Why the Minnesota State Fair is Worth Crossing the River For
The Fair is back this year from August 24 to Labor Day! Even though it technically takes place just outside of St. Paul, it's known as the "Great Minnesota Get-Together" so we want to join in on all the fun, too! See why we think you should make a trip out to the 2023 Minnesota State Fair.
Reason #1: The Food
From fair favorites to wacky 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).
- 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
- Mov + Nqaij (Rice + Meat): Union Hmong Kitchen, one of the hottest restaurants in Minneapolis will be serving up some of its favorite dishes at the Fair this year. Purple sticky rice with choice of sauce and skewered, grilled meat? Sign us up! Location: Southwest corner in the International Bazaar.
- Tot Dog, Lulu's Public House: We love a good mash up and the corndog tater tot combo at Lulu's Public House is on our list try try this year. All beef hotdogs are dipped in corn dog batter, rolled in a mixture of minced tater tots, cheddar cheese and onions, then deep-fried. Location: West End Market.
- Kulfi: Indian-Style Ice Cream in Three Flavors: Here's a different take on the classic ice cream cone. Hot Indian is serving up Kulfi, which is made of condensed milk, nuts and infused spices, in three flavors: almond/cashew/pistachio, mango, and saffron/almond/pistachio. Location: Food Building, east wall.
- Pickle Pizza: Pickles are a State Fair staple and we love to see it incorporated into new foods. The Pickle Pizza from Rick's Pizza is the newest invention - hand-tossed homemade pizza dough is topped with homemade specialty dill ranch sauce, fresh mozzarella and crunchy dill pickles. Location: West side of Cosgrove Street.
- Soulsicle: Soul Bowl is new to the fair this year and they are bringing it! Add the Soulsicle to your list of new foods to try - fried chicken on-a-stick topped with candied yam sauce, cornbread crumble, mac-and-cheese seasoned cheddar cheese, hot sauce and green onions. Location: Food Building, east wall.
Check out the full list of new State Fair foods this year!
Photo by Union Hmong Kitchen
Reason #2: Shopping
Here’s your chance to shop local and grab some Minnesota-made goods all in one place, with over 50 new vendors! 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 products include jewelry, pottery, soaps, holiday décor, original artwork, Minnesota-themed apparel and much more!
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 home goods, home improvement products including kitchen gadgets and framed art, as well as a cornucopia of other merchandise.
Location: corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cooper Street
- Pet Pavilions: Keep your furry family happy with treats, pet clothing, toys ,and animal furniture! Grab a new leash and kennel, plus find animal-themed apparel for animal-lovers everywhere.
Location: northwest corner of Murphy Avenue and Underwood Street
- 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.
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. Two new rides are available - find the Iron Dragon Coaster and the Music Express at Midway.
Adventure Park is home to the thrillest of thrill rides at the fair. Find the climbing wall, 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, one of which is new this year!
Speaking of Mighty Midway, it’s all the fun house, balloon popping, prize-winning, stomach-churning coaster rides anyone could dream of. With two 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 you've been eyeing for three years.
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 the 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.
Grandstand: Indulge in the concert series at the Grandstand! Music genres ranging from R&B, soul, Afro pop, bluegrass, rock, folk-rock, country and more. Headlining the Grandstand this year? Country music band The Chicks and Brandi Carlile! 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.
Letting those Sweet Martha cookies settle a little before taking on some more rides? Good choice. Pop on down to any or all other attractions available! From the Giant Sing Along, the Butterfly House to the Haunted House, Reptile Show and the Krazy Maze, 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-to's, 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.
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 just before the fair. There are plenty of locations to choose from if you’re antsy about getting tickets right away.
- Minnesota State Fair Ticket Office or their website for $18
- Cub Foods locations throughout the Twin Cities starting July 17
- State Fairgrounds Ticket Office
Insider Tip: While you’re there purchase a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book filled with 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 $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and kids (ages 5-12), and children four and under get in free!
Getting there from Minneapolis
Free Park and Ride location in Minneapolis
University of Minnesota campus (#11 on the map):
Various surface lots are available for free park and ride access every day except September 1st
Broadway East & West
3433 Broadway St. NE, available weekends and Labor Day
Metro Transit Regular Bus Routes
Metro Bus Route 3 will take you from Downtown Minneapolis directly to the fair! Normal transit fare applies. Take a look at each schedule and route to plan your day!
From the Greater Metro Area
Free Park & Ride
Free rides every day from 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 10 greater metro locations. 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
A few different regular bus routes that serve the State Fairgrounds will be available as normal. 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.
Emery Autograph Collection
Turn your day at the fair into a weekend and stay in the city at Emery! They are offering special rates on our Deluxe and Premier King rooms, perfect for making your adventurous day a leisurely weekend in luxury. Book your room today!
All photos courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair (unless otherwise stated)