MN State Fair Favorites: Cheap and Free Fun!

MN State Fair Favorites: Cheap and Free Fun!

We love the MN State Fair! We started taking our kids when they were 4 months old, double stroller and all.  We usually go at least once if not twice, spending almost a whole day there.  Typically we don’t arrive when the gates open, we get there around 9 or 10 but we are there until it closes.

A couple years ago  we arrived in time to see the Milk Run take place, before many of the buildings were even open. We still stayed until almost close, and enjoyed a full day. Even spending an entire day there, we still didn’t have enough time to see everything.


The best part about the fair is that it’s for all ages and it can be a thrifty fun day.

One of our must do’s at the fair is to head to the Educational building.  Each year we get a free calendar with our picture on it. The Minnesota Education booth, just inside the big doors, has been giving out free photo calendars for many years.  It’s a simple and free process and the line moves fast.  A great free souvenir, of course we try to do that before anyone spills fair food on their clothes!

One of our favorite inexpensive foods that we seek out is the Apple Freezies.  These are great, especially on a hot day. With a bargain price of around $1.50, it won’t break the bank.  Located in the Horticulture building in the apple area.


There are countless places to stop and relax your tired feet.  A smaller unique venue is a seat inside in the Blue Moon Cafe. Not only do they have some unique food (this year the new thing is the Smoked Soft Serve Ice Cream), but they show old movies.  Yes old, like the black and white movies from the 1950’s era.  I recall one of the films was “Teenagers from Outer Space”.


Another place we almost always stop at is called Sausage by Cynthia, located next to the Current Radio Station.  Their portions are perfect for sharing and our kids like it, especially the wild rice sausage.


We don’t typically do rides, many people do, we just choose to skip out on the midway.  We’ve done the Giant Slide, and the Skyway Rides occasionally.  A couple years ago we decided to ride the Space Tower ride, three of us had never been on it. It wasn’t very expensive and cheaper than some of the food choices.  A fun birds eye view from the top:


With kids, we don’t always move through the fair really fast, but we cover a lot of ground.  We love that there are so many spots to stop and catch a break or listen to music.  The animal barns are always a huge hit, just make sure to check the hours when you arrive.  Sometimes they close early for cleaning or changing out the animals.



The State Fair might not be for everyone but for those that go there’s sure to be something for everyone.  Food, Fun and variety is the name of the game for the Minnesota Fair.  You can find all the information on their website if you’ve never been, or just need a refresher course on the hours, schedule or layout.

Minnesota State Fair Butter Sculptures


Would love to hear why you love the fair, your favorite must see and do things each?  Or maybe a favorite food?

Minnesota State Fair Free and Cheap Fun

St. Paul Food Truck Festival

I love to see so many different food truck festivals popping up this summer.  With so many options, it’s the perfect place to take a family, or have spur of the moment date. While it’s always fun to check out food  trucks, when dozens of them converge in one place it’s something extra fun (and delicious)!

The St. Paul Food Truck Festival takes place  August 18th, and begins at noon. With over 40 different trucks scheduled, there has to be something for everyone!  Live music and fabulous food, sounds like the perfect day to me!

Check out more details:

Free event to feature 40+ Food Trucks, Beer, Live Music!

One of the Twin Cities most popular & delicious free events – The St. Paul Food Truck Festival – will invade Mears Park on Saturday August 19th.

You can sample food truck delicacies for lunch and/or brunch or dinner, with fair hours of 12PM – 10PM.

More than 40 food trucks will surround Mears Park selling their special concoctions with global cuisines ranging from Indian to British to Japanese to locally grown pork.

$5 Pair Share: Each food truck will offer at least one signature dish at $5 to increase the epicurean opportunities for you and a friend.

Live music will be adding to the atmosphere, featuring local artists.

Irish Fair of Minnesota 2018

I love Irish Music and of course their food is fabulous too.  Perhaps that’s why I look forward to the Irish Fair of Minnesota each year.  So many great reasons to attend this fabulous event and it’s coming up this weekend (August 10-12).  No admission fee at this St. Paul event and with more than three days of fun, the hard part will be deciding when to go.

Enjoy the culture of Ireland through music, dance, food and drink at the 39th annual Irish Fair of Minnesota! Great Irish music all weekend by dozens of local and international Irish and Celtic acts including We Banjo 3, Gaelic Storm, Screaming Orphans, Altan, Doolin’, Brass Lassie and many many more. A dozen local Irish Dance schools will perform at our Performance Dance Tent! There will be activities for kids all weekend long! Enjoy the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band, the Native Dogs of Ireland, and fresh food cooking demonstrations in the Celtic Kitchen! Come to the Irish Fair of Minnesota and be transported to the Emerald Isle!

Bands on the Blvd at the Minnesota History Center

The Minnesota History Center is a great place to visit in itself, but it gets even better during the upcoming Bands on the Blvd events.  The next two Tuesday evenings will bring some amazing outdoor music, no admission fees or tickets needed.

