Last week I was able to fly back to Minnesota to spend time with my extended family at our semi-annual reunion. I’ve been visiting the Twin Cities on and off since I was a kid to see my Dad’s relatives and I’ve picked up enough tricks to make sure that everything goes smoothly. My last post outlined how to set yourself up for traveling success, and hopefully this one will be useful to anyone who wants to stop by the land of 10,000 lakes and the place where Garrison Keillor honed his biting passive aggression. 😉
One thing I will say is that I absolutely love Minnesota in August. I’ve been to the sandy beaches of the Caribbean and seen the sunset in Italy and nothing compares to the pleasant weather you experience on a summer day in Minneapolis. The climate is nice more often than not and if you visit around Labor Day weekend the State Fair will be in full swing. (Disclaimer: The only time I visited in the winter was before long term memories were a thing for me.)
The second best tip I can give is that you really never need to rent a car while you’re there. We stayed in a pleasant room at the Best Western across the street from the Mall of America, which seemed to me to be the most centrally located structure in all the land. The Blue Line is a beautiful example of their rad public transit system (a Portland girl like me notes these things!) and we used it for almost everything, including the quick trip from airport to hotel.
According to my proud Midwestern father, Minnesota’s fair is one of the best in the country. While I don’t have too many under my belt to compare it to, I have to admit that I’ve always been impressed. I’ve made the full epic (epic like the 10-year saga of the Iliad not epic like cool) trip into that parking lot by car before on a Saturday and if I were the betting kind I’d say not even a saint would get through that experience in a good mood.
This year we checked out the many animal barns and even saw the beginnings of a calf being born (I’ll save you all the pictures of that one). There were bee experts, stunningly accurate portraits of famous people made entirely out of grains, and even a ton of STEM outreach tents for kids.
Plus goats in coats!
And, of course, the deep fried Twinkies.
My first and last time trying these stupidly delicious trash monsters. I think they may be a sin against nature.
The Minnesota Zoo was running a special for half off admission with your fair ticket stub, which we took full advantage of the next day. I hope they do this again because it’s one of my favorite zoos of all time, and those I do have some comparisons for. If your child has ever been exposed to an animal meme on the internet this is the place for them.
I think he’s saying hello!
I mentioned the ballpark franks in my last post, but if you’re at all into baseball Target Fields is a great stadium located in a beautifully walkable downtown. Football season? The US Bank Stadium looked stunning from the outside. We almost got to see the inside but the nice guy manning the entrance told us we couldn’t party crash when we tried to sneak past. I would like to clarify that it wasn’t a football game and also that it was 100% my Dad’s idea.
My Dad, the con artist. 😉
The last time I ended up in the area I spent a few bucks to watch horses race around in an elliptical fashion (I’m told what I did is called “gambling” but I’m skeptical given that what appeared to occur was me paying $3 for a slip of paper and the sudden urge to cheer loudly) at Canterbury Downs. I actually highly suggest it if you’re in the Shakopee area, it was a good way to have a bit of fun ribbing your family members and losing your voice on a fine afternoon.
I would not recommend going a full 4 hours out of your way just to visit the small northern town of Ada, MN on a family vacation, but I definitely would advise you to tootle around in a car if you’re able. It just so happens that quite a bit of my family settled in that area, and I’ll admit that I enjoy watching farm country zip past through the window. If you do head out to that part of the state, keep an eye peeled for the sham sign for Lake Woebegone. 🙂
Oh, and in case you were curious, walking the packing advice talk I gave in my last post was perfect! It’s even coming in handy not even a week later since we’re taking off right after work for my boyfriend’s family reunion in Oceanside, OR today.