5 Favorites for Fall Fun in Minneapolis-St. Paul
Ask anyone who’s from the Twin Cities, or anywhere else in Minnesota for that matter. Fall is the state’s main attraction in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region — the moment where the air turns crisp, sweaters and layers replace shorts and T-shirts, and leaves shimmer in autumnal shades of red, orange, yellow and brown.
Since there are so many seasonal options and locally owned businesses to support throughout the metro area every year, we thought we’d break fall down by five of its biggest draws, beginning with some key selections from the region’s stacked events calendar…
A “two-week celebration of art, learning and community spaces,” Eagan Art Block lands smack dab in the middle of September and features such one-of-a-kind activities as guided sculpture tours, pottery demoes, genre-jumping live music, and a spotlight on short movies that were made by local filmmakers.
Chroma Zone brings St. Paul’s art district to life with 11 massive outdoor murals painted by artists from the Twin Cities and beyond. This year’s program winds down at the end of September and includes an artist talk and closing party at the city’s beloved amusement complex Can Can Wonderland.
Happening right around the same time is the 40th annual Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Cheer on thousands of international competitors as they sprint between Minneapolis and St. Paul on Sunday, October 2, starting at 8 a.m. sharp.
No less pulse-quickening is Anoka’s century-plus celebration of being the Halloween Capital of the World. Happening throughout October, it includes the 36th annual Gray Ghost 5K, several parades, costume and pumpkin carving contests, and a Pumpkin Bowl matchup between the Anoka Tornadoes and White Bear Lake.
Last but certainly not least is the Twin Cities Film Fest in St. Louis Park. Running between October 20 and 29, it celebrates the best in independent and Minnesota-made films. The hybrid festival includes over 70+ films screened in person and an additional 70+ streamed online. Special series feature films from diverse communities, including BIPOC, LGBTQ, and women filmmakers and content, as well as films focused on climate change and technology.
While it may not be as sprawling as New York City or LA, the Twin Cities food scene is vibrant and diverse, making it a microcosm of culinary delights. Northwest Minneapolis is particularly strong when it comes to African cuisine, with restaurants that specialize in dishes from Liberia (Estelle’s Kitchen, Mama Ti’s African Kitchen), Kenya (Jambo Africa Restaurant), and nearly everywhere imaginable in between (African Deli, Milah’s Royal Bistro, Africa Restaurant).
Another way to round the globe is Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store. Located just outside Shakopee in Jordan, MN, it boasts a broad selection of brightly colored soda bottles and a wide range of rare sweets from all around the world.
Shifting our focus outdoors, we have the 60-acre Caponi Art Park in Eagan, the progressive Nature Play Area at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington, the 759-acre Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Minneapolis and Golden Valley, and Sever’s Fall Festival in Shakopee. The “Midwest’s original fall festival” happens every Saturday and Sunday between September 17 and October 30, and highlights both a huge corn maze and a must-be-seen-to-be-believed “extreme corn pit.” Not to mention 28 other attractions and activities.
Similar in spirit to Sever’s Fall Festival and also happening in Shakopee is Tricks and Treats, a month-long overhaul of Valleyfair that features such “family-friendly eeriness” as a Scream Bottler, Trick or Treat Trail, Gross Out Gauntlet game show, and an all-zombie cover band that goes by the name The Snots.
It wouldn’t be fall without a pumpkin patch either, of course. Richfield’s Wheel Fun Rentals has that ground covered with a variety of pick-your-own options in Veterans Memorial Park, along with bike rentals, miniature golf and a bounce house.
Adults can also keep themselves entertained for hours by hitting the bullseyes at PerpleBunny’s Axe House in Inver Grove Heights; touring the Twin Cities Gateway’s many immaculate golf courses (including a PGA-endorsed property that was designed by Arnold Palmer!); and learning the ins and outs of the country’s fastest growing sport at Lucky Shots Pickleball Club in Minneapolis.
Breweries / Distilleries
Also of note for responsible grownups are the metro area’s many craft breweries and distilleries. So many, in fact, that St. Louis Park has two very different tasting rooms located right around the corner from one another. While the award-winning Copperwing is best known for its bourbon-mashed “Vodskey,” Dampfwerk leans into German-style liqueurs, fruit brandies, and caraway-infused aquavit.
If you’re more into sampling IPAs, stouts and sours, revelatory taprooms are now pouring fresh pints at 9 Mile Brewing in Bloomington, Inver Grove Brewing in Inver Grove Heights, Heavy Rotation Brewing Company in Brooklyn Park, and High Pines Brewing in Roseville, which also happens to be the something-for-everyone headquarters of local fav Bent Brewstillery. Another crowd-pleaser with a cult following is Utepils Brewing, a little slice of Europe near Minneapolis’ popular Theodore Wirth Regional Park, complete with a heated beer garden and slightly hoppy riffs on German, Belgian and Czech recipes made with locally sourced spring water.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a fall roundup without mentioning the best places to pick up seasonal plants and décor at the Inver Grove Heights staple Gertens Garden Center & Nursery, elegant interior design essentials at the Stillwater-based home goods store Brick + Linen, and impeccably curated jewelry, clothing and gift ideas at Lakeville’s Board and Batten. Other shopping highlights worth a closer look this season include the BIPOC-owned small businesses at Community Commons— one of many new additions at Bloomington’s iconic Mall of America — and the lovingly curated MN-made products at Rose & Loon in Roseville’s Rosedale Center.