Open for the season once again, the Mill City Farmers Market is the perfect parent-friendly Saturday-morning activity -- it starts early, sells coffee, is free, and has over 60 vendors selling both produce and one-of-a-kind gifts. Each week, the market also offers chef-led cooking classes, usually around a theme like urban gardening or special diets.
We all know Minneapolis is consistently ranked as one of the best biking cities in the country, with more than 200 miles of cycling trails and over 1,800 rentable bikes through the Nice Ride system. Plus, hopping out of the car and onto the lime green cruisers is a great way to show guests around. Make sure to hit the Chain of Lakes and cycle around Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun (now officially going by its Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska), and Lake Harriet. Doing it in the summer is glorious, but note that Minnesotans also bike in the winter.
Grand Avenue, St. Paul
In the Twin Cities, the start of summer is kinda-sorta marked by our first 80-degree scorcher, but it's definitely official by Grand Old Day, which brings everyone together the weekend after Memorial Day at a block party with a parade, music, food, and fun. This year’s event on June 3 already has six festival gardens and more than 150 vendors planned, so there’s truly something for everyone from a bounce house for your niece to beer gardens for your bro.
Get lost at the Mall of America -- still the largest in the country
Make fun of it all you want (and we do,) but the MOA has more than 500 stores that attract tourists and locals alike. Where else can you find five roller coasters, four Caribous, a giant LEGO robot, and a Chapel of Love all under one roof? The people-watching alone is reason enough to go, and the more people you bring with you, the more likely it is someone will remember where the car is parked.
Explore the best of our arts district at Art-A-Whirl
One of the city’s coolest neighborhoods, Northeast is also home to a vibrant creative scene. The best chance to show this off to visitors is during Art-A-Whirl, the largest “open studio tour” in the country, May 18-20. Walk around cool buildings like Solar Arts and Northrup King where you can meet artists and view and shop their work, and then grab a beer at adjacent taprooms like Indeed. If you miss the Art-A-Whirl weekend, Northeast Minneapolis is still a stunning neighborhood to walk through and explore on its own.
Get creative at the Northern Spark arts festival
When the sun sets on Nicollet Mall June 15-16, Northern Spark will rise once again. The once-overnight public arts festival now has an earlier curfew (2am) after major storms rained on its parade over the past few years, but expect the same cool, crowdsourced, creative stuff. It’s kind of hard to explain Northern Spark to a newbie, so we suggest just grabbing some caffeine and checking it out.