Sept. 22 marks the official start of fall, offering a bounty of colorful fall foliage, apple orchards, corn mazes, and an endless wave of pumpkin flavors! Below we’ve highlighted an assortment of festivities in the Twin Cities (and beyond) to help you get the most out of the season. Please share with us your favorite thing about fall by taking our poll below!
Looking for Halloween and Dia del los Muertos events? See: Creeps, crawls, candy and more: Halloween highlights in the Twin Cities. Also, if you know of great upcoming holiday or seasonal events, spread the word by using our calendar or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
8001 109th Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445 | 952-992-9326
Weekends: 10am – 6pm; Admission: $12 per guest. Children under 36″ get in free
Twin Cities Harvest and Maze is home to “Minnesota’s Largest Corn Maze.” There’s also a corn pit, a straw bale maze, a kids’ play area, a petting zoo, and a hay ride. “Like” Twin Cities Harvest Festival on Facebook for a free pumpkin!
6335 Portland Ave. South, Richfield, MN 55423 | 612-861-9348
Sat & Sun: 10 am – 7 pm; Prices vary – visit the website for details
Wheel Fun Rentals Pumpkin Patch offers pumpkins for purchase, hay rides, a bounce house, an obstacle course, a scavenger hunt, 18 holes of mini golf and other family fun! You can also satisfy your appetite with ice cream and malts, corn dogs, and seasonal goodies like apple cider and candied apples.
1100 Canterbury Road, Shakopee, MN 55379 | 952-239-8501
Weekends: Fri: 1 pm – 8pm; Sat: 10 am – 8 pm; Sun: 10 am – 6 pm; Admission: $13 for ages 4 and above; Free for ages 3 and under
Advertised as “The Midwest’s original corn maze,” the attractions at Sever’s include live music, pig races, food and beverages, hayrides, magic and wildlife shows, a pumpkin blaster, corn pool and a giant slide.
6530 County Road 26, Minnetrista, MN 55364 | 763-479-6530
Every day: 10 am to 7 pm; Admission $7 (weekends); Free for ages 3 and under
In addition to apple picking, the attractions include hayrides, a pumpkin patch, a petting zoo and a host of other fun activities for kids. There’s also a gift shop that sells seasonal treats like pumpkin butter, caramels, and other goodies.
501 East South Street, Highway 169, Belle Plaine, MN | 952-873-4334
Every day: 10 am – 6 pm; Admission: $5 per person; Free for children 2 and under
Located 45 minutes away from Minneapolis, Emma Krumbee’s Orchard includes an award-winning apple orchard, farm animals, wagon rides, and seasonal treats like old-fashioned cider donuts, apple fritters, caramel apples, caramel apple sundaes and more. Another great attraction is the 31st Annual Great Scarecrow Display, open Sept 6 – Oct 26.
14421 So. 90th St, Hastings, MN 55033 | 651-436-8385
Every day: 10 am – 6 pm; Admission: $4 for ages 5 and up, $3 for ages 4 and under
Afton Apple Orchard is celebrating 25 years of operation this year with a pumpkin patch, a huge corn maze, gourds, several varieties of squash and ornamental decorating corn, live music, face painting and more.
17325 Pleasant Valley Rd, Shafer, MN 55074 | 651-257-9159
Located near Taylors Falls, a short drive from the Twin Cities, Pleasant Valley Orchard’s family-owned orchard offers everything from apple and pumpkin-picking, to farm animals, a kids corral, hayrides, and a bakery with carmel apples, turnovers and other seasonal treats. (Thanks to twincitiesfrugalmom.com for the tip!)
Visit this site put together by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to find more orchards and to see which one is closest to you.
Farmers Markets in the Twin Cities: If you’d like to stay a bit closer to home, you can still find apples, pumpkins and other produce at your local farmers markets! Most markets will be open until the middle of October. Go here to find a Twin Cities farmers market in your neighborhood.
Fall Events Spotlight
Party in the Prairie, September, 27 – Bloomington, MN
Fall colors chairlift rides are out this year due to construction. But there will be a party on the prairie featuring bluegrass bands, a live raptor release, kids’ activities, food trucks, and the Bee Squad with tips on beekeeping and bee-friendly gardening.
Apple Jam Weekend, September 27-28 – Minnetrista, MN
Live music and specials on apple jam – a sweet combo!
Afton Alps Fall Fair & Swap, October 3 – 5 & 10 -12 – Hastings, MN
Free chairlift and hay rides, kids inflatable jumper, candy hunt in hay, pumpkin painting, music, plus hot deals on skis, boards and more.
World Champion Booya and ‘On the Road Again,’ October 4 – South St. Paul, MN
This year’s event features 100 craft vendors, a petting zoo, a car show, a pickle contest, a flea market, and a massive pot of Booya!
30th Annual Fall Colors Fine Art & Music Festival, October 4-5 – Stillwater, MN
More than 70 fine art exhibits featuring unique, hand-made art, plus great music.