July 24th:  Ipso Facto brings an evening of reggae music.

July 31st:  Rubber Soul brings an evening of Beatles Music

Bands on the Boulevard is offered every Tuesday night in July with music kicking off at 6:30 pm. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on the History Center lawn and food and drinks will be available to purchase from Market House and D’Amico. Come early or stay late after the concert to take advantage of free admission to the museum galleries from 3 to 9 pm.


Mini Music Fest at Science Museum


Credit: Science Museum of MN

The Science Museum of Minnesota will be a little different venue on Wednesday July 18th.  From 8pm-10pm the Social Science” Mini Music Fest will fill the building with sounds from 14 different bands.   This evening event is for 21 and up, so leave the kids at home and enjoy the exhibits in a different way.

You can purchase tickets in advance here on their website.  The full line up of bands is also on the same link.

At this one-of-a-kind music fest, you can claim your spot under the dinosaurs (or another favorite location around the museum) and let the sweet sounds of your favorite local bands wash over you. From indie to rock to hip-hop, we have something to tickle the ears of every music lover. And you can leave your poncho at home—this music fest will never get rained out!

WaterFest at Lake Phalen

The WaterFest at Lake Phalen takes place this coming Saturday, June 2nd.  This event is fun for the whole family, with lots of great activities taking place.  The water will be a great place to be if the weekend is anything close to the one we just had.  it sure felt like we skipped over spring and went straight to August.

This year’s theme for Waterfest is “Follow the Flow,” a nod to Saint Paul’s largest connected chain of lakes.  WaterFest is a free, family festival celebrating our clean lakes with fun outdoor activities and hands-on learning about local watershed topics. The event runs Saturday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Phalen Regional Park in Saint Paul.

Some of the free activities will be:

  • Water Parade at 11am
  • Learn to fish
  • paddleboat
  • canoe
  • kayak
  • water games
  • climbing walls, native plant giveaway
  • music

Plus lots more fun throughout the park and on the water

You can find more information on the event here on their website.


Cinco de Mayo – West Side Saint Paul

Join the fun this Saturday!  It’s time for Cinco de Mayo – West Side Saint Paul.  All kinds of fun for the whole family.  Festival activities will fun from 9am-6pm.  You can find the full schedule here on the event website. Activities include: 

Festival of Nations 2018

One of the best multicultural events happens this weekend in St. Paul.  The Festival of Nations is an event that offers something for everyone.  Food, activities, crafts, music, and more.  Although the event starts on Thursday May 3rd, that date as well as May 4th during the day are for educational groups to attend.

You can purchase advance tickets here on the event website.  The public is welcome to attend:

General Public Hours
Friday, May 4, 2018
4:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 5, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 6, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The International Institute’s annual Festival of Nations is the most diverse, oldest and longest running multicultural festival in the Midwest. Since 1932, its goal has been to inspire people to discover more about our world and embrace the rich cultural diversity in our community. Nearly 100 ethnic groups will come together for a unique 4 day experience that celebrates cultural heritage through dancing, performances, exhibits, demonstrations and cuisine.

Tuesday Evenings at the Como Planetarium

Our girls are currently learning about the moon and planets in science class.  We were excited to find a way that they could learn a bit more on these topics, Tuesday Evenings at the Como Planetarium.

The Planetarium offers shows to the public most Tuesday evenings.  The earlier show that begins at 5:30 is for younger kids and the later 7:00 show is more for older kids and adults.  You can find the calender here on their website.  They’ve also been known to host other events throughout the year, even the occasional outdoor event. There’s a small fee for the shows, $5 per person and under 2 is free.

Como Planetarium is a 55-seat planetarium that has been in operation since 1975. We are located in Como Elementary School (we are not located in Como Park…nearby…but not in). Our state-of-the-art immersive video system provides the opportunity for visitors to take virtual trips though the solar system, as well as enjoy quality film productions on our 30 ft. diameter screen.

We serve St. Paul Public School students, as well as students from many other districts in the metro area. In addition, through our public shows and private shows, we provide programming for families, scouts and just about any organization interested in scheduling a show.

Taiko Tuesday at The O’Shaughnessy

Next Tuesday, March 6th is Taiko Tuesday at The O’Shaughnessy.  If you’ve never been to a Taiko performance now is your chance. This is a free event, however reservations are required since seating is limited.

TAIKO TUESDAY concerts promise loud, energetic performances that combine music, dance, culture, and pure athleticism. “So many people I meet have no idea what taiko drumming is, or that we have such a vibrant local taiko community. These concerts are free – an easy opportunity for people and families to give it a try. Also, there is something revolutionary and fierce when you see a stage full of women playing taiko. We are going to blow people away!” says Jennifer Weir, TAM’s Executive Director.