50 Things To Do at the Minnesota State Fair for Families

50 Things to Do at the Minnesota State Fair

Culled from my own personal list, kid-tested and highly approved! Find some new family fun or old favorites at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair with this handy checklist. All events are FREE with fair admission unless noted, so load the kids in their strollers or wagons and have a fabulous family day at the fair.

Want more? Check out our full 2023 Minnesota State Fair Guide here – including where to find free and discounted tickets, the best free family activities, Minnesota State Fair safety and where the best live family entertainment can be found.

50 Things to Do With Your Kids at the Minnesota State Fair

1.  Go on a Fabulous Fair Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

Pick up supplies at the Alphabet Forest cabin and stop in for alphabet activities, take a book break and meet Minnesota authors. My kids have been loyal to this super kid-centered activity at the Fair for many years. Located in Baldwin Park, daily 8am-9pm.

2.  Ride the Giant Slide

It’s short and sweet, but a little thrill for all ages! Celebrating more than 50 years at the Minnesota State Fair. Daily, $3/rider.

3.  Play in a sweet junior mock farm at Little Farm Hands

Kemps Little Farm Hands is arguably the best immersive, free activity at the State Fair for kids. Plant, harvest and spend your earnings at market for real treats – all while learning about the farm-to-table process. It’s agri-tainment at its best. Designed for ages 2-10, open daily 8am-7pm.

50 Things To Do For Families at the Minnesota State Fair

4.  Dig in the Great Big Sandbox

Shovels and pails are provided for all the fun. It’s a shady spot to take a break and re-group during a busy, stimulating day at the Minnesota State Fair. Located in Baldwin Park, open daily 8am-9pm.

5.  Ride the Space Tower

Get a birds-eye, rotating view of the Fair on this classic attraction. Be mindful that you will be something like 300 feet above the ground. $5/rider.

6.  Seek out the biggest, prize-winning pumpkin

How many pies could you carve out of that thing?! Located in the Agriculture-Horticulture Building. Open daily 9am-9pm.

7.  Gawk at the Biggest Bar

The “Big Pig” always fascinates, and is housed in the pen next to the mama sow and her baby piglets. Visit the Oink Booth and get your kids the pink pig-earned headband. Located in the Christensen Pavilion, f/k/a the Swine Barn. Open daily 9am-9pm.

8.  Hand-milk a real cow

This is super fun for my city-slicker kids. Head to the Land O’Lakes Stage outside Cattle Barn and earn a ribbon for your efforts. Daily 11:30am & 1:30pm (Labor Day 11:30 only).

9.  Play some backyard baseball

Take me out to the…Minnesota Twins Experience! Kids can practice their batting and fielding and play mini-games. Located just east of the International Bazaar.

10. Try a new food (or 10) on-a-stick!

We’re not advocating that you give up tried and true favorites, like Sweet Martha’s Cookies or cheese curds. In addition, why not find a new favorite on the list of new State Fair foods for 2022. We advocate sharing with your party to fit more in!

11. Belt some tunes karaoke-style

50 crowd-sourced tunes that you could likely sing in your sleep – that’s the Giant Sing Along at the State Fair! Your kids will love taking the mic even if they’re unsure of the words. Underwood St, daily 9am-8pm.

For other karaoke options, check out continuous chances to perform in The Garden. 12-5pm.

12. Take a Fine Arts Detective Scavenger Hunt

Complete the hunt and win a ribbon. Located in the Fine Arts Building, daily 9am-9pm.

13. Fuel up for a day at the Fair

You can’t forget to sample something from at least some of the 300+ food vendors and breakfast is the perfect time. Some of our past favorites: a hearty sit-down breakfast at Salem Lutheran Diner, one of only 2 remaining church dining halls on the Fairgrounds (opens 7am) or The Peg (opens 6:30am).

14. Catch the newborn animals

Catch a live birth (if you can handle it!) at the CHS Miracle of Birth Center. Then wander the whole Livestock Complex to see farm animals from cattle to llamas and have some fun at the four education stations: The Baa Booth, the Goats Booth, the Moo Booth and the Oink Booth. The Miracle of Birth barn is open daily 9am-9pm (3pm Labor Day).

15. Explore the interactive EquiMania! exhibit

Walk through these interactive stations to learn about horses. Then, if you’re interested in getting close to horses, it wander the Aisle of Breeds at the Horse Barn. Open daily 9am-7pm (5pm Labor Day).

