Minnesota State Fair

Top Things to Do in Minneapolis Northwest Before Summer’s Over

The days are already growing shorter, but there’s still time to soak up all the summer fun in Minneapolis Northwest! Don’t miss your last chance for prime-time patio dining, kayaking and fishing on the river, outdoor farmers markets, movies at dusk and foods on a stick. Also get a taste for what to look forward to when the fall season officially lands.

Take Advantage of Patio Season

Take advantage of this optimal time to wine and dine outside, whether under the hot sun or in the shade, for brunch, lunch or dinner. Lounge on the patio at 3 Squares Restaurant, with its plush chairs and trellised overhanging lights. This is a perfect spot for families, including your four-legged family members. Make a point to dine on CRAVE’s rooftop patio, as well – the first and only one in Maple Grove – with its views of Main Street and beyond. For a more adult-vibe, class it up on Brick & Bourbon’s massive patio, featuring an outdoor bar, three fire pits, and numerous outdoor games and TVs. Visit Friday and Saturday nights for a DJ dance party and great drink specials on the patio! 

While enjoying the summer weather, don’t forget to relax with a seasonal summer cocktail. Cucumber infusions, grapefruit sparklers and splashes of rosé pair perfectly with a stunning sunset at the Highlander Restaurant, which features weekly drink specials. And a great place for kids to have fun outside while having tasty food is Wagner’s Drive-In, an old-fashioned drive-in with hand-pattied burgers, crispy krinkle fries, and smooth and refreshing shakes. Pony up to the umbrellaed picnic tables while you eat to savor the taste of summer!

Enjoy Outdoor Music While You Can

There’s something magical about listening to outdoor live music, and the Minneapolis Northwest area has several opportunities to hear great bands while taking in the fresh air (and maybe even dancing in the grass!). Town Green’s Sounds of Summer will be hopping all the way through August with live music. Usher in the week on Monday, August 19, with Inside Straight (blues band) and Wednesday, August 21, with Chase and Ovation (a Prince tribute band!). Town Green bandshell provides grassy, terraced seating, and you’re welcome to bring your lawn chairs, too. Concessions with sweet treats are available. On Tuesday, August 20, feel the rhythm with Salsa Del Soul at Brooklyn Center’s Entertainment in the Park at beautiful Centennial Park. And on Thursday, August 22, groove to Blue Groove Bluegrass, a contemporary Minnesota-based bluegrass band, at Historic Eidem Farm.

Combine your love of patios and live music when you check out OMNI Brewing Co.’s Summer Music Series with bands playing each and every Friday night at 7 p.m. through August 30. Check out Timothy Howe on August 16, The Elements on August 23, and the Michael & Sara Band on August 30. Fun and flavorful food trucks will be available, too. You can even purchase a Summer Music t-shirt to commemorate the end of summer.

By September, you may think summer’s over, but you can keep the festive summer spirit alive by attending Maple Grove’s first ever Concert on The Lawn on Saturday, September 14! Just in time to enjoy the last of the warm evenings, come out to hear a great lineup of music from The New Power Generation (featuring the music of Prince, with special guest vocalist B. Slade), Gear Daddies, The 4OnTheFloor and Kat Perkins. Tickets are available and going fast. 

Fun on the Mississippi

Summer runs on the Mississippi River, and there are plenty of spots to enjoy and activities to try out, whether you’re with friends, on a date, or with your little ones. At Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, there are 160 acres along the river waiting to be explored. Have a picnic on the sandy banks and cast your line in to see if you can catch a croppie or walleye. Reserve a kayak from the Mississippi River Paddle Share station and enjoy a leisurely paddle down to the return stations at either River Park or North Mississippi Regional Park. The Mississippi River Paddle Share is a first-of-its-kind program in the country!

