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31 things to do in Minnesota this August that are not the State Fair

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Minnesota State Fair. I have an in-depth online guide about the Great Minnesota Get Together. But the media can make it feel like the State Fair is the only thing going on during the entire month of August.

Here’s a list of 31 events worth checking out in Minnesota this August. None of them are deep-fried.

  1. Tradition! The national tour of the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof” stops by the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis. (July 30-August 4)
  2. Just bend — and snap! “Legally Blonde the Musical” is on stage at Lyric Arts Company in Anoka. (thru August 4)
  3. Maybe the State Fair isn’t your thing, but how about a County Fair? The Washington County Fair takes place in Lake Elmo. And there’s free parking! (July 31-August 4)
  4. Dwight Yoakam and Vince Neil of Motley Crue will perform as part of Mankato’s RibFest. (August 1-4)
  5. The X Games will once again return to Minneapolis. And it’s not just watching extreme sports. Head downtown for concerts inside the Armory, a top music venue in the Twin Cities. Diplo, Incubus and Wu Tang Clan will perform. (August 1-4)
  6. The 2019 Minnesota Fringe Festival features nearly 700 performances of 130 stage shows. All shows are 60 minutes or less, so it’s a great way to test drive different types of local theatre. (August 1-11)
  7. The 56th annual Uptown Art Fair takes place in Minneapolis. The juried art festival features more than 320 artists in 12 mediums, including sculpture, painting, glasswork and jewelry. (August 2-4)
  8. Saint Paul family-owned restaurant and grocer El Burrito Mercado will celebrate 40 years in business with a fiesta, including an outdoor bar, live music and free food. (August 4)
  9. I’m not sure how they’ll pull it off, but unicorns will be racing at Canterbury Park. You can also watch llamas race between the regularly scheduled horse races. (August 4)
  10. Head to the self-proclaimed Restaurant Capital of the World for the Taste of Dorset. Restaurants in the northern Minnesota town will serve food. Plus, it’s when residents of Dorset elect their mayor. If you recall, the town elected 3-year-old Bobby Tufts in 2012. (August 4)
  11. Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis hosts free outdoor movies in the beer garden Monday nights throughout the summer. Stop by to see the cult hit, “Clueless.” As if! (August 5)
  12. Downtown Shakopee hosts Rhythm on the Rails for the first three Wednesdays in August. The free concerts will have food, beer and live music. (August 7, 14, 21)
  13. Watch viral videos of cats at the annual Cat Video Festival, hosted by myTalk 107.1 and the St. Paul Saints, at CHS Field in Saint Paul. (August 8)
  14. The Irish Fair of Minnesota on Harriet Island is a three-day free festival with music, dancing and a “zero K”. (August 9-11)
  15. Pack some breath mints and head to the Minnesota Garlic Festival in Hutchinson. It’ll be the first of the garlic crop for the season, and it keeps in your kitchen for up to a year. (August 10)
  16. The India Association of Minnesota puts on IndiaFest on the grounds of the State Capital in Saint Paul. The free event features food from eight Twin Cities Indian restaurants. (August 10)
  17. The world’s largest rubber duck will be in the Duluth Harbor for the Festival of Sail. (August 11-13)
  18. The biggest motorsports race in the Midwest takes place in Brainerd with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Watch the best drag racers fly down the track at speeds exceeding 320 miles per hour. (August 15-18)
  19. Oronoco, a town north of Rochester on Highway 52, hosts its annual Gold Rush Days with an antique show and flea market. (August 16-18)
  20. Over 150 vendors will show off their talents during Buffalo’s 36th annual Art & Craft Festival. (August 17)
  21. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival opens for the season in August. Nosh on a turkey leg while watching a joust. New in 2019: you can hug a kangaroo. (Weekends, August 17-September 29)
  22. View bonsai, martial arts, food and other aspects of Japanese culture at the Japanese Obon Festival on the grounds of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park. (August 18)
  23. The Minnesota Vikings are back in action! They play the Seattle Seahawks in a rare Sunday night preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium. (August 18)
  24. A parade, fireworks and carnival are planned for Woodbury Days, a three day celebration of the east metro suburb. (August 23-25)
  25. Round Lake Vineyards will host their Harvest Festival on the shores of Round Lake, which is about 3 hours southwest of the Twin Cities. Compete in a grape stomp and enjoy music, food and plenty of wine. (August 24)
  26. Now in its sixth year, the Stillwater Flea and Crafters Market takes place one weekend every month from May through September at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo. (August 24-25)
  27. The Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam will have extended late-night hours over Labor Day weekend. Bring your cameras and watch sunset over the Mississippi River! (August 30-31)
  28. Discover the relatively new Costco Business Center on Broadway Street in Northeast Minneapolis. Folks on my Facebook page raved about it! One person described it as ‘Costco but without the middle section.’ They open earlier and there’s less people!
  29. Kids 15 and under are always free at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. Throughout the month, they host concerts from local artists. The Arboretum was named best botanical garden in the United States by USA Today readers.
  30. Visit the Smallest Museum in Saint Paul. You won’t be able to go inside this 3 feet x 2 foot micro-museum, but don’t underestimate what they can do. They even hold artist receptions for new exhibits, which typically change monthly.
  31. Fire up the grill! Find something good to grill at a meat raffle. Check out this list of the best meat raffles in Minnesota.

