I’m always a little surprised by how quickly the weather turns in September. During the first couple weeks of school we’ll get daily reminders to send water bottles and then suddenly the messages change to reminders to dress appropriately for cool weather. This is great news for attending the Minnesota Renaissance Festival because my only complaint was the heat. We wandered the festival grounds for a couple hours enjoying ourselves wherever we were. However, we had to cut our visit shorter than we would have liked because of the sun. Already, this week, the weather started to have that subtle feel of autumn. This will make a visit to the festival more comfortable -- especially if you choose to wear costumes.
I guess I have always thought of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival as an adult outing, but attending with my kids brought out a whole new side of this festival. Below are my favorite family-friendly activities and few ideas for what we will do next year to make our day even better.
Favorite Family Activities at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Some attractions at the Renaissance Festival are adult oriented. Beer drinking, for instance. There is a lot of beer flowing. Some of the live entertainment has adult ratings or is just not exciting enough for kids to sit through. There are also many attractions geared toward families. These are some of our favorite activities plus a few family friendly diversions that we missed but will look for next year.
This is an easy attraction to miss. It is tucked away between a couple little shops. I'm so glad we stumbled on it and would recommend making a point to find it. The storyteller has a small chest of drawers with story starters and tells a different story depending on the drawer picked. She did an excellent job of drawing the smaller children in with the small story starter toys and then collecting them back during the story without incident. I was holding my breath when she took the toy back from my two year old, but he was so interested in the story that he just handed it back.
We had just attended the State Fair the day before. Although there are far fewer animals at the Renaissance Fest, the intimate setting of a small farm made it more appealing to the kids. Besides being able to pet the animals, they could purchase feed for $1.00. There were all the typical farm animals -- except cows (which we had gotten enough of at the State Fair).
Elephant, Camel or Pony Rides
We didn't do this, and I think I was the most disappointed. I always wanted to do the animal rides when I was a kid and was never allowed. I don't want that to be my kids experience. Next year, I'm making it a priority.
This probably doesn't need to be said. I assume most people think of the joust when they think of a Renaissance Festival. You do, however, want to be aware of the times -- 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. -- and maybe set an alarm to remind you to head to over to the track on time.
We did not even stumble on the mermaid. I know my kids would have loved this had we found it.
Family Tips for Minnesota Renaissance Festival
1. Dress up.
My daughter and I dressed up simply because she has a dress up box to work from and my loose-fitting maternity dresses translated easily into a gypsy look. I didn't make my boys dress up, but I truly believe we had more fun and definitely know we got better pictures because we dressed up.
As an adult, I don't really like the idea of spending a lot of money and storage space on one-use costumes, but I did find this article from Examiner.Com with ideas for Simple Ways to Create Your First Renaissance Faire Costume. There are several good ideas for both men and women in this article.
3. Bring singles.
There was a lot of passing of the hat by performers and inexpensive extras where having small bills came in handy.
3. Consider bringing your dog!
Dogs are welcome, although there is an entrance fee for Fido ($10) and some rules you need to be aware of ahead of time. For instance you need to have proof of vaccination and a photo of your dog with you. I feel a little bad that we go on outings week after week and leave our dog at home. It is nice to know when we have an option to bring them along. NOTE: Dogs are not welcome everywhere at the festival (the petting zoo for instance), so someone will have to wait outside in those cases.
4. Wear sunscreen.
I don't mean to sound like Baz Luhrmann, because I'm really NOT a sunscreen person. I prefer to get my sun protection through vegetables, but this is one of those occasions where I recommend it. There just is not a lot of shade, and you don't want to have to cut your visit short to avoid burning.
5. Hydrate on the way there.
Outside food and beverages are not allowed inside the gates. Water is available, but it doesn't hurt to be ahead of the game before you walk through the gates. I did talk to some people who had carried in and they said they were not sneaky about bringing in water and were not stopped. I didn't try to carry in, and I didn't ask how strictly they enforce the policy. My guess is that on the particular day I visited, they may have been loose with the policy as a concession to the extreme heat. I certainly wouldn't count on it.
6. Bring car snacks and/or a picnic, but be realistic about planning to buy food, too.
This is pretty much my advice for any festival or fair. There have been years, where purchasing food was completely out of budget for us, but when we can, we try to plan for a little something. We also always have car snacks and Gatorade!
5. Grab a Daily Program/map on your way in and take a few moments to plan a loose strategy.
We somehow missed the programs. They are conspicuously placed at the entrance, but we missed them. Therefore, we did not have a map or any sort of plan. Although this was not the issue that it was with the State Fair (where a plan is essential), we still would have gone to a few more places had we taken a moment to strategize. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival's website has a list of Family Friendly activities -- many of them free and many of which we missed.
7. Don't be too married to your strategy.
Some of our favorite parts of our visit were completely spontaneous. I'm not sure we would have planned for the story garden or the wishing well, but we were happy we stopped.
Minnesota Renaissance Festival Ticket Details:
This article was originally written by Joy on September 1, 2014