The Minnesota State Fair is something my kids anticipate every year though we are not diehards like Anne and her family. We go once or maybe twice, but my kids start asking to go to the fair in January. It’s with much excitement that my kids anticipate the end of August.
This year, Anne and I were invited back to The Great Minnesota Blog Together to check out a preview of what’s to come. Alice Seuffert of Dining with Alice and Christine Noonan of the Minnesota State Fair have put this event together for three years now and we are always thrilled to go.
I was excited to see that Netflix is streaming Flight of the Butterflies right now. It has been a couple of years since we reviewed the film at the Science Museum. My boys didn’t even remember it, so we were able to watch it again like it was new. This reminded me that there are so many pollinator events in the late summer and early fall in the Twin Cities. I’ve gathered a few. Most are free.
The time is drawing near for families to finalize their State Fair plans!
What’s that? You haven’t yet decided if you’ll be attending this year? (I do tend to forget that not everyone is quite as obsessed with this Minnesota ritual as I am.) I can empathize: I find it uncomfortably hot, crowded and expensive much of the time, too. But after years of dragging my brood to the Fair for days on end I’ve honed my plans for making the most of it. I can’t do much to control the crowds or the weather; however I’d love to share 20 of our favorite free fair activities that help keep the costs down.
It’s a pretty widely accepted fact: If you plan to tote a family along for a day at the Minnesota State Fair, you’re going to come home with a considerably lighter wallet. The skewered foods are tempting, the Kidway is calling, the deals are hot and, oh yes, there are those admission tickets to consider. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest and greatest from the State Fair, you probably know that admission has gone up a buck for everyone this year. Here’s what you’re looking at paying for regular admission for 2017:
Now, the prices of food and whatnot are beyond our control. (Though I suppose you could vow to consume nothing at the Fair, but who does that?) There are, however, some surefire ways to save more than a few bucks on admission tickets. I assure you I will be using every one of the strategies listed below as I’m now in possession of three paying kiddos at the gate:
Purchase pre-Fair discount admission tickets – $11/all ages. These are available in person at the State Fair ticket office through Aug 23 (1741 Como Avenue). Tickets are also available participating Cub Foods locations through Aug 23. Discounted ride & game tickets, and Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are sold at these sites as well. Special note: the State Fair does not accept discount admission tickets to cover the cost of on-site parking. The charge to park this year is $14, cash only.
Take advantage of 2017 Promotional Days – if possible, plan to come on one of the following:
- Thrifty Thursday (Aug 24): $12/adults & seniors, $9/kids
- Seniors & Kids Day (Aug 28): $14/adults, $9/seniors & kids
- Military Appreciation Day (Aug 29): $9/active members plus their spouses and kids, $9/retired or veteran members plus their spouses. Valid ID required.
- Ride & Read Day (Aug 30): $12/adults, $9/seniors & kids. One discount ticket per valid public library card shown.
- Seniors Day (Aug 31): $14/adults, $9/seniors, $12/kids
- Kids Day (Sept 4): $14/adults, $12/seniors, $9/kids
Ramsey County Library’s Bookawocky program – earns kids ages 5 – 11 who complete a summer activity booklet a pack of prizes including one State Fair admission ticket. The posted deadline for the 2016 program is August 13. Several other county libraries (Dakota, Scott and Hennepin) participate in the Bookawocky program and will enter your child’s name in a drawing to win prizes that may include Fair tickets.
Volunteer at the Fair – at one of many fun locations and receive complimentary gate admission as thanks. No, it’s not always convenient (but it is possible!) to bring kids along to volunteer. Consider signing up for an early shift, then plan to have another caregiver bring the kids to join you in the afternoon. To practice what we preach, Family Fun Twin Cities helped out in the Alphabet Forest in 2014 and at Little Farm Hands in 2015. Click any of the following links to see how you can get involved.
Do YOU have any other tips or tricks for scoring free or discounted admission to the State Fair? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
• For more State Fair 2017 planning, try our list of 50 Things To Do at the Minnesota State Fair.
