6 Wacky Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss
Trippy mini-golf courses, enchanting sculpture gardens, car parades and puppet shows — the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region is filled with quirky and unique experiences. Let us be your guide.
A day in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region doesn’t need to end with the go-to tourist destinations. Take a walk on the wild side with these unique and wacky attractions, where art, sculpture and creativity come together to create truly unforgettable experiences.
- Make Like Alice and Get Lost in Can Can Wonderland
Can Can Wonderland features a huge, hot-pink, fuzzy mammoth sitting atop a hot-tub time machine, roaring a greeting as mini-golfers of all ages flock to this former Saint Paul canning factory. Golf balls putted at the next hole shoot through a maze of musical instruments worthy of a Dr. Seuss illustration, triggering the jingle of a tambourine, the bouncy beat of a drum or melody of chimes as the ball ricochets through.
Designed to showcase anything-goes creativity of area artists, the 18 holes opened last year and quickly became a hip, family-friendly gathering place with karaoke, free Friday night tap dance lessons, live music, free weekend art activities, more than 40 vintage arcade games and adult drinks that push the boundaries between art, cocktail and science experiment.
- Get a Peek Inside the Life of an Artist During Art-A-Whirl Studio Tours
Enjoy the largest open studio tour in the country, May 18-20. This Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association event lets visitors peruse and purchase art, meet artists and see their workspaces in multiple locations, including Grain Belt Studios, Casket Arts Building and Northrup King Building. Trolleys run between locations, bringing guests to a world of art, food vendors, drink booths, live music and more.
- Catch a Puppet Show at the Heart of the Beast May Day Parade
Otherworldly and imaginative, colorful and supersized, characters built by the Heart of the Beast Puppet Show and Mask Theatre are traditional mainstays of Minneapolis’s springtime festivities. The company leads an annual May Day parade down Bloomington Avenue, culminating in a community festival at Powderhorn Park the first weekend in May. Want to build of puppet of your own? Volunteers are welcome to help build the puppets throughout April.
- Strap in and Burn Some Rubber at the Art Car Parade
Forget the mileage. These cars stand out for other reasons. Ever seen a car with hundreds of Happy Meal toys and tchotchkes glued to the roof and trunk? What about elaborate paint jobs, like dragons or Monet recreations? You’ll see all that and more at the totally one-of-a-kind Art Car Parade.
- Practice Your Putting at Big Stone Mini-Golf
On the western edge of the Twin Cities, near Minnetrista, Big Stone Mini-Golf has offered a marriage of art and the popular putting sport for 15 years. Even The New York Times wrote about this outdoor course. Among its unique elements, Big Stone Mini-Golf incorporates the imagination of kinetic sculptor Bruce Stillman. One hole features the “Dead Tree Forest,” a maze of smooth but knobby, towering tree trunks guests must weave through on the way to the flag. Hole Number 7, “Holey Ship,” enchants golfers as they duck beneath a large salvaged boat transformed by rows of portholes filled with resin — a look resembling the colorful stained glass of a cathedral.
The sheer variety encourages guests to see what’s next, although younger kids may take a detour when they catch sight of the farm’s goat herd or occasionally wandering pig. Big Stone also sits right along the popular paved Dakota Rail Trail that connects to Wayzata (a lakeside hot spot for dining), and sits less than a mile from Gale Woods, Three Rivers Park District’s working farm with livestock.
- Let the Good Times Roll at the House of Balls
Inspired by sculptor Allen Christian’s love of bowling balls, this art exhibit features more than just art made from bowling balls. Christian’s work includes everything from plumbing fixtures to piano parts — the result is a truly funky (and sometimes interactive) art experience. Housed in a unique gallery that was once a gas station in the 1930s near the Cedar Riverside light rail station, exhibit-goers won’t be disappointed with what they find inside.