With summer coming to a close and fall approaching, some of my favorite things to do are approaching as well. Apple season, pumpkins galore, and some of the best events in the Minneapolis area are just around the corner. Read on for things to do in Minneapolis and surrounding communities now during late summer and into autumn.
Visit an Apple Orchard
One of my favorite things to do this time of year is a jaunt to one of the area’s apple orchards. The University of Minnesota has developed some of the best apple varieties in the country: Honeycrisp, anyone? As they were designed for our particular climate, Honeycrisp and other U of M apples grown here in the state are SO much more flavorful than ones grown elsewhere.
Many apple orchards allow you to pick your own, which is fun and a great cost savings. If you’re not up to that, you can buy the already picked ones, and there will be lots more to choose from than at the grocery store. Some orchards even allow you to taste the different varieties so you can decide which one you like best. Apple picking season in our area runs from mid to late August through late October.
But apple orchards, especially those in the Twin Cities area, have much more going on than just apples. They’ve become destinations for fall fun, much of it family-friendly. Most offer different treats made with apples, from apple pies to apple cider (and apple cider donuts), the ever-popular caramel apple, and lots of other apple products. They often have animals which the kids will love as well as things like hayrides and corn mazes. Later in the season many also have pumpkins for sale, or a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
Aamodt’s Apple Farm
Some orchards also have a festival atmosphere, with alcoholic bevvies, food, and crowds of revelers. One such is Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater (about a half-hour drive from the Twin Cities). They have lots of apples and apple treats for sale in their vintage (1880s) apple barn, and family-friendly activities such as cute goats and wagon rides on the “Honeycrisp Express.”
They also have a mini Oktoberfest going on with lots of outdoor communal tables and benches full of people having a good time drinking their hard cider and wine. Aamodt’s is also home to an onsite winery, St. Croix Vineyards (the grape vines grow amongst the apple trees). They created Thor’s hard cider, named after Thor Aamodt, founder of the apple farm. The hard cider is made from fresh-pressed apples grown in their orchard that go through a cold fermentation process. The resulting cider is bottled and sold right on the farm.
If you’re not up for drinking, they also have fresh-pressed apple cider served hot or cold. For food, they have hot dogs and their own recipe apple brats (in addition to all the bakery items in the barn).
Personally, apples are one of my favorite things to eat especially when they are fresh and local. I also love fresh-pressed cider, and always have a glass of hot cider when I visit an apple orchard. Visit the Minnesota Grown directory for locations of all the apple orchards in the state.
Crazy for Pumpkins
One really fun family event I’ve attended is the Springbrook Nature Center’s Pumpkin Night in the Park which will take place on October 21st, 2023. Visitors walk the park’s paths through the trees and find lots of fun activities: costumed characters, live entertainment, campfires, and more. The feature of the night is the trails that are lined with more than a thousand carved and lit pumpkins. It’s really amazing! There are food trucks too if you get hungry.
See the Minnesota Grown directory for locations of everywhere to buy pumpkins.
Make Your Way through a Corn Maze
Some apple orchards offer corn mazes and I’ve selected a few of the biggest and best below. I’ve also highlighted those that offer hayrides or wagon rides.
2755 Rose Ave, Watertown, MN
Pretty sure this is the biggest corn maze you’ll find: 30 acres!!!! Offers U-pick and pre-picked apples. In addition to the crazy huge corn maze, fall activities include apple slinging, hayrides, kids’ train rides, pumpkin picking, treat and gift shopping, face painting, farm animal peeping, and plenty more. Food, cider, beer, wine, and the orchard’s famous apple fritters are available when hunger strikes. Check the website for live music schedules.
Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 10am–5pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am-6pm
15953 State Hwy. 99, Montgomery, MN
This orchard is open on weekends starting Saturday, Sept 2. Offers U-pick and pre-picked bags, with 12 apple and 2 pear varieties. The 6-acre corn maze has 2 options; one of them is shorter and better for small children.
They are also award-winning winemakers and offer housemade ciders and wines. The store features an assortment of apple jellies, jams, and salsas. A customer favorite, their caramel apples are dipped in local candymaker Abdallah’s genuine caramel.
Many family-friendly activities are available on the over 105 acres of land owned by the orchard. Go for a hike through evergreen tree tunnels amidst local wildlife (pheasants, deer, birds, and more) and scenery. Weekends feature live music by local acoustic artists, where you can relax on their deck with a glass of cider or wine.
Hours: Weekends only 10am to 5pm
Deer Lake Orchard
1903 SW 10th Street, Buffalo, MN
Deer Lake’s4-acre corn maze opens the weekend of September 9. Offers pick your own apples (and/or purchase pre-picked) weekend wagon rides, a kids’ play area, an apple slingshot, pumpkin and gourd patches, lots of animals to visit, live music, and food options (music and food weekends only). Check the website for current U-pick options.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am–6pm
Pine Tree Apple Orchard
450 Apple Orchard Rd, White Bear Lake, MN
Located inWhite Bear Lake just northeast of the Twin Cities, Pine Tree offers 25 varieties of apples, fresh cider, and the cider freezes popular at the Minnesota State Fair. Their bakery is famous for wonderful homemade pies. Fresh frozen pies and other bakery items are available to take home and bake, or call ahead and they will do the baking for you. Pinetree also offers caramel apples from August through mid-November.
