When searching for something to do with the family, it can feel like every good option costs an arm and a leg. Thankfully, Chanhassen, Minnesota, and its surrounding areas have lots of opportunities for fun that don’t cost a thing or at least offer free admission on certain days. Here are five free things to do in the area.
Enjoy a Day at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Image via Flickr by Northfielder
Visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on the third Monday of the month and enjoy free admission. Typically, adults pay $15 each, and kids 15 and under are free, so if you can’t make it on a Monday, it’s still a very inexpensive activity for the family. The arboretum, just 5 miles west of Chanhassen, offers over 1,200 acres of gardens and trails.
There’s a 3-mile trail that weaves through the gardens and various parts of the arboretum, providing a great overview of the land. The Green Play Yard is perfect for families with young kids. This area welcomes hands-on interaction with plants and imaginative play with stepping stones and other fun obstacles. Those interested in animals and insects should check out the Garden for Wildlife, a collection of plants and terrain designed to attract frogs, butterflies, birds, and others.
Yearly memberships are available for adults and even dogs if you have a furry member of the family to bring along for visits. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. throughout the year. Stop by during certain holiday seasons for special displays.
Visit the Weisman Art Museum and the University of Minnesota
About 22 miles from Chanhassen, but worth the 25 to 40-minute drive, the Weisman Art Museum and University of Minnesota are great places to visit inside and out. On a nice day, simply walk the grounds of the museum and take a self-guided tour of the university campus to see public artworks. Over 30 works of art can be found throughout the campus grounds along with the beautiful architecture. The Weisman Art Museum building itself is a breathtaking piece of art.
Certain campus buildings are open to the public when school is in session, so your tour can include indoor exploration as well. The Weisman Art Museum offers free admission and a collection of unique works of art from around the world and across history. Check the website for current hours and visitor regulations as they do change.
Explore and Swim at Lake Ann Park
Lake Ann and Lake Lucy are two small lakes in Chanhassen that offer fun on and in the water during warmer months and beautiful outdoor spaces year-round. The park is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. throughout the year. Lake Ann’s beach area has lifeguards on duty from June to August from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Take the family for a day of swimming at no cost. Fishing and boating are also allowed on certain sections of the lake.
A walking trail runs along the eastern shore of Lake Ann connecting to Greenwood Shores at Lake Lucy. Other park amenities include concessions, restrooms, picnic areas, and boat rentals. Tennis courts, ball fields, volleyball courts, and soccer fields are also available for play.
Fish at Rice Marsh Lake
An 81-acre lake in the heart of Chanhassen, Rice Marsh Lake is a favorite spot for locals interested in fishing. The park surrounding the lake is easily accessible from Dell Road. An informal boat launch allows locals to bring their own small fishing boats and get out on the water. The lake is 10 feet deep at its deepest part and is home to Northern Pike, Bluegill, and White Sucker.
A playground, picnic areas, and restrooms welcome you at the entrance and trails lead to and around the lake. The trail that circles the park and lake areas is great for running and cycling if there are some members of the family not interested in fishing.
Take a Mural Tour of Minneapolis
Downtown Minneapolis is an exciting city to visit even if you simply walk along the streets taking in the sites. The drive is just over 20 miles from Chanhassen, so not bad for a short day trip. The downtown area is home to several beautiful murals celebrating the musical and cultural history of the area. A self-guided tour of the murals will take you about one and a half miles through the city starting at the Bob Dylan mural on the corner of 5th and Hennepin. This is a great place to start thanks to its large parking lot.
From the Dylan mural, you can head to 6th Street with the Venice mural on the side of Gluek’s Restaurant & Bar. This painting encourages the viewer to imagine they are in Venice, Italy, with Italian architecture, gondolas, and cafes. On the corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street, First Avenue is a famous music club that dates back to the 1970s and has hosted a wide range of musical acts. Along the outside of the club, you’ll see over 400 stars featuring the names of performers who have graced the stage of this cultural hotspot.
The Baby I’m a Star mural inspired by a Prince song is on Hennepin Avenue. After that, head to Hennepin’s intersection with 12th Street to see the Butcher and the Boar Murals featuring Adam Turman, a Minneapolis artist’s celebration of the Twin Cities. Also on Hennepin Avenue, the Bulldog mural is on the side of the Bulldog Restaurant and Bar. Finally, on 10th Street, you can see the music mural depicting the third movement of a piece called Gaspard de la Nuit by Maurice Ravel, a French composer.
That’s our list of free things to do in and around Chanhassen. Crème de la Crème of Chanhassen, MN, encourages families to get out and explore their surroundings but activities don’t always have to include spending money. If you have a favorite local activity you enjoy with your family that we neglected to mention, drop us a note and let us know.