Where are the best spots for families to cash in on the last days of school-free sunshine? It’s a tall order to narrow down all the seasonal treasures our state offers summer-loving Minnesotans. But here are a few quintessential ways to soak up the warm weather and carefree attitude of this time of year. Take your pick from these selections or create another special way for your family to celebrate the final days of summer in Minnesota.
Minnesota State Fair
1265 N. Snelling Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108
Celebrate the final days of summer at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Fair festivities last through Labor Day and include the much-anticipated new fair foods for 2013, including candied bacon cannoli, fried olives, lobster mac-n-cheese and more. Kids are sure to love taking part in the giant karaoke sing-along and free Lego station. Also check out the CHS Miracle of Birth Center, where nearly 200 animals, including piglets, calves and lambs, will be born and on display during the 12-day run of the fair. Don’t forget to hit the Mighty Midway for thrill rides like Skyscraper and Sling Shot, or check out the tamer options for the kiddos
Wheel Fun Rentals
3000 Calhoun Parkway E.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Spending time on one of our many lakes is a must-do before they all freeze over once again. Check out renting fun water toys from a company such as Wheel Fun Rentals in Lake Calhoun. Try double pedal boats – perfect for a family of four to leisurely explore the arched bridges and beautiful homes along the shore. For those looking for a great workout, Wheel Fun rents stand-up paddle boards, canoes and kayaks which you can take nearly 13 miles through the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes.
Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge
25039 Tame Fish Lake Road
Deerwood, MN 56444
Minnesota has no shortage of family-friendly northern retreats with plenty of activities to while away the summer. One such place is Ruttger’s, with three lodge locations, including its location near Brainerd at Bay Lake. There are plenty of rental options such as two-level villas, lakeside condos, a secluded four-bedroom house, cottages and more to fit your family. You’ll also find lots of choices for entertaining the whole clan, including golf, fishing, swimming and nearby Paul Bunyan Land.
Related: Best Zoo And Aquarium Events In Minnesota
Minnesota Renaissance Festival
12364 Chestnut Blvd.
Shakopee, MN 55379
During the weekends and Labor Day, you can take the family back in time at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. The festival is modeled after a 16th century English village and you’ll be amused by the many entertainers in character to transport you straight into medieval times. Youngsters will enjoy watching the live armored jousting, trying their hand at archery, shopping for fairy attire and checking out the petting zoo. Leave room for decadent foods fit for King Henry, including huge turkey legs, scotch eggs, stuffed popovers and apple dumplings.
Riverwalk Market Fair
Fifth St. and Water St.
Northfield, MN 55057
Bring the kids out to a local farmers’ market to try new fresh foods and meet local growers. One such market, the Riverwalk Market Fair, also includes a juried selection of artwork, gourmet foods from area artisans, musical entertainment and children’s activities each Saturday until Oct. 26. This market prides itself on its European influence and rotating vendors, farmers, musicians and artists for a different experience each week. Recent visitors have included Prairie Creek Pottery, Spring Wind Farm, Manitou Regimental Brass Band and Maria’s Taco Hut.
Related: Best Summer Vacation Activities In Minnesota
Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. She is also a public relations and event planning professional. Her most important job is mother to her young daughter, who is her partner-in-crime when checking out the family entertainment scene in the Twin Cities. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.