minneapolis is home to one of the largest concentrations of urban Native Americans in the U.S and Franklin Avenue is the heart of this community. This presence is visible in the various American Indian institutions clustered on and around the avenue, including urban tribal offices, the American Indian Center, All My Relations Arts Gallery, The Four Sisters Market, restaurants and cultural gathering places.

Bike Trails – Over 51 miles of trail in the Minneapolis Grand Rounds alone; with many other spur trips farther afield. Information on Bike rentals at

Birchbark Books owned by Native author Louise Erdrich. 2115 West 21st Street, Minneapolis. The bookstore is operated by a spirited collection of people who believe in the power of good writing, the beauty of handmade art, the strength of Native culture, and the importance of small and intimate bookstores.

Comedy Corner Open Mic Night. Free, Friday 10 pm. The Corner Bar, 1501 Washington Ave S. ~90 min. Very popular comedy open mic so arrive early; doors open about 20-25 minutes before, and seating goes fast. Brave enough to perform? Visit the website to sign up for your 3 minute set between 12 and 9:30 pm on Friday, cross your fingers, and check the list starting at 9:30 to see if you go on!

Como Zoo and Conservatory. 1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul. This free zoo in St Paul features giraffes, seals, bears, antelope, big cats, primates and more, and the adjacent historic conservatory is home to many tropical gardens in a 1913 glass house. The zoo in Como Park occupies a corner of one of the largest regional parks in the Metro area (450 acres of public space). It’s a 9-mile drive, 45 minute bike ride, or 1 hour bus ride (see the MetroTransit app for trip planning assistance) from the performance venues, but worth a trip if time allows. The adjacent park includes picnic areas, sport fields, fire pits, numerous gardens, a golf course, and a lake (naturally) with a lakeside pavilion (home of the annual QMC Pride Concert), and bike and paddleboat rentals.

Guthrie Theater. 818 S 2nd St. Access to public spaces and Endless Bridge is free – breathtaking sweeping view of St Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River and the Stone Arch Bridge. The Guthrie offers a number of discount ticket options should you wish to see a show at one of the three theaters (Cabaret is on deck for summer 2020), and tickets to the experimental Dowling Theater are always $9 (it’s on Level 9 of the complex).

Hennepin History Museum (2303 3rd Avenue, near the MIA). Free on first Thursday, $8 at other times. Note that the venue is not accessible, and some stairs are necessary.

Loft Events, Loft Literary Center, 1011 Washington Ave S. The Loft offers a diverse array of literary events, reading series, book launches and more. Most events allow for advanced ticket purchases. Advanced tickets guarantee a general admission seat and help cover the Loft’s costs to host the event. Advanced tickets are non-refundable. Pay-what-you-can tickets are available at the door 30 minutes prior to most events on a first-come, first-served basis. No one turned away for lack of funds. An event calendar and details available at  

Mill City Museum (and Mill Ruins Park). 704 2nd St S. $12 adults, though some reduced fare options are available. Near the Guthrie Theater, engaging history museum with spectacular views, sited in a historic elevator complex.

Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) 2400 3rd Ave S. Free admission to the general galleries. South of the Convention Center, about ¾ mile walk south on 3rd Avenue, or a short bus ride (out of the downtown zone). One of the nation’s premiere collections, with over 80,000 items. Particularly notable for its Asian collections – a legacy of Minneapolis’ long tenure as the hub for Northwest Orient Airlines (now Delta).

Minnehaha Park and Minnehaha Falls.  4801 S Minnehaha Dr. Free. Easily reached from the 50th St-Minnehaha Station on the Blue Line, this large regional park in Minneapolis covers nearly 170 acres, including the famous falls (fictionally referenced in Longfellow’s romantic poem), picnic areas, walking trails, band shell, popular restaurant, gardens, historic sites, and play areas. Bike rentals are available.

Music and Movies in the Park. We take summer very seriously in the Twin Cities, and free concerts and movie presentations are available most nights of the week throughout the summer in various parks – many of them very close to downtown and the performance venues. Bookmark to stay informed.

Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Loosely bounded by the Mississippi River, Lowry Ave NE, Central Ave NE and Broadway St NE. Best times to visit are First Thursdays or Open Saturdays. A short drive, bike ride, or bus ride from downtown, this loose collection of converted warehouses, artist lofts, and gallery spaces includes nine buildings and three galleries, with a wide range of working artists, brew pubs, and food trucks and restaurants. LUSH, popular LGBTQ+ community space, bar and restaurant is district-adjacent at 990 Central Ave NE.

Parks and Lakes – the state has a bunch (you may have heard). City lakes are great for walking, biking, recreational activities, and picnics. Lake of the Isles, Bde Makaska (formerly Lake Calhoun), Cedar Lake, and Lake Harriet are all short bus rides from downtown, or reachable on rented bike or scooter. Loring Park and its charming pond are mere steps from the venue, and the site of Pride festivities every June – just walk the Loring Greenway from Nicollet Mall (begins just north of the Hyatt before 12th St) to the park.

Stone Arch Bridge. 100 Portland Ave. This former Northern Line railroad bridge now connects Mill Ruins Park and West River Parkway with Father Hennepin Bluff Park, which is sited in the Historic St Anthony Main district. It’s a pleasant stroll, bike ride, or scooter jaunt with great views of the falls, the old mill traces, and the historic mill buildings on both sides of the river. When you reach the St Anthony Side, seek out queer-friendly Wilde Roast Café in St Anthony Main for coffee, gelato, or more substantial meals.

Tappy Hour. Free (after $2 admission to Can Can Wonderland). Friday 4-6 pm. Can Can Wonderland, 755 Prior Ave N Ste 4. Green Line LRT to the Fairview Ave Station, then a short walk. Wanna tap-dance? Bring your shoes (or hope for potluck in the shared shoe box), and hoof along to Bob Marley, Herb Alpert, KC and the Sunshine Band, James Brown and Michael Jackson. Open to all levels of experience, and all ages. While there, check out Can Can’s mini-golf, arcade games, low-cost burlesque and cabaret events (including Queer Circus), and food and drinks (including some kick-ass adult “milk shakes”).

The Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center. 725 Vineland Pl.  Free. The Spoonbridge and Cherry is the best-known exhibit, but the garden currently contains more than 40 iconic works in an 11 acre site. Easy walk through the Loring Greenway (by Hyatt) to Loring Park. Then take the bridge over freeway to Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden.

The Walker Art Center. 725 Vineland Pl. Free Thursday Nights, $15 regular. Multi-disciplinary museum of contemporary art, among the most visited modern and contemporary art museums in the US. Permanent collection includes over 13,000 works, including books, costumes, drawings, media works, paintings, photography, prints, and sculpture.

Weisman Art Museum (333 E River Pkwy, on the U of MN campus). Just a couple of stops away on the Green Line to East Bank Station, the Weisman offers free admission to all exhibitions and public programs, with a collection of over 25,000 works of art and is especially rich in the areas of American modernism, ceramics, Mimbres pottery, and Korean furniture. In addition, the building is an iconic work of architecture by Frank Gehry, and the museum curates over 25 works of public sculpture and installations on the U of M campuses.

Wells Fargo History Museum (90 S. 7th St., Skyway Level) Free. Open M-F, 9-5, except bank holidays. Rotating exhibits, generally focused on technology innovations that connect the Midwest to the world. Call ahead to arrange a group tour.

Yoga. Loring Park. Free to attend; donations welcome. Wednesdays, 7 pm. Book your attendance through Eventbrite: Bring your mat, water, and a friend or two; fur babies welcome.