What it’s like to zip line over the Mississippi River

I’m glad Twin Cities Live reporter Kelli Hanson had the guts to zip line across the Mississippi River. Together, we took on the Bold North Zip Line, which has you hanging about 100 feet in the air as you glide nearly 800 feet across the Mississippi. The views — and the adrenaline rush — are something special.

About to start the trek up the stairs!

Check out Kelli’s story to get a glimpse of what it’s like.

The Bold North Zip Line, which was in town as part of Super Bowl LII festivities, was a popular experience, taking less than 36 hours for tickets to sell out.

Zip Line

Super Bowl Experience

Why Wednesday is the best day for Vikings fans to attend the Super Bowl Experience

Vikings fans who are still a bit bummed about the NFC Championship game can at least some cash at the Super Bowl Experience on January 31. Wear your Vikings gear to get $5 off admission.

Super Bowl Experience, located inside the Minneapolis Convention Center, is jam-packed with activities, including your chance to kick a field goal, see how well you would line up against NFL prospects, and much more. On top of that, current NFL players and alumni are there for photos and autographs. And the Lombardi trophy that’ll be handed out Sunday night is on display.

Tickets are regularly priced at $35 for adults and $25 for kids. To get the $5 discount, make sure to wear your Vikings apparel when you walk to the box office. The deal is good on Wednesday, January 31 only.

If you purchased your tickets in advance, you’re unfortunately out of luck when it comes to the discount.

Super Bowl Experience is open through Saturday, February 3.

Make sure to check out the nearby Super Bowl LIVE. Read my five can’t miss activities at Super Bowl LIVE here.

I have compiled a list of 100 events happening in the 10 days leading up to the big game. Find that list here.


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

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

Fast facts:

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

If you’re frugal but want to attempt parking downtown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where you don’t want to park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The 5 things you don’t want to miss at Super Bowl LIVE

My co-worker Brittany described Super Bowl LIVE as a winter version of the Minnesota State Fair. That’s extremely accurate. There’s plenty of food to eat, live music to enjoy and you can watch a local or national television newscast.

What is Super Bowl LIVE?

Super Bowl Live
Super Bowl LIVE spans six blocks down Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Photo courtesy: Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee

Super Bowl LIVE a six-block, free event on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. There’s plenty to do indoors and outside (my picks are below). It’s open daily through Sunday, February 4. Hours are at the bottom of this page.

Wait, this is different than the Super Bowl Experience?

Yes. Super Bowl Experience is inside the Minneapolis Convention Center. That’s where you can (try to) kick a field goal, run a 40-yard dash and score autographs from NFL alumni. Tickets to that cost $35 for adults and $25 for kids.

How do I get to Super Bowl LIVE without pulling my hair out?

If you are going January 27-28 or February 3, use Metro Transit’s Park and Ride from five suburbs. Learn more here. You can also take the light rail or hop in an Uber or Lyft.

If you want to drive downtown, read my guide on where to park. Ramp parking on January 27 went all the way up to $50. Please don’t pay more than $20…it’s not worth it.

How long should I plan to be there?

Unless you’re going to listen to an entire concert, I would plan to be there for two to three hours once you enter.

Is it family-friendly?

Absolutely. I saw plenty of kiddos enjoying the scene. I should mention there are plenty of bathrooms along the way. Ask a Crew 52 volunteer (in the blue jackets) for the one nearest you. Strollers and wagons would fare just fine.

What do I need to check out?

  1. Target Bullseye Lodge

The creative geniuses at Target turned their employee common space (aka the student union) at 10th and Nicollet into an extremely fun, free exhibit. You can sip on hot cocoa and pick up free samples of pop and candy.

There are two gems at the Lodge you can’t miss. First, you can get your face printed on a marshmallow! They take your photo, and in just a couple minutes, you mugshot is good enough to eat. Grab a plastic baggie at the end of the line so you can take it home. I haven’t eaten mine yet…it feels a bit weird. But it’s super cool.

Get your photo printed on a marshmallow at the Target Bullseye Lodge at 10th Street and Nicollet Mall.
FullSizeRender 2
Look! It’s me holding a marshmallow of me!

The other gem is outside in their courtyard. Their Dance exhibit has you show off your touchdown dance and you appear a silhouette on top of the Target Corporate tower! Really cool.

You will need to register when you enter the Bullseye Lodge; they’ll ask for your name and email. I had to wait a few minutes to get inside, but it’s definitely worth it. The Bullseye Lodge also had a mini-Target shop featuring items from their new apparel and accessories collaboration with Minneapolis-based Askov Finlayson.

2. Made in the North Market

The Made in the North Market inside City Center features 25 Minnesota-based businesses.

