The 5 best bakeries in Minnesota

I tallied your votes for the best bakeries in Minnesota. Most of them are outside of the immediate metro (none are in Minneapolis or Saint Paul) and they all have been around for generations.

I was on KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live to share their stories.

Hanisch Bakery & Coffee Shop, Red Wing

  • Originally opened at Quandt’s Bakery in the 1920s
  • The white bread recipe they are currently using goes back to the owners from the 1970s
  • Hanisch has 70 kinds of pastries and donuts
    • They sell over 50 dozen raised donuts a day, with twice that amount on the weekend
  • They’re known for their Presidential Cookie Poll
    • On a Presidential Election Day, Hanisch will sell cookies for the main party candidates
    • They have correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote based off cookie sales since 1984

Emily’s Bakery & Deli, Hastings

emilys almond.jpg

  • Family-owned since 1946 when it was Pitz Bakery
  • Steve and his sister, Norine, own the bakery and both have worked there for over 35 years
  • The shop is named after their grandmother, Emily
  • Their Prison Bars are Emily Bakery’s version of the Scotcharoo. The recipe came from a woman who used to volunteer at a prison and always brought the bars with her for the inmates.
  • The Almond Tarts are a signature item. It’s a butter rich tart that’s filled with an almond paste. It’s one of the best things I had on my tour of all these bakeries.
  • Don’t pass on the Coconut Macaroons. They are also gluten-free.

Hans’ Bakery, Anoka & Blaine

  • Original location in Anoka, satellite location in Blaine
  • The original owner, Hans, passed away from cancer in 1997, just two months after being diagnosed
  • The bakery exchanged hands multiple times and eventually went into foreclosure
  • When the current owner, Kelly Olsen, bought it, it had sat vacant for 4 years. She says “everything needed help”.
  • The community rallied behind the new ownership to help Hans’ Bakery reopen in February 2014. The Food Network caught wind of the buzz and featured them before they opened. On their first day, they sold out of everything they had in the store.
  • The Texas Donuts are the size of your head. And they cost only $5.

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  • The Beehive, and the smaller Beesting, are eye-catchers. The sweet dough pasty is filled with Bavarian cream, topped with candied almonds and dusted with powdered sugar. If you’re really hungry, order it as a cake.

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  • The Whipped Cheesecake is a hidden gem.

Cold Spring Bakery, Cold Spring & Waite Park

  • Original location in Cold Spring, satellite location in Waite Park
  • The original owner, Mel, learned how to bake on a Navy ship
  • After World War II, he found a bakery for sale in the city of Cold Spring
  • Soon it will be passed on to the third generation, as Mel’s granddaughter will take over as head baker
  • Cold Spring Bakery delivers throughout central Minnesota, including many meat markets
  • They will handle 25 to 30 wedding orders per weekend. And that’s not just cakes. Many couples are opting for cupcakes and donut walls now.
  • Their Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Cookie is a soft, tender cookie with raspberries, cream cheese and white chocolate chips. It’s incredible.
  • Their Cashew Brittle is special. It’s not hard like peanut brittle, and tastes a bit like Chex Mix. It’s perfect to bring to a holiday gathering.
  • Kolachies are a tender, flaky pasty baked with a fruit or poppyseed filling. They have a streusel topping and a Danish icing. Think of it like a really good Toaster Strudel.
  • Don’t pass on the Oatmeal Date Filled Cookies.

Benson Bakery, Benson

  • Benson is northwest of Willmar, about 2.5 hours from Saint Paul
  • The building the bakery is in dates back to 1900. It originally opened as a bakery, cafe and hotel.
  • It’s now owned by the third generation of the Johannessen family.
  • There are deep Norwegian roots here.
  • The Peanut Squares are something special. Some refer them as Mocha Bars. It’s a combination of frosting, cake and peanut meal.
  • Don’t miss out on their Sour Cream Raisin and Salted Nut Bars. There are eight to 10 different bars available daily.
  • The Angel Food Cake recipe has been handed down for over 80 years and can be ordered in a variety of flavors. The most popular is lemon.

Check out my other roundups of what’s ‘Worth the Trip’

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The best ice cream shops in Minnesota

Every month, Worth the Trip, my series on KSTP’s Twin Cities Live, presents the top five Minnesota spots in a particular category. And since summer is officially upon us, I had to determine who sells the best ice cream in the state.

The winning locations are determined by your suggestions. Thousands upon thousands of votes came in. Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming.

All of the top five vote getters are ice cream parlours, not places where you would go for a soft-serve cone. They are using premium ice cream. But I did notice something peculiar: none of the spots make their own ice cream. It’s purchased from two ice cream wholesale producers in Wisconsin (one shop also tosses in ice cream from Kemps, so there are three producers overall).

I have personally attended many Minnesota shops who make their own ice cream. Many of you are extremely loyal to them. What these top five shops had that some of those shops don’t offer is top-notch customer service. You’re going to be more than a number at these parlors. The owners are always there. They live in the community. And many of the shops were able to rattle off a whole bunch of ways of how they connect with the school kids and the neighborhoods they are situated in. This is far beyond donating a $20 gift card to a silent auction, folks. To the loyalists: I recommend you venture to these shops before you comment back to me with your distain.

The top 5, ranked

1. Cullen’s Ice Cream

10905 Douglas Drive North, Champlin
12085 Hanson Blvd, Coon Rapids

  • Cullen’s received the most popular votes from Twin Cities Live viewers and receives my overall best vote
  • The Champlin shop opened in June 2014 with the Coon Rapids location opening in June 2017
  • Their cases have 48 flavors of ice cream at any given time, the most of any of the top 5 shops
    • Eight of the flavors change monthly
  • Cullen’s uses Cedar Crest Ice Cream, premium small batch ice cream made in Cedarburg, Wisconsin
  • They carry 125 flavors of pop, which can be combined with any flavor of ice cream for a soda float
  • They do make their own waffle cones in-house, putting chocolate chips in the bottom instead of malted milk balls
    • They will make over 10,000 cones in a season
  • Insider: you can split a single scoop into two flavors with no extra charge
  • Cullen’s offers dairy-free ice cream, which is made in-house (it is also vegan)
  • In addition to ice cream, Cullen’s makes their own gourmet popcorn and roasted nuts
  • The owners tell me customers drive from Minnetonka and Wayzata twice a week to get Cullen’s Ice Cream
  • Cullen’s is a seasonal shop, open from the beginning of March through October

2. Selma’s Ice Cream Parlour

3419 Saint Croix Trail, Afton

  • Selma’s is the oldest ice cream parlour in Minnesota, first opening in 1913 and receives my vote for the best ambiance
  • The current owners, the Nickerson family, purchased the bank-owned property in 2011
    • All 6 of their kids have worked there
  • Selma’s has about 35 flavors of ice cream in their cases; they are from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, based in Madison, Wisconsin
    • Chocolate Shoppe first started in 1960 and does not sell retail, meaning you cannot buy their ice cream at any grocery store
  • While you’re there, sample:
    • Strawberry — the owners family says “don’t skip it”
    • Blueberry Cheesecake
    • This S&#! Just Got Serious — salted caramel
    • Exhausted Parent — Bourbon Spiked Espresso
    • Carrot Mango Italian Ice — dairy free
  • They have a staff member dedicated to making waffle cones
    • They will sell 400 on a busy summer day
    • They also sell their own milk chocolate and white chocolate dipped cones
  • Gluten-free sugar and cake cones, along with gluten-free ice creams, are available
  • Selma’s also makes their own cakes, ice cream cookie sandwiches and has a coffee bar
  • Selma’s is a seasonal shop, typically open from late March until October

3. What’s the Scoop?

18 Division Street E, Buffalo

  • They are the newest shop in the top 5, opening in September 2017
  • Owner Brady Elsenpeter, a Buffalo native, went from owning a car dealership to running an ice cream shop
  • What’s the Scoop? is in downtown Buffalo in a space which once was a Curves for Women workout studio
  • Their case has 40 flavors from Cedar Crest
    • They have a case solely designated for nut-free flavors
  • They make their own waffles cones and bowls in house, and their waffle cones was the best of any waffle cone in the top 5
  • They do carry gluten-free cones and have dairy-free flavors available
  • The owner’s favorite flavors:
    • Shipwreck — vanilla ice cream with sea salt caramel ribbon and almond splinters
    • Big Muddy — a rich, chocolate ice cream with brownies
    • Scotcharoo — just like the cookie!
  • Ice cream cakes are made to order, including some with Fruity Pebbles
  • What’s the Scoop? is open year-round

4. Two Scoops

1918 Second Avenue, Anoka

  • Two Scoops opened in 2010
  • They have over 100 flavors of ice cream available, with 20 in their case at one time
  • Like Selma’s, Two Scoops uses Chocolate Shoppe ice cream
  • Their most popular ice cream: Cookie Dough
  • Their sleeper hit: Strawberry
    • The owners tell me that the Chocolate Shoppe’s Strawberry ice cream has won national awards
  • They make waffle cones and bowls in-house
  • Two Scoops also makes dipped cones, sundae cones and homemade cakes
  • They specialize in chocolate malts that are heavy on the malt powder
  • Two Scoops does have at least one dairy free Italian ice and has gluten-free ice cream and cones
  • They are also home to The Tornado challenge, where you get 20 scoops of ice cream with toppings (it comes out to about 7,000 calories)
    • One individual has completed it in 6 minutes, 30 seconds
  • Two Scoops is open year-round

5. Nelson’s Ice Cream

920 Olive Street W, Stillwater
454 Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul

  • Nelson’s Stillwater location originally opened as a grocery store in 1923
  • Art Nelson bought it in the 1940s and customers to this day still call it Art’s
  • The currently owners purchased it in 2006
  • Nelson’s is known for big scoops of ice cream — and I mean big scoops — that era started in the 1960s
  • They serve both Cedar Crest and Kemps ice cream
  • Both locations carry 44 flavors
  • You should expect a line when you go to Nelson’s
    • Their manager tells me there’s typically a line at 11:00 when the Stillwater location opens
    • The best time to go is between 5:45 and 7:00 pm during the dinner lull
    • On a busy day, they will go through 450 gallons of ice cream
  • Ice cream is served by dixie cups or cones at Nelson’s
    • They do not make waffle cones
  • Nelson’s does have Rapsberry Italian Ice if you are looking for a vegan or dairy-free option
  • Gluten-free options are going to be hard to come by, but you can get ice cream in a cup
  • Heads up: they only take cash!
  • Nelson’s is a seasonal shop, typically open from the beginning of April until Halloween

Honorable mentions

These are ranked from highest to lowest. Ice cream shops needed to receive at least .6% of the total vote in order to be listed below. 

Check out my other roundups of what’s ‘Worth the Trip’

20 Mexican restaurants in Minnesota worth the trip

Nearly 1,000 votes came in from Twin Cities Live viewers suggesting where they like to go for the best Mexican food in Minnesota. I presented the top 5 picks on TV — and those are listed below.

While votes came in, I heard from people saying that certain Mexican restaurants don’t serve authentic food and that you need to go to specific parts of the Twin Cities to find true Mexican food. That theory is garbage. No matter if you’re in Minneapolis or Madelia, every establishment has a story to tell. Save your comments for some other blog.

There are a lot of Mexican restaurants out there, and I encourage you to try out new spots. Underneath the top 5, check out an expanded list of restaurants which made the top 20, including some of my personal favorites. And let me know what you think! You can reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

  • Boca Chica Restaurante Mexicano y Cantina, Saint Paul
    • Opened in 1964 with just four tables
    • Now has 64 tables and a patio which seats around 75 people
    • They serve a lunch buffet Monday-Friday and a Sunday brunch from 10:00-2:00
    • What to order: Flautas Banderas, Carne a la Tampiqueña, Tacos Monterrey
Boca Chica
  • El Burrito Mercado, Saint Paul
    • Not only a restaurant, but also has a market and cafeteria
    • Opened in 1979
    • Also operate a restaurant and bar in Minneapolis and sell items at Allianz Field in Saint Paul
    • What to order: Chicken Mole, Ceviche de Camaron, Sopes with 3 Guisados
El Burrito Mercado
  • Pajarito, Saint Paul
    • Opened in December 2016 in a building dating back to 1886
    • Stop in for lunch to avoid long wait times
    • Order one of their craft cockails
    • What to order: Chilaquiles, Elote style Brussels Sprouts, Torta
Pajarito
  • La Plaza F!esta, Madelia
    • Originally opened in 2011; a fire completely destroyed the restaurant in 2016
    • They rebuilt and expanded to nearly 150 seats
    • New restaurant includes a grocery store next door
    • All tables and chairs were painted and carved in Mexico
    • What to order: Flaming Cheese, Malcajete F!esta, Seafood Ceviche
La Plaza F!esta
  • Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant, Shakopee
    • Opened in 1986
    • 4 expansions and a remodel later, it features 260 seats
    • Family-owned
    • Closed Sundays
    • What to order: Margarita flight, Ultimate Chimichanga, Surf & Turf with Tamale, 3 Enchiladas & Chile Relleno
Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant

Want more recommended Mexican restaurants? Check out these spots, recommended by your votes!

Check out my other roundups of what’s ‘Worth the Trip’

Twin Cities Restaurant Room Rental Guide

Sponsored content
Some restaurants listed below advertised with Give Me the Mike to be highlighted in this guide. 

It’s a question I get frequently: ‘Please recommend a restaurant where you can rent a private room. I’m planning a birthday party for a friend.’

I get it. It sure beats out inviting randoms into your house — and then having to clean up after them.

After a while, I thought, ‘Heck, there must be an extensive guide out there listing all these restaurants.’  Well, there are a couple. One, from 2016, is extremely out of date. Many of the restaurants listed have closed. Another one I found is good, but it’s limited.

Wedding planners have their own rental guides, but you don’t need to rent out a 300-person reception hall for your cousin Janet’s 50th birthday. So, I did my research and created this guide.

Happy planning! And if you know of a restaurant not listed, let me know! Reach out to me by filling out this form.

Minneapolis

4 Bells

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4 Bells, just on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, has incredibly fresh seafood.

1610 Harmon Place, Minneapolis 55403
(612) 904-1163, events@4bells.com
More information

Overlooking Loring Park; the sister restaurant to Butcher & the Boar
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be split amongst guests
Valet parking is available ($11, hosted for $13)
Surface pay lot available next door

Venue: Quarters

Quarters Park
There is lots of natural light in the Quarters Dining Room at 4 Bells in Minneapolis.

Private
Capacity (seated): 24
Capacity (cocktail): Not available
Includes access to smart TV
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $1,000

Venue: Roof Top Atrium

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Roof Top Atrium at 4 Bells.

Private or semi-private
Capacity (seated): 100
Capacity (cocktail): 130
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private bar, private restrooms, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on night and time of year (ranges from $1,500-9,500)
Additional experiences: includes indoor and outdoor spaces for guests

Venue: Parkside Room, Lounge Room & Hickory Room

4 Bells Hickory Room
Hickory Room at 4 Bells.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 40 (Parkside), 30 (Lounge), 14 (Hickory)
Capacity (cocktail): 30 (Lounge)
Handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $750-2,500

508 Bar + Restaurant

508 lower level 2
508 Bar + Restaurant is just one block north of Target Center.

508 North First Avenue, Minneapolis 55403
(612) 339-0036, events@the508mpls.com

Close to Target Center and Target Field
Final bill can be split amongst guests

Venue: Lower Level

508 lower level
The Lower Level at 508 Bar + Restaurant has no rental fee and no food and beverage minimum.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 150
Capacity (cocktail): 347
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in music, access to projector, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $0

Venue: Pool Room

508 pool room
The Pool Room is located downstairs at 508 Bar + Restaurant.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 40
Capacity (cocktail): 60
Includes access to projector, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $0

Butcher & the Boar

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The Beer Garden at Butcher & the Boar in Minneapolis.

1121 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis 55403
(612) 338-8888, events@butcherandtheboar.com
More information

Just a couple blocks from Minneapolis’ Theater District
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be split amongst guests
Valet parking is available ($11, hosted for $13)

Venue: Boar Room

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The Boar Room in the basement of Butcher & the Boar in Minneapolis.

Private
Capacity (seated): 32
Capacity (cocktail): 40
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private restrooms, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $1,500

Venue: Butcher Room
Private
Capacity (seated): 18
Capacity (cocktail): not applicable
Includes access to microphone, access to smart TV, private restrooms, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $1,000

Venue: Beer Garden
Private and semi-private options available
Capacity (seated): 80
Capacity (cocktail): 100
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private bar, private restrooms, private entrance, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on night and time of year (ranges from $2,500-9,500)

Cafe and Bar Lurcat

Cafe and Bar Lurcat, overlooking Loring Park in Minneapolis.

1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis 55403
(612) 486-5500, lurcat@damico.com
More information

Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Valet parking is available ($13 if hosted, $11 cash)

Venue: Private Dining Room

The Private Dining Room at Lurcat.

Private
Capacity (seated): 55
Capacity (cocktail): 70
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, ability to rent private bar with additional charge, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $1,500 Sunday to Thursday evenings, $6,000 Friday and Saturday evenings — all exclude tax and service charges
Additional experiences: Bose Sound Tower/microphone available for rental; includes access to back patio from June 1st to October 1st for cocktail hour; offers large windows overlooking Loring Park

Venue: Lofted Bar Mezzanine

The semi-private Lofted Mezzanine at Lurcat provides a more intimate setting.

Semi-Private
Capacity (seated): 30
Capacity (cocktail): 30
Includes access to private restrooms
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $500 Sunday to Thursday, $1,000 Friday and Saturday — all exclude tax and service charges
Additional experiences: offers great views of the main bar floor; area for cocktail reception within the space

Venue: Bar Buyout

Planning a big party? Turn Lurcat’s bar into a dance floor!

Private
Capacity (seated): 150-180
Capacity (cocktail): 225
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, private bar, private restrooms, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $500 Monday to Thursday, $2,000 Friday and Saturday, $500 Sunday
Food and beverage minimum: $10,000 Monday, $12,000 Tuesday and Wednesday, $15,000 Thursday, $20,000 Friday and Saturday, $12,000 Sunday — all exclude tax and service charges
Additional experiences: part of the restaurant can turn into a dance floor with room for a band

Erte’ & the Peacock Lounge

323 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis 55413
More information

Venue: Chef’s Table Private Dining Room
Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 20
Capacity (cocktail): not available
Handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $20 per person, minimum of 12 people

Venue: Erte’ Main Dining Room
Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 100
Capacity (cocktail): not available
Includes access to plug in own music, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on night and time of year

Venue: The Peacock Lounge
Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 54
Capacity (cocktail): not applicable
Includes access to plug in own music, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on night and time of year

FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar

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FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar inside the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown.

31 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis 55402
(612) 216-3473
More information

Located inside the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown

Venue: Private Dining Room

PDR(2)
Private Dining Room at FireLake.

Private
Capacity (seated): 40
Capacity (cocktail): 60
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $600-2,000

Venue: Half Private Dining Room
Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 20
Capacity (cocktail): 25
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $300-1,000

Venue: Board Room

Boardroom
Board Room at FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar in the Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 14
Capacity (cocktail): not available
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $200-700

The Freehouse

Freehouse Beer.jpg
Guests at the The Freehouse can go on their own on-site brewery tour.

701 North Washington Avenue, Minneapolis 55401
(612) 339-7011, michelle.dimuzio@blueplateco.com
More information

Part of the Blue Plate Restaurant Company
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests
Adjacent pay ramp available (Nordic Parking Ramp)
Valet parking is available ($7)

Venue: Volstead Lounge

Volstead Lounge 3.jpg
Volstead Lounge at The Freehouse.

Private, curtains can be drawn closed
Capacity (seated): 50
Capacity (cocktail): 75
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to projector and screen, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on night
Additional experiences: go on an on-site brewery tour or add a beer tasting or cocktail class for your group! The Volstead Lounge also offers beer and wine paired dinners.

Venue: Back Bar Area

Freehouse 3.jpg
The Freehouse in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 25
Capacity (cocktail): 40-50
Handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $250 per hour

Gluek’s Bar & Restaurant

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Gluek’s Bar and Restaurant is in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

16 North Sixth Street, Minneapolis 55403
(612) 338-6621, party@glueks.com
More information

Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests

Venue: Banquet Room

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The Banquet Room at Gluek’s has no rental fee.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 60
Capacity (cocktail): 60+
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on night
Additional experiences: includes access to Beer Garden  

Hell’s Kitchen

hells kitchen.jpg
Hell’s Kitchen is centrally located downtown Minneapolis, within walking distance to downtown hotels, U.S. Bank Stadium, Target Center and the Convention Center.

80 South Ninth Street, Minneapolis 55402
(612) 238-1427, events@hellskitcheninc.com 
More information

Venue: Hell’s Kitchen Underground Room

Underground 2up_
The Underground Room at Hell’s Kitchen comes with a full stage, a 12-foot projector screen, and no rental fee.

Private or semi-private
Capacity (seated): 160
Capacity (cocktail): 325
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies
Additional experiences: full stage; 12 foot projector screen; professional sound system; attached parking ramp which goes into lobby; connected to Minneapolis skyway system

Venue: Hell’s Kitchen Minnesota Room

MNRoom 2up_
The Minnesota Room at Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis.

Private or semi-private
Capacity (seated): 135
Capacity (cocktail): 200
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies
Additional experiences: attached parking ramp which goes into lobby; connected to Minneapolis skyway system

Venue: Hell’s Kitchen Far Side Pub

Far Side Pub2up_
Hell’s Kitchen is connected to the Minneapolis skyway system and the restaurant has a parking ramp attached to its lobby.

Private or semi-private
Capacity (seated): 50
Capacity (cocktail): 60
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies
Additional experiences: attached parking ramp which goes into lobby; connected to Minneapolis skyway system

Venue: Hell’s Kitchen Full Restaurant Buyout
Private
Capacity (seated): 345
Capacity (cocktail): 425
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies
Additional experiences: 2 full bars; private restrooms; 12 foot projector screen; professional sound system; attached parking ramp which goes into lobby; connected to Minneapolis skyway system

Masu Sushi & Robata

The Nomu Room Bar and Private Dining 2
Masu Sushi & Robata’s location in Northeast Minneapolis has a private room with no rental fee.

330 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis 55414
(612) 332-6278, info@masusushiandrobata.com

Located in the heart of Northeast Minneapolis
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages (with two weeks notice)
Final bill can be split amongst guests

Venue: Nomu Room

The Nomu Room Private Dining.jpg
The Nomu Room at Masu Sushi & Robata in Northeast Minneapolis has its own bar and private restrooms.

Private
Capacity (seated): 40
Capacity (cocktail): 40
Includes access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private restrooms, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $1,200

Saint Paul

DeGidio’s Restaurant & Bar

DeGidios 2.jpg
DeGidio’s is located along West 7th in Saint Paul, not far from downtown, but quite accessible for guests.

425 Seventh Street West, Saint Paul 55102
(651) 291-7105, info@degidios.com
More information

Final bill can be split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available
Valet parking is available (for events and after 5:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday nights October – March)

Venue: DeGidio Event Venue

DeGidios 3
The Event Venue at DeGidio’s and seat up to 160 people and does not have a rental fee.

Private
Capacity (seated): 40 to 160
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0 (deposit of $100 required for Sunday – Thursday nights and $500 for Friday – Saturday nights)
Food and beverage minimum: There is a $22 food minimum per adult in the DeGidio Event Venue. Beverages do no count toward the minimum. There is a $1,000 food minimum for events with less than 45 guests on Friday and Saturday evenings. There is a $750 food minimum Sunday – Thursday evenings for events with less than 35 guests. Children under 10 are half price.

Holman’s Table

Holmans Table 1.jpg
Holman’s Table is dinner and a show. Diners get a view of the tarmac of airplanes taking off at the Saint Paul Downtown Airport.

644 Bayfield Street, Saint Paul 55107
(612) 800-5298, contact@holmanstable.com
More information

View of the Holman Field tarmac
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced and split amongst guests (based on event)
Valet parking available for hire

Venue: Earhart Room
Private
Capacity (seated): 70
Capacity (cocktail): 100
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in music, access to smart TV, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: based on event
Food and beverage minimum: based on event

Bloomington

FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar

FireLake Private Dining Room 2.jpg
FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar inside Radisson Blu Mall of America.

2100 Killebrew Drive, Bloomington 55425
(952) 851-4040, reservationsmoa@firelakerestaurant.com

Inside the Radisson Blu Mall of America; connected to the Mall by skyway
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be split amongst guests up to 5 ways
On-site parking is available ($17)
Additional on-site parking is available in the Mall of America ramps
Valet parking is available ($12 event parking, $25 overnight parking)

Venue: Dining Room

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The Semi-Private Dining Room at FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar at the Radisson Blu Mall of America.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 60
Capacity (cocktail): 75
Includes access to smart TV (additional fee), private bar (additional fee), handicap accessible
Rental fee: $50
Food and beverage minimum: Varies

Venue: Lounge

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Guests in The Lounge at FireLake can enjoy a game of pool.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 46
Capacity (cocktail): 100
Includes access to smart TV (additional fee), private bar (additional fee), handicap accessible
Rental fee: $50
Food and beverage minimum: Varies
Additional experiences: includes 2 pool tables

Lela Restaurant

Lela PDR
The Private Dining Room at Lela Restaurant in Bloomington.

5601 West 78th Street, Bloomington 55439
(952) 656-5980, events@lelarestaurant.com
More information

Attached to the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests

Complimentary on-site parking available

Venue: Lela Private Dining Room
Private
Capacity (seated): 36
Capacity (cocktail): 20-40
Includes access to smart TV,  handicap accessible
Rental fee: varies
Food and beverage minimum: varies

Venue: Lela Lounge

Lela Lounge
The Lela Lounge gives you access to happy hour prices.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 58
Capacity (cocktail): not available
Includes access to microphone, access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: varies
Food and beverage minimum: varies
Additional experiences: happy hour menu available in this space

Venue: Lela Wine Room

Lela Wine Room
The Wine Room at Lela Restaurant in Bloomington.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 10
Capacity (cocktail): not available
Includes access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: varies
Food and beverage minimum: varies

Venue: Restaurant Buyout

lela buyout

Capacity (seated): 175
Capacity (cocktail): 225
Includes access to microphone, access to smart TV, private restrooms, handicap accessible
Rental fee: varies
Food and beverage minimum: varies

Chanhassen

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

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Whether your group has 4 people or 300, the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has a venue to accommodate you.

501 West 78th Street, Chanhassen 55317
(952) 934-1524, randerson@chanhassendt.com
More information

The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres isn’t just for date nights and wedding receptions!
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available
Discounts or packages for groups of 12 or more may be available for performances in the Main Dinner Theatre, Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret, and the Fireside Theatre Concert Series. Call (952) 934-1547 for details.

Venue: The Club

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The Club at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.

Private
Capacity (seated): 175
Capacity (cocktail): 225
Includes access to microphone, access to smart TV (additional fee), private bar, handicap accessible, private entrance
Rental fee: varies
Food and beverage minimum: varies

Venue: Garden, Jonathan and Carver Rooms

Ballroom1.jpg
From 50 to 300 people, the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres can accommodate groups of all sizes!

Private
Capacity (seated): 250 — the rooms can be divided and closed off for smaller parties (as few as 50)
Capacity (cocktail): 300
Includes access to microphone, access to smart TV (additional fee), private bar, handicap accessible (note: dancing area is not handicap accessible)
Rental fee: varies
Food and beverage minimum: varies

Venue: Director’s Suites — available for Main Stage shows at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

Private
Capacity (seated): 4 or 33 (two Suites available)
Capacity (cocktail): 33
Includes access to smart TV (additional fee), private bar (additional fee)
Rental fee: guests must purchase dinner and show tickets
Food and beverage minimum: a minimum of 20 people for larger space

Edina

Tavern on France

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Tavern on France in Edina.

6740 France Avenue S, Edina, MN 55435
(952) 358-6100
More information

Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available

Venue at Tavern on France

Edina_Interior_PrivateDining_3.jpg
The semi-private space at Tavern on France in Edina has no rental fee and only a $500 minimum Mondays thru Thursdays.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): 55
Capacity (cocktail): 55
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV (no sound), handicap accessible
Complimentary black or white linens, gift/check-in table available
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $500 Monday – Thursday, $1200 Friday – Saturday

Maple Grove

Lookout Bar and Grill

Banquet room
The Lookout Bar and Grill in Maple Grove.

8672 Pineview Lane, Maple Grove 55369
(763) 424-4365
More information

Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available

Venue: Patioview and Fireside Rooms

patioview 3
The Fireside Room at the Lookout Bar and Grill.

Private
Capacity (seated): 60 (if booked together)
Capacity (cocktail): 70 (if booked together)
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies
Additional experiences: Patioview comes with a private patio space

Minnetonka

Spasso

SpassoExterior.jpg
Spasso in Minnetonka.

17523 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka 55345
(952) 224-9555, customerservice@spassomn.com
More information

Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available

Venue: Spasso Private Dining Room

SpassoPDR4
Food and beverage minimums at Spasso in Minnetonka start at $250.

Private
Capacity (seated): 56
Capacity (cocktail): 85
Includes access to plug in own music, includes access to smart TV,  handicap accessible, dimmable lighting
Rental fee: a 5% event fee is added on to the final bill in lieu of a rental fee
Food and beverage minimum: lunch event: $250; Sunday-Monday evenings $250, Tuesday-Wednesday evenings $450, Thursday evening $650, Friday-Saturday evenings $850

Saint Louis Park

Park Tavern

Park Tavern.jpg
Throw a bowling party at the Park Tavern in Saint Louis Park.

3401 Louisiana Avenue South, Saint Louis Park 55426
(952) 929-6810, reservations@parktavern.net
More information

Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available

Venue: Atrium

Park Tavern Atrium
The Atrium inside Park Tavern.

Private
Capacity (seated): 36
Capacity (cocktail): not applicable
Includes access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $0

Venue: Party Room

Park Tavern Party Room
There is no food and beverage minimum for the Party Room at the Park Tavern.

Private
Capacity (seated): 40
Capacity (cocktail): not applicable
Includes access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: $0

Venue: Bowling Lanes

Semi-private or private
Capacity (seated): 200
Capacity (cocktail): not applicable
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, private bar, handicap accessible, private entrance
Rental fee: No flat fee — determined by when event is held
Food and beverage minimum: No flat fee — determined by when event is held
Additional experiences: 20 bowling lanes; 3 buffet areas; children’s arcade; smoking patio

Venue: 11th Frame

Park Tavern 11th Frame
Rent out the entire 11th Frame, which can turn into a private bar for your group.

Semi-private or private
Capacity (seated): 100
Capacity (cocktail): not applicable
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: No flat fee — determined by when event is held
Food and beverage minimum: No flat fee — determined by when event is held
Additional experiences: space includes 13 TVs, 4 pool tables, 5 dart boards, Big Buck Hunter video game, Golden Tee video game, Skee Ball machine, TouchTunes juke box, seasonal outdoor patio with additional 120 seats available

Wayzata

6Smith

294 Grove Lane North, Wayzata 55391
(952) 698-7900, party@6smith.com
More information

Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages
Final bill can be invoiced or split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available
Valet parking is available ($8)

Venue: Revel Room

Revel+Room.jpg
The Revel Room at 6Smith includes panoramic views of Lake Minnetonka and a private patio.

Private or semi-private
Capacity (seated): up to 50
Capacity (cocktail): 50
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private bar upon request, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on time, day of week and time of year (ranges from $1,250-3,000)
Additional experiences: includes panoramic views of Lake Minnetonka, private patio space

Venue: Knotty Room

Knotty+Room.JPG
The Knotty Room at 6Smith in Wayzata.

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): up to 14
Capacity (cocktail): 25
Includes access to microphone, access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on time, day of week and time of year (ranges from $500-1,250)

Venue: Revel & Knotty Rooms 

6Smith+Revel+Knotty.JPG
Combine the Revel & Knotty Rooms at 6Smith for additional space.

Private or semi-private
Capacity (seated): up to 86
Capacity (cocktail): 100
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart TV, private bar upon request, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on time, day of week and time of year (ranges from $2,000-4,200)
Additional experiences: includes panoramic views of Lake Minnetonka, private patio space

Venue: The Tavern

Semi-private
Capacity (seated): up to 64
Capacity (cocktail): 50
Includes access to smart TV, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0
Food and beverage minimum: varies depending on time, day of week and time of year (ranges from $1,000-5,000)
Additional experiences: includes panoramic views of Lake Minnetonka

Woodbury

Angelina’s Kitchen

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Angelina’s Kitchen in Woodbury.

2170 Eagle Creek Lane, Suite H, Woodbury 55129
(651) 998-0474, angela@angelinaskitchen.com
More information

Final bill can be split amongst guests
Complimentary on-site parking available
Menus can be specialized with logo and special messages

Venue: Tuscany Room

Angelinas 2
The Tuscany Room at Angelina’s Kitchen has no rental fee.

Semi-private or private
Capacity (seated): 70
Capacity (cocktail): 100
Includes access to microphone, access to plug in own music, access to smart Apple TV, access to private restrooms, private bar, handicap accessible
Rental fee: $0, a service fee of $30 per hour per staff member will be charged; staff count will be determined by guest count, menu and service style
Food and beverage minimum: private events: $1,500 Monday – Thursday, $2,000 Friday – Saturday; $0 for semi-private

With the crowdsourced list of restaurants below, it’s recommended you visit their websites to ensure they offer the private dining options you need. 

Minneapolis

Saint Paul

Arden Hills

Apple Valley

Blaine

Bloomington

Brooklyn Center

Brooklyn Park

Burnsville

Champlin

Chanhassen

Coon Rapids

Eagan

Eden Prairie

Edina

Excelsior

Golden Valley

Hastings

Hopkins

Long Lake

Maple Grove

Maplewood

Mendota

Minnetonka

New Hope

Plymouth

Richfield

Rogers

Rosemount

Roseville

Saint Louis Park

Savage

Shakopee

Spring Park

South Saint Paul

Stillwater

Vadnais Heights

Wayzata

Woodbury

The best donuts in the Twin Cities

I appeared on Twin Cities Live with a viewer-selected list of where to find the best donuts in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro. And it happened to be National Donut Day! Make sure the first Friday of June is circled on your calendar so you can celebrate.

Shops featured:

Guide: Twin Cities events leading up to the big game

I had to make a spreadsheet to keep track of everything happening in the Twin Cities leading up to the big game at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4. I’m ready to help you find the best activities. Embrace the chaos — we won’t see anything this big come through Minnesota for decades!

Am I missing an event? Let me know! Tweet @mike_marcotte or hit me up on Facebook.

Last updated 1/28/18

Thursday, January 25, 2018

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A rendering of the 2018 Ice Palace in Rice Park. To date, the St. Paul Winter Carnival has built 36 ice castles. Photo credit: St. Paul Winter Carnival
  • The St. Paul Winter Carnival’s Ice Palace opens today. Stop by Rice Park at 6:00 p.m. for a lighting ceremony. The Ice Palace will stay up through February 10, weather depending.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: For $25, you can buy an ice block used to build this year’s Ice Palace. You won’t receive the block, but you will get a certificate.
  • The Winter Carnival actually kicks off with a Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade in downtown Saint Paul. Festivities start at 5:15 p.m. at the Securian Building (401 Robert Street). Your family can walk with the St. Paul Bouncing Team, Winter Carnival royalty and others to Rice Park starting at 6:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: Dig around your house for glow sticks and other items to light up the night.
FFTC_FB_Logo_big
My friends at Family Fun Twin Cities have a guide featuring the best Winter Carnival events for you and your kiddos. Check it out here.
  • The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships kick off tonight on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. The four-day event is part of The Great Northern Festival. Opening ceremonies are Friday morning.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes, but if you want to play a game, you need to register in advance.
    • What’s the cost? Spectators can watch for free.
  • Even Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is embracing the ‘Bold North’ theme. The winter flower show in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory will feature shades of purple (fitting), silver and white.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free!
    • Know before you go: You’ll have plenty of time to check out this flower show. It runs through March 11.
  • You’ll plunge 40 feet down and glide 130 feet in an inner-tube at CHS Field for the Saint Paul Super Slide. Open through February 10, the Super Slide also features a trout ice fishing experience from January 27 – February 3.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $10 adults, $5 kids. Your ticket gets you unlimited access on the slide for 60 minutes.
    • Know before you go: Metro Transit’s Green Line light rail ends at CHS Field. It’s a great way to get to Lowertown Saint Paul without having to worry about traffic.
  • An ice bar is open on the roof of The Lexington in Saint Paul. Check it out Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. through February 10.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: The team at Summit will unleash and serve their newest brew, Dakota Soul, at the ice bar. The Czech-style Pilsner is made from hops grown on the family farm of Summit’s Founder and President, Mark Stutrud.
  • Go on a historic walking tour of downtown Saint Paul dive bars tonight. Stops include current bar, Kelly’s, along with the stories of bars which have shuttered. The loop is about 1.5 miles and the event starts at 6:30 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: Plan some extra time navigating downtown Saint Paul tonight. The St. Paul Winter Carnival will take over Rice Park with the opening of their Ice Palace.

Friday, January 26, 2018

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The Vulcan Snow Park opens today with a 300 foot-long snow slide. Photo credit: Vulcan Snow Park via Facebook
  • During the Winter Carnival, the Minnesota State Fairgrounds turn into a Snow Park. You’ll find it where the Kidway is during the Great Minnesota Get Together. It features a 16 foot-high and 300 foot-long snow slide, the Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition, along with two new events in 2018: barstool ski races and lawn mower races. Note that Fair buildings aren’t open, meaning the most luxurious restroom you’ll find is the port-a-potty.
    • Is it open to the public? Ya sure, you betcha. Festivities go January 26 through February 11.
    • What’s the cost? It’s free to get into the Fairgrounds and in the Snow Park, but if you want to go do that snow slide, it’s $2 per ride. They provide the sleds.
    • Know before you go: Over 50,000 cubic feet of snow (both natural and man-made) are used to make the slide and the sculptures.
  • Today marks the opening of Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Minnesota music legends Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis coordinated the music lineup that’s comprised of mostly local artists. However, it’ll kick off with Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go.” You’ll find performance times here. (Idina Menzel takes the stage during a ceremony that begins at 5:00 p.m.) Super Bowl LIVE runs through Sunday, February 4. It opens at 10:00 a.m. on weekends and 4:00 p.m. weekdays. Before you go, read my list of the five things you don’t want to miss at Super Bowl LIVE.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes. Many media outlets, including NFL Network and NBC Sports, will broadcast from this area, too.
    • What’s the cost? It’s free. No ticket is necessary.
    • Know before you go: It’s (mostly) outside. If you can’t handle the cold while you’re there, head up Nicollet Mall to the IDS Center and the Dayton’s Project. Also, don’t forget to stop at 6th Street and Nicollet Mall to get your photo taken with huge Roman Numeral LII ice sculptures. This map gives you a good glimpse on what you’ll find at Super Bowl LIVE.
  • If you see people flying over the Mississippi River, you’re not seeing things. Today marks the beginning of the Bold North Zip Line. Participants will soar for 800 feet towards downtown while they’re 100 feet in the air.
    1. Is it open to the public? Well…it was. Tickets sold out fast and are no longer available.
    2. What’s the cost? If you don’t have a ticket, you’re out of luck. I went down the zip line on January 26 and brought cameras with me. Watch that here.
    3. Know before you go: If you do have a time slot, you need to check in at the beginning of your scheduled time slot at 7th Street and Nicollet Mall. Participants will be shuttled to the zip line. Note that people who don’t have a ticket to go on the zip line will not be allowed on the shuttle.
  • Twenty-five Minnesota brands will open a pop-up mall inside City Center in Downtown Minneapolis today. According to Ali Kaplan at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, The North Local Market features Hagen and Oats woodwork, Worker B skin care products, home decor from i like you, and more. Minnesota-based Smile Network International will take over 7,000 square-feet inside City Center, too. The North Local Market kicks off at 4:00 p.m. Friday, January 26 and will be open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily through Sunday, February 4.
    • Is it open to the public? Yep. Bring your wallet.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: Make sure you take the skyway next door to the Dayton’s Project. An NFL Shop, along with a CNN broadcast studio, will be set up there.
  • If you’re downtown Minneapolis on Nicollet Mall, make sure to trek up to 5th and Nicollet to view ‘Sota Pop, a series of photo ops that are uniquely Minnesotan. It’s open various hours daily through February 4.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: It’s just steps from the Nicollet Mall light rail station.
  • Don’t want to drive up to the cities? I don’t blame you. Dakota County Parks are hosting a candlelight walk in Hastings along the Mississippi River tonight from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Bonfires and grub from food trucks will help warm you up.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $5. Kids 5 and under are free.
    • Know before you go: They’re looking for volunteers to help with the event. You’ll get in for free and a free meal, too. Learn more. 
  • It doesn’t get much more Minnesotan this this. The creative geniuses at Inbound BrewCo near Target Field in Minneapolis will have shuffleboard outdoors, but instead of traditional discs, they’re using pucks of frozen hot dish. It runs daily through Sunday, February 4. Learn more here.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free!
    • Know before you go: Inbound BrewCo is in North Loop, and no matter which direction you’re coming from, you should be able to avoid driving through downtown Minneapolis to get there.
  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate isn’t only in downtown Saint Paul. Loring Park, located just south of downtown Minneapolis, is home to a rink that’s bigger and less busy than the one you’ll find near Rice Park. Starting today, they’re hosting 10 days of activities from “fitness skating” to skating lessons and even a skating party with a showing of the movie, “Remember the Titans.” It’s open daily through March 4.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? It’s free. Skate rental is free when their warming house is open.
    • Know before you go: Okay, this is good. Organizers are planning a mass skating party of drag queens on Saturday, February 3 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Super Bowl Experience.jpg
The Super Bowl Experience runs January 27 through February 3 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
  • The Minneapolis Convention Center turns into an interactive theme park for the Super Bowl Experience starting today. At the family-friendly event, you can score autographs from NFL players, take a photo with the Vince Lombardi trophy, get some new gear at the NFL Shop and kiddos can participate in a NFL Play clinic. The Super Bowl Experience is open through Saturday, February 3.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for kids 12 and under. They’re available on Ticketmaster.
    • Know before you go: If you’re going to go on a weekend, please, please, please don’t try to park downtown Minneapolis. On January 27, 28 and February 3, Metro Transit is offering Park & Ride buses from Maple Grove, Blaine, Maplewood, Minnetonka and Richfield. It’ll drop you off at 11th Street and 2nd Avenue, which is just one block from the Super Bowl Experience. And it’s only $2.50 each way. Learn more here.
  • On the east side of the Mississippi, the St. Paul Winter Carnival hosts its annual King Boreas Grand Day Parade. Enjoy dozens of marching bands and wave at royalty from around the Twin Cities. The parade starts at 2:00 p.m. and marches down West Seventh Street from the Smith Avenue High Bridge to Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? It’s free.
    • Know before you go: Watch the parade from the end of the route near Rice Park. If you or the kiddos need to warm up, head inside Landmark Center for Kids Day activities including a puzzle contest and entertainment. Learn more.
  • The Saintly City Cat Show runs today and Sunday at the Saint Paul RiverCentre. Hundreds of cats will claw their way to be crowned the Household Pet King and Queen.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $4 adults, $3 for seniors and children.
    • Know before you go: The Cat Show is hosted by the Saintly City Cat Club, which started nearly 45 years ago.
  • This sounds extremely Minnesotan: watch robotic snowplows compete in an Autonomous Snowplow Competition in conjunction with the Winter Carnival today and Sunday. You’ll see it in Rice Park in front of the library.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: College teams come from as far as Michigan to compete.
  • It’s the second of four weekends for the Ice Shanty Projects on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. Check out ice houses designed by some creative folks; past ice shanties allowed visitors to take an imaginative elevator ride, relieve stress and play music. This year, a Notary Shanty will have a Notary Public inside for that form you need stamped. Go today (Saturday, January 27) for the Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: You’ll want to park near the Lake Harriet Bandshell. It’s about 1,000 feet on the ice. Parking around the Bandshell is extremely limited so pack some patience with those hand warmers.
  • If the boxed wine you buy with three bottles of vino inside makes you feel like a lush, wait until you see the bottle they’re uncorking today at The St. Paul Grill. It’s 18 liters of Cabernet Sauvignon. That one bottle has enough vino for 100 people to have a full glass.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes, but you need to make a reservation.
    • What’s the cost? $35 per person.
    • Know before you go: Only eight of these 18 liter bottles were made last year.
  • A reminder that one of the cheapest places to ice skate in the Twin Cities, Wells Fargo WinterSkate, is open through February 11 outside the Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes. If you don’t like crowds, today may not be the best day to go.
    • What’s the cost? If you bring your own skates, it’s free. If you flash a Wells Fargo credit or debit card, you can rent skates for free.
    • Know before you go: Pay close attention to when open skate takes place. The rink closes for leagues and private events.
  • As part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the Orchid Society of Minnesota hosts its annual Orchid Show in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park Zoo today and tomorrow.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $5 adults, $3 kids 3-12 years old.
    • Know before you go: Spend some extra time in the Conversatory’s Sunken Garden. It’s home to the Bold North Flower Show featuring flowers in various shades of purple, silver and white.
  • Thrivent Financial in downtown Minneapolis is host of the Super Hats and Mittens event today from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Enjoy free food, beverages and even parking when you pre-register (they are asking for a donation for the non-profit, Hats and Mittens). Kiddos can make hats and mittens out of fleece, visit a sheep petting zoo and dance to some tunes.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes. You really should pre-register. Do that here.
    • What’s the cost? Technically it’s free, but the event is hoping to raise funds to hand out 52,000 pairs of mittens and hats to those in need.
    • Know before you go: If you want to pair this with a trip to Super Bowl LIVE, you’ll walk about four blocks to get to the beginning. Thrivent Financial is about seven blocks away — you may want to hop in the skyway.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

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HopCat opened along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis last summer. Read my review here.
  • Fans of Surly beer, listen up. HopCat, located along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, is teaming up with the Twin Cities based brewery for a 52 tap takeover in honor of SB 52. Organizers are calling it the largest assembly of Surly beer ever. The first 100 people who arrive at 10:00 a.m. will receive a pint glass. Attendees can sip on Surly’s classics — Hell, Furious — along with their 11 anniversary beers and seven varieties of Darkness. With 52 beers to choose from, there’s probably something you’ll enjoy. See the full list of beers here.
    • Is it open to the public? Yep.
    • What’s the cost? Free. Sweet. Well the beer isn’t free.
    • Know before you go: HopCat is right on the light rail. Take the train.
  • The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is partnering with Minneapolis churches to host an interfaith gathering to celebrate unity today at 2:00 p.m. inside Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at Nicollet Mall and 12th Street. Bold Hope in the North will raise money to combat homelessness.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free. However, attendees will be asked to donate to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
    • Know before you go: Homeless Twin Cities families who were living in hotel rooms are being forced out due to visitor demand. Attending this event will help the Twin Cities as a whole make sure everyone has a place to sleep.
  • Don’t want to make your way into the city? Stillwater is host once again to the Ice Castles. 25 million pounds of ice create quite the spectacle along the Saint Croix River. There are great photo opportunities, an ice slide and you won’t have to worry about an icicle poking your eye out. Best of all, they lowered the admission prices for 2018. The end date is typically sometime in March, but it depends on the weather. The Ice Castles is closed Tuesdays and on Sunday, February 4. Go at night…your photos will look better. Make sure to order tickets in advance.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

Minneapolis

Also on Give Me The Mike…
Driving and parking advice for events happening in Minneapolis

Monday, January 29, 2018

Super Bowl Opening Night
Super Bowl Opening Night is only in its second year. It is the first (and only) time the Super Bowl teams will interact with each other before the big game.
  • It is officially Super Bowl Opening Night! The Xcel Energy Center will welcome both Super Bowl teams who will chat with the media at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. The event is actually open to fans who will witness the media circus along with appearances by mascots and cheerleaders. You’ll also go home with a Super Bowl gift bag and radio. The event is televised on NFL Network and ESPN 2.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes, actually.
    • What’s the cost? The cheapest seats I found are $48. They’re available on Ticketmaster.
    • Know before you go: This is the only time both Super Bowl teams will interact with each other before the big game.
  • The Great Northern Festival is a collaborative effort between the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the City of Lakes Loppet and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, which all embrace winter in the bold north. Organizers also plan some original events, including this Instgrammer’s dream: an outdoor feast. Adam Eaton from Saint Dinette and Thomas Boemer from Corner Table join forces once again to plan your dinner for a Chef Experience. And this year, it’s in Lowertown Saint Paul. They recruited Tim McKee and Shane Oporto from OCTO Fishbar to take it to a higher level. There’s a fire kitchen, outdoor games, ice sculptures, music and drinks.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $45 for general admission. VIP tickets are $125. Purchase them here.
  • Super Bowl LIVE, along Nicollet Mall, will be special tonight. The NFL announced that tonight is Prince Night, with scheduled performances by The Revolution, Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time and other artists with professional ties to late Minnesota-born icon. Read my list of the five activities you can’t miss when you’re there.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: Super Bowl LIVE opens at 4:00 p.m. The concert schedule has not been released.
  • The NFL is giving kids with mobility challenges a chance to get active. The Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis will host an all-ability event today from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. I’m working with the NFL to get additional information to see if it’s a good fit for your family.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

  • The Super Bowl Experience inside the Minneapolis Convention Center gives you the chance to take a photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s open daily through February 3.
  • The Vulcan Snow Park is open through February 11 at the State Fairgrounds.
  • The St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace is open through February 10.
  • The Saint Paul Super Slide is a 130 foot-long slide with a 40 foot drop. It’s open at CHS Field through February 10.
  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate continues through February 11 in downtown Saint Paul.
  • Twenty-five Minnesota-based businesses will set up shop inside City Center for the North Local Market. According to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, it’s open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily through February 4.
  • The winter flower show at Como Park Zoo features plants in various shades of purple. Skol! It’s free and runs through March 11.
  • Explore Minnesota is calling their ‘Sota Pop exhibit as one of the most Instgrammable spots surrounding the big game. It’s open various hours every day through February 4.
  • You can play shuffleboard using pucks of frozen hot dish (aka casserole) at Inbound BrewCo in Minneapolis. It’s going daily through February 4. Learn more.
  • The Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Loring Park in Minneapolis has 10 days of activities planned leading up to the big game. Today, they’re having a skating tribute to Minnesota music icon, Prince. It’s free and open daily until March 4.
  • Out in Stillwater, a castle made of ice stands along the Saint Croix River. The annual event is great for kids and date night. Ice Castles is open 6 days a week until some point in March.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Frogtown Curling.jpeg
Take curling 101 at FrogFest, hosted by the Frogtown Curling Club in Saint Paul. Photo credit: Frogtown Curling Club
  • You can get a hands-on lesson in curling at FrogFest in Saint Paul. The Frogtown Curling Club will teach you how to sweep a stone and throw a rock. Plus, the team from the newly-opened restaurant, Pajarito, will serve up dinner. FrogFest goes from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    •  Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? It’s $1200 for a group of 10 (so $120 a person). Seems a bit steep. Starting January 27, they’ll open it up to single tickets (those will be $120 each). To reserve, you’ll need to email manager@frogtown.org or call the Club.
    • Know before you go: FrogFest is part of The Great Northern Festival, a collaboration of events which embrace cold weather.
  • The Super Bowl Experience, inside the Minneapolis Convention Center, is closed to the public today. However, veterans, along with active military and their families, will receive free admission from 3:00-8:00 p.m.
  • The men behind the North Loop clothing store Askov Finlayson are teaming up with Northeast Minneapolis-based Fair State Brewing Cooperative to release a new beer called Keep the North Cold. You can try it at the Welcome to the North party at at Askov Finlayson from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Eat chili made by The Bachelor Farmer and warm up by a bonfire with a hot cocktail.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: Askov Finlayson recently partnered with Target to release a new line of clothes and accessories which highlight the North.
  • See professional ski jumpers from around the world strut their stuff at a competition in Bloomington tonight. Hyland Hills Ski Area plays host to the event, which begins at 7:00 p.m. Competitors will fly as far as possible, reaching speeds of over 50 miles per hour.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Those older than 12 will pay $10 at the gate.
    • Know before you go: Onsite parking is really limited. Off-site parking is where they get you — that’s $20 a car.
  • If you’re looking for a free meal, head to the snazzy-hipster James Ballentine VFW in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis tonight. The team at Minnesota-based Heggies Pizza want to prove their pizza is better than what Papa John is serving up, so they have a Great Pizza Snowdown taste-off at 6:00 p.m. Complimentary Heggies will be served, along with a side of smack talk.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: The team at Heggies recently flew to Louisville to deliver their pizzas to those at Papa John’s corporate office. See photos.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Inclusion Party.jpeg
Proceeds from the Inclusion Party go to Hate is Wrong, a non-profit whose mission is to foster diversity in sports and anti-bullying among youth. Photo credit: Hate is Wrong
  • Former Vikings player Esera Tuaolo, who is openly gay, is the host for an Inclusion Party. The event, sponsored by the NFL, is designed to bring the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and football communities closer together. Performances include contestants from season 13 of “The Voice” along with a DJ. It takes place at The Pourhouse in downtown Minneapolis.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes, but a ticket is required. 21+.
    • What’s the cost? General admission is $50. VIP tickets are $250.
    • Know before you go: “The Voice” season 13 finalist Red Marlow is schedule to perform.
  • Super Brain 2018 gives a medical spin to the Super Bowl. The event will share research underway regarding concussion and traumatic brain injury. Former NFL player and Twin Cities resident Ben Utecht will speak.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes, but you need to purchase a ticket.
    • What’s the cost? $350. All event proceeds will benefit the Brain Research Lab at Hennepin County Medical Center.
    • Know before you go: Ben Utecht has a Super Bowl ring, which he secured as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
  • If you want to venture out but don’t want to tackle downtown Minneapolis, check out Minnesota Monthly’s Tacos & Tequila After Dark event. The event includes food, premium tequila along with salsa dancing. It runs from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest in Minnetonka.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes. It is 21+.
    • What’s the cost? $65.
  • Head to the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis to see ESPN’s newsroom. Their football-themed shows, including SportsCenter, will broadcast live from the indoor urban park through Super Bowl Sunday.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? It’s free.
    • Know before you go: This is not the first ESPN broadcast from the IDS Center. They set up shop there during the 1991 NCAA Final Four.
  • CRAVE in downtown Minneapolis opens a rooftop Ice Lounge and Ice Fishing Experience today. Check out ice sculptures, pony up to an ice bar and go through a “virtual” ice fishing experience with real ice houses and even professional ice fishing guides.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Tickets are required; check website for details.
    • Know before you go: You can rent one of the ice houses for the evening or by the hour.
  • The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team takes the field tonight at Sea Foam Stadium on the campus of Concordia University in Saint Paul. They’ll play against a team of NFL Alumni. The Amputee Football Team is 17-0 against those alumni.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $10 adults, kids 12 and under free. Active and retired military and their families get in for free, up to 1,000 seats.
    • Know before you go: Parking at Sea Foam Stadium isn’t abundant. Plan some extra time to get there.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

  • Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall is free and runs daily through February 4. Read my list of the five activities you can’t miss when you’re there.
  • The Super Bowl Experience inside the Minneapolis Convention Center gives you the chance to take a photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s open daily through February 3.
  • The Vulcan Snow Park is open through February 11 at the State Fairgrounds.
  • The Saint Paul Super Slide is a 130 foot-long slide with a 40 foot drop. It’s open at CHS Field through February 10.
  • The St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace is open through February 10.
  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate continues through February 11 in downtown Saint Paul.
  • The Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Loring Park in Minneapolis has 10 days of activities planned leading up to the big game. It’s free and open daily until March 4.
  • Twenty-five Minnesota-based businesses will set up shop inside City Center for the North Local Market. According to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, it’s open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily through February 4.
  • The winter flower show at Como Park Zoo features plants in various shades of purple. Skol! It’s free and runs through March 11.
  • Explore Minnesota is calling their ‘Sota Pop exhibit as one of the most Instgrammable spots surrounding the big game. It’s open various hours every day through February 4.
  • You can play shuffleboard using pucks of frozen hot dish (aka casserole) at Inbound BrewCo in Minneapolis. It’s going daily through February 4. Learn more.
  • Out in Stillwater, a castle made of ice stands along the Saint Croix River. The annual event is great for kids and date night. Ice Castles is open 6 days a week until some point in March.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cigars.png
Former NFL Coach Mike Ditka hosts his annual party tonight in Northeast Minneapolis.
  • Cigars and top-shelf scotch doesn’t sound like a bad plan for a Thursday night. Join Mike Ditka for his annual Ditka & Jaws Cigars with the Stars event at the Machine Shop in Minneapolis. Attendees last year included Emmitt Smith, John Randle and Matt Birk.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes. A ticket is required.
    • What’s the cost? It’ll set you back $500.
    • Know before you go: The Machine Shop, near Saint Anthony Main, is one the newest event spaces in the Twin Cities.
  • Revel in fire dancers, ice sculptures and two dance clubs during the Arctic Bold Fashion Show at Stella’s Fish Cafe in uptown Minneapolis. The event is hosted by Idris Elba from HBO’s “The Wire.”
    • Is it open to the public? Yes. You’ll need to buy a ticket.
    • What’s the cost? $150.
    • Know before you go: The winner of a raffle at the event will drive around the Twin Cities in a Maserati over the big game weekend.
  • NFL team owners will congregate for dinner at Union Depot in Saint Paul. Sting is scheduled to perform.
    • Is it open to the public? Good luck.
  • The north metro is celebrating the big game with a Purple & Gold Kickoff Party at the Mermaid Event Center is Mounds View. Two DJs, including the Timberwolves’ Mad Mardigan, will spin tunes. Plenty of former Vikings players are scheduled to appear.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? General admission tickets are $99. VIP admission is $249.
    • Know before you go: Organizers claim this party will have the largest collection of Minnesota professional players in any one spot during the week.
  • The Chainsmokers start four nights of concerts inside Club Nomadic at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake. The Nomadic Entertainment team are also running the concerts inside the newly renovated Armory in downtown Minneapolis. Let’s try this one again. In mid-January, Nomadic Entertainment pulled the plug on Club Nomadic at Mystic Lake. The official cause was not made official, but my guess is that ticket sales were poor. The concerts will go on, but instead of taking place in a pop-up venue, they’ll take place in either the Mystic Lake Center, a new venue at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, or in the Mystic Showroom.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $89. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. The concert begins at 9:00 p.m. If you purchased a $200 Club Nomadic ticket, Mystic Lake says ticket-holders can keep their tickets for best access to the stage or get a full refund.
    • Know before you go: This concert is in the Mystic Lake Center, a new, indoor venue at the Casino.
  • The only inspirational music event sanctioned by the NFL takes place tonight on the campus of Bethel University. The NFL Gospel Celebration includes performances by Sounds of Blackness and the NFL Players Choir.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Tickets are $25 – 75.
    • Know before you go: Minnesota-native and Arizona Cardinals player Larry Fitzgerald, along with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will be honored.
  • The Armory in downtown Minneapolis transforms into Nomadic LIVE with three concerts along with a VIP party at the big game. Tonight’s concert features Imagine Dragons and starts at 8:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $175.
    • Know before you go: The Armory is right along Metro Transit’s light rail. Get off at U.S. Bank Stadium station.
  • Former Minnesota Vikings Assistant Coach Tony Dungy will be honored during the Legends for Charity Dinner at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. The evening is hosted by Rich Eisen and is a fundraiser for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $250.
    • Know before you go: It looks like Payton Manning will hand out the awards.
  • The Golf Channel sets up shop inside the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis for two nights of Feherty Live. Hosted by David Feherty, the annual broadcast draws A-list celebrities on stage. Shows are Thursday and Friday nights at 7:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? You can buy a ticket.
    • What’s the cost? $53.50
    • Know before you go: Want to save $53.50 and a trip downtown Minneapolis? The show will air live on The Golf Channel.
  • It’s night one of the TAO Group parties inside the Lumber Exchange Building in downtown Minneapolis. Rick Ross is scheduled to perform; Lil Jon will serve as DJ.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $249.
    • Know before you go: There’s an open bar from 10:00 – 11:00 p.m.
  • Rapper Gucci Mane performs at Muse Event Center in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis. The concert starts at 10:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $300. It’s steep. You can buy tickets here.
    • Know before you go: The 37 year-old Gucci Mane is considered a pioneer in the hip hop genre trap music.
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) will host an ice maze starting tonight. It’ll be up through February 4 and is open during museum hours. Walk through it to view objects from Mia’s upcoming special exhibition showcasing China’s last dynasty.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: If you head tonight (February 1), Mia will be serving free hot cocoa!
  • Justin Timberlake is hosting a listening party for his new album, “Man of the Woods” at the home of Prince, Paisley Park. Attendees will be asked to put their phones, cameras and other recording devices in secured pouches beforehand. Justin’s newest record releases on Friday, February 2.
    • Is it open to the public? Not anymore. Completely sold out. If you want, you can submit your email and be notified if more tickets become available.
  • The City of Bloomington is in the thick of big game madness and will embrace all the visitors with a three-day winter art celebration which kicks off today. Illuminate South Loop will showcase interactive art installations and performances designed and produced by artists from Minnesota and around the world. It takes place at Bloomington Central Station, just steps from Metro Transit’s light rail stop and just one stop from Mall of America.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free to attend.
    • Know before you go: On Saturday at 4:00 p.m., Illuminate South Loop will host a Cheer Hour featuring a heated tent with food, drinks and a performance to cheer on the coming of spring. That event is ticketed; it’s $40.
  • ‘Tis the season for bars made of ice. Men’s clothing and furnishings store MartinPatrick 3, is hosting one that was custom designed by countertop company Cambria. The ice bar is open outside their location in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. through Sunday.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free to attend.
    • Know before you go: This is one where you’ll want to dress to impress.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

  • Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall is free and runs daily through February 4. Read my list of the five activities you can’t miss when you’re there.
  • The Super Bowl Experience inside the Minneapolis Convention Center gives you the chance to take a photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s open daily through February 3.
  • The Vulcan Snow Park is open through February 11 at the State Fairgrounds.
  • The Saint Paul Super Slide is a 130 foot-long slide with a 40 foot drop. It’s open at CHS Field through February 10.
  • The St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace is open through February 10.
  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate continues through February 11 in downtown Saint Paul.
  • The Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Loring Park in Minneapolis has 10 days of activities planned leading up to the big game. It’s free and open daily until March 4.
  • ESPN will broadcast inside the Crystal Court at the IDS Center January 31 – February 4.
  • Twenty-five Minnesota-based businesses will set up shop inside City Center for the North Local Market. According to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, it’s open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily through February 4.
  • The winter flower show at Como Park Zoo features plants in various shades of purple. Skol! It’s free and runs through March 11.
  • Explore Minnesota is calling their ‘Sota Pop exhibit as one of the most Instgrammable spots surrounding the big game. It’s open various hours every day through February 4.
  • The Lexington on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul has a rooftop ice bar open from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights January 19 – February 10.
  • You can play shuffleboard using pucks of frozen hot dish (aka casserole) at Inbound BrewCo in Minneapolis. It’s going daily through February 4. Learn more.
  • Out in Stillwater, a castle made of ice stands along the Saint Croix River. The annual event is great for kids and date night. Ice Castles is open 6 days a week until some point in March.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Nomadic Live.png
A vision of what The Armory will look like in Downtown Minneapolis. Photo credit: Nomadic Entertainment
  • P!nk will perform during night two of Nomadic LIVE at The Armory in Downtown Minneapolis.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $225. General admission tickets are sold out. VIP tickets are still available; they’re $1,750 each.
    • Know before you go: P!nk will be back in town on March 12 for a concert at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul.
  • The annual Leather & Laces celebration is tonight in a building near Target Field. It’ll be hosted by Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg.
    • Is it open to the public? You’ll need a ticket.
    • What’s the cost? General admission tickets are $350. Or you can purchase a 15-person cabana for $25,000.
    • Know before you go: This annual party typically is two nights and got scaled back this year.
  • Stand outside Muse Event Center in the Warehouse District to see who is on the invite list for a big media party.
    • Is it open to the public? No.
  • The NFL Commissioner’s Party will be nearby at the The Depot. Depending on the year, tickets are opened up to the public.
    • Is it open to the public? Maybe. Stay tuned.
    • What’s the cost? Ticket prices aren’t public.
  • In Prior Lake inside the Mystic Lake Center, Kygo and Ellie Goulding takes the stage. After it was announced that the pop-up concert venue, Club Nomadic, was cancelled, Ellie Goulding bailed. Things are getting worse for Mystic Lake.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $200. To see Kygo (remember, Ellie Goulding won’t be there), it’s $59. If you want to be close to the stage, it’s $125. If you had a ticket to the Club Nomadic Kygo and Ellie Goulding concert, you’ll want to get it refunded. If you want to see Kygo (???), you can get a partial refund and get a ticket to that show.
    •  Know before you go: This concert was originally scheduled to take place in Club Nomadic, a huge pop-up venue in the parking lot of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. In mid-January, the plug was pulled. My guess: less than stellar ticket sales. This concert will now take place in the Mystic Lake Center, which is part of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel’s recent addition.
  • In Downtown Minneapolis, comedian Kevin Hart takes the stage at Target Center for what is bound to be a hilarious show.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Tickets range from $68 – 303.
    • Know before you go: The Target Center is all-new after a complete transformation. It was closed last summer.
  • It is night two of parties at The Exchange in Downtown Minneapolis. Tonight’s celebration is hosted by Jamie Foxx.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? General admission tickets are $299.
    • Know before you go: Want a table next to the DJ? It’ll set you back $20,000.
  • Rolling Stone hosts one of the biggest parties surrounding the big game. The hip hop trio Migos is expected to perform. It takes place at International Market Square in Minneapolis.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? General admission tickets are $700.
  • The wives of NFL players, along with their husbands, will walk the runway at the Off the Field Players’ Wives Fashion Show inside The Galleria in Edina. The event runs from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Standing room seats are $150. If you want to sit in the front row, it’s $350. Proceeds benefit local charities.
    • Know before you go: 2018 marks the 17th year for this annual event.
  • Pepsi is kicking off a Pepsi Generations campaign in Minneapolis at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Country music group LOCASH will perform a private concert. However, Pepsi says the venue will be open to the public select times today and Saturday. I’m working to find more information.
    • Is it open to the public? It sounds like the LOCASH concert is invite-only, but Pepsi alludes that they’ll open the venue up to the public on February 2 and 3.
    • What’s the cost? TBD.
    • Know before you go: Don’t bother driving through downtown Minneapolis to get to this venue. You’ll be able to take the University Avenue/4th Street exit off of Interstate 35W North or the Broadway Avenue exit off Interstate 94 to avoid traffic nightmares.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

  • Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall is free and runs daily through February 4. Read my list of the five activities you can’t miss when you’re there.
  • The Super Bowl Experience inside the Minneapolis Convention Center gives you the chance to take a photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s open daily through February 3 with the exception of January 30.
  • The Vulcan Snow Park is open through February 11 at the State Fairgrounds.
  • The Saint Paul Super Slide is a 130 foot-long slide with a 40 foot drop. It’s open at CHS Field through February 10.
  • The St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace is open through February 10.
  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate continues through February 11 in downtown Saint Paul.
  • The Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Loring Park in Minneapolis has 10 days of activities planned leading up to the big game. Tonight, you can skate while watching the movie, “Remember the Titans.” It’s free and open daily until March 4.
  • It’s the second night of Feherty Live at the State Theatre. The show will broadcast live on The Golf Channel.
  • ESPN will broadcast inside the Crystal Court at the IDS Center January 31 – February 4.
  • Twenty-five Minnesota-based businesses will set up shop inside City Center for the North Local Market. According to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, it’s open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily through February 4.
  • The winter flower show at Como Park Zoo features plants in various shades of purple. Skol! It’s free and runs through March 11.
  • Explore Minnesota is calling their ‘Sota Pop exhibit as one of the most Instgrammable spots surrounding the big game. It’s open various hours every day through February 4.
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, known as Mia, hosts an ice maze on its front lawn. It’s free to walk through and is open during regular museum hours through February 4.
  • The Lexington on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul has a rooftop ice bar open from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights January 19 – February 10.
  • Illuminate South Loop continues today in Bloomington. Head to Bloomington Central Station (right off of the light rail) to see lit art installations and performances. It’s free to attend.
  • Men’s clothing and furnishings store MartinPatrick 3 is home to an ice bar through Sunday. Check it out from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  • You can play shuffleboard using pucks of frozen hot dish (aka casserole) at Inbound BrewCo in Minneapolis. It’s going daily through February 4. Learn more.
  • Out in Stillwater, a castle made of ice stands along the Saint Croix River. The annual event is great for kids and date night. Ice Castles is open 6 days a week until some point in March.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Maxim
The Maxim Party will be held inside a pop-up dome in downtown Minneapolis. This is what last year’s venue looked like in Houston. Photo credit: The Maxim Events
  • Marshmello and Post Malone are schedule to perform at Maxim Magazine’s party, which will be inside a 31,000 square foot dome built in a parking lot near the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. It opens up at 8:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes. You may have to search around a bit to find a promo code to get access to buy tickets. Hint: check Facebook.
    • What’s the cost? $750 for general admission. The top VIP package is $21,000.
    • Know before you go: Electronic dance music producer Marshmello wears a ‘helmet’ to hide their identity, and you’ve probably heard their music, including a song I really enjoy, “Ritual.” The video has nearly 50 million views on YouTube.
  • In previous years, Playboy’s annual party has seen performances by Drake and Flo Rida. This year, Snoop Dogg takes the stage at The Venue in downtown Minneapolis. The party starts at 9:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? General admission tickets are $500. If you want a table in front of the stage, it’ll cost you $21,500.
    • Know before you go: This is probably obvious, but the waitresses are Playboy bunnies.
  • It’s second night of the Leather & Laces party held near Target Field. Not much information is public. I’m in contact with organizers and will keep you in the know. The Leather & Laces party got scaled back to one evening; it’s on Friday, February 2.
  • The Giving Back Fund hosts Big Game Big Give, which is hosted at a private residence in Edina. Big names typically attend this one — previous hosts have included Alec Baldwin, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Michael Phelps and Hilary Swank. This year, Jamie Foxx (who is everywhere this week) serves as the celebrity host.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes, but you might feel a little out of place at this one.
    • What’s the cost? That’s not publicly announced. If you want to go, you need to call and order tickets over the phone.
    • Know before you go: In 2015, this one event raised $1 million dollars for charity.
  • Southern rockers Florida Georgia Line headline night three at Club NOMADIC, a pop-up music venue outside of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake inside the Mystic Showroom at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. The concert starts at 9:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Tickets start at $200. It’s still $200. That’s steep.
    • Know before you go: Concerts at Club NOMADIC are 18+. Unless you’re a big Florida Georgia Line fan, there’s now nothing glamorous or out of the ordinary about this (really overpriced) concert.
  • One of the biggest NFL sanctioned events is coming back home. Taste of the NFL started in Minnesota when the Metrodome hosted the the big game in 1992. Each NFL team’s city sends one restaurant, and the Twin Cities will be represented by Thomas Boemer, the man behind Corner Table and Revival. Jeff Bridges, Alyssa Milano and Bobby Flay are this year’s celebrity ambassadors and O.A.R. is scheduled to perform. It takes place at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $700.
    • Know before you go: Former Vikings player Ben Leber is this year’s player host. If you see him, tell him I say hello (and tell him he’s an attractive man).
  • Jennifer Lopez headlines DIRECTV Super Saturday Night at The Armory in downtown Minneapolis. It’s one of the biggest concerts of the week in the host city — previous headliners for this show included Jay-Z and Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $340.
    • Know before you go: The concert is the third and final big night of shows put on by Nomadic Entertainment.
  • Professional snowmobiler and native Minnesotan Levi LaVallee will attempt quite the stunt on Nicollet Mall at 1:30 p.m. — flying nearly 100 feet between two ramps. That’s one part of the Polaris UpsideDowntown event, which runs from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free.
    • Know before you go: LaVallee is a seven-time gold medalist at the X Games.
  • The annual “The Night Before” concert always draw big names, and this year is no different — the Dave Matthews Band will headline a concert at the Xcel Energy Center.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? The cheapest seats I found on Ticketmaster on January 11 were $96. Most expensive? $785. General admission tickets on the floor cost $295.
    • Know before you go: The Dave Matthews Band have sold 38 million CDs and DVDs since the release of their first album in 1994.
  • Take a very romantic stoll on a frozen Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis during the Luminary Loppet. Luminaries are spaced equally around the lake to light the way. Fire dancers, cocoa and treats will surprise you along the way.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? It’s $26 for adults if you register before January 24.
    • Know before you go: Adult participants receive a free pint of Surly beer to sip on at the Luminary Party that evening.
  • The Norway House on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis (read: not downtown) is hosting a Welcome to the North party today and tomorrow. The indoor- and outdoor-event features an ice bar serving traditional Nordic drinks, a market selling wares and crafts along with a real-life Norwegian Vikings costume contest. The celebration goes from 3:00 until 9:00 p.m.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? Free to attend.
    • Know before you go: They’ll be showing the big game on a big screen Sunday night.
  • Former Vikings quarterback Brett Farve will stop by Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka today from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. All autographs will include a complimentary letter of authenticity.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes, but you need a ticket if you want to meet Brett.
    • What’s the cost? It depends on what you want him to sign. Most tickets are between $200-400.
    • Know before you go: A portion of proceeds will be donated to Brett’s non-profit charity, Farve4Hope.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

  • Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall is free and runs daily through February 4. Read my list of the five activities you can’t miss when you’re there.
  • The Super Bowl Experience inside the Minneapolis Convention Center gives you the chance to take a photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s open daily through February 3.
  • The Vulcan Snow Park is open through February 11 at the State Fairgrounds.
  • The Saint Paul Super Slide is a 130 foot-long slide with a 40 foot drop. It’s open at CHS Field through February 10.
  • The St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace is open through February 10.
  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate continues through February 11 in downtown Saint Paul.
  • The Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Loring Park in Minneapolis has 10 days of activities planned leading up to the big game. Tonight from 6:00 -8:00 p.m., drag queens will take the ice which is bound to be hilarious. It’s free and open daily until March 4.
  • ESPN will broadcast inside the Crystal Court at the IDS Center January 31 – February 4.
  • Twenty-five Minnesota-based businesses will set up shop inside City Center for the North Local Market. According to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, it’s open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily through February 4.
  • The winter flower show at Como Park Zoo features plants in various shades of purple. Skol! It’s free and runs through March 11.
  • Explore Minnesota is calling their ‘Sota Pop exhibit as one of the most Instgrammable spots surrounding the big game. It’s open various hours every day through February 4.
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, known as Mia, hosts an ice maze on its front lawn. It’s free to walk through and is open during regular museum hours through February 4.
  • The Lexington on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul has a rooftop ice bar open from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights January 19 – February 10.
  • Illuminate South Loop continues today in Bloomington. Head to Bloomington Central Station (right off of the light rail) to see lit art installations and performances. It’s free to attend. At 4:00 p.m. today, they’ll host a Cheer Hour inside a heated tent which includes food, drink and a performance which will welcome spring. That party costs $40.
  • Men’s clothing and furnishings store MartinPatrick 3 is home to an ice bar through Sunday. Check it out from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  • You can play shuffleboard using pucks of frozen hot dish (aka casserole) at Inbound BrewCo in Minneapolis. It’s going daily through February 4. Learn more.
  • Out in Stillwater, a castle made of ice stands along the Saint Croix River. The annual event is great for kids and date night. Ice Castles is open 6 days a week until some point in March.

Sunday, February 4

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Players Tailgate
Charissa Thompson from NFL on Fox and television show host Guy Fieri will be at The Players Tailgate just blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium.
  • Guy Fieri, host of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” is this year’s celebrity chef at the Players Tailgate. Hosted in a climate-controlled venue in a parking lot near the stadium, the event offers attendees an all-you-can-eat menu, an open bar, and over 30 NFL players in attendance.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $750.
    • Know before you go: The 30,000 square foot space will be built just for this party.
  • Hazelden Betty Ford presents SoberBowl 2018 at Muse Event Center in Minneapolis. The no-alcohol gathering includes a support game and a viewing of the big game.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $20.
    • Know before you go: For a limited time, you can also purchase a parking spot near Muse for $20. That’s a heck of a deal.
  • “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon is coming to Minneapolis for a one-night only show that’ll air after the big game on NBC. Guests for the show, on stage at the Orpheum Theatre, include halftime performer Justin Timberlake, Dwayne Johnson and the cast of the tearjerker “This Is Us.”
    • Is it open to the public? If you don’t already have a ticket, you’re out of luck. They were snatched up in about an hour in December.
  • Gwen Stefani will wrap up four nights of concerts at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake. Originally meant to be in Club Nomadic, a pop-up music venue, the concert will now take place inside the Casino at the Mystic Lake Center.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $69. Not bad at all.
    • Know before you go: You’ll want to buy a case of Red Bull beforehand. This concert doesn’t start until 11:00 p.m.
  • LIV Nightclub in Miami is bringing its expertise of planning parties to the Lumber Exchange Building in downtown Minneapolis for a post-game dance club. Their LIV on Sunday party in Florida draws professional athletes, celebrities and musicians and tonight’s your chance to experience the Miami life without the plane ticket. It starts at 9:00 p.m. inside The Pourhouse.
    • Is it open to the public? Yes.
    • What’s the cost? $175. Purchase tickets online.
    • Know before you go: This is the fourth and final night of parties at The Pourhouse put on by Tao. Lil Jon, Nick Cannon and Jamie Foxx will stop by on other nights.

Ongoing (more in-depth information above)

  • Super Bowl LIVE on Nicollet Mall is free and runs daily through February 4.
  • The Vulcan Snow Park is open through February 11 at the State Fairgrounds.
  • The Saint Paul Super Slide is a 130 foot-long slide with a 40 foot drop. It’s open at CHS Field through February 10.
  • The St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace is open through February 10.
  • Wells Fargo WinterSkate continues through February 11 in downtown Saint Paul.
  • The Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Loring Park in Minneapolis has 10 days of activities planned leading up to the big game. They’ll also show the big game on a big screen. It’s free and open daily until March 4.
  • ESPN will broadcast inside the Crystal Court at the IDS Center January 31 – February 4.
  • Twenty-five Minnesota-based businesses will set up shop inside City Center for the North Local Market. According to Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, it’s open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily through February 4.
  • The winter flower show at Como Park Zoo features plants in various shades of purple. Skol! It’s free and runs through March 11.
  • Explore Minnesota is calling their ‘Sota Pop exhibit as one of the most Instgrammable spots surrounding the big game. It’s open various hours every day through February 4.
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, known as Mia, hosts an ice maze on its front lawn. It’s free to walk through and is open during regular museum hours through February 4.
  • Men’s clothing and furnishings store MartinPatrick 3 is home to an ice bar through Sunday. Check it out from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  • You can play shuffleboard using pucks of frozen hot dish (aka casserole) at Inbound BrewCo in Minneapolis. It’s going daily through February 4. Learn more.

A guide to Minnesota holiday light displays, 2017 edition

The 2019 Minnesota holiday light display guide can be found here.

 

Here’s a roundup of 2017 holiday light displays around Minnesota. Know of one I’m missing? Let me know by filling out the contact form at the bottom of this page. I have personally confirmed these shows are happening in 2017; be wary of other websites!

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This listing is presented in collaboration with Family Fun Twin Cities.
They have a fantastic holiday activity guide on their website. Check it out!

Looking for more holiday event ideas? Check out my 40 Ways to Holiday guide.

I was on KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live to share some of these light display picks. Check out the video!

Minneapolis

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250,000 LED lights are set to music in a show planned by students from the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. Photo credit: College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota
  1. The University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE) will premiere a student-designed 3D outdoor light show starting at 5:00 p.m. on December 1. It features 250,000 LED lights (!!!) set to music. Coolest part: much of the show is designed, sequenced, composed and performed by U of M students. The December 1 premiere includes a party inside Rapson Hall on campus. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be served. The show lasts about 20 minutes and repeats at 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. They’ll also run the light show on December 2, 7, 8 and 9.
  2. The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train stops at Lions Park between 37th Avenue and Stinson Boulevard on Saturday, December 9 at 7:45 p.m. A program with live music performance takes place from 8:00 – 8:30 p.m. Learn more about the Holiday Train.

Saint Paul

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The holiday tree in Rice Park has 15,000 LED lights.
  1. The Capital City’s holiday tree in Rice Park adorns 15,000 LED lights and stays lit nightly through the holiday season. It’s free to check it out. Make sure to visit Wells Fargo WinterSkate across the street. Learn more.
  2. A few years ago, I met the households behind what’s nearly a full city block of holiday light displays in Saint Paul. Holiday Lights on York Avenue even has its own website. The light show is set to music, and you’ll be able to listen to it from the radio in your car. It boasts more than 60,000 lights across 10 yards. The show starts on Friday, November 24 and runs through New Years Eve. You can see it lit up nightly from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Bring a non-perishable food donation for Merrick Community Services, a non-profit serving the east side of Saint Paul since 1908. To find Holiday Lights on York Avenue, have your GPS take you to 1526 York Avenue, Saint Paul 55106.

Andover

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The Cairl family in Andover has quite a bright yard. Photo credit: Cairl Family Christmas Lights via Facebook
  1. Head to 2342 145th Avenue Northwest in Andover to see the display put up by the Cairl family. It runs Sundays – Thursdays from 5:00 – 9:30 p.m. and Fridays – Saturdays from 5:00 – 10:30 p.m. The show is synchronized to music you’ll be able to listen to from your car.
  2. Set your radio to 107.5 FM when driving by this home in Andover. It’ll be lit up from 5:30 – 10:00 p.m. nightly December 13 through New Years Eve. You’ll find it located at 3715 152nd Lane Northwest.

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Anoka

Anoka County Fair
The Anoka County Fair turns into a winter wonderland December 8 – 10. Photo credit: Anoka County Fair
  1. The Anoka County Fairgrounds host a free Holiday in Lights celebration December 8 through the 10. There will be hayrides, live music and an appearance by Santa and his blushing bride, Mrs. Claus. It’s free to attend.

Buffalo

  1. Buffalo is a scheduled stop for the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. Find it on Monday, December 11 at 612 Northeast Third Avenue at 5:45 p.m. The event is free. Learn more about the Holiday Train here.

Chaska

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Photo credit: SnoMutt Lights/Facebook
  1. The SnoMutt Lights Holiday Show kicks of December 8th in Chaska. You’ll see the synchronized show from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. Sundays – Thursdays and 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. Fridays – Saturdays. It’ll stay lit through December 31. Find it at 1913 Waterford Circle in Chaska.


Cloquet

  1. A handful of homes and businesses in Cloquet are participating in A Sweet Event’s Christmas Lighting Challenge. Click here to see a list of placess all lit up, along with how you can vote for the best display.

Cottage Grove

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It’s a light display on wheels: The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolls into Cottage Grove on Saturday, December 9. Photo credit: Canadian Pacific
  1. The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train stops in Cottage Grove on Saturday, December 9 at 5:15 p.m. You’ll find it south of the Seiben Bridge in front of the Youth Service Bureau. A program takes place from 5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Learn more about the Holiday Train.

Duluth

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Bentleyville claims to be the nation’s largest free walk-through light display. Photo credit: Bentleyville
  1. Claiming to be “America’s Largest Free Walk Through Lighting Display,” Bentleyville in Duluth is the real deal. They have a “crowd-o-meter” on their website to determine which nights are the most crowded, Santa makes frequent appearances, and they even hand out free knit hats to kids 10 and younger. Organizers say about 30 minutes is a good amount of time to walk through the light display, and if you want a photo with jolly old Saint Nick, set aside at least an hour. The key is to dress warm, as winds coming off of Lake Superior can be nasty. Bentleyville is 501(c)(3) non-profit and accepts tax-deductible contributions. You’ll find it at Bayfront Festival Park — 700 Railroad Street — in Duluth. It’s open through December 26, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
  2. Jon Jacobs told me about the holiday sound and light show on Exhibition Drive in Duluth. Their Facebook page says they’ve won holiday light contests in Duluth every year since 2012. Their show features 36 channels of lights choreographed to holiday music that you’ll be able to hear from your car’s radio. See it twinkle through New Years Eve from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Sundays – Thursdays and 5:00 — 11:00 p.m. Fridays – Saturdays.
  3. Peter from A Sweet Event messaged me with a great resource for those looking for lights up north. Every year, they host a Christmas Lighting Challenge and in 2017, have around 50 homes and businesses participating in Duluth, Superior, Two Harbors and Cloquet. Check it out.

Golden Valley

  1. Head to the Level Railway Crossing at Golden Hills Drive on Sunday, December 10 at 4:50 p.m. to see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train roll in. Learn more.

Hastings

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The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train makes its way to Hastings on Friday, December 8. Photo credit: Canadian Pacific
  1. The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolls into the CP Depot at 500 East Second Street at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, December 8. A program with live music will begin at 8:45 p.m. The event is free; attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food donations. Learn more.

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Lake Elmo

  1. Over 100,000 LED lights are choreographed to music you can listen to from your car in Lake Elmo. Valley Lights at Rockpoint Church runs 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. nightly through December 31. Free wagon rides will be offered December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Rockpoint Church is at 5825 Kelvin Avenue North in Lake Elmo.

Mankato

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Over 1.5 million lights make up the Kiwanis Holiday Lights display in Mankato. Find it at Sibley Park. Photo credit: Kiwanis Holiday Lights via Facebook
  1. The Kiwanis put on a light show you can walk or drive through at Sibley Park in Mankato. It features over 1.5 million LED lights, a skating rink with warming house and special daily events. You can check it out Sundays – Thursdays from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. and Fridays – Saturdays from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. through December 31. Friday, December 15 is a great night to visit; you can check out ice sculptures, hope on a horse-drawn wagon ride and visit with Santa and his reindeer. Kiwanis Holiday Lights is free. Thanks to Kathy Gelhaye for the suggestion!

Minnetrista

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A show designed by Ryan Kasper-Cook in Minnetrista was featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” in 2016. Photo credit: Trista Lights
  1. The owner of this display has shut it down, citing loud party buses and visitors. More from KSTP.  Trista Lights is run by Ryan Kasper-Cook, and this guy means business. Seriously, he owns a lighting business. Just take a look at this video of what he’s doing out in the west metro. He also works with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska to produce their light show. They were actually featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” (click here to watch part of that). Head to 4386 Trista Road in Minnetrista to check it out; it runs from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Sundays – Thursdays and from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Fridays – Saturdays. The 12-minute show runs every half hour.

 New Hope

  1. The Larson family creates a light show synchronized to music that runs past New Years Day. You’ll see the 100,000 plus lights in action from 4:30 – 10:00 p.m. weeknights and 4:30 – 11:00 p.m. on the weekends. Outdoor speakers will play the music until 9:00 p.m.; you can also hear it on their radio station, “The Sled.” It’s at 3549 Ensign Avenue North, New Hope.
  2. Head to the Level Railway Crossing on 49th Street on Sunday, December 10 at 3:35 p.m. to see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train roll in. Free music performances start at 3:45 p.m. It’s free to attend. Learn more about the Holiday Train.

Plymouth

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The Fischer family in Plymouth uses 40,000 lights in just one front yard. Photo credit: Fischer family
  1. The Fischer family in Plymouth says they have “somewhere around 40,000 lights” in their display. It’s computer-controlled and is set to music you’ll be able to listen to through your car’s radio. You’ll be able to see it from December 1-31 with the exception of Christmas Eve. Check out their elaborate website — it unveils the curtain on how they get their yard set up each year. Their display is at 16700 33rd Avenue North in Plymouth.
  2. The PD Shimmers display in Plymouth is designed and built by those living with Parkinson’s disease. In 2017, 60,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s, so the PD Shimmers display will feature 60,000 lights this year. On their website, you can dedicate one of their lights to someone you know with Parkinson’s. The display is along Ithaca Lane; head to 4320 Ithaca Lane North, Plymouth. It is lit nightly from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. starting November 24 and lasting through Christmas.

Richfield

Richfield Gingerbread House

  1. Originally known as the Gingerbread House, the display at 7039 Third Avenue South in Richfield is back. They’re also known to set up quite the display for Halloween as well.

Saint Louis Park

  1. Head to the Saint Louis Park Emergency Program building at 6812 West Lake Street on Sunday, December 10 at 6:00 p.m. to see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. Free music performances take place from 6:15 – 6:45 p.m. Learn more about the Holiday Train.

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Shakopee

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Is that a Ferris wheel in your front yard?!?!? Photo credit: Shakopee Winter Wonderland/Facebook
  1. There’s a winter wonderland happening in Shakopee! Check out this light display at 921 Shakopee Avenue East in Shakopee. Lights will be on each night through New Years Day. Between December 15 and Christmas Eve, they’ll have crafts, treats hot cocoa and visits from Santa beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Sleepy Eye

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Holiday Lights in Motion started up in 2014. Photo credit: Sleepyeyeonline.com
  1. Holiday Lights in Motion runs through New Years at Sportsmans Park in Sleepy Eye. Select nights will offer free horse and carriage rides along with a freewill concession stand. You’re able to drive or walk through the exhibits, which are all made of LED lights. It’s open nightly from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Thanks to Cindy LaBrie for suggesting this spot! 

Two Harbors

  1. Homes and businesses in Two Harbors (along with Duluth, Cloquet and Superior, WI) are participating in A Sweet Event’s 2017 Christmas Lighting Challenge. Find an interactive with places participating here.

Waconia

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The Winery at Sovereign Estate in Waconia uses eight miles worth of lights to create its display, The Spirit of Winter. Photo credit: The Winery at Sovereign Estate
  1. This is the event to take the place of Holiday Lights in the Park in Saint Paul. The Winery at Sovereign Estate in Waconia hosts the Spirit of Winter, a light show featuring over eight miles of lights over 10 acres, with animated displays set to synchronized music. Although it’s at a winery, all ages are welcome. And since it’s at a winery, their wine shop will be open for adults to buy a glass or bottle (no tastings). Cider, hot chocolate, cookies and more will be sold, too. Tickets are only $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 3 to 12. They must be purchased in advance online. The Spirit of Winter runs through Saturday, December 30 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and is open again Thursday, January 25 through Saturday, February 3. It runs from 4:30 – 8:00 p.m.

White Bear Lake

  1. Since publishing this article, multiple people have reached out to me about a White Bear Lake display on the shores of Bald Eagle Lake. It looked as though 2016 was going to be last year of the light display at 5590 West Bald Eagle Boulevard. Well, they couldn’t resist. It’s scaled back slightly, but you’ll still be amazed. Take a look at this YouTube video to see for yourself. It’s lit from 4:30 p.m. – midnight every day through the first week of January. Don’t let the Facebook page “Our Last Holiday Light Show” fool you.

Willmar

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Celebrate the Light of the World is entering its final year in Willmar. Photo credit: Celebrate the Light
  1. Celebrate the Light of the World is entering its 10th and final year in Willmar. The display is a fundraiser for the Salvation Army. You can see it run nightly from 4:30 – 11:00 p.m. until January 7, including all night on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is unique — organizers host drive-in movies; see “ELF” on December 1, “Alvin and the Chipmunks” on December 2. The December 2 celebration also has a fireworks show. Santa will stop by on Saturday, December 9; a professional photographer will be there to snap free pictures of you and Father Christmas (donations will taken for the Salvation Army of Willmar).

Woodbury

  1. You know a family’s light show is legit when it has sponsors. After taking a few years off, MNlightshow is back again this year in Woodbury. The show is synchronized to music you’ll be able to listen to from your car radio. The homeowners are collecting non-perishable food donations for Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf (look for the bin at the end of their driveway). You’ll see it lit up Sundays – Thursdays from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. and Fridays – Saturdays from 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. The address: 891 Winterberry Drive, Woodbury.

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40 Ways to Holiday, Day 39: December 31

In 2017, there are exactly 40 days from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Day. And with the elimination of the eighth floor display at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis and Holiday Lights in the Park in Saint Paul, along with the disappointing change from tradition at Holidazzle, more people than ever are looking for new holiday activities. Enter “40 Ways to Holiday.” Each day between November 23 and January 1 will have at least one event worth checking out, along with plenty of giveaways along the way! Find the full list of days here.

Day 39: Sunday, December 31

Featured pick: New Years Eve at Can Can Wonderland

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Mini golf, a balloon drop, champagne towers and live music await you at Can Can Wonderland. Photo credit: Can Can Wonderland

Celebrate New Years Eve with champagne towers, wearable art, mini golf, face painting and a balloon drop at Can Can Wonderland in Saint Paul. Not only will the party be a celebration to ring in 2018, you’ll be there when Can Can Wonderland turns one year-old. Music will be provided by the Brass Messengers. Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and celebration goes until 2:00 a.m.

Heads up: I’m giving away a pair of tickets to this party! Check back on Monday, December 18 for your chance to win.

New Years Eve at Can Can Wonderland
Sunday, December 31
8:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Tickets: $35 – 60

Other happenings

  • Afton Alps, outside of Hastings, hosts a family-friendly New Years celebration with skiing and snowboarding, a bonfire and hillside fireworks at 10:00 p.m. They’re running a deal, too — buy a lift ticket after 9:30 p.m. and you’ll be able to ski or snowboard on January 1 for free.
    • GIVEAWAY: Head to my Facebook page on Tuesday, December 12 for your chance to win lift passes to Afton Alps!
  • One of the most kind human beings I’ve had the pleasure to meet is comedian Louie Anderson. The co-star of “Baskets” on FX is back in his home state for two shows at the Ames Center in Burnsville. Tickets are expected to sell out quick, so act fast! (Links to purchase tickets online: 6:30 p.m. show; 9:30 p.m. show)
  • Ring in the New Year at noon. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory hosts it’s ever-popular Noon Year’s Party starting at 10:00 a.m. today and tomorrow. Learn more.
  • Fort Snelling State Park hosts an annual candlelight walk from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. You can hike miles of candle-lit

40 Ways to Holiday, Day 25: December 17

In 2017, there are exactly 40 days from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Day. And with the elimination of the eighth floor display at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis and Holiday Lights in the Park in Saint Paul, along with the disappointing change from tradition at Holidazzle, more people than ever are looking for new holiday activities. Enter “40 Ways to Holiday.” Each day between November 23 and January 1 will have at least one event worth checking out, along with plenty of giveaways along the way! Find the full list of days here.

Day 25: Sunday, December 17

Featured pick: Story Time with Santa

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Minnesota’s biggest hotel, The Hilton Minneapolis, went through a major remodel and is celebrating the holiday season with a visit from Santa along with crafts and snacks.

Santa is taking time of his busy schedule making toys to meet good little boys and girls! It’s happening today from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the newly renovated Hilton Minneapolis. In addition to story time, kiddos can enjoy holiday cookies, warm cider and hot cocoa. Plus, there’s craft time! Each child will create their very own holiday-themed picture frame which will feature a photo of them with Santa. And for $5 for kids ages 5 to 12 years old, this is a great event!

If you’re seeing this before December 9th, you’re in luck! I’m giving away an overnight stay to the Hilton Minneapolis! Click here to enter.

Story Time with Santa
Sunday, December 17 (also Sunday, December 10)
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Hilton Minneapolis
$10 ages 12 and over, $5 ages 5 to 12, under 5 free

Other happenings

MN Boychoir Sagrada Familia
The Minnesota Boychoir performing in front of hundreds in Basilica de Sagrada Familia in June 2017.
  • The 150 young men which make up the Minnesota Boychoir will perform a free holiday concert tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota campus. I serve on the Boychoir’s Board of Directors, so I might be a bit biased, but this choir has something special. Over its 56 year history, the choir has headlined a concert in the Sydney Opera House, performed in St. Peter’s Basilica at The Vatican, and sang on “A Prairie Home Companion” on National Public Radio.
  • If you stretched out the lights used on The Winery at Sovereign Estate’s Spirit of Winter display, it would go for over eight miles. The Waconia vineyard decorates 10 acres with animated displays set to synchronized music. Make sure to buy tickets in advance online. Learn more.
  • Today’s your last chance to see the 30th annual production of The Classic Nutcracker by Ballet Minnesota at The O’Shaughnessy on the St. Catherine University campus. Learn more.
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You’ll find Santa skiing at Afton Alps today from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Read below to find out how you can join him for free! Photo credit: Afton Alps
  • You can ski with Santa at Afton Alps! He’s taking a break from making toys to race down the hill with you from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Specialty hot toddies and cocktails will be served inside.
    • GIVEAWAY: Receive two lift tickets to attend Ski with Santa along with a $25 gift card to spend on lunch! It’s a one-day contest you don’t want to miss — check my Facebook page on Tuesday, December 12.
  • Former NFL player and Hastings native Ben Utecht performs the hits of Andy Williams with a 60-piece orchestra today at the Ames Center in Burnsville. Believe it. The concert begins at 4:00 p.m.
  • Hear the great-great grandson of the man behind “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens, perform it in an intimate setting tonight in Minneapolis. Gerald Dickens stars in an one-man show at the Aster Cafe in Minneapolis. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are only $25. Learn more.

 

40 Ways to Holiday, Day 16: December 8

In 2017, there are exactly 40 days from Thanksgiving Day to New Years Day. And with the elimination of the eighth floor display at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis and Holiday Lights in the Park in Saint Paul, along with the disappointing change from tradition at Holidazzle, more people than ever are looking for new holiday activities. Enter “40 Ways to Holiday.” Each day between November 23 and January 1 will have at least one event worth checking out, along with plenty of giveaways along the way! Find the full list of days here.

Day 16: Friday, December 8

Featured pick: Union Pacific Holiday Train

CP Holiday Train
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train rolls into the Twin Cities tonight. Photo credit: Canadian Pacific

If you have a kiddo who loves trains, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is a MUST. It will roll through 171 communities along their tracks throughout Canada and the United States this year. Each stop includes performances and a dazzling train inspired by the holidays. Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food donations which will go to local charities. You aren’t able to hop aboard the holiday train, but the 30 minute event is worth it.

The Minnesota portion of the holiday train’s route actually start December 5 in Rochester. It begins its journey through the Twin Cities today: it’ll arrive in Hastings around 8:30 p.m.; expect the program to start at 8:45 p.m. Stops over the weekend include Cottage Grove, Northeast Minneapolis, New Hope, Golden Valley, Saint Louis Park, Loretto, Buffalo and Annandale.

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
Thursday, December 8
Hastings
8:30 p.m. arrival
8:45 p.m. program
Additional stops in Cottage Grove and Minneapolis on December 9; New Hope, Golden Valley and Saint Louis Park on December 10; Loretto, Buffalo, Annandale and Kimball on December 11.

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The little train engineer in your house will love to see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train roll in. Photo credit: Canadian Pacific

Other happenings

  • The Anoka County Fairgrounds host a free Holiday in Lights celebration starting tonight. They’re be hayrides, live music and an appearance by Santa and his blushing bride, Mrs. Claus. Holiday in Lights runs through Sunday in Anoka.
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The Anoka County Fair will dazzle during their free Holiday in Lights event starting tonight.
  • Union Depot’s outdoor Christmas Market continues this weekend. The European-influenced shopping experience includes craft vendors, German imports and much more. Metro Transit is offering free rides (you’ll need to fill out this survey and download a pass if you go tonight). Special appearances during tonight’s 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. event include Santa, reindeer, and a concert by the Simley High School Choir.  Union Depot’s European Christmas Market runs December 1 – 3 and 8 – 10.