Fall Harvest Celebration, October 4 – Eden Prairie, MN
Fun times with the family, including a horse-drawn wagon ride. First 200 kids receive a free pumpkin!
3rd Annual Chili Fest, October 10 – St. Paul, MN
Nothing like an bowl of chili and a friendly game of BINGO on a fall day.
Grand Harvest, October 11 – St. Paul, MN
Grand Avenue will be bursting with fall fun, from pony rides and scarecrow contests, to a petting zoo and other festivities!
Highland Park Water Tower Fall Open House, October 11-12 – St. Paul, MN
The colorful sights are worth the climb! Watch the video for a preview.
Stillwater Harvest Fest, October 11-12 – Stillwater, MN
Enjoy a chili cook-off, microbrew tasting, giant pumpkin weigh off and more!
Harvest Beer Fest & Fresh Hop Throwdown, October 11-12 – Minneapolis, MN
Mpls/St Paul Magazine’s first annual event allows judges and drinkers to pick the top hops! Get your tickets here.
Farmer Ken’s Pumpkin Patch Trolley Ride, October 11-12 – Minneapolis, MN
Enjoy an old-fashioned trolley ride to a pumpkin patch and take home a pumpkin for $3.
Apple Harvest Egg Fest at Aamodt’s Apple Farm, October 18 – Stillwater, MN
Forty cooks square off to win a “People’s Choice Award” and a Big Green Egg grill. Tasters and cooks wanted. Go here for details.
Caramelpalooza 2014, October 18 – Marine on St Croix, MN
Nurture and celebrate your sweet tooth with other caramel lovers!
Midtown Global Village Chili Cook-Off, November 4 – Minneapolis, MN
Midtown Market chefs put their best chili recipes to the test, while visitors sample and cast their vote for the “People’s Choice Award.”
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – Chaska, MN
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum offers a number of fun fall activities, from nature walks to apple tasting. Check the website for details.
The rich autumn hues can be found in abundance in and around the Twin Cities. Stillwater, for example, recently placed third on Travel & Leisure Magazine’s list of “America’s Best Towns for Fall Colors.”
This year, experts are predicting a beautiful but short burst of fall color. Luckily, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) publishes a handy guide (above) to assist in finding the best times for viewing. Also check the “Fall Finder” map, which tracks the progression of the changing leaves with daily updates.
City Parks: Highland Park, Mears Park, and Hidden Falls Park are known for offering great autumn scenery in St Paul. Minnehaha Park, Theodore Wirth, and Gold Medal Park, are a few choice spots in Minneapolis. Add your favorite park in the comment section below.
State Parks: Many of the State Parks, like Fort Snelling, offer great autumn activities. Visit this listing to find one near you.
Boat rides: Check the Padelford Riverboat calendar to find a date and time enjoy the fall hues along the Mississippi River. Another great option is the Stillwater Fall Colors Cruise, a 6 1/2 cruise that includes a delicious buffet meal.
Trails & Tours: Wear your comfortable shoes and take the Summit Avenue Walking Tour in St. Paul, which offers beautiful sights and interesting insight into the historic neighborhood. The Magic History tour, a Segway tour in Minneapolis, is another fun way to experience fall colors around Nicollet Island, St. Anthony and other areas while giving your feet a rest!
Excited to take fall snaps? Here’s a helpful tip courtesy of photographer Michael Clemmer quoted in Travel & Lesiure magazine:
“Autumn leaves are nature’s stained glass,” says professional photographer Michael Clemmer, whose images have appeared in National Geographic Society publications, and calendars around the world. “They can be beautiful in moody muted light or when brightly lighted from behind.”
If you want to photograph autumn in all of its deciduous glory, he cautions: “Don’t shoot in the middle of the day unless it’s cloudy because the bright sun washes out color. Morning and evening light are best.”
Much is made about the return of pumpkin spice lattes and the like, but if you’re not a coffee drinker, there are other ways to get your pumpkin fix! There’s nothing like a scoop of pumpkin flavored ice cream on a warm autumn day. Sebastian Joe’s (Upton Ave. location) and Grand Ole Creamery (St. Paul location) are currently offering pumpkin-flavored ice cream. In October, Pumphouse Creamery will bring back their popular “Pumpkin ice” flavor, an all-natural ice cream made with Minnesota-grown Long Island Cheese Squash. Izzy’s Ice Cream also offers a tasty pumpkin ice cream in October.
If you’re in the mood for pumpkin flavored pancakes and can’t find a seat at the ever-crowded Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown, give Bon Vie in St. Paul a try. Also, both Longfellow Grill in Minneapolis and the Highland Grill in St. Paul offer pumpkin pancakes in October. Other fun options are the pumpkin buckwheat waffles or caramel apple French toast at Hot Plate in Minneapolis!
Have an event to add to the list or a favorite activity or recipe to share? Let us know in the comment section!
Updated 10/01/2014 9:30 p.m.