It’s easy to overlook, but City Center, located between 6th and 7th Streets, is home to 25 Minnesota-based businesses selling goods. Excelsior Candle Co. is selling candles inside drink glasses, Hagen and Oats has images of U.S. Bank Stadium made of wood, and Smile Network International features apparel and home goods made by artists from around the world.

Plenty of 52 inspired artwork from Hagen and Oats.

3. Dayton’s Project

The first floor of the Macy’s — no, I mean Marshall Fields — how about Dayton’s — on Nicollet Mall is a multi-purpose space with a few big companies. There’s a large NFL Shop with plenty of Minnesota-centric gear and CNN will broadcast live inside as we get closer to the big game.

The Hallmark Channel is showcasing their 5th annual Kitten Bowl, which will air on the network on February 4. (Note: the broadcast you’ll see February 4 was already recorded). You can wait in line to see a stadium of kittens pounce and hiss at one another. The exhibit also features furry friends from rescues looking for forever homes.

If you don’t want to fork over the money to go inside the Super Bowl Experience, Bridgestone has a mini version inside the Dayton’s Project. You can fly through the air to  catch a football and land in a foam pit, toss a football through tires (fitting) and look like a true player with a paper helmet that has an authenticity sticker from the NFL.

Also while you’re inside the Dayton’s Project, it’s worth checking out the outfits, shoes and memorabilia on display from Minnesota music icon, Prince.

The Dayton’s building looks no different than it did before Macy’s closed.

4. American Birkebeiner International Bridge

A couple feet of snow pack Nicollet Mall for cross country skiing and snow tubing.

The American Birkebeiner is an annual cross country ski race in Wisconsin. The race has competitors cross over a road, so organizers built a bridge which can support a couple feet of snowpack, allowing skiiers to go over cars. The bridge was delivered to Minneapolis and now crosses over 9th Street, allowing you to give cross country skiing a try or glide down the large hill in an inner tube. Even if you don’t strap on skis, it’s cool to see a usually busy Minneapolis street packed with snow from curb to curb.

5. ‘Sota Pop

Make your own star at Explore Minnesota’s ‘Sota Pop at 5th Street and Nicollet Mall. Don’t even think about grabbing the ‘n’ from Prince.

You’re not going to find this on the official Super Bowl LIVE list of activities, but Explore Minnesota did a phenomenal job putting together a display called ‘Sota Pop. The free, indoor exhibit at 5th and Nicollet Mall guides you through the four seasons in the North Star State. There are so many photo opportunities in this one spot, and they’re all on point. Bravo, Explore Minnesota.

‘Sota Pop: an Instgrammer’s dream.


What else do I need to know before I go?

  • No tickets are necessary for anything at Super Bowl LIVE.
  • There’s a music stage at 8th Street and Nicollet Mall that has 10 days worth of concerts. View the lineup here.
A stage at 8th Street and Nicollet has 10 days of concerts.
  • The stage is in a horrible spot and it’s REALLY HARD to get around the crowd. Pro tip: hop in a building and take the skyway to get past that intersection.
  • There are exhibits behind the music stage on 8th Street. Minnesota-based Schwan’s has a really cool trivia game show stage and Tostitos is giving out free samples.
  • Super Bowl 360 at 11th Street and Nicollet Mall near Orchestra Hall is a planetarium-like experience. Get ready to wait in line before you get to go inside. If you went through it, please let me know what you thought! I didn’t want to wait in that line.
  • There’s plenty of food and drink available for purchase throughout the event. I didn’t notice any lines, either. A flurry of food trucks are parked on 10th Street. I recommend going inside Haskell’s Wine Bar just south of 9th Street if you’re looking to take a break with an adult beverage and warm up a little.
  • The entrance at the south entrance at 12th Street is the most visually impressive.

Super Bowl LIVE hours

Friday, January 26 — 4:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 27 — 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, January 28 — 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Monday, January 29 — 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 30 — 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, January 31 — 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, February 1 — 4:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Friday, February 2 — 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 3 — 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 4 — 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.

What else is happening leading up to the big game? Get a list of 100 events happening over 10 days here.


When you can go ice skating with drag queens in Minneapolis

Those who visit downtown Saint Paul in the winter know about the annual Wells Fargo WinterSkate near Rice Park. It’s a romantic activity.

That’s not the only Wells Fargo WinterSkate in town. Loring Park in Minneapolis has a larger rink that’s less busy. And with the big game in town, organizers on the west side of the Mississippi are planning 10 days of activities leading up to February 4.

On Saturday, February 3, drag queens will skate which makes me giggle just thinking about it. They’ll be there from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Additional events include a skate party and viewing of the movie, “Remember the Titans” on Friday, February 2 and a viewing of the big game on a big screen on February 4.

Best of all, it’s free to skate and you can rent skates for free when their warming house is open: 3:00 – 9:00 p.m. Mondays – Fridays, 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Saturdays and 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. They’ll be open until 10:00 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday.

Wells Fargo WinterSkate at Loring Park is open until March 4. Learn more here.


Twin Cities events: January 11 – 14

From a Boat Show to a Bridal Show, I shared the best events happening around the Twin Cities on KSTP-TV.