Fun fall family activities include a corn maze and a pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkins. There’s a large list of activities happening in the orchard including wagon rides, the Taste of White Bear Lake event, lots of live music and a quilting show. Check out their activities calendar for dates and times.
Open: Daily mid-August through October
Corn maze: September 23–October 22, 2023
Next month’s blog post will feature a few of the best places to see fall foliage in the Minneapolis area.
Late Summer and Fall Events Around the Twin Cities
Late summer and fall brings some amazing events to the Twin Cities, from big festivals to neighborhood events. Find your favorites below!
The Minnesota State Fair is OPEN! The fair started Thursday August 24 and runs through Labor Day (September 4). Often deemed the “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the state fair has long been one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, attracting more than 2 million guests each year. There’s something for everyone here. Check out our full article on the Minnesota State Fair, featuring butter heads, crop art, giant vegetables, blue-ribbon winners and my personal picks for best foods on a stick!
Get a taste of Greece at this popular cultural festival in South Minneapolis. The three-day event features authentic Greek food, live music, and cultural experiences. This is a cashless event: credit/debit cards only.
September 8–10, 2023
St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church
The Festival celebrates the monarch butterfly amazing 2,300 mile migration from Minnesota to Mexico with music, food, dance, hands-on art, native plant sales and plenty of opportunities to get up close with monarch butterflies, learn about their habitats, and what you can do to make a difference.
September 9, 2023
Lake Nokomis Community Center
Explore, discover, and celebrate Ukrainian culture and its unique traditions in the Twin Cities at the Ukrainian Heritage festival. Enjoy delicious homemade Ukrainian food like varenyky, holubtsi, and borsch. Waltz and polka with Ukrainian Village Band, a Ukrainian roots band playing folk & modern music. Enjoy performances by Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.
September 15–16, 2023
Ukrainian American Community Center
A South Minneapolis music festival featuring 12 local bands across 3 porches that transform into stages. Powderhorn Porchfest is unique in its focus on celebrating local music and local foods. While dancing in the streets to jazz, blues, indie, and more you can enjoy sweet and savory delights from food trucks, drinks in the Reverie Beer Garden, and cool merch from local vendors. Porchfest is free and fun for all ages!
September 16, 2023
32nd to 34th Street Along 17th Avenue
The LoLa Art Crawl is a friendly neighborhood art tour among the bungalows, gardens, and small indie businesses of Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood. LoLa artists and makers show and sell their work at homes and businesses throughout the neighborhood, with many sites hosting two or more artists together. All sites, both indoors and outside, are open to the public at no cost to visitors.
September 23–24, 2023
Throughout the Longfellow neighborhood
The 17th edition of Mizna’s Twin Cities Arab Film Festival (TCAFF) takes place in-person at The Main Cinema with a special opening night screening at the Walker Art Center. The 2023 Arab Film Fest marks the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba with a special spotlight on contemporary and archival Palestinian films. Passes are on sale now, tickets and full lineup coming soon!
September 27 –October 1, 2023
The Main Cinema
The 13th annual Twin Cities Oktoberfest brings together food, fun and beer at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Progress Center. This two-day event features a wide selection of beers, wines, and hard ciders, along with authentic German food. Enjoy live music, traditional German entertainment, festival games, shopping and more. Tickets are needed to attend.
October 6-7, 2023
Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Historic Progress Center building
Owámni is what the Dakota called the area at St. Anthony Falls. It means, “whirling or falling water” in the Dakota language, making it an appropriate name for this festival along the Mississippi River. This free, family-friendly event, is co-presented by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and the St Anthony Falls Heritage Board to celebrate indigenous Minnesota culture with music, art, food, and more!
October 7, 2023
Mill Ruins Park, Water Works and Father Hennepin Bluffs Park
Join Our Streets Minneapolis and the City of Minneapolis in a celebration of community at Open Streets Lyndale in 2023. Play, eat, bike, walk, dance, sing, and more at this free, family-friendly event. More than a street festival, Open Streets Lyndale allows neighbors to experience city streets as public spaces where communities thrive.
October 8, 2023
Lyndale Ave South from West 22nd Street to West 42nd Street
Twin Cities Film Fest offers the best in American independent films with studio films, indie films, documentaries and short films. About one third of all films will have Minnesota connections. The 2023 program will include a special series dedicated to changemakers, female filmmakers and BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. The festival will take place in a hybrid format – both online and in-person.
October 19–28, 2023
ShowPlace ICON Theaters (and virtually)
Festival de las Calaveras is a Latinx music and arts festival centered on the traditional and contemporary celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), an indigenous Mexican tradition which honors the memory of ancestors and departed loved ones. The 11th Annual Festival de las Calaveras will feature a series of events including live music, dance performance, puppet theater, visual arts exhibition, multimedia animation, spoken word, and family art-making activities.
November 4, 2023
Cedar Cultural Center