16. Engage in nature play

Dig, build, splash around and seek out fairy houses in the Eco Experience Nature Adventure Play Yard. Just be prepared; if your kids are like mine, they’ll negotiate to stay all morning. Located just outside the Progress Center, open daily 9am-9pm.

50 Things To Do For Families at the Minnesota State Fair

17. While you’re nearby the Eco Experience…

There’s lots more for kids and families to do inside! Open daily 9am-9pm.

18. Watch thrilling stunts at the 3rd Lair Skate Park

NOTE: We are unsure if 3rd Lair will be performing at the Fair this year. We are hopefully watching for their return in 2023 because we loved watching the skateboards and BMX bike stunts. Instead, if you want to have a vicarious adrenaline rush, head to Adventure Park and watch the fairgoers braving extremes like the Slingshot & the Skyscraper.

19. Best places to hydrate and cool down

Culligan Water provides FREE cold, filtered water to hydrate. Kare11 also offers complimentary water.  Families can typically find water misters stationed around the Fairgrounds that are fun to run the kids through. Water bottle refill stations locations include:

  • 4-H Building
  • Agriculture Horticulture Building
  • Eco Experience
  • Education Building
  • Grandstand
  • Warner Coliseum
  • Restroom south of Kidway on the west side of Cooper Street
  • Restroom on the north end of the fairgrounds on the south side of Murphy Avenue.

20. Keep real still in the Butterfly House…

And see what might land on your finger, shoulder, head – or even your nose! 8am-10pm, $4/pp.

21. Meet the newly-crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way

Or watch her likeness carved in butter, a tradition dating back more than 50 years at the State Fair. Located in the Dairy Building, see daily schedule.

22. Test your skills with the scouts

In the past, our kids have loved trying new outdoor adventures with the annual exhibit hosted by the Boy Scouts of America. Pictured is my son several years ago on the high ropes course; more recently the Scouts have offered an archery range for kids to try and staff on hand to assist. Located on the north side of Wright Avenue near the Alphabet Forest.

23. Play free games

Such as basketball free throws, or try out other sports and win prizes from your favorite pro sports teams in FAN Central. Located at Underwood & Dan Patch Ave, 9am-9pm.

24. Be wowed by all the talented youth performing in the Minnesota 4-H State Arts-In program

The mini musical revue is top-notch and completely free to attend. Multiple shows are presented daily. Plus, depending on what is exhibiting this year, you may be able to play simulator games, tinker with building materials and watch fashion shows. Located in the 4-H Building open daily 9am-9pm, find daily performances here.

25. Cheer on your favorite LumberJack or Jill

These lumberjacks impress at the Timberworks Lumberjack Show. Located in the North Woods, shows daily at 12, 3, 5:30 & 7pm.

26. Visit the Minnesota Farm Bureau

Agritainment abounds: free activities they have offered in the past have been a scavenger hunt, family photo booth and the chance to win a free children’s book. Daily, 9am-9pm.

27. Take the MN State Fair History Walking Tour

Or just complete a few stops. It’s fun to learn a little about the history of those iconic buildings as you pass by. You can pick up a free brochure at any of the 12 stops. Typically, if you make the entire rounds the Minnesota State Fair Foundation offers a small prize.  Daily during Fair hours.

28. Take a trip back in time on Ye Old Mill

Celebrate more than 10 years at the Fair (note of caution: the original tunnel-of-love ride is pitch black in many spots which may or may not sway your vote). $5/rider.

29. Visit the DNR Naturalist Tent

On nice days, wander outside for all the outdoor activities. These include the fishpond, interactive stations and live raptor shows which we’ve very much enjoyed. Located outside of the Department of Natural Resources Building. Daily, 9am-9pm.

30. Cross the Fair and get some air 

Ride the SkyRide or SkyGlider! Best way to cross the expanse of the State Fairgrounds and rest your feet. $6/pp one-way or $9 round-trip.

50 Things To Do For Families at the Minnesota State Fair

31. Interactive programming at Dan Patch Park

Participate in programs exploring Minnesota culture, community, arts, education and sciences and much more. Each day of the State Fair features a new theme; you can get the details in the daily schedule.

32. Do you know your blooms?

Become a Kids Flower Detective. This is kind of an elusive activity, so if you need an alternative, don’t miss the exhibits by local florists when visiting the Ag-Hort Building. Many are just the right height for kids!  Located in the Ag-Hort Building.

