Things to Do in the Fall in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota, City View

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Many Minnesota residents consider fall to be their favorite season. The overbearing heat and humidity of the summer subside and the mosquitoes die off in the chillier weather, making way for mild autumn days, fall foliage, and a plethora of activities and events to discover in and around the Twin Cities region.

If you're planning a trip to Minneapolis or St. Paul this fall and don't quite know what to do with your day, consider one of these great activities to add a little something special to your vacation.

01 of 06

Go on an Apple-Picking Adventure

Father carrying son on shoulders while harvesting in orchard
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Apple picking at a local farm is one of the finest of fall traditions in Minnesota. Depending on which farm you choose, it can be a peaceful or romantic way to spend the day in the countryside or offer a fun-filled day outside for the whole family. The picking season begins in late August and usually runs until late October, depending on the weather conditions.

The Fireside Orchard and Gardens is 40 minutes south of the Twin Cities, making it the closest option, but there are several other apple-picking venues about an hour or so away. In the town of Hastings, Afton Apple Orchard is a local favorite, especially during their Apple Festival which runs on weekends from the end of September through mid-October.

02 of 06

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Freshly pile of orange pumpkins at outdoor Halloween local fair
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Visiting a pumpkin patch is a great fall activity, particularly if you have children. The Twin Cities' pumpkins are in stock at most supermarkets by the end of September or early October at the latest, but if you're really looking for an adventure, consider visiting a local farm such as Afton Apple Orchard or Pinehaven Farm. Many of the nearby pumpkin patches also include other fall attractions, such as corn mazes, hayrides, live entertainment, petting zoos, and organic produce markets, so you and your family can plan to spend a full day at one of these Minnesota farms.

03 of 06

Drive or Hike Through the Fall Foliage

Aerial Viewe of a northern Minnesota Lake in autumn
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It's no secret that Minnesota experiences beautiful fall colors, which first start to change in the northern part of the state sometime around mid-September, while the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota follow suit a couple of weeks later in early October. The Department of Natural Resources publishes a regularly updated foliage report so you can see exactly when the trees have reached their peak color across the entire state.

The autumn leaf colors are usually the most intense and dramatic in hilly areas, making the North Shore of Minnesota a classic fall destination for leaf peepers. For something closer to the Twin Cities, day trip options are available. The St. Croix Valley, just to the east of St. Paul, is very beautiful and usually a little less crowded with autumn enthusiasts, offering great trails for hiking in relative solitude.  

04 of 06

Celebrate Halloween

Halloween decoration rat on top of jack-o-lantern
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It's never too early to start your Halloween planning—including what your costume will be and where you will choose to celebrate this year. Start off the season by stopping at Twin Cities Magic & Costume Co., a local favorite for buying or renting a creative costume.

Halloween events take place all month in the Twin Cities and begin with a Zombie Pub Crawl in early October. This kick-off to the Halloween season gathers a frightening amount of zombies to Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Haunted houses in the cities begin opening in October, and one of the most uniquely terrifying is The Haunted Basement. There are a number of Halloween events on the calendar at zoos, museums, parks, and attractions throughout the area. 

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05 of 06

Volunteer With the Less-Fortunate

Volunteer serving a hot drink at local soup kitchen
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Whether you're looking for a way to show your gratitude and want to volunteer during Thanksgiving week or you're just looking to give back to the community any time this season, there are plenty of opportunities to donate your time to helping out others. From food drives and charity runs to lending a hand at local homeless shelters or holiday meal services, one of the best ways to get to know the soul of a city on your travels is to get involved on a local level by volunteering with a nonprofit organization. Meals on Wheels, The Salvation Army, and the Good Samaritan Society all begin looking for more volunteers as the holiday season approaches toward the end of fall. 

06 of 06

Get Medieval at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival

Crowd at Minnesota Renaissance Fair

 Jonathunder / Wikimedia Commons

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is canceled in 2020 and returns from August 21 to October 3, 2021.

Over the course of eight weekends throughout the end of summer and the beginning of fall, an open field just outside of Minneapolis in Shakopee is transformed into Olde England for the annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Costumed characters, music, farm animals, fire breathers, jousting, and authentic cuisine make this festival fun for all ages. Come dressed in period wear and you will fit right in.