Fresh (and exhausted) off a gorgeous summer Saturday at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum with the family. This was the last foreseeable completely free weekend — definitely of the summer and quite possibly the last of 2016 — and we wanted to spend it exploring someplace new. We’d never been out to the Arboretum at the height of summer. The eye-popping colors, space to run free, and hands-and-feet-on exhibits were just what our kids needed with summer slipping away and the schedules of fall beckoning. Here are ten things that get their stamp of approval:
10 Things for Kids at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
1. Green Play Yard – You may not want to make this your first stop at the Arb. Chances are, you’ll have a hard time dragging your little ones away from the sand-and-water play, dreamy little paths among the plants, playhouses, stumps and logs. It’s designed for ages 0-5 conveniently divided into age-appropriate areas, but don’t be surprised if older ones are just as tempted to dive in and play. Read more about the nature play elements here.
2. Plant-Maker Studio – Offered weekends at the Arb (12-4pm), this program is included with admission and features simple hands-on activities for kids. Today we sealed milkweed seeds in handmade paper to take home, plant, and lure monarchs to. (Yes, I learned some new stuff today, too.)
3. Andrus Learning Center exhibits – Did you know it takes 367 gallons of water and 26 square feet of land to produce a hamburger? These exhibits encourage kids to be mindful of how important plants are when it comes to what they eat. They’re fun, engaging, and appeal to all ages.
4. Savage Garden interactive exhibits – Watch out for the Venus flytrap! The 4-year-old got a big kick out of feeding them. Find these in the Oswald Visitor Center along with restrooms, dining and information on making the most of your trip to the Arboretum.
5. Space to race – Pick up a map and start wandering. There are tranquil gardens, sculpture gardens, technicolor gardens, edible gardens, ponds full of frogs, makeshift splash pads tucked into corners and giant ants (see below) marching about the grounds. The kids will probably get pretty dirty, but they won’t break anything.
6. Big Bugs! – How many of these super-sized insects can you find creeping around the Arb? Read more about the sculptures here, on display through September 30, 2016.
7. Bee-Line Shuttle – Leave your car in the parking lot and hop the free shuttle for a scenic, relaxing tour of Three-Mile Drive. Jump off at points of interest along the way; shuttles run about every 20 minutes, May thru October, 11:30am-5:30pm.
8. Maze Garden – Nothing like having your 11-year-old challenge you to a run through the hedge maze to remind you that your stamina is not what it once was. Great fun, though, and if the littlest ones aren’t up for the big labyrinth, there’s a junior maze to navigate as well.
9. StoryTime in the Library – Toddlers and preschoolers can curl up for nature-inspired stories ongoing Thursdays in the Anderesen Library, 10:30am.
10. Seasonal & Special Events – We were thrilled to happen upon the 2016 Art Crawl (hand-crafted treasures and wine-tasting makes for happy adults, too!). Keep in mind the Landscape Arboretum is open year-round and offers such seasonal treats as fall apples, spring syrup, snowshoeing through the winter, and much more programming for families.
Savings tip: Admission is FREE every 3rd Monday/month, 12-6pm, April-October
Looking for fun things to do in the Twin Cities with your family? We’ve got 500+ for you! Our team lives in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and we are your experts! We’re not writers from out of state. We visit these places, and this is our turf. We’ll see you out there.
- 500+ categorized entries in our carefully curated Twin Cities Family Fun Directory! You need to check this out.
Back-to-school shopping sends shivers up my spine. I just spent over $100 buying school supplies for my kids. And we didn’t even get everything on the list. Who knew that notebooks and crayons could add up so quickly. Our cart was full, but it wasn’t overflowing.
With the school supplies purchased and ready to go, it’s time to consider back-to-school clothes. After spending so much on folders and pencils, we really gotta be careful and stick to our budget. There are some great alternatives to the mall, department stores or even Target that can help you keep the prices down. Read More
“You’re the bravest boy I’ve ever known.”
Disney’s Pete’s Dragon opened today, and my family was invited to preview the film. To say it was a good movie would be a complete understatement. We loved every minute of it.
Here are five thoughts I had about the film.