33. Climb the DNR Fire Tower

It’s 65 feet to the summit for a great view of the Fairgrounds – work up an appetite for more of that fair food! Daily, 9am-5pm.

34. Catch free kid-friendly performances at the Family Fair Stage

Most of these invite kids to get in on the action! Our longtime favorite is the Monster Shop Bump’n show, entertaining our kids for the last decade at least. Baldwin Park Stage, schedule here.

35. Discover Math-on-a-Stick activities

Not particularly tasty, but the kids will absolutely find them worth a stop. Baldwin Park, daily 9am-8pm.

36. Tour the Haunted House

If you dare – not endorsed by FFTC for young children, but your teens might get a mild thrill. Or, just gawk from the safety of the sidewalk. If you time it right, you might catch a tribute to “Thriller”! Daily, $5/pp.

37. Save on Kidway/Midway carnival rides with a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book

These can be purchased at kiosks on the Fairgrounds or in advance at the Minnesota State Fair box office and select Cub Foods locations. $5/book for great food & merchandise coupons.

38. Climb all over the John Deere Tractors

This harkens back to the earlier days of Machinery Hill when it was ruled by the farmers. Most of it has been replaced, but there are still a few great photo ops left.

50 Things To Do For Families at the Minnesota State Fair

39. Catch a rooster crowing contest

If your ears will allow it! (It’s not that bad…) Located in the Poultry Barn, Aug 31st & Sept. 1st only, 11am to 11:30am.

40. Listen to great free acts

Can’t quite justify the Grandstand tickets for the whole family? Some of our favorite local and regional bands are starring at the Leine Lodge Bandshell or Baldwin Park stages. Get the complete schedule here.

41. Stumble upon a pop-up performance

Arts A’Fair at the State Fair surprises with acts that have included puppet shows, stilt walkers, theatre and other performing arts acts. Held in two locations: West End Market and outside the North End Event Center. Check your daily schedule for exact times.

42. Try some classic midway games

To pocket some savings, ride and play on special discount days, take advantage of early bird specials and purchase a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book for coupons. 10am-midnight (10:30pm Labor Day).

43. Brush up on your Minnesota trivia

The “History on a Schtick” show – we promise it’s a history lesson even the kids will enjoy and participate in. Playing at the Schilling Amphitheater, West End Market, daily 10 & 11am.

44. The ultimate pet show

Watch the agility, obedience and police K-9 demonstrations at the Pet Pavilions. 8am-8pm.

45. Get inspired to bake by blue-ribbon recipes

Allow your mouth to water while you wander and find the prize-winners. Located in the Creative Activities Building, daily 9am-9pm.

46. Climb on a fire truck

At Governor’s Fire Prevention Day, learn about fire safety and watch firefighters suit up. Traditionally hosted the second day of the Fair (a Friday), in 2023 it will be on August 25. Located on the North End.

47. Catch the cunning canines

Starring in the All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash show. In the North Woods, daily at 11am, 2 & 4:30pm.

48. Pick up freebies galore in the Education Building

Serious, my kids call this the “Halloween Building” because it’s the next best thing to trick-or-treating. Open daily 9am-9pm.

49. Learn some fascinating farmer facts

Attend one of the Thank a Farmer Magic Shows. Again, be assured they’ll make it fun for the kids, too. Located on Christensen Farms Stage outside the Miracle of Birth Barn, find times here.

50. Mug with the Minnesota State Fair mascots

Fairchild & Fairborne are happy to snap a commemorative pic! You might find them in Visitors Plaza, daily 11am & 4pm or catch them at the daily parade that runs at 2pm through the fairgrounds.

Best days to visit the Minnesota State Fair with kids:

Really, there is no bad day to visit, but score some discounted tickets on these days:

  • Thursday, August 24, 2023: Opening Day Discounts for the Whole Family. Kids & seniors $13, adults: $16.
  • Thursday, August 29, 2023: Military Appreciation Day. Best day for Military Families. Discounted price of $13 at the gate with valid ID.
  • Wednesday, August 30, 2023: Kids Day. Kids are only $13 at the gate and Mighty Midway and Kidway offer all-day specials on rides and games.
  • Monday, September 4, 2023: Kids Day. Kids are $13 at the gate and Mighty Midway and Kidway offer all-day specials on rides and games.

We may be biased, but we think the Minnesota State Fair is the best family-friendly fair in North America. Prove us wrong.  Where can you find a better list of family fun then these 50 affordable ideas?

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14 thoughts on “50 Things To Do at the Minnesota State Fair for Families”

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