Why the Minnesota State Fair is Worth Crossing the River For

Reason #1: The Food

From fair favorites to whacky new creations, the Minnesota State Fair is a place where anything goes. Deep fried, on a stick, with peanut butter on top, we’ve got it all. Plus, calories don’t count at the State Fair (we swear).

Fair Favorites

  • Pronto pup: This isn’t your typical corn dog. Pronto Pups are fried with pancake batter, making the outside extra fluffy and delicious. This should be your first stop at the fair, hands down.
  • Corn on the cob: You absolutely must get corn on the cob from the Corn Roast. Sweet, buttery, salty, plus it’s probably the only vegetable you’ll eat all day.
  • Turkey leg: Don’t be scared to get a little messy with a turkey leg from Turkey to Go. One of our fair favorites, we look forward to the smoky, salty perfection every year.
  • Fresh French fries: These aren’t just any French fries, these are Fresh French Fries, and they’re made from fresh cut potatoes and fried to order. Need we say more?
  • Cheese curds: A Minnesota staple, you simply can’t go to the fair and NOT get cheese curds. Our favorite is Miller’s Flavored Cheese Curds, where you can get flavored curds like jalapeno, ranch and garlic, all in one bucket.
  • Mini donuts: The mini donuts from Tom Thumb Donuts just can’t be beat. A bag of perfectly fried mini donuts with a warm, fluffy inside and topped with cinnamon sugar? We’ll take two.
  • Sweet Martha’s cookies: If you get nothing else, you MUST go to Sweet Martha’s and get her ooey gooey crispy buttery chocolate chip cookies. Even veteran fair goers wait in line every year to grab a bucket or two of these sweet, sweet cookies. Get a glass of milk and get ready to feast

    Photo by Sweet Martha's Cookies

New/Must Try

  • Nordic waffles: An ode to our Nordic roots, the Nordic waffle creations are new for 2018 and look heavenly. Flavors range from smoked salmon and turkey chipotle to s’mores and berries & cream.
  • Rainbow cloud roll: Three scoops of ice cream sprinkled with fruity cereal and wrapped in a pillow of cotton candy? Because, why not?
  • Swedish meatball smorgas: Another Nordic creation, the Swedish meatball smorgas is a meatball sandwich with traditional Swedish pork and beef meatballs, topped with gravy, lingonberry sauce and dill pickles. Now this we have to try.
  • UpNorth puff pastry: Anything stuffed with cheese curds is a win in our book. Porketta sausage, cheese curds, whole grain mustard and dill pickle baked in a puff pastry. Welcome to Minnesota.
  • Za-waffle sticks: Pizza and waffles unite to create a sweet and salty combo that truly has us curious. Waffle sticks blended with pepperoni and mozzarella and served with pepperoni-infused maple syrup or marinara sauce.
  • Zesty PB&J sausage: PB & J sausage?! Only at the Minnesota State Fair. Peanut butter, cherry jelly, and cayenne pepper are blended into a sausage and served on a bun. Uff da.




    Photo by Minnesota State Fair

Reason #2: Shopping

Here’s your chance to shop local and grab some Minnesota-made goods all in one place. Many popular local brands set up shop at the Fair, so you can find anything from Christmas decorations to paddle boards. Make sure to check out some of these markets for some unique shopping. 

  • West End Market: A collection of stands selling handmade goods, up-cycled products, Minnesota themed apparel and home furnishings. Popular sellers include, Anchor Iron Co. (cast iron antique reproduction toys and mechanical banks), I Like You (items made by local artists and crafters, many of them Minnesota themed) and Love From Minnesota (Minnesota-related products).
    Location: corner of West Dan Patch Avenue and Liggett Street
  • International Bazaar: Buy jewelry, apparel, purses, bags and artifacts from all over the world. The Bazaar is a treasure trove of goods that you can find in places like Scandinavia, Australia, China, Mexico, Guatemala, African countries, Native American cultures, the Philippines, France, Russia and Ireland.
    Location: south side of Judson Avenue between Underwood and Cooper streets
  • Merchandise Mart: Purchase the latest goods for home improvement, including kitchen gadgets, cleaning supplies and more.
    Location: corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cooper Street
  • The Veranda: One of the newer market additions to the Fair. It features 20+ boutique-style vendors selling things like handmade, up-cycled and made in Minnesota goods. Here you’ll find the Adam Turman Gallery (a local artist famous for capturing the essence of the Twins Cities through his designs) and Hagen and Oats (handcrafted Minnesota themed wood décor).
    Location: second level of the grandstand.
  • Fan Central: If you’re a sports fanatic this is a must-stop on your list. Load up on apparel, hats, jerseys, and memorabilia from Minnesota’s favorite sports teams like the Wild, Timberwolves, Lynx, and United FC.
    Location: west side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch and Carnes avenues.

All State Fair shopping destinations can be found here.

Reason #3: The Rides

What's a fair without giant swings and ring tosses you swear are rigged? When you're not deciding what food to try next, you're probably wondering which ride you'll finally get talked into this year or deciding what game you're determined to conquer once and for all.  

Amusement Parks

Adventure Park is home to the thrillest of thrill rides at the fair. Find the climbing wall, Krazy Maze, Skyscraper, Sling Shot and Turbo Bungy here!

Walk, skip, probably don’t run on down to the Kidway for rides and games for the little ones who aren’t quite ready to take on the Mighty Midway. 30 rides and games await you, two of which are new this year!

