The City of Lakes is a bustling creative and business hub that offers natural resources, fine dining, and a rocking beverage scene all year long. But due to Minnesota’s famously harsh winters, tourists tend to visit Minneapolis during the summer. To ensure that you enjoy this northern gem to the fullest, we’ve rounded up the best things to do in Minneapolis during the summertime -- they’re sure to enchant both locals and visitors.
Check Out A Food Truck Festival
Minneapolis is home to a bevy of unbelievable food trucks, from well-known mainstays to hidden gems. This northern city does not disappoint when it comes to mobile food. And since winter can be a terrible time to wait in line outside, these food trucks shine in the warm summer sun. Some favorites are the wellness-focused Green + The Grain, which can often be found in Downtown West; Uptown’s World Street Kitchen, with its famous global street food; and Simply Steve’s Mobile Food Truck, which dishes out American classics and frequents the downtown area. There are about 100 food trucks in the Twin Cities metro area, with every type of cuisine represented. You’ll be sure to find one that you love!
For a chance to experience multiple food trucks at once, aim to visit during one of the city's free food truck festivals: one in Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood, another in the northern suburb of Anoka, and yet another in neighboring Saint Paul.
Visit Minnehaha Falls
This waterfall, which is more than 50 feet high, is located in one of Minneapolis’s oldest city parks, the 200-acre Minnehaha Regional Park. The striking juxtaposition of urban environs and natural wonders attracts 850,000 people to the park annually. While you’re there, you’ll enjoy views of the area’s limestone bluffs as well as views of the Mississippi River. Minnehaha Park also includes biking and walking paths, a disc golf course, gardens, a wading pool, fountains, sculptures, a picnic area, a playground, and more. It’s an ideal place to spend time with the family during the warm summer months. Experienced paddlers could also consider canoeing or kayaking on Minnehaha Creek.
Bike The Famous Grand Rounds Scenic Byway
The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is a huge part of the reason that Minneapolis has been consistently recognized as one of the most bike-friendly municipalities in the nation. This roughly circular, 51-mile urban loop is hugely popular, especially near the Chain O’Lakes District. Summer is a great time to enjoy this well-known bike-path system, which includes river views, cityscapes, historic neighborhoods, and beautiful scenery. One of the seven districts of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway system is the Minnehaha Byway District -- this means that visitors can combine a Grand Rounds Byway trip with a trip to Minnehaha Falls.
If you don’t enjoy biking, Minneapolis offers tons of other outdoor activities to get you moving. On nearby Lake Minnetonka in the West Metro, yoga lovers can try stand-up paddleboard yoga with local studio KB Sculpt. The Twin Cities Yoga Cooperative offers outdoor classes during the summer at the stunning Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center. You could be doing downward dog while checking out the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry piece. The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is also open to pedestrians and rollerbladers.
Explore The Area Farmers Markets
It’s no surprise that farmers markets are a great summer activity, since market season usually runs from May through October. There are a ton of great outdoor and indoor markets in Minneapolis, including the Mill City Farmers Market within the historic Mill District overlooking the Mississippi River. This area used to be the flour-mill capital of the world!
The area’s first market, the Minneapolis Farmers Market, is another winner. Open daily, this shopping experience has been going strong since 1876 and is the metro’s largest. Other options include the south Minneapolis Kingfield Farmers Market and the Linden Hills Farmers Market held on Sundays, as well as the Nokomis Farmers Market, which takes place on Wednesdays. Pro tip: Late summer is the time when tomatoes truly shine, so scoop up some of those if you’re visiting within that time frame.
Experience The Minnesota State Fair
The undisputed king of Minnesota festivals, the annual Minnesota State Fair, draws up to two million visitors each year. It generally opens during the third or fourth week of August and continues through Labor Day. The celebration is held at the state fairgrounds in nearby Falcon Heights, Minnesota, which is halfway between the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Guests can expect every kind of fried food imaginable, tons of great people-watching opportunities, and noteworthy concert performances at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. In fact, this state fair is actually the largest in the United States in terms of average daily attendance. Bravo, Minnesota!
Grab A Drink On A Patio Or Rooftop
We know that the Twin Cities offer some fun local beverage options. But summertime is patio season, so imbibing outdoors on a warm day is the perfect addition to our warm-weather bucket list. There are tons of these types of bars and eateries, so we’ve rounded up a handful of favorites.
