Free Fishing Days in Minnesota

Minnesota is a top fishing destination, and for good reason! Our beloved state offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the country. From lakes to streams to rivers, we have abundant opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish. (My personal favorite for eating is perch, but I won’t turn down a nice walleye, either.)

Free Fishing Days in Minnesota

A regular angling license is relatively inexpensive (just $25/year as of 2019), but there are several opportunities to fish for free in Minnesota, as well. Here’s a list of current Free Fishing Days in Minnesota:

Girl Fishing in Minnesota

Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Free Fishing Days in Minnesota

Take a Kid Fishing Weekend – June 7 – 9, 2019
Minnesota residents 16 and older fish free with children younger than 16.

Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend – January 18 – 20, 2020
Minnesota residents 16 and older fish free with children younger than 16.

Take a Mom Fishing Weekend – May 9 – 10, 2020
Minnesota resident moms fish free.

kids fishing

Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Fish for Free in Most MN State Parks

Minnesota residents can fish for free (a.k.a. without a fishing license) in most Minnesota state parks, including ice fishing. A Minnesota resident may fish in a state park without a fishing license when:

  • the body of water does not require a trout stamp
  • fishing from shore or wading in water within the state park
  • fishing through the ice, from a boat or a float on a designated lake that is completely encompassed within a Minnesota state park

All park rules must be followed as usual, along with any rules and regulations relating to the taking of game and fish. You will still need a vehicle permit to enter a Minnesota state park.

Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Plus, many Minnesota state parks have loaner equipment available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fishing kits include a rod, a reel, and a stocked tackle box. Check out this map of all the state parks with free fishing opportunities, including some parks with free loaner equipment.

National Donut Day – Friday, June 7th (FREE Donuts + Donutland Pop-Up Exhibit)

National Donut Day is coming up this Friday, June 7th! Celebrate this sweet day by picking up some FREE donuts at select locations across Minnesota.

Salvation Army North has the full scoop over on their website, but if you live in or near (or are willing to drive to) the following cities, you can get some free goodies: Hibbing, Minneapolis, Rochester, St. Paul, Virginia, Willmar, or Woodbury. Check the website for more info.

Twin Cities Frugal Mom also has a list of National Donut Day Freebies, as does Family Fun Twin Cities.

Plus, those in the Twin Cities can visit Rosedale Center from June 7th – 9th for the first-ever Donutland pop-up exhibit featuring four art installations. Snap a photo or two by the hanging donut wall or immerse yourself in the sprinkle display. Learn how The Salvation Army helped baked the love of donuts into the hearts of Americans beginning in WII thanks to their “Donut Girls.” (As far as I can tell, there will not be free donuts available at Donutland.)

Free YMCA Summer Memberships for High School Students

Teens who are starting grades 9 – 12 in the fall can sign up for a FREE YMCA summer membership at locations in the Twin Cities and Rochester! Sign up runs through June 14 and can be done online or in the branch.

Note that students will need to attend an orientation session before using the membership, and there are a maximum of 400 free memberships per branch available this summer.

Here’s what’s included:

  • Y membership from June 1 through August 31 at 26 locations in the Twin Cities, Rochester, and Hudson (WI)
  • Gyms
  • Indoor and outdoor pools
  • Fitness centers
  • Group exercise classes
  • Nutritious meals at select locations
  • and more!

Free Planet Fitness Membership

If a Y membership isn’t convenient for your teen, note that teens can also work out at Planet Fitness for FREE this summer, and there are plenty of those locations scattered across the state.

Thanks, Twin Cities Frugal Mom!

Grand Casino Mille Lacs Free Memorial Day Picnic Buffet for Vets and Military

Free Buffet for Military at Mille Lacs Gran Casino


On Memorial Day (Monday, May 27) 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Grand Casino Mille Lacs is offering a FREE BUFFET for Veterans and Active Military personnel! To take advantage of this offer, present some form of Military ID at Grand Rewards to receive a free buffet voucher.

Valid examples of Military ID: government-issued papers, military ID card, discharge papers, or military attire (dog tags, uniform, etc.)

Not a Veteran or Military personnel? The picnic buffet is $10.99.

If you’re planning your own picnic at home, making these Patriotic snow cones is fun!


Free Open House Day at Split Rock Lighthouse – Saturday, May 11th

This upcoming Saturday, May 11th is Free Open House Day at Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors. You’ll be able to tour the light station and fog signal building and stop by the visitor center to see exhibits on the North Shore’s tourism and commercial fishing industries as well as view a film about the early shipping industry on Lake Superior.

If you can’t make it this weekend, admission is pretty reasonable throughout the year at $5/adult or child (ages 5-17) with a maximum of $20 per family. Don’t forget that 6th graders get a free Minnesota Historical Society pass, too.

Crayola Experience: Free Admission for Nurses and Military All May Long

Nurses and certified medical assistants as well as veterans, active, and retired military get FREE admission to Crayola Experience all month long – just show your ID/certification at the admissions counter.

Not a nurse or member of the military? No big deal – you can get discount tickets for $14.99 with coupon code thrifty1 online to save for the rest of you, too! (Code is case-sensitive.)

