Free or low-cost winter activities

By: Emilia Moberg

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I really want to go out today, but it’s 1) very cold and 2) I don’t have that much money to spend”? As Minnesotans, most of us are used to the cold weather and are prepared for snowy weather conditions. People still go out and live their lives, especially to help curb seasonal depression during these dark months.

However, it can be difficult to find things to do and places to go when you’re a student with limited funds. Despite being prepared for the cold, it is a lot easier to plan activities for a whole day during the summer and spring without spending any money.

I have experienced this problem first hand many times, so I have compiled a list of some of my favorite things to do/places to go during the winter that are free or have a low cost.

1. Museums
Museums are a great way to spend some time during the winter because they are inside and heated, and offer a lot to see. There are a lot of great museums in the Twin Cities that offer free admission to people under 18.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is an art museum with three floors and over 90,000 artworks. It has a variety of African, Asian, European and modern art, ranging from paintings to sculptures to architecture. The MIA also has a cafe with seating.

The Walker Art Center is another art museum that offers free admission to under 18 visitors. The Walker is more focused on modern art and cycles out exhibits relatively regularly, as well as having a permanent collection on display.

One downside of both of these museums is that you have to pay for ramp parking, and there is limited street parking.

2. Coffee shops
Going to a coffee shop during the winter might seem like an obvious choice, but some coffee shops are definitely better than others, in terms of price and atmosphere.

JS Bean Factory in St. Paul is one of my favorites to do homework at. There is usually always a place to sit, and drinks and food is relatively inexpensive. You can get a 16oz tea for around $3.50 and coffee for around $4.

Another one of my favorites is Caffetto Coffee House in Minneapolis. It has a really unique, grungy but cozy atmosphere, along with inexpensive tea, coffee and food. Caffetto is a great place for late night studying or hanging out, as it stays open until 1am.

3. Thrifting
Thrifting is a fun activity for all seasons, but similarly to the museums, it’s great for winter because thrift stores are a warm, indoor space you can spend a lot of time in.

I think the Salvation Army/Goodwill bins specifically are good places to go because of how frequent clothes are cycled in and out. Many people typically spend multiple hours searching through the bins and waiting for new bins to be available to look through. Further, since clothes at the bins are priced by weight, you can purchase a lot of items for very cheap.

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