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 September through December 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.
Go on an Apple-Picking Adventure
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 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. The picking season begins in late August and usually runs until late October, depending on the weather conditions.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch
Visiting a pumpkin patch is a great fall activity, particularly if you have children. The Twin Cities' pumpkins 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. Many pumpkin patches are also part of apple orchards that have lots of extra children's entertainment options, so if you choose the right one, you and your family can plan to spend a full day at one of these Minnesota farms.
Attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Over the course of eight weekends in September and October, 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. In 2018, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival will take place from August 18 through September 30.
Drive or Hike Through the Fall Foliage
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. The Twin Cities and southern Minnesota follow suit a few weeks later in early October, and the leaves typically peak in mid-October throughout the 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. The St. Croix Valley, just to the east of the Twin Cities, is very beautiful as well, and usually a little less crowded with autumn enthusiasts offering great trails for hiking in relative solitude.
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. 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, as do haunted corn mazes, and there are a number of Halloween events on the calendar at zoos, museums, parks, and attractions throughout the area.
Gather With Loved Ones for Thanksgiving
Whether you want to eat out at an area restaurant that's open on Thanksgiving Day or you're looking for a great party to celebrate the extra-long holiday weekend, there's no shortage of great dining and fun events happening across the Twin Cities this Thanksgiving. Tullibee in the Hewling Hotel offers a unique, rustic setting for a traditional Thanksgiving meal while both locations of FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar will be offering a prix fixe selection for the holiday.
Volunteer With the Less-Fortunate
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 real people 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.