Actually Cool Things You Can Do in the Twin Cities This Fall
Make the most of it.
As much as Minnesotans love taking advantage of summer, there’s just something about the flip of the calendar to fall. Whether you’re excited about football season, comfort food, sweater weather, or beautiful scenic drives there are lots of reasons to love this colorful time of year. From beer fests to corn mazes to food halls we’ve got you covered with all the cool things in the Twin Cities right now.
Open Streets is part of a movement to make neighborhoods more accessible and sociable, closing roads to traffic like an old-fashioned block party. You’re encouraged to bike, walk, rollerblade, or scooter over to these free, family-friendly festivals that take place over about a dozen different city blocks every year. The last Open Streets event of this year’s season is October 24 in the Minnehaha neighborhood featuring live music, kids’ activities, and food trucks.
The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo is a family favorite—now in its third year, the event features more than 5,000 illuminated, carved pumpkins. Walking through the trail takes about 45 minutes to an hour and it’s non-scary (i.e. little-kid-friendly). A portion of the proceeds also benefit the zoo’s animal care and conservation efforts.
Cost: Tickets range from $16 - $24 (zoo members get discounts;) kids 2 and under free
Sure, popular theme park Valleyfair gets plenty of screams during the summer from its steep rollercoasters—but in the fall, the grounds transform into ValleySCARE. Imagine more than 300 creepy creatures and monsters roaming the park… with choose-your-own-adventure “scare zones,” haunted houses, and disorienting mazes. If those aren’t frightful enough, you can board their usual thrill rides, too.
Cost: Tickets range from $38 - $47
The largest corn maze in the state and arguably the most popular, too, Sever’s returns with fall fun for the whole family. Tickets will be sold exclusively online and must be purchased ahead of time. In order to successfully navigate the maze, follow the letters of the alphabet from A - Z and read fun facts along the way. Other activities include a giant slide, corn pit, live shows, and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
Cost: $17, kids 3 and under free
Sure, you’ve done a fun run before, but have you ever raced in a creative—or crazy—Halloween costume? (Tip: practice beforehand.) The annual Monster Dash returns with 5K and 10K distances—this year, the 10 mile and half marathon races have been canceled due to construction. The course follows the scenic Mississippi River, finishing at Upper Landing Park in St. Paul. If you choose to dress up, prizes up to $200 will be awarded for best costumes.
Brooklyn Center, North Loop
After golf courses close for the season, you can still swing a club at some pretty unique climate-controlled spots. The massive Topgolf location in the north ‘burbs has more than 100 covered, warm hitting bays. There’s also Thr3 Jack in the North Loop which has six state-of-the-art golf simulators with cool tracking technology so you can work on your game year-round.
Cost: $27 - $60/person per hour
Thought farmer’s markets were just for summer? Think again. Mill City Farmers Market is open year-round! You can find around 40 local vendors selling everything from coffee and juice to mini-doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches to hats, jewelry, and clothing. The outdoor market is open every Saturday through the end of October and the shopping continues indoors on select Saturdays from November to April.
Cost: Free, plus purchases
If you’re looking for a place to take out some frustration, check out Bad Axe’s 8,000 square foot building in the industrial area not far from Northeast. You can quickly learn how to throw an axe just like an old-school Northwoods lumberjack—staff will supply you with coaching and safety tips. By the time you leave, you’re sure to feel a bit more zen.
Cost: $27 / hour for walk-ins
There’s no better way to catch the changing leaves than by hopping in the car and cruising along scenic roads bursting with color. In the Cities proper, try circling the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, which covers about 50 miles of parkway. If you’re up for a brief drive, start in Taylors Falls and head down Highway 95 along the St. Croix River to Stillwater or Afton for a truly stunning view.
Cost: Totally free
Minneapolis, St. Paul, Stillwater
If you’re intrigued by the paranormal, a seasonal ghost tour may be just the trick—or treat. Choose from three locations, each promising true stories of spectres that you’ve never heard before. The tours are all on foot and take place outdoors in most weather conditions, so dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes.
Cost: $20 - $25
Nothing says Fall like a trip to a local apple orchard and fortunately the greater Twin Cities have plenty of options for picking. Aamodt’s Apple Farm, Afton Apple Orchard, and Apple Jack Orchards span the east and west metro, so no matter where you live you shouldn’t have to go far. You can pick your own straight from the tree or purchase pre-picked. Some also offer classic Fall eats like donuts, caramel apples and cider. The orchards’ pet policies vary—some allow pets and some don’t—so check first before bringing your pup.
Cost: Free - $7 admission/person
Don’t be a turkey if you want to eat a ton of food on Thanksgiving—just burn some calories first at the Cities’ annual Turkey Trot. Choose from a 6K or 10K run and feel free to dress up in Thanksgiving-themed clothing. You can also give back to your community on the holiday by running for a cause and raising money for local nonprofit The Open Door Pantry, which works to end hunger.
Cost: $38 - $45
Minnesota has six pro sports teams—and this is the season to check out the Timberwolves, Vikings, Wild, and Minnesota United. The Wolves and Vikings play downtown Minneapolis while the Wild and United call St. Paul home so no matter which side of the Cities you’re on, there’s bound to be a game nearby.
