Minnesota’s State Fair is one of the most popular in the nation. It can be overwhelming if you don’t have a game plan going in. Here’s what to know and prioritize if you only have one day to explore and eat your way through the Minnesota State Fair with toddlers.
There are thrills to be both discovered and ingested for young and old at the Minnesota State Fair will be underway August 24-September 4, 2023!
Be sure to check out Kids’ Activities in Minneapolis: Travel Guide for Families for more family friendly things to do in the area!
Know Before You Go
Use the Shuttle
The shuttle service was efficient both in and out of the fair. There are numerous “park and ride” locations around the city and the service is free. The coach bus will drop you off about 2 blocks from the gate and depart frequently so we didn’t wait more than 5 minutes to head either direction.
Arrive Early to Beat the Crowds
Start your day early and you might be ready to head out by noon or so before the crowds start to feel suffocating. This worked perfectly for our family as our kids napped as soon as we got back to our car.
Check for Ticket Discounts
Review the special offers and promo days here. Kids ages 4 and under are always free.
Depending on how many attractions and food items you wish to buy, the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book might also be a worthwhile purchase.
Be prepared with these items
Pack these items which will come in handy during your visit to the Minnesota State Fair with Toddlers:
- Bring an empty sippy cup so your young children have a lidded vessel to enjoy the fair’s milk stand.
- A large Ziploc bag or empty Tupperware for carrying out leftover fair food and cookies.
- Hand sanitizer
- Brimmed hats and Sunscreen
- A Stroller with Shade (There are paved walkways throughout, so an umbrella stroller is fine.)
- Reusable water bottles (There are numerous stations to refill with cold, filtered water)
Minnesota State Fair with Toddlers – Top Attractions
Here are 7 things that will make the Minnesota State Fair with kids experience especially memorable, even with the youngest children.
1. Buy a Bucket of Cookies at Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar
If you only eat one thing at the fair, make it these cookies. Don’t wimp out when you get to the counter and order the small cone size. Get the bucket and enjoy leftovers!
Make sure to bring a gallon zip-loc bag though as they overflow the bucket so much you couldn’t possibly eat enough as a small family to get the lid on the bucket before departing the fair. Especially considering you need to save room for all the other fair goodies on this list.
2. Float Through Dark Canals on the Ye Old Mill Ride
This is the oldest attraction of the fair, which first operated in 1915. ($4 per person) A mill generates a current to push single boats through an enclosed tunnel. Throughout the float, you’ll spot numerous scenes setup and surprises around each twist and turn.
Of all the rides at the fair, this ride seems to hold the most nostalgia with the locals.
3. Glide Down the Giant Slide
I was informed this was a rite of passage and we had to initiate my 3-year-old as a state fair goer by braving the Giant Slide.
The quick thrill was worth the $3 per person to see the terrified look on his face followed by “that was amazing” when we reached the bottom.
4. Experience the Miracle of Birth Center
Meet and touch animals less than a week old. They had numerous staff members around to educate kids on the babies delivered at the fair and how mothers care for their young. The center also aired pre-recorded births. My son was staring at piglets’ births both confused and enthralled.
Fun fact: Mama pigs let down their milk for only about 10-15 seconds at a time. All the piglets would swarm to her at once, competing for a sip.
5. Devour Mouth House Cheese Curds
We consider ourselves to be cheese curd snobs, being Wisconsinites and all, so I was skeptical I’d find curds to my standards in Minnesota. Well, Mouth House did not disappoint! Find them inside the food hall.
6. Ball Park Cafe – Try Mini Donut Beer
This one is for the parents, you deserve one. Just outside the food building at the Ball Park Café, grab a real treat for parents, