water taxi

31 can’t miss events in Minnesota this July

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

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

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

Is there something I missed? Please let me know!


Greetings from MN

55 things every Minnesotan should do summer 2019

Summers in Minnesota are too short to be bored, even if it is raining. For inspiration, I compiled this checklist of 55 things you can do before Labor Day.


This guide is presented by Family Fun Twin Cities. For even more suggestions of what to do this summer, check out their Ultimate Summer Guide.

  1. Buy Candy Buttons or a bottle of bacon flavored pop at Jim’s Apple Farm/Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store along Highway 169 south of Jordan. Don’t forget to bring cash or check — they don’t take credit cards.
    • They don’t have a website or phone number…just go. They are open 9 am – 7 pm until the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
    • 20430 Johnson Memorial Dr, Jordan, MN 55352
  2. Determine who makes the best ice cream around. Nelson’s in Stillwater, Oak Station Coffee & Cone in Freeport, Conny’s Creamy Cone in St. Paul, Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis, and Honey & Mackie’s in Plymouth will get you started. Click here for a list of the shops voted as the best in Minnesota.
  3. Learn why there’s a basketball on display at the St. Paul Saints’ City of Baseball Museum inside CHS Field in St. Paul. It’s free on non-game days.
  4. Watch the Minnesota Lynx go for their 5th WNBA title at Target Center. Those with a valid .edu email address can get $10 tickets to select games throughout the season.
  5. Take a day trip to Winona and explore the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. It’s home to 2 works by Picasso along with a Monet and an O’Keefe in its original 1922 frame. Admission is only $1 the second Saturday of the month!
  6. Be in the audience at KSTP’s Twin Cities Live! Shows are brand new all summer long and tickets are free. Don’t forget to be in their audience at the State Fair!
  7. Make friends with someone who has a pontoon. Watch the sunset aboard said pontoon. You can also rent a pontoon from multiple companies, including Your Boat Club.
  8. Pack some sunscreen and head to Valleyfair in Shakopee. Hit up Soak City Waterpark and then air dry aboard Wild Thing. Buy your tickets online before June 30 to get kid prices for everyone (it’s a savings of $20 per adult!)
  9. Spend an afternoon tubing down a river. Welch Mill Canoeing and Tubing will take you on the Cannon River. Make sure you wear shoes in the water, and flip flops don’t cut it! Pack a cooler with your favorite beverages and make sure to rent a tube for your cooler. After a hard day of relaxation, stop by King’s Place in Miesville for a burger.
    • Welch Mill has not yet opened for 2019 due to high water. Check their website for updates before you go.
      Rent a paddle boat at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina.
  10. Play ‘golf in miniature’ or take a romantic paddle boat ride at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina.
    Starlight Cinema in Woodbury.
  11. Watch an outdoor movie. Minneapolis Movies in the Parks host free films almost every night at locations around the city. In the east metro, check out Starlight Cinema in Woodbury.
  12. Road trip to Taylors Falls. Go for a hike at Interstate State Park and stop for a milkshake at The Drive-In Restaurant.
  13. Spend a late night out at the Vali-Hi Drive-In movie theater in Lake Elmo. It’s three movies for the price of one. Kids 5 and under are free and ages 6-12 are only $1. Plus, hot dogs are always $1! They don’t accept credit cards, so bring cash.
  14. Sleep under the stars.
  15. Some of the Twin Cities’ best restaurants don’t have permanent homes. In Northeast Minneapolis, scope out the Animales Barbeque Co. food truck parked outside Able Seedhouse + Brewery along with Union Hmong Kitchen at Sociable Cider Werks.
  16. Stroll through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, the winner of USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Award for best botanical garden in the country.
  17. Go geocaching. The DNR has hidden caches throughout Minnesota’s 75 state parks and recreation areas. You just need a GPS device get started, and if you don’t have one, you can borrow a kit for free at many of the parks.
  18. On a rainy day, head to the Gale Family Library inside the Minnesota History Center. Once you register for their free library card, you get free access to ancestry.com.
  19. Feed a giraffe romaine lettuce at Como Park Zoo in St. Paul. The experience is only $5 and admission to the zoo is free!
  20. Grab coffee and stroll through the flagship Minneapolis Farmers Market location on Lyndale Avenue. Don’t want to battle the crowds? Check out the Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market, the Mill City Farmers Market or the St. Paul Farmers Market.
  21. Have a drink on at least… 5 restaurant patios. Visit Hola Arepa on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. Surly Brewing Co. Spring Cafe at Como Lake Pavilion. Hai Hai.
  22. Sit on the rooftop of Union Restaurant in Downtown Minneapolis for a drag queen brunch planned by Flip Phone. Themes change from shows dedicated to Taylor Swift to Rihanna to “Lion King”.
  23. Take your little ones to Madison’s Place, a 16,000 square-foot all-inclusive playground in Woodbury. It features sensory play equipment, ramps for wheelchair access and sun-shade covered play decks. Cool off in the neighboring splash pad.
  24. Check out one of Minnesota’s vineyards. Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls and Chankaska Creek Ranch & Winery in Kasota have popular tasting rooms.
  25. Go camping. We won’t judge if it’s in a pimped out RV or in an old school Coleman tent. You can reserve a campsite at a state park one year in advance.
  26. Attend an outdoor art fair. Choose from the Edina Art Fair (May 31 – June 2), Loring Park Art Festival (July 27 – 28), Uptown Art Fair (August 2 – 4), or Powderhorn Art Fair (August 3 – 4).
  27. Go fishing. It doesn’t matter where. On a boat, on a dock. On Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, Minnesotans 16 or older who take a child 15 or younger fishing don’t need a license. And if you don’t have the gear, the Minnesota DNR offers free fishing kits, complete with a stocked tackle box. (June 7 – 9)
  28. Check out a Father’s Day car show at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival. (June 14 – 16)
  29. Watch the red-hot Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Make sure to be there when they retire Joe Mauer’s number. (June 15)
  30. See over 11,000 street rods and vintage cars at the Back to the Fifties Weekend on the State Fairgrounds. Take advantage of the free park and ride service if you go on Saturday. (June 21 – 23)
  31. Nearly 400 exhibitors, 40 food vendors and 4 music stages will be set up in Loring Park for the Twin Cities Pride Festival. Best of all, it’s completely free. (June 22 – 23)
  32. Go on a Haskell’s Beer & Wine cruise down the St. Croix River, leaving out of Stillwater. (June 29, July 27, August 24)
  33. See Kacey Musgraves, Semisonic, Jason Mraz and Hanson perform at the 25th edition of the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. (July 12 – 13)
  34. Head to the ‘front porch of St. Paul’ and take in a St. Paul Saints Baseball game at CHS Field. The team will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Monty Python on July 13, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 16, and the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz July 17.
  35. Twin Cities Summer Jam at Canterbury Park in Shakopee is 3 days of big names in music: Tim McGraw, Aerosmith, Pitbull, REO Speedwagon, Soul Asylum, and others. (July 18 – 20)
  36. Soak up the 53-foot waterfall at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. Grab a bite to eat and a beer at Sea Salt Eatery. Every booth at the Minnehaha Falls Art Fair will have an item under $30 for sale. (July 20)
  37. Explore the unique shops of downtown Anoka and dine from over 45 food trucks during an annual Food Truck Festival. (July 20)
    • The organizers of the Food Truck Festival also host gatherings in Uptown (June 23) and St. Paul. (August 17)
  38. Your summer will be ‘Larger Than Life’ when you see the Backstreet Boys perform at the Xcel Energy Center. (July 20)
  39. Take in an old fashioned parade. One of the largest in Minnesota is the Hopkins Raspberry Festival Grande Day Parade. (July 21)
  40. Bib up and chow down on ribs at The Great Midwest Rib Fest at Mystic Lake. Sugar Ray and Gretchen Wilson will headline this year. Admission is free. (July 25 – 27)
  41. Say ‘ooh, ahh’ at one of the largest fireworks displays in the country. The Minneapolis Aquatennial fireworks display start promptly at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 27. The best viewpoint is near the Guthrie Theater.
  42. Visit the new home of iconic St. Paul drive-in restaurant, Porkys, and nearly 50 other restored buildings at the Little Log House Pioneer Village in Hastings. (July 26 – 28)
  43. Check out nearly 700 performances of nearly 130 stage shows during the Minnesota Fringe Festival. (August 1 – 11)
    U.S. Bank Stadium will once again host the X Games in August.
  44. The X Games return to Minneapolis once again. This time, they bring in bands Diplo, Incubus, P.O.S and Wu-Tang Clan, too. (August 1 – 4)
  45. Ditch the car and explore Northeast Minneapolis by foot, bicycle or rollerblade at Open Streets Mpls. Get lunch at Maya Cuisine. (August 4)
  46. Watch clips of cuddly kittens at the Cat Video Festival, presented by myTalk 107.1 and the St. Paul Saints, at CHS Field in St. Paul. (Thursday, August 8)
  47. Drive up I-35 to Duluth for the Bayfront Blues Festival. The outdoor music festival draws more than 30 bands and 20,000 fans each year. (August 9 – 11)
  48. The 40th annual Irish Fair of Minnesota features Celtic and Irish music, dance and food. Admission is free. (August 9 – 11)
  49. Duluth’s Tall Ships Festival has a new name. Check out historic ships and the world’s largest rubber duck at the Festival of Sail. (August 11 – 13)
  50. Be ‘The Luckiest’ hearing Ben Folds in the Surly Brewing Company Festival Field. The concert is planned by First Avenue, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in April 2020. (August 14)
    RENT returns to Minneapolis August 14 – 18.
  51. It’s been over 20 years since the musical, RENT, started touring. The Pulitzer Price and Tony Award winning show stops by the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. (August 14 – 18)
  52. The Minnesota State Fair’s best kept secret is their annual fundraiser, Taste of the Fair. Held the Thursday before the Great Minnesota Get Together begins, attendees can taste new and classic Fair foods, play Mighty Midway games and enjoy entertainment. (August 15)
    • Learn more: read and see my experience from Taste of the Fair here.
  53. The Como Park Japanese Obon Festival is an end of summer tradition. The evening ends with the majestic lighting of lanterns in a pond outside the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. (August 18)
  54. Nosh on a turkey leg while watching Puke & Snot perform at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee. (Weekends August 17 – September 29)
    Photo credit: Minnesota State Fair
  55. Feast on wild rice cheeseburgers and deep-fried cookie dough riding the Skyride at the Minnesota State Fair. (August 22 – September 2) To avoid big crowds, go August 22, 27 or 28.

What Minnesota summer traditions do you love? Let me know!