Cost: Tickets start at around $10 - $20/person
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream… and no one can say no to the Twin Cities’ best scoop shops. Our favorites with unusual, Instagrammable creations are Milkjam Creamery, Bebe Zito, Sweet Science, and Minnesota Nice Cream. Right now, you can also find some seriously cool (pun intended) Fall flavors: Candy Corn Killa at Milkjam, a maple butter swirl with bleu cheese mix-ins at Bebe, Carmel Apple Cider Crisp at Sweet Science and vegan Pumpkin Spice at Nice Cream.
Minnesota’s great outdoors offer a lot to explore and you can get in some great hikes without leaving the metro. Try Fort Snelling State Park’s Pike Island Trail, which offers a four mile trek to where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers meet. There’s also Hidden Falls with nearly seven miles of trails and a scenic waterfall. If you’re looking to get out of town, Interstate and Afton State Parks have great hikes along the St. Croix River and are roughly one hour away. The trails are also open year-round, offering cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
Cost: Most regional and local parks are free, $7 for a one-day Minnesota state park permit or $35 for an annual permit
Make fun of it all you want (and we do) but where else can you find five roller coasters, four Caribous, a million-gallon aquarium, and a place to get married all under one roof? The people-watching alone is reason enough to make the trip, plus the opportunity to visit stores which have just this one location in Minnesota.
Cost: Free, plus purchases
West Seventh, North Loop, Prospect Park
If you can’t quite decide what you want to eat, or want to satisfy a group with diverse tastes, a food hall is a fantastic bet. One of the first on the scene was Keg and Case Market in the West Seventh area of St. Paul, featuring vendors like O’Cheeze, Five Watt Coffee, and Clutch Brewing Co. There’s also Graze Provisions + Libations in the North Loop with Soul Bowl and B.A.D Wingz and—of course—the new Market at Malcolm Yards getting all the buzz in Prospect Park with Wrecktangle Pizza and Bebe Zito.
Cost: Depends on what you order, about $10-20/person
Minnesotans love a good beer—and it seems like a cool brewery has sprung up in nearly every neighborhood in the Twin Cities. While it would be impossible to list all the taprooms demanding your attention, you can’t miss with classics like Bauhaus Brew Labs, Fulton, Indeed, Pyres, and Able. Newcomers and/or lesser-known spots that are standouts include Falling Knife,Blackstack,Arbeiter Brewing Company,Venn Brewing, and Wooden Hill Brewing Company.
Cost: Depends on how much you drink
The Cities’ best gourmet restaurants never disappoint—whether you’re celebrating a big birthday or anniversary or simply a fun night out. Make a reservation at standbys like Colita, Spoon and Stable, Hai Hai, or Martina, or newcomers Owamni by the Sioux Chef,Josefina, The Butcher’s Tale, or Sanjusan. No matter what kind of food you’re craving or how dressed up you want to get, there’s something for everyone and every occasion.
Cost: Anywhere from $20 - $100/person
Not your grandma’s crafting circle (though you could totally bring her) Upstairs Circus lets you make and take a custom creation. Pick a project from their menu (nail-and-string wall art, jewelry, barware, pet accessories, and more), follow easy step-by-step instructions and get glueing while sipping on a drink from the bar. It’s a great way to get crafty… without making a mess in your own house.
Cost: About $30 - $40/person
North Loop, Downtown Minneapolis
It’s practically guaranteed you’ll have a good time when you’re listening to stand-up worthy of a laugh track—and there are several spots around the Cities to check out. Acme in the North Loop has free open mic nights where you can heckle stand-up hopefuls, and they’re also known for hosting big national names. Sisyphus Brewing near downtown Minneapolis also has comedy nights, including amateur hours, that are a riot along with great beer.
Cost: Free for open mic/amateur hours, $10 - $20/person for weekend shows
If you’re a dog owner, or just a dog person, you’ll be in heaven at Unleashed Hounds & Hops. The first off-leash indoor dog park/brewery in the Twin Cities, when COVID hit they also added a 6,000 square foot outdoor patio. On top of that, you can sip local suds like Lake Monster, Summit and Castle Danger as you watch Rover romp. Be sure to register your dog beforehand, which includes uploading their vaccination records. Reservations are encouraged, but not required.
Cost: $8 daily pass for dogs, cost of beer for humans
One of the most picturesque spots to visit in the Twin Cities any time of the year is Minnehaha Falls. The 50-foot cascade is beautiful in the spring and summer when the water is flowing fast, but equally gorgeous in the winter when the falls freeze over. You can view the rapids from the top of the park or descend the stairs to the base to snap a winning selfie. There’s also a network of trails along Minnehaha Creek, including the popular two-mile trek to where it meets the mighty Mississippi.
The Minnesota-famous Jucy (or Juicy, depending on where you go) Lucy burger wowed celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake during the Minneapolis Super Bowl and it still blows us away, too. Although there are many trendy restaurants that do a solid modernization, the originals can be found at Matt’s Bar (Jucy) and The 5-8 Club (Juicy.) It’s long been debated who has the better burger—and the correct spelling—so you might just have to try both and decide for yourself.
Cost: $9 - $12