Other current savings opportunities and special offers:

  • Mothers: Moms get in free on Mother’s Day (5/12/19) with purchase of one general admission ticket.
  • Teachers: Free Annual Pass which includes pass perks (20% off tickets for friends and family, 20% off purchases at the Crayola Store and Cafe Crayola)
    Bring valid teacher ID (school badge or recent pay stub + photo ID)
  • First Responders: Free admission daily; 25% off admission for immediate family on Sundays
    Bring valid ID
  • Birthday Freebies: Free admission within 7 days of your birthday
    Valid with proof of birthdate (driver’s license or birth certificate)

Free National Park Service Annual Pass for All 4th Grade Students

Do you have a child in fourth grade this school year? (I do!) If so, you’ll want to know about the Every Kid in a Park program that offers a FREE annual pass to all National Park Service Federal Lands and Waters for 4th graders and their families. You can explore dozens of places across the country with no entry cost to you!

Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

You’ll need to sign up your fourth grader HERE to get the free pass. It will get your fourth grader and accompanying family free entrance fees to National Parks across the nation, including the five we have in Minnesota:

Visit the Every Kid in a Park website for more details and information.

STORY at Macy’s Ridgedale Activities

Over the past couple of years, we’ve heard about a lot of closings of Macy’s stores, but the Macy’s store at Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka is still open! It’s one of over 35 Macy’s locations across the country that are participating in the new STORY concept.

About STORY at Macy’s:

STORY is a new store to explore – an ever-changing retail concept that brings a new theme to life every 6-8 weeks through fresh and fun products from hundreds of small businesses and dynamic event programming. They got their start in Chelsea NYC where they debuted the idea of a store that acted like a magazine. Their friends at Macy’s invited them to move uptown and across the country to over 35 locations. STORY at Macy’s is changing things up and inviting you to discover something new every few months. Stay tuned for what’s in-store – there will be oh-so much to explore!

Right now the upcoming STORY at Macy’s events are all about color and include:

  • V-eye-P: Festival Beauty with MAC Cosmetics – Friday, April 19th from 3 – 7 pm
  • Picking Patch: Jean Jacket Customization with Crayola X Levis – Saturday, April 27th from 11 am – 5 pm
  • Melt Hearts: DIY Crayon Mother’s Day Cards – Saturday, May 11th from 11 am – 5 pm
  • Palette Play: Smokey eye perfection with MAC Cosmetics – Friday, May 17th from 3 – 7 pm
  • Stroke of Genius: Egg Painting Eggs-travaganza – Saturday, May 18th from 11 am – 5 pm
  • Melting Magic: DIY Melted Crayon MANDALAs with Crayola – Wednesday, May 22nd from 6 – 8 pm

As far as I can tell, these events are all free, but there is an option to RSVP and save your place. Obviously some of these are intended more for kids than others. Check the Macy’s website for more details and to RSVP.

Family Art Sundays at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts (Fridley)

I have a few kids who definitely have an artistic bent…they’re always drawing or painting. I love it as I am sooooooo not artistic but I want to encourage it in them. Can you relate?

Let your kids (and yourself!) explore their artistic side with free Family Art Sundays at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley. On select Sundays throughout the year, you can visit the Center, go on an art scavenger hunt, and enjoy art together, all for FREE.

Upcoming Sundays in 2019 are as follows:

  • April 14, 1-3 pm | Flower Power
    In April we will create 3D art by making tissue paper flowers and painting the flower pots. We will explore the principles of sculpture and the idea of gestalt. You can make it as beautiful or as crazy as you like (think Little Shop of Horrors).
  • June 9, 1-3 pm | Nature Transformed
    We will explore the genre of landscape in art and look at how nature is transforming as we enter into summer. We will observe the gardens around the art center and park as inspiration.
  • August 11, 1-3 pm | Full Spectrum
    Abstraction is what this month is all about. Weather permitting we will be out on the lawn practicing abstract painting. So get ready to paint it like Jackson Pollock. Wear clothes that can get messy to this event.
  • October 13, 1-3 pm | ARTober
    On the spookiest day of the spookiest month, we will explore the genre of portraiture in art. Stop by and get creative as we make an old world MONSTER portrait. Also! Don’t forget to vote for the People’s Choice Award during our Member Exhibition.
  • December 8, 1-3 pm | Winter Wonderland
    Stop by and shop the galleries during our Holiday Gift mART. We will be making collaged snowglobes and other wonderland items just in time to share with your family during the holidays.

Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts is located at 6666 East River Road in Fridley.

Gopher Football Spring Game – Free Admission and Activities

Football in spring? Yes, indeed! Join the Golden Gopher Football team this Saturday, 4/13 at TCF Bank Stadium for the 2019 Spring Game starting at 11 am. All events are free.

You’ll be able to see the University of Minnesota marching band as well as Goldy Gopher. Goldy’s Locker Room will be having a spring sale, and you’ll want to show up early as Abbott hosts a pre-game fan fest outside TCF Bank Stadium with food, music, and plenty of activities for children.

Student-athletes and head coach P.J. Fleck will remain on the field for 30 minutes after the game for an autograph session with fans.