water taxi

31 can’t miss events in Minnesota this July

Not much gets better than July in Minnesota! There’s plenty to do with long summer nights. Bonus: you don’t have to spend 20 minutes putting on a parka and scraping ice off your windshield!

I compiled a list of events happening around the state. Many are your suggestions! Is there one I forgot? Let me know! Fill out the form at the bottom of this page. Happy summer!

  1. July and fireworks go hand in hand. Here are Minnesota cities with great 4th of July shows:
  2. Check out a good ol’ fashioned community festival:
  3. Sing with the Twin Cities Beer Choir. The concept is simple and quite fun. The group gathers as a brewery, bar or restaurant and hand out “hymnals” to attendees. The music are melodies you are familiar with, but the words are switched out to involve drinking beer. Many Twin Cities Beer Choir participants are alumni from those really good Minnesota Lutheran college choirs, so as a group, they sound quite good. It’s a very lighthearted time. Their July meetup takes place at Spring Cafe, located at the Como Lakeside Pavilion in Saint Paul. (July 3)
  4. The PGA Tour stops in Minnesota with the brand new 3M Open. The field has yet to be announced when this list was published, but Phil Mickelson has already announced he will play. Tournament play takes place July 4-7, but festivities go all week at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. (July 1-7)
  5. Head down to the Mississippi River in Northeast Minneapolis to watch a Twin Cities River Rats show. Every Thursday night, this ski team puts on a free show filled with stunts, jumps and pyramids all on the water. They do have a show on the 4th of July, which is followed by fireworks. They also have a bonus performance on Friday, July 5th. They’re super family-friendly. Bring a blanket! (July 4, 11, 18 and 25)
  6. Little Mekong is the Asian business and cultural district in Saint Paul. It runs along University Avenue between Mackubin and Galtier Streets. At the tail end of the 4th of July weekend, businesses in the area hold the Little Mekong Night Market, which is a huge street festival with really good food,  unique shopping and lots of entertainment. It’s inspired by the night markets you would find in southeast Asia. It runs from 5-10 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. (July 6-7)
  7. The Minnesota Orchestra starts their annual Sommerfest concert series by performing the soundtrack to the Disney Pixar movie, “Coco.” Sommerfest 2019 has a Latin American theme, with concerts throughout the month of July. It should also mark the expected debut of the new Peavey Plaza, the public park space next to Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. (July 6-7)
  8. If you can’t wait for the Minnesota State Fair to start, check out the Ramsey County Fair in Maplewood. Admission is free. (July 10-14)
  9. There’s no need to head west to catch a classic rodeo! The town of Hamel is just west of Plymouth and since 1981, has hosted a rodeo with barrel racing, steer wrestling and more. More impressive: the Hamel Rodeo is operated by 5 non-profit groups; the large event doesn’t have a single paid staff member. (July 11 – 14)
  10. Kacey Musgraves, Semisonic, Jason Mraz and Hanson headline the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. The two-night outdoor concert first started in 1995 to raise money for the Basilica of St. Mary. (July 12-13)
  11. A spot featuring one of the best meat raffles in the Minnesota is hosting a parking lot fish fry. Stop by Bull’s Horn in south Minneapolis on July 13 for a fishing tournament, music, drinks, and of course, fried fish.
  12. Celebrate French independence, Bastille Day, on either side of the Mississippi River. In Minneapolis, Barbette hosts its annual block party from 2-9 pm. In Saint Paul, Alliance Francaise and Meritage host an outdoor family-friendly celebration outside of Landmark Center from 12-6 pm. (July 14)
    • Lurcat 2
      Cafe Lurcat in Minneapolis is one of more than 50 restaurants participating in MplsSt.Paul Magazine’s Restaurant Week July 14-19.
  13. Enjoy $10-25 lunches and $15-35 dinners at some great Twin Cities restaurants during MplsSt.Paul Magazine’s Restaurant Week. Over 50 spots are participating. My personal favorites include 4 Bells, Cafe Lurcat, Corner Table, FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar, The Freehouse, Holman’s Table and Lela. (July 14-19)
  14. The Minneapolis Movies in the Park series continues all month with free films shown at parks across the city. Stop by the Nicollet Island Pavilion on Monday, July 15 for “Free Solo,” a National Geographic documentary following Alex Honnold as he attempts to climb El Capitan at Yosemite National Park without any ropes. I recently saw it and it’s riveting.
