Minnesota State Fair Midway
Photo by Todd Buchanan
There’s a lot to look forward to about fall: the colorful scenery, the change in wardrobe, and of course the return of everyone’s favorite seasonal coffee drink. But there’s just something about Minnesota summers—perhaps because they’re so ephemeral—that makes it hard to see them go. As the season starts to wind down, it’s crucial not to let the days pass without making the most of them. Out of ideas? Here are 10 things to do before the leaves change.
1. Hit the State Fair: The most obvious choice, but deservedly so. The Great Minnesota Get-Together may be most infamous for its unexpected food offerings (Spam curds, anyone?) and midway rides, but also serves as a showcase for local agricultural, horticultural, and artistic achievements. Among this year’s highlights are Garrison Keillor’s Minnesota Show and The Current’s Music-on-a-Stick at the Grandstand. (Through Sept. 5)
2. Take in an outdoor show: Many of the major summer festivals have come and gone, but you still have a few chances to break out the picnic blankets. The Minnesota Historical Society and Tapestry Folkdance Center host one more Night of Music on Aug. 30, St. Paul’s final Movie in the Park is Sept. 2, and the Washington County Bluegrass Festival closes out the season on Sept. 10.
3. Attend a block party: Some of local music’s biggest acts will grace the stage at Duluth’s annual Super Big Block Party on Sept 3. Headliners Dessa and Low lead a lineup that includes Caroline Smith, Bad Bad Hats, and Charlie Parr. A week later, Summit Brewery’s 30th Backyard Bash welcomes Bully, Dem Atlas, and headliner Bob Mould, among others. (Sept. 10)
4. Travel back in time: The largest of its kind in the country, the Renaissance Festival goes all out to transport guests to Medieval England. In addition to period-accurate music and entertainment, the festival marketplace showcases artwork and food by local artists and makers. (Through Oct. 2)
5. Read a local book outside: Relive your college days by nestling up on the nearest bench, chair, or pool toy with a good book. Several local authors released great new reads this summer, covering everything from tragedy within a Native American community to supernatural occurrences around the world.
6. Get active: Time to show off all the training you’ve been doing this summer. There are plenty of races coming up for a variety of skill levels in the Twin Cities and beyond. For an extra bit of cardio, take your next day trip by bike instead of car. Or, for a more zen workout, try one of many free outdoor yoga classes scheduled throughout the summer.
7. Visit a park: When you think of nearby State Parks, the first that come to mind are likely Mt. Rushmore or the Badlands. While those are certainly worth a visit, consider stopping by one of Minnesota’s 67 State Parks for everything from birding to whitewater rafting.
8. Eat on a patio: Minnesotans love their patios, and for good reason. Since they’re only usable for a few months out of the year, the vast majority of local patios are thoughtfully conceived of and built, taking full advantage of the space. Before the evenings get too chilly, be sure you’ve gone to the best of the best.
9. Go out for ice cream: Ice cream is great any time of year, but let’s face it—it’s better in the summer. Twin Cities favorites like Izzy’s and Grand Ole Creamery are mainstays for a reason, but new addition Milkjam Creamery is making a name for itself by using unique ingredients and flavor combinations.
10. Stock up on summer produce: Although most local farmers markets still have a few more weeks left in the season, now’s the best time to buy all of your favorite local summer produce while it’s still fresh. Need some healthy meal ideas? Go straight to the source.