Minnesota, Year-Round Fun

I had an email a few weeks ago from a reader who is moving to Minnesota.  She was wondering what there is to do in the Twin Cities for fun.  I had so much fun writing her a response that I thought I’d post it here for y’all.


A good resource for you would be momtalk.com, which will give you tips on fun things to do in the Twin Cities area.  I’ll list some of my favorites by seasons here.

– Stroll along Summit Avenue in St. Paul and look at the historic houses.  There are several you can get tours of, including the James J. Hill house.
– Once it’s warm enough, dust off the bikes and grease them up for biking some trails.  There are good trail systems all around the Twin Cities, as well as some good mountain biking parks.

– State parks!  Minnesota spends tons of our tax dollars on our state parks, so they are all quite lovely.  Great for cheap camping.  Some of our favorites: Itasca State Park, Frontenac State Park, and Temperance River State Park.
– Go to the lake.  If you don’t have a cabin, make friends with someone who does, and you’ll no doubt get invited to spend a weekend with them once or twice.  If not, there are some local lakes right within the Twin Cities–Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake Nokomis.  And don’t miss Minnehaha Falls!  Boat rides, water skiing, campfires with s’mores, and lots of mosquitoes (it’s the state bird, you know) are the order of the day.
– Festivals.  The Great Minnesota Get-Together (a.k.a. State Fair) is known for selling pretty much any food you can imagine either deep fried or on a stick.  There’s also the Taste of Minnesota, Aquatennial, and countless other local celebrations.
The MN Zoo

– The leaves!  Even though fall only lasts about 3 weeks in Minnesota before snow comes, it’s probably my favorite season in this area.  Drive along the St. Croix River (borders Wisconsin) and admire the views.
– Apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes.  All can be visited for fairly cheaply and are a TON of fun!  Most of them have special activities or even entire weekends devoted to children, too. Here are two of our favorites.

– Sledding.  There are a lot of good-size hills in the area, and Buck Hill in Burnsville even rents tubes for the serious sledder.
– Ice skating.  I don’t have skates of my own, but since this is hockey country, there are public rinks everywhere.
– Snowmen, forts, angels, you name it.  Snow can stick around for up to 7 months here, so you must learn to enjoy it!
– Hot chocolate by a fire in a warm sweater and a blanket.  Though the Twin Cities is mild compared to the temperatures where I grew up (northern MN), it still averages in the teens to 30s 4-5 months of the year.

Some other fun year-round things:
The Science Museum
– Rice Park in St. Paul
– The many theatres (Ordway, Guthrie, Chanhassen Dinner, etc.)


We took Anja to the State Fair for her birthday yesterday, so there will be an upcoming post with some more detail about that!


8 thoughts on “Minnesota, Year-Round Fun

  1. This post *almost* makes me want to move back there. 🙂 If it weren’t for the “teens to 30s 4-5 months of the year” and “snow can stick around for up to 7 months” I’d be back in a heartbeat.

    Can’t wait to hear about the Fair!

  2. You forgot the Como Zoo! It’s a favorite of ours when we visit my in-laws in Anoka. Speaking of Anoka, the Saturday before Halloween they have a HUGE parade on main street. Don’t miss it, it’s so much fun! Anoka is the Halloween capital of the world, you know!

  3. One of our favorite places to go year-round is the Gale Woods Farm which is part of the three rivers park district. Check it out here: http://www.threeriversparkdistrict.org/parks/galewoods.cfm

    Also, we like to walk around the lakes, canoe the lakes via the various connecting streams, tube sections of Minnehaha Creek, visit Minnehaha Falls, visit the Mill City Museum and Stone Arch Bridge, go to all the various farmers markets (our favorite being the one in St. Paul), and in the fall we visit either Emma Krumbees http://www.emmakrumbees.com/ or Minnetonka Orchards: http://www.minnetonkaorchards.com/.

    Finally, we love to take day trips in our car. Our favorite places to visit include Duluth’s Canal Park, Cannon Falls, Hudson, WI, and Stillwater, MN. There are so many more places to visit but this will get you started.

    Welcome to Minnesota!

  4. We lived in MN for about 5 years and I dearly miss it. This post made me miss it even more. We come back 1-2 times a year but it’s not the same. I have been hounding my hubby to move us back almost since we left. Yes the winters are hard but the other 3 seasons more than make up for it. I love your list. Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. *sigh* I wish we were moving there. I do love that you were honest about how much Fall weather you get. We get about the same here and it’s started already.

    Also, I had to laugh at your comment about any food imaginable deep-fried or on a stick. 🙂

  6. Mmmmm…mountain biking. Anybody looking for good trails in Minnesota should go to: http://www.morcmtb.org. You can select the region you’re from (or visiting) and it lists the major trails with lots of information, photos, discussion forums, etc.

    Wishing I was biking right now…

  7. And have you been to the Great Mn Get-Together? If you’re planning on going, eat a deep friend Snickers for me. Please.

    I graduated from Northwestern and my husband from Bethel. We lived in Shoreview and then Hastings for a total of 3 years after we married. As much as I love our new MN city…I MISS the big city! We’ve been gone for 2 years now. (sniff, sniff)

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