  15. Once a month, The Spring Street Tavern in Northeast Minneapolis hosts Pundamonium, a pun slam competition. Those who think they are punny are welcome to show off their skills. Participants are selected first come, first serve. The five judges are pre-selected members of the audience. (July 17)
  16. Italian restaurant, Pazzaluna hosts its annual Wheels of Italy street party in downtown Saint Paul on Thursday, July 18. Stop by to see some of the finest street cars along with live music. The car show is free to attend.
  17. Twin Cities Summer Jam at Canterbury Park in Shakopee features three days of big names in music: Tim McGraw, Aerosmith, Pitbull, REO Speedwagon, Soul Asylum, and others. (July 18 – 20)
  18. People from around the Twin Cities will make their way to the Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul for the Rondo Days Festival and Parade on Saturday, July 20. The parade begins at 10 am with the festival running from 12-7 pm.
  19. Enjoy Celtic music, Highland dance and a bag pipe band competition during the Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games at Central Park in Eagan. (July 19-20)
  20. Minnesota Monthly hosts its Fine Spirits Classic inside Orchestra Hall. Sample cocktails from the best mixologists in the state. (July 24)
  21. Competitive eater Joey Chestnut will be at The Great Midwest Rib Fest at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake. His mission: to eat more than 13.76 pounds of pork meat in 12 minutes. The three day festival is free to attend and also includes performances by Gretchen Wilson and Sugar Ray. (July 25-27)
  22. The iconic Porky’s drive-in diner in Saint Paul has a new home in Hastings. It’s a part of the Little Log House Pioneer Village, a collection of historic buildings which are restored to make it feel like you are stepping back in time. The village is open to the public one weekend a year. Stop by the last full weekend of July for the Little Log House Antique Power Show, which allows you to walk through the Village. This year, they welcome artifacts from the Cottage View Drive-In in Cottage Grove. (July 26-28)
  23. The British choral group, Libera, is astonishing. Boys range in age from seven to 16 and members are from schools throughout London. They tour internationally and are visiting Saint Paul once again. I had the privilege of hearing them the last time they were in Minnesota and I just wanted to melt in my seat. The venue is ideal, too: the gorgeous Cathedral of Saint Paul. (July 26)
  24. Fitness studio Alchemy 365 is taking over the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and will offer a free class as part of the Minneapolis Aquatennial festivities. All fitness levels all welcome, just bring your own yoga mat. Check in begins at 5 pm with the class starting at 6:00. (July 26)
  25. Watch (or walk in) a parade of dogs in northeast Minneapolis. The gathering point is right on the shores of the Mississippi at St. Anthony Main. (July 26)
  26. Say ‘ooh, ahh’ at one of the largest fireworks displays in the country. The Minneapolis Aquatennial fireworks display start promptly at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 27. The best viewpoint is near the Guthrie Theater.
  27. The Loring Park Art Festival in Minneapolis features 140 juried artists in a beautiful setting. (July 27-28)
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  28. Avoid downtown Minneapolis traffic by taking a water taxi! That’s right, the Minneapolis Water Taxi is a solar powered boat and is currently privately operated, meaning that you can book it for your group of friends for an intimate ride down the Mississippi River. The Water Taxi can fit two to six people and does private events for up to one hour. It goes from 10 am to 10 pm.
  29. Rent a Lime or Spin scooter for a ride. They’re very simple to use and their max speeds only get to 15 MPH, so it’s hard to lose control. Pro tip: find someone who has already rented the scooters to refer you before you download the app. That way, you both get a free credit!
  30. Be in control of how much beer you want to sample. Stop by the new First Draft Taproom & Kitchen near Target Field in Minneapolis. They have over 50 beers, wines, ciders and kombucha on tap. You get to control how much you would like. If you’re curious, the average pour is about 5 ounces.
  31. Make sure you dine al fresco. Watch my Twin Cities Live segment featuring the 5 best restaurant, brewery and winery patios in Minnesota!Also on Give Me the Mike: Best places to play bingo in Minnesota

