Plan the Perfect Fall Family Weekend in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
From vibrant foliage to the state’s largest corn maze, your entire crew will fall in love with Minnesota’s most colorful season.
Our fall weekend itinerary is sure to leave your entire crew swooning over the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region and its most colorful season.
Minnehaha Falls is an awe-inspiring Minneapolis attraction and an ideal place to start your fall weekend itinerary. The 53-foot waterfall draws more than 850,000 people a year, but fall is an especially spectacular time to visit as the surrounding deciduous trees transition to lovely hues of gold. Get a bird’s-eye view of the urban waterfall from the top or descend down the stone steps into the gorge to see where the water leads (eventually into the mighty Mississippi), dipping your feet in along the way.
In the evening, walk through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden — a quintessential city experience the whole family will love. The whimsical greenspace outside Walker Art Center is free and serves as a fantastic setting for family photo ops with its more than 40 modern art sculptures. Don’t miss the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry.
In autumn, there are more activities in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region than there are hours in the weekend. Instead of trying to do everything, tailor these options to your family’s likes and dislikes. And while some of these may require a bit of driving, they do promise seasonal beauty, adventure and wholesome family fun!
Start your Saturday with a trip to Boom Island Park. Situated along the Mississippi River, the park has picturesque views of the river and the Minneapolis skyline, as well as plenty of opportunities for fall leaf peeping. Bring a picnic breakfast and take a leisurely stroll, or rent bicycles to explore the trails on two wheels.
If your family can’t wait for ski season, head to Buck Hill in Burnsville. You’ll have a blast racing down the hill on skis or snowboards thanks to its artificial ski slope. It’s all the fun of winter without the freezing temps. Buck Hill also has eateries to keep the whole gang fueled up and provides wonderfully scenic, panoramic views of the changing leaves.
For something a little more off the beaten path, venture to Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area in Inver Grove Heights. This hidden gem boasts 256 acres of largely undisturbed land. Hike the many trails with a camera to capture the breathtaking Mississippi River bluff vistas. Pine Bend Bluffs is also a haven for birders. It has been designated as an Audubon Important Bird Area, where visitors can spot more than 100 species, including red-tailed hawk and great blue heron.
Or take a gorgeous drive to Deardorff Orchards and Parley Lake Winery in Waconia, where you can sample the best of the season’s harvest. The family farm occupies 125 acres of scenic land near Lake Waconia, Carver Park Reserve and Parley Lake. The orchards and vineyards produce 10 varieties of apples and six varieties of wine grapes. You can pick apples in the orchard, which has a play area for kids, and take a tractor wagon ride. The nearby Parley Lake Winery tasting room has live music and food trucks on weekends and sells items like local honey, jam, apple cider and pumpkins. It’s the perfect setting to kick back, relax and sip their whites, reds and limited editions.
End your weekend at the Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze — this festival in Brooklyn Park boasts Minnesota’s largest corn maze! Open weekends from Sept. 21 to Oct. 27 (and on Oct. 17 and 18, when Minnesota kids will be off from school during the statewide Minnesota Educator Academy conference), the maze also has a creative new theme each year. The little ones will adore the petting zoo, inflatables and giant sandbox, and revel in the rare opportunity to dive into a pit of corn kernels. Kids and adults alike will love the hayrides and pumpkin slinger. Devour mini-doughnuts, cheese curds and delectable apples. And be sure to pick a pumpkin from the patch to take home for carving.
If you happen to be visiting Oct. 12, the nearby Historic Eidem Farm is worth a visit. It’s celebrating four decades of offering up old-fashioned family entertainment. The preserved 20th century farmstead highlights the area’s rich agricultural history. During the Fall on the Farm event, you and the fam can visit farm animals, harvest vegetables and drink freshly pressed apple cider.