Wise Bread's inaugural "open group write" asks: what are fun events and things to do in your region that cost less than $5? I've been planning a post on this topic for a while now, so I was happy to contribute. Here are some ideas for cheap entertainment in my hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.
During the warm months, our favorite outdoor destination is the Como Zoo and Conservatory. They take donations at the door in lieu of charging for admission, which means that you can visit for a very affordable price of zero dollars. There's also a Japanese garden, a paved walking/biking trail around Lake Como, and free Carousel rides once a month.
Happy Hour at Sakura
Sakura Restaurant in downtown St. Paul is my favorite place to eat Japanese food in the city. According to a comment by EsmeR on Vita.mn, it's even better between 4-6 PM when the price of many appetizers is dropped to one lousy dollar. The discounted items include Edamame, Kappa Maki, and the world's best Vegetarian Gyoza.
Tickets for mainstream sporting events are not exactly budget-friendly (even a roller derby bout costs $10). But some games are so obscure that the players welcome any spectators at all. Enthusiasts of these niche sports often compete in public parks or arenas where you can watch for free. Some local groups to check out:
- St. Paul Curling Club
- Robert Emmets Hurling Club
- Minnesota Rugby Union
- MN Freeze Australian Rules Football
- MUSA Kickball
The Twin Cities are home to a variety of great museums and galleries. If you cross the river to Minneapolis, the Walker Art Center is free to to all every Thursday evening (5–9 pm) and on the first Saturday of each month (10 am–5 pm). Children under 12 always get in for free, and they never charge for admission to the neighboring Sculpture Garden or Cowles Conservatory.
Summit Brewery Tour
Free beer! The Summit brewery is a St. Paul landmark, and it's open to the public year-round (click here for the schedule). Your visit includes a company history, an overview of the beer-making process, and a tour of the facility that concludes with complimentary samples in their tasting room. That's a cheap date for a beer aficionado!