Classic Twin Cities Destinations for Summer

Summer is finally coming to Minneapolis, and with it, plenty of summer time events to offer for families, couples, and adventurers. While fishing, boating, and hiking are all popular northern summer events, what if you want to stay in or near the Twin Cities? Take a look at these three local summer time events for ideas on how to spend these long lazy days.

Sommerfest July 8-23
Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza, Minneapolis
If music is what you want this summer, the Minnesota Orchestra has packed July with great summer concerts. For the summer music season, they’ll be presenting classical favorites and offerings from the Pops series.

If you’re looking for free summer time events, head over to Peavey Plaza, directly adjacent to Orchestra Hall. Settle in next to the famous fountain or grab a table and chair. Free concerts will be held most nights in July, featuring everything from Jazz to Indie Rock. You’ll be keeping good company with a mix of season ticket holders and casual attendees in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

Price: Sommerfest concerts vary, see Minnesota Orchestra’s concert list for prices. Peavey Plaza Free Music is free, but bring enough along to grab a beer or an ice cream.

Parking: Parking is available in paid ramps throughout downtown.

State Fair Aug 25 ‘” Sept 5
State Fairgrounds, St. Paul
They call it a “Minnesota Thing,” and it’s the local summer time event everyone will talk about. Take the little ones to the Adventure Park, where they can ride the Turbo Bungy or test their courage against the Climbing Wall. If the older ones want to get in on the fun, head over to the Midway, featuring your favorite carnival rides. You can check out the animal barns, craft barns, or the Eco Experience. And when you’re tired of walking around, grab a favorite food-on-a-stick and a free patch of grass. With free entertainment, great people watching, and a kid-friendly atmosphere, you can easily spend all day at the fairgrounds. For other entertainment options, check out the schedule of events for concert information (additional charges may apply).

Price: Adults $12, Children and Seniors $10; advance purchase discounts are available. You can also buy the Blue Ribbon discount book for $5 at the fair, saving you money on rides, food, games, and more.

Parking: Parking is difficult, but Metro Transit offers shuttles from various locations.

Renaissance Festival Aug 20 ‘” Sept 30
Renaissance Festival Grounds, Shakopee
Where else can you spend a weekend afternoon watching armored jousting while drinking mead? The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is the place to be if you’d like to go back in time, don a medieval costume, and eat a giant turkey leg. With 16 stages of entertainment kept full throughout the day, you may just have to make some difficult choices. That’s if you can take the time out from eating scotch eggs and and frozen bananas, or browsing one of the over 250 booths showing everything from weapons to jewelry. The kids will enjoy an entire area dedicated to them at Children’s Realm, with costume contests, knighting ceremonies, and more. If you want to make the trip even more memorable, pick your time based on the theme for the weekend, such as the Italian Carnivale or Pet Fest.

Price: Adults $20.95, Children $11.95; advance purchase discounts are available.

Parking: Available on site, and free.

Photo credit: Gesine Kuhlmann, used with permission.