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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.
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
  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!