Traipsing Around Town: Ten Ways to Enjoy a Minnesota Summer

By Taylor Uggla

Believe it or not, Minnesota does eventually have a summer season, much of which is quite delightful. Read ahead to discover the best ways to enjoy our state’s natural beauty, as well as how to utilize those events and facilities that only our fair Midwestern metropolis can offer.

1) Summer Music and Movies at Loring Park
On Mondays from July 14 to August 18, you can catch a free concert and vintage film in beautiful Loring Park. The music begins at seven and the movies begin at dusk, so bring your blanket and someone to share it with. Last year’s series showcased the 1950s Hollywood films of Douglas Sirk, and performers included such artists as Black Blondie, Metronomy, and Andy Palacio. The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board copresent this event, and Lunds acts as its sponsor.

www.walkerart.org2) Lake Calhoun
One of the most popular summer spots in the Twin Cities, this lake provides endless opportunities for fun. Swim, sail, canoe, take a gondola ride, or just sunbathe on one of three public beaches. Get a cone or sandwich at the pavilion, or, my personal favorite, walk the perimeter and gush over the beautiful houses along the way. Lake Calhoun is also perfect for biking, roller-blading or dog walking.

3) Minneapolis Farmer’s Market
Open from mid-April to mid-November from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market is an experience you just can’t miss. Especially lively on Saturday mornings and located just a stone’s throw away from downtown Minneapolis, go here for fresh local produce and a few more traveled products (like tropical bananas). Prices are great and the atmosphere is even better.

4) The Vali-Hi Drive-In
Although the amount of drive-ins in Minnesota has decreased dramatically over the years, a few still remain open, and there is no better way to spend a summer evening. The closest location to Macalester is the Vali-Hi Drive-In in Lake Elmo. It’s approximately 23 minutes away from campus, but well worth the drive. At Vali-Hi you’ll be able to enjoy the summer heat and several films with either a carful of friends or that special someone.

5) The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)
If you haven’t been here yet, you have not truly had the Minnesota experience. Containing over 1200 miles of canoe routes, 2000 campsites and 15 hiking trails, the Boundary Waters is located in the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. Approximately 1.3 million acres in size and containing thousands of streams and lakes, I can honestly say that this is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. There’s no better way to escape the city.

6) Lake Superior
A close second in beauty, Lake Superior is a must-see. There are multitudes of great resorts and campsites on its beaches, and the South shore is perfect for swimming in the warmer months. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, you can check out the Glensheen Mansion, built in 1908 and apparently haunted. The grounds and house itself are almost as gorgeous as the lake.

7) The St. Criox River
This river is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, or tubing. Who wouldn’t want to float downstream on an inner-tube on a warm summer day? You can camp at sites along the shore, and you’ll definitely have to check out Taylor’s Falls, an area filled with gorgeous cliffs and limestone bluffs and just an hour’s ride away.

8) Midsommar at the Swedish American Institute
Nothing’s more Minnesotan than its Scandinavian history, and you’ll be able to find all that and more at the Turnblad Mansion, Minnesota’s only castle and a true Swedish gem. On June 14, you can bypass the museum’s entrance fee as well as experience the coming of summer in true Swedish fashion. You’ll see music, folk dancing, traditional costumes and the raising of the Midsummer pole-don’t forget the traditional ring dancing.

9) The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
There’s no better way to combine art and air-conditioning than visiting the MIA. Aside from featured exhibitions, it’s free and open every day of the week except Monday. You can view everything from ancient Egypt to Georgia O’Keefe,and my favorite is Van Gogh’s Olive Trees. There’s so much to see you could stay there all day.

10) Medina Flea Market
Sponsored by the Hamel Lions and Hennepin County’s largest flea market, this is the place for lovers of antiques and unique finds. Open on Sundays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May to October, there’s no fees for admission or parking. Plants and produce are also available here, and there’s really no better way to spend your Sunday morning.