For a more structured experience, try Rafting on the River at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on August 17. Explore the natural shoreline of the river and discover its inhabitants all while getting a little workout in. Beginners are welcome, and safety equipment and shuttle are provided. Coon Rapids Dam also has a boat launch area so you can get out on the water with ease. And for great views of the river, do a couple laps across the 10-foot-wide dam spanning the river and providing excellent views of the sunset. This is a popular spot for fishing, observing wildlife and listening to the roar of the falls.

Catch a Movie Under the Stars

Outdoor movies at dusk are a unique way to take in one of your favorite films or experience your kid’s latest obsession. Brooklyn Center’s Entertainment in the Park will be showing Ralph Breaks the Internet on Friday, August 16, and Incredibles 2 on Friday, August 23. Bring your blankets and popcorn and enjoy the evening. If you’ve already seen Ralph Breaks the Internet, head over to Historic Eidem Farm, also on August 16, to watch Looney Tunes Shorts on the side of the old barn! In Maple Grove, catch Mary Poppins Returns on Friday, August 23, at Town Green.

Shop at Outdoor Farmers Markets

Visit one of Minneapolis Northwest’s farmers markets for fresh produce and home-baked goodies, open and outside through September. At the Maple Grove Farmers Market, pick up a bouquet of fresh local flowers to bring some added color and brightness to your home or office. Enroll your child in the Power of Produce Kids Club program and help them learn the benefits and fun of shopping at a farmer’s market. Kids receive a $2 token to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, or food-bearing plants at the market. You can also earn yourself some rewards with the market's Frequent Shopper Program. Keep coming back until the harvest is finished, Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Every Wednesday, buy local produce, bread and more at the Brooklyn Park Farmers Market. The market runs every Wednesday through October 9 at Zane Sports Park. Fruits and vegetables, breads, jams, crafts and more are available, and all items are vendor grown and produced. Brooklyn Center has a great pop-up market the second Saturday of each month featuring locally made home furnishings, beauty products, kids items, jewelry and more.

Create Your Own Water Adventures

There’s really no better way to cool off in the summer heat than with a full-body dunk in a cool body of water! Elm Creek’s chlorinated swim pond is open until Labor Day, so you have time to get in that beachy feeling. Build sand castles, splash in the water, and lay out under the sun or in the comfort of a shady over-sized umbrella. You can also get your swim on at Fish Lake Regional Park at beautiful Fish Lake – perfect for swimming, boating and paddle boarding. Rent a kayak or canoe from the pavilion for an hour and enjoy a picnic on the sandy beach or atop a grassy hill.

The Splash Pad at Central Park is a great way to have some water fun without swimming. The interactive fountain rests on a 2,100 square foot plaza with jet sprays and arching sprays. Beautiful LED light turn the fountain into a light show once the sun goes down. It’s free to play in the fountain, and all are welcome!

There's Nothing Like State Fair Time

Nothing quite signals the final days of summer like the Minnesota State Fair. Arguably the best, most epic fair in the country, the State Fair gives locals and travelers 12 full days to pack in all the summer fun they can with live music, artisan crafts and shopping, whacky foods, livestock competitions, talent contests, parades, art galleries and plenty of foods on a stick. Make your plans to attend Thursday, August 22 through Monday, September 2. New foods that are sure to be a hit are the Breakfast Potato Skins, Cuban Fusion Fajitas, Fried Tacos on a Stick, Peaches n' Cream Nachos and Shrimp & Grits Fritters. Check out the complete list of new fair foods.

To get that fair-foodie feeling without the crowds, head to On a Stick at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park on August 31. In honor of the State Fair, this event demonstrates some of the crafty (and delicious) ways to make food on a stick, such as s’mores, potato tornadoes and chocolate eclairs. Reservations are required, so sign up before spots are filled!

Share your photos and stories with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #WeLoveMNW! When you’re ready to embrace the change in seasons, discover the best ways to Get Your Harvest On in Minneapolis Northwest, and when you’ve worked up an appetite, treat your tastebuds to 10 Locally Owned Eateries in the area.

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  • Minneapolis Northwest CVB

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