Culled from my own personal list, kid-tested and highly approved! Find some new family fun or old favorites at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair with this handy checklist. All events are FREE unless noted.
Want More? Check Out Our Full 2021 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.
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. 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 in 2021. Daily, $3/rider.
3. Play in a sweet junior mock farm at Little Farm Hands
This 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.
4. Dig in the Great Big Sandbox
2021 NOTE: The Great Big Sandbox will not be at the 2021 Fair; watch for it to return in 2022. An alternative place to play in the sand is the Eco Experience’s Nature Adventure Playground.
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. 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 boar
The boar 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. Just east of the International Bazaar.
10. Try a new food (or 10) on-a-stick!
Find the list of new State Fair foods for 2021. We advocate sharing with your party to fit more in!
11. Belt some tunes karaoke-style
2021 NOTE: The Giant Sing Along will not be at the 2021 Fair; we hope it returns in 2022 because it’s super fun. For other karaoke options, check out continuous chances to perform with Mia Dorr’s Premier Entertainment, located in The Garden.12-5pm.
Karaoke is typically available at the Giant Sing Along. Underwood St, daily 9am-8pm.
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
14. Catch the newborn animals
2021 NOTE: Live-birth viewings are not an option at the 2021 Fair, but the popular barn will still be hosting baby animals during the 12-day run.
Catch a live birth (if you can handle it!) at the CHS Miracle of Birth Center. Open daily 9am-9pm (3pm Labor Day).
15. Explore the interactive EquiMania! exhibit
2021 NOTE: Equimania! will not be presenting its exhibit at the 2021 Fair; look for it to return in 2022. If you’re interested in getting close to horses, it is still possible to 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. Open daily 9am-9pm.
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
2021 NOTE: 3rd Lair will not be performing at the Fair this year. We hope they’ll return in 2022 because we love watching the skateboards and BMX bike stunts. Instead, if you want to have a vicarious adrenaline rush, head to the new location of Adventure Park and watch the fairgoers braving extremes like the Slingshot & the Skyscraper.
19. Get drenched on the River Raft Ride
2021 NOTE: The River Raft Ride has sailed its last ship at the Fair and we’re sad about it. We loved it on an exceptionally hot day. Where can you cool off instead? Culligan Water provides FREE cold, filtered water to hydrate, and water misters are typically stationed around the Fairgrounds that are fun to run the kids through.
20. Keep real still in the Butterfly House…
And see what might land on your finger, shoulder, head – or even your nose! 8am-10pm, $3.50/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 on the Boy Scouts Adventure Summit
It’s a super fun high ropes course – waiver and closed-toe shoes required. Next to Eco Experience, daily starting at 9am.
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. 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. Plus 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
They’ll 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: 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). $3.25/rider.
2021 NOTE: The big log DNR cabin will not be open for the 2021 State Fair, but all the outdoor activities are still happening. These include the fishpond, interactive stations and live raptor shows which we’ve very much enjoyed. Daily, 9am-9pm.
Ride the SkyRide or SkyGlider! Best way to cross the expanse of the State Fairgrounds and rest your feet. $5/pp one-way or $8 round-trip.
31. Participate in STEM Day activities at the Fair
Robots, science experiments, a traveling planetarium and much more. Dan Patch Park, Aug 26 only, 8am-5pm.
32. Do you know your blooms?
Become a Kids Flower Detective and win a ribbon. This is kind of an elusive activity, so if you need an alternative, don’t miss the Garden Kaleidoscopes in the Ag-Hort Building. Many are just the right height for kids! Located in the Ag-Hort Building, 2 dates only, check the daily schedule for details, 1-5pm.
33. Climb the DNR Firetower
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
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, $4/pp.
37. Save on Kidway/Midway 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 Deeres
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.
39. Catch a rooster crowing contest
If your ears will allow it! Located in the Poultry Barn, Aug 29 & 30 only, 11am.
40. Listen to great free acts
Starring at the Leine Lodge Bandshell or Baldwin Park stages. Get the complete schedule here.
41. Stumble upon an Arts A’Fair pop-up performance
Puppet shows, stiltwalkers, theatre and other performing arts acts. Various shows, find the lineup here.
42. Play some Midway games
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 brand new Pet Pavilions. 8am-8pm.
45. 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. Aug 27 only, 8am-6pm, various sites.
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
Fairchild & Fairborne are happy to snap a commemorative pic! You might find them in Visitors Plaza, daily 11am & 4pm.
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