The Perfect Fall Family Getaway in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
Start your weekend at the Joyer Adventure Farm — which is part of Waldoch Farm in Lino Lakes — where family-friendly fall activities start in mid-September and run through Halloween. Get lost in the corn maze and pick your own pumpkin from the field. Visit the barnyard, which is home to sheep, chickens, pygmy goats, pigs and more. Zoom down a giant slide and challenge another family to a game of tug-of-war. For younger visitors, there’s a low ropes course, playground equipment, a huge sandbox, trikes and a miniature maze that’s the perfect size for little ones.
Spend the afternoon admiring colorful leaves from a new vantage point — the Mississippi River. Fall sightseeing cruises on Padelford Riverboats depart from Harriet Island in Saint Paul and include a narrated tour of local landmarks like the Saint Paul High Bridge, Pig’s Eye Cave and the Minnesota River Mouth. You’ll enjoy colorful fall foliage along the way, as well as panoramic views of the Saint Paul skyline. Snacks and beverages are available for purchase from the onboard snack bar.
After a full day of sightseeing, relax with some local sips and eats. Minneapolis Cider Company in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood serves craft ciders made on-site from freshly pressed apples, as well as non-alcoholic beverages and sweet and savory crepes. There’s also an indoor pickleball court where you can enjoy a friendly game. Another family-friendly option is the taproom at Indeed Brewing in Northeast Minneapolis, with a tap list that includes seasonal fall brews, plus snacks and pizza. Finish the evening with scoops from Milkjam Creamery in Uptown Minneapolis, which specializes in creative, offbeat seasonal flavors.
Up for a challenge? Navigate your way through Minnesota’s largest corn maze at the Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze in Brooklyn Park. Each year, there’s a new theme, with an accompanying trivia challenge along the route. The festival also features live music, hayrides, a giant corn pit where you can jump and swim through golden kernels, and kid-friendly activities like pony rides, inflatables and an exotic petting zoo. On chilly mornings, warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and mini doughnuts.
Next, head to Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park where there are over three miles of trails across the park’s 160-acre area that includes marsh, woods and restored prairie. There’s also a lake with a floating boardwalk and a water garden with native plants and waterfalls. Kids will love the brand-new Interpretive Center, which has interactive exhibits and live animals like a flying squirrel, red-tailed hawk and barred owl.
End the day at Deardorff Orchards in Waconia. The picturesque orchard offers pick-your-own apples, hayrides and fresh-pressed cider. The historic barn, which dates back to 1888, is home to the Parley Lake Winery tasting room. Wines are made with Minnesota cold-hardy grapes grown on-site, and there’s even an Apples & Vines white wine that includes apples from the orchard. Grab dinner from the rotating selection of food trucks or nibble on cheeses, chocolates and other locally made snacks. Non-alcoholic beverages, including local craft sodas, are also available.
Start your day with a bike ride in Lakeville — with over 120 miles of paved trails, there are routes for cyclists of all abilities. For a low-key ride, check out the six-mile loop at Ritter Farm Park, which encompasses natural prairie grass and woodland habitats. If you’re rolling with a more experienced cycling crew, you’ll all love the West Lake Marion Park Mountain Bike Trail, featuring five miles of switchbacks, berms and rollers. Lakeville’s extensive trail system includes greenways that connect to the historic downtown, where you can grab a bite to eat.
Celebrate the start of football season by learning all about the local team at the Vikings Museum in Eagan. The museum features exhibits about the evolution of the team’s logo and uniforms, the various stadiums and training camps that have been home to the Vikings over the years and the accomplishments of notable players and coaches. Interactive features include game-day audio and a touchscreen display with famous plays.
Wrap up your fall weekend getaway with a visit to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington. This 14,000-acre refuge offers 46 miles of trails along the Minnesota River, with striking views of colorful fall leaves reflected in the water. You might spot wildlife, including deer, river otters and more than 200 species of birds. There’s also a nature play area for kids at the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge Trailhead.