Is there something I missed? Please let me know!



The best restaurant date night deals in Minneapolis on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

Originally published January 2018

I was on KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live with three Minneapolis restaurants with fantastic date night dinner deals.

Note: Kafe 421 closed since this segment aired. They still offer catering services.

Featured restaurants:

Rinata, Minneapolis

  • Sunday nights
  • Four-course meal for $25/person
  • Reservations recommended but not required

Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis

  • Monday nights, 6 p.m. – midnight
  • Two entrees, bottle of wine or two beers each and one round of bowling for $28/couple

My website has more restaurant date night deals!


Folks are paying $4 to $65 to park downtown Minneapolis for 2 hours

After seeing one downtown Minneapolis ramp charging $65 for a parking spot on Friday night, I took to the streets to see what other parking ramps and lots are charging.

Fast facts:

  • The cheapest ramp I found was $8, and it was underground parking, meaning your car would stay warm. The most expensive ramp I found on January 27 was charging $50.
    • A couple friends mentioned to me they parked at the University of St. Thomas ramp for $5.50. It’s located at 11th Street and Harmon Place.
  • Municipal ramps were always cheaper.
    • On my Facebook page, Erin posted that she parked in one of the ABC ramps for $10. You should hop in the skyway to walk towards the IDS Center. Those ramps would be a great choice for those who need to take 394 or 94 westbound to get home! Learn more about the ABC ramps.
  • If you’re thrifty and don’t mind walking, take the skyway! I would highly recommend taking the Second Avenue skyway, which actually starts north of Washington Avenue. Street parking near 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street was ample and $2 an hour. There’s a 2 hour max, but if you have the Minneapolis parking meters app, you can extend your stay from your phone.
  • You don’t have to park downtown Minneapolis at all. Take the light rail. Or, if you’re going January 27, 28 or February 3, take Metro Transit’s Park and Ride coming in from five suburbs. Learn more here.

If you’re frugal but want to attempt parking downtown

The Minneapolis Central Library, at 4th Street and Hennepin Avenue, had underground event parking for $8. You’ll walk two blocks south to get to the northern fringe of Super Bowl LIVE. Remember you’ll need to walk back eight blocks back to your car if you want to see Super Bowl LIVE in its entirety. It’s a brisk 10-block walk to the Minneapolis Convention Center for the Super Bowl Experience.

Where to park if you’re okay forking over $20

There are a couple really good options if you’re willing to pay $20 for a spot.

Pay $20 for a spot at 12th Street and Marquette Avenue. It’s connected to the skyway and is less than two blocks from Super Bowl LIVE and the Super Bowl Experience.

The ramp at 12th and 2nd Avenue is across the street from the Minneapolis Convention Center and just two blocks from the southern entrance of Super Bowl LIVE. It’s run by the city. To get driving directions there, type 1117 Marquette Avenue South in your favorite maps app.

Within the same city block, the ramp at 1111 Marquette Avenue South is also $20. Neither ramp is underground.

Parking in this lot between 9th and 10th Streets on Marquette is $20, but traffic starts to pile up outside.

A little further up Marquette, the ramp at 9th and Marquette is also $20, but traffic on Marquette was a bit stacked. It will put you at the middle of Super Bowl LIVE (you just have to walk west a block to Nicollet Mall).

The underground ramp at Gaviidae Common is charging $20. That’ll have you at the northern end of Super Bowl LIVE.

If you’re coming from the north or west, park in the underground ramp at Gaviidae Common. You can access it on 6th Street between Nicollet Mall and Marquette. That’s also $20.

Where you don’t want to park

The ramp at Fifty South Sixth is close to the action, but you’ll pay for it.

I would draw a perimeter with Hennepin Avenue on the west, 5th Street on the north, 10th Street on the south and 3rd Street on east. Anything in that zone is going to be expensive and hard to get to anyway. Remember that 8th Street is closed and lanes are closed on 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th Streets.

The RSM Plaza ramp near 8th and Marquette was at $35.

Want to park underneath the IDS Center? It’s $50, the most expensive ramp I found on January 27.

I saw on social media the ramp at Fifty South Sixth Street charged $65 for spots on the opening night of Super Bowl LIVE. on January 27, they were offering quite a discount: a single spot was $40.

Parking along Hennepin Avenue isn’t cheap. It’s actually more expensive. Lots between 7th and 4th Streets were charging $25 to $30.

Read my guide with multiple ways to get downtown Minneapolis, whether it’s by bus, rail or car.



When locals should go to ‘super’ events downtown Minneapolis (and how to get there)

Based on previous years, around one million visitors are expected to trek to Minneapolis and Saint Paul in the days leading up to the big game on Sunday, February 4. In perspective, the Minnesota State Fair had nearly two million visitors…over the course of 12 days.

So it’s going to be busy. I get it if you’re leaving town, but that’s not fun. You’ll miss all the excitement as all eyes turn to Minneapolis. So, if you want to check out the festivities, here’s my advice.