Speaking of Mighty Midway, it’s all the funhouse, balloon popping, prize-winning, stomach-churning coaster rides anyone could dream of. With five new experiences making their way to the Midway this year, we think you might just have to buy a ticket or two or thirty to see if you’ve got what it takes to strap into a ride or win that big Rasta banana.

More Rides

Outside of designated amusement park zones, there’s even more rides worth waiting in line for. Head over to the Giant Slide, a fair classic! Don’t miss out on Go Karts, the River Raft Ride, or our chairlift-style SkyGlider or gondola-style Skyride. The Space Tower will take you up, up and back down after you’ve taken in the beautiful aerial views of the fairgrounds while Ye Old Mill is a boat ride in a dark tunnel that you just can’t miss.

Insider Tip: Make time for the Great Big Wheel, one of the tallest traveling Ferris wheels in North America. Make it extra awesome by timing it just right so that you’re enjoying the ride just as the nightly fireworks begin – it’s a view you won’t regret.

Reason #4: The Music, Activities and Showcases

Because what goes better with good food? Okay, maybe a good drink. But also great entertainment. At every turn you'll find free music, hype performances and new opportunities to see one-of-a-kind exhibits and learn something you never knew. 

Music

Grandstand: Indulge in the 2018 concert series at the Grandstand! Music genres ranging from R&B, soul, Afro pop, bluegrass, rock, folk-rock, country and more.
Check out this year’s State Fair lineup!

Free Live Music & Shows: Yeah, you read it right – free. The State Fair hosts 900 shows and over 100 acts throughout its 12-day duration. A broad assortment of musicians and bands are just one of many types of shows and activities available. Live broadcasts, unique demonstrations and presentations, performances, contests and a wide array of activities for all ages can be found each day!
View the State Fair’s official performance schedule here.

Activities

Letting those Sweet Martha cookies settle a little before taking on some rides? Good choice. Pop on down to any or all other attractions available! From Bob’s Snake Zoo, the Butterfly House and Giant Singalong to the Great Big Sandbox, Haunted House, Reptile Show and the X-Zone, we’re sure you’ll find something to suit your group’s interests.

Booths and Showcases

  • Educational Experiences and Exhibits
    Find educational experiences and exhibits about everything from numbers, letters, animals and agriculture. Perfect for kids or even the open-minded learner of any age, experiences like Math-On-A-Stick and the Oink Booth are ready to throw some knowledge your way.
  • Healthy and Sustainable Living
    Interested in understanding more about healthy and sustainable living? Discover what you can do for yourself and the planet with healthy cooking demos, free and low-cost health screenings, reduce-reuse-recycle how-tos, green technology exhibits and much more.
  • History and Traditions
    If the fair is your favorite time of the year, learn more about it to boast to your out-of-state friends. Explore the rich traditions and history of the fair at five destinations throughout the fair.
  • Sports
    Oh, you’re a sports fan? We’ve got something for you to cheer about with ten sports exhibits throughout the fair. Enjoy player meet-and-greets, team gear and activities that will get you so pumped for next season that you might need a moment to collect yourself from sheer excitement.



Tickets and Transportation

Where to Buy Tickets

You can buy your state fair admission tickets at a discount now through August 23 for only $11. There are plenty of locations to choose from if you’re antsy about getting tickets right away.

  1. Minneapolis Visitor Information
  2. Minnesota State Fair Ticket Office or Website
  3. Cub Foods locations throughout the Twin Cities.  Full ticket details can be found here.

Insider Tip: While you’re there purchase a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book filled discounts to keep you more focused on the food and attractions and less on your wallet.

And don’t worry if you decide to go to the fair last minute, you can always buy tickets at the gate too. Regular fair-admission tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and kids.

Getting there from Minneapolis

From Minneapolis

Free Park and Ride locations
University of Minnesota campus (#12 on the map):
Various surface lots are available for free park and ride access every day except August 30th

30th At Broadway East & West (#28 on the map):
(3433 Broadway Ave. NE., Minneapolis, 55413 West of Industrial Blvd., south of I-35W, exit 22)

Metro Transit Express Service
$5 round-trip ride from Parade Stadium/Dunwoody College of Technology, I-394 & Dunwoody Blvd (weekday service at this site begins at noon).

Metro Transit Regular Bus Routes
Metro Bus Route 3 and Route 960 will both take you from Downtown and Northeast Minneapolis directly to the fair! Normal transit fare applies. Take a look at each schedule and route to plan your day!
Insider Tip: Save time and energy by buying an All-Day Pass!

From the Greater Metro Area

Free Park & Ride
Free rides every day from over 30 convenient Twin Cities locations.

On Site Parking
Find fairground parking and pricing for whatever set of wheels you take to the fair. Cars, motorcycles, bikes and charter buses, there’s a parking spot for you.

Taxis & Rideshares
Learn more about drop-off and pick-up locations for taxis and rideshares and get a special MN State Fair discount when using Lyft.

State Fair Express Buses
State Fair Express buses operate from 19 greater metro location. Get to the fair in no time without breaking the bank!
Insider Tip: Save time when you buy your round-trip ride online.

Regular Bus Routes
Three different regular bus routes that serve the State Fairgrounds will be available as normal. Route 960, Route 84 and the A Line, and Route 3 are at your service. Save time and hassle by buying an All-Day Pass on the mobile app or at an A Line ticket machine.

All photos courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair (unless otherwise stated)