Brit’s Pub & Eating Establishment downtown not only boasts a killer rooftop, but an all-grass bocce court for maximum enjoyment. Another great Minneapolis rooftop spot is 4 Bells in Loring Park. The food is unbelievable, and the views are even better. Travelers can journey across the river to Saint Paul’s highest rooftop bar, Cossetta’s, or head to Psycho Suzi’s Waterfront Lounge in the hip and artsy Northeast neighborhood, which offers a large patio with tiki-bar vibes overlooking the river. Another great patio can be found at Colita, which offers modern Mexican fare in its south Minneapolis spot. For a divine handcrafted burger, check out the North Loop location of Red Cow.
Plus, since it’s always great to support local businesses, we suggest trying one of Fulton Beer’s hard seltzers to quench your thirst in the hot summer sun. If that’s not on the menu at your rooftop or patio establishment, consider the hard seltzer from suburban Stillwater’s Lift Bridge Brewing Company or staple Minnesota beers by Grain Belt or Surly. Locally sourced cider options by Sociable Cider Werks are also available at area restaurants. Many of these spots also have patios of their own for visitors to enjoy.
Root For The Home Team
Minnesota’s Twin Cities are home to a number of pro sports teams that play during the sunny season. And with Minnesota being the so-called State of Hockey, it’s only natural that visitors should experience a Minnesota Wild National Hockey League game at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. If the Wild are having a good season, they could still be playing during the playoffs in May and June.
The Minnesota Twins play at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. And as every Major League Baseball fan knows, their season extends from April through the summer and into the late fall. Be sure to try The Big Ginger signature cocktail if you’re thirsty.
The most successful Minnesota sports team of late has been the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Minnesota Lynx. They clinched their league’s championship title in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. What a WNBA dynasty! Basketball fans can easily catch a game during the summer months, since the season generally runs from May through September or so. The Lynx play at Minneapolis’s Target Center along with their less successful male counterparts, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Soccer aficionados can plan to attend a Major League Soccer match at Allianz Field in Saint Paul. There, the Minnesota United FC (football club) plays from spring through fall in the charming Midway neighborhood. Fittingly, the team mascot is also the state bird of Minnesota, the loon.
Attend An Outdoor Festival Or Concert
Each August, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board hosts a series of free movie nights in various area parks. This has historically been a partnership between the park organizers and the Twin Cities Black Film Festival. Guests can bring their own blankets and chairs as well as food and beverages to enjoy.
The Park & Recreation team also provides free Music in the Parks programming throughout the summer. Various parks around the metro play host, including Minnehaha Park, Bryant Square Park, and Lake Harriet Bandshell Park. These live events run from Memorial Day in May to Labor Day in September and could include rock, swing, jazz, classical, folk, or bluegrass music.
Summertime is also prime arts festival season, and Minneapolis has a number of cool options in that vein. From the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, which features music and art on the Minneapolis riverfront, to the performance-focused Fringe Festival to the biggest festival in the area, the three-day Uptown Art Fair, Minnesota’s largest city has got you covered.
Enjoy Some Sweet Eats
The Twin Cities are also home to some perfectly summery dessert choices. For the best s’mores in town, head to longtime Minneapolis favorite Butcher & the Boar. The corporate offices of Dairy Queen are located in Edina, Minnesota, an inner-ring suburb south of Minneapolis, so consider stopping at one of the many Dairy Queens in the area for some cool treats. The inventive Copper Cow Kitchen in Minnetonka, Minnesota, features an entire menu of old-fashioned shakes and malts as well as boozy spiked shakes. And the award-winning Dave The Pie Guy offers a laid-back Minneapolis atmosphere in which to enjoy seasonally inspired pies. The berry options are especially delicious during the summertime. Superfans can even take a pie-making class at this friendly neighborhood pie place.
It’s clear that Minneapolis deserves a visit during the summer months. With all that this metro area has to offer, don’t be surprised if you fall in love and travel there again and again.
Want to spend more time in the area? Check out our budget-conscious list of free things to do in the Twin Cities, or read about these other great things to do in Minneapolis for even more trip-planning ideas!