When Is the Best Time to Visit?

Summer showcases all the best that the Twin Cities has to offer—local farmers' markets, flowers in full bloom, water activities on the nearly 10,000 lakes in the surrounding area, outdoor dining and music options, festivals … you get the idea. Too bad summer is also one of the briefest seasons. The weather can get hot and humid, although more often than not summers are sunny and pleasant. Fall brings beautiful foliage—take a scenic drive to capture the changing colors of the season. If you must come in winter, the miles-long enclosed skyway system in both downtowns will allow you to park, go to lunch, shop, and see a show, all while never setting a foot out in the blistery cold. For those brave enough for the challenge, several winter events, including downtown's Holidazzle Parade and St. Paul's Winter Carnival, almost make the cold weather bearable.

Summer brims with endless local festivals but the most celebrated are the Minnesota State Fair (www.mnstatefair.org) and the Uptown Art Fair (www.uptownminneapolis.com/art-fair). Both events take place in August. The Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis draws more than 400 exhibitors with art ranging from jewelry to pottery to abstract sculptures. Prices tend to lean toward the serious art set, but there are still some affordable bargains to be found. The Minnesota State Fair heralds the end of the summer for many Minnesotans. Running at the end of August through Labor Day, it's something that cannot be adequately explained, just an experience to behold. Some highlights include foods of all kind on-a-stick and/or deep-fried, several animal barns, blue ribbon winners for baking, art exhibits, and national music acts.

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