Don’t bother driving downtown Minneapolis. If you want to park downtown on February 4, parking spots near U.S. Bank Stadium are going for $100. I visited ramps in downtown Minneapolis on January 27 — they’re already charging $8 – 65 for a spot. Get my recommendations for where to park if you are dead set on driving downtown.

I was on KSTP-TV‘s Twin Cities Live with advice on the can’t-miss events and how to get there!


Super Bowl LIVE and Super Bowl Experience

Super Bowl Live
Super Bowl LIVE is a free 10-day festival along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Click here to view this map in full. Photo credit: Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee
  • What is it?
    • The Super Bowl Experience is inside the Minneapolis Convention Center. It’s where you’ll find the Vince Lombardi Trophy, a big NFL pro shop and plenty of family-friendly activities. Tickets are $35 for adults.
  • When should I go? 
    • Super Bowl LIVE and the Super Bowl Experience will be best for Minnesotans to check out the first weekend, January 26 – 28.
      • If you attend the first weekend, you would miss those national broadcasts.
    • I’m predicting a great night to go would be Monday, January 29. Super Bowl LIVE is planning a celebration to Minnesota music icon, Prince. And the Super Bowl Experience should be quieter since it’s a school night.
  • How do I get there?
    • If you want to go on January 27, 28 or February 3, you can take Metro Transit’s suburban Park and Ride service for only $2.50 each way. They leave from spots in Maple Grove, Blaine, Maplewood, Minnetonka and Richfield.
      • You’ll want to bring EXACT CHANGE.
      • Service starts at 9:30 a.m. from each location. Buses leave every 30 minutes. The last bus will leave downtown Minneapolis at 10:00 p.m.
      • You’ll get dropped off at the Leamington Transit Center, which is located at 11th Street and 2nd Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. It’s a two-block walk to both Super Bowl LIVE and the Super Bowl Experience.
    • If you’re interested in Super Bowl LIVE only (the free event), you can take Metro Transit’s light rail. You’ll only have to walk a block to reach the action.
      • I would recommend parking around the University of Minnesota campus. There are plenty of ramps and lots along with street parking. You can hop on either the Green or Blue line to get downtown Minneapolis. You’ll want to head westbound from campus.
      • It’s $1.75 – 2.25 one way, depending on the time of day you go. Those last 2.5 hours. You can also buy passes that buy you more time.
    • I guess you could park downtown. I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. It’s not confirmed whether lots that typically charge $5 or $6 on evenings and weekends will still do so. My favorite ramp in downtown Minneapolis in the winter (when it’s not big game busy) is at the U.S. Bancorp Building. It’s underground and they typically only charge $5 for evening and weekend parking. The ramp next door, LaSalle Court, is good, too. But again, I don’t recommend parking downtown. You’ll either get stuck in traffic or will walk a ton.

How to Navigate Downtown Minneapolis (from someone who lives there)

So I feel it’s not well-known, but just about every east-west road in downtown Minneapolis leads to a major highway or Interstate. So, figure out where you want to head and plan your route before you hop in the car so you can save your sanity!

Nearly every east-west street in downtown Minneapolis leads to an interstate or state highway. Credit: KSTP-TV
  • 3rd Street (traffic goes east to west) — direct access to Interstate 94 westbound and Interstate 394 westbound
  • 4th Street (traffic goes west to east) — direct access to Interstate 35W northbound and the University of Minnesota (both west and east banks)
  • 5th Street (east to west) — non-direct access to Highway 55 westbound (signs are posted)
  • 6th Street (west to east) — direct access to Interstate 94 eastbound
  • 7th Street (east to west) — non-direct access to Highway 55 (turn left on Olson Memorial), direct access to Interstate 94 westbound and eastbound
  • 8th Street (west to east) — direct access to Highway 55 southbound
  • 10th Street (west to east) — direct access to Interstate 35W southbound
  • 11th Street (east to west) — non-direct access to Interstate 394 westbound and Interstate 94 westbound (turn left on Hawthorne)
  • 12th Street (west to east) — direct access to Interstate 35W southbound

9th Street ends at the Greyhound Terminal.

Washington Avenue is another option, but it’s not the only one! It connects with Interstate 35W northbound and southbound, along with Interstate 394 westbound in the North Loop. If you take Washington east over 35W, it’ll wind around and lead you to the University of Minnesota campus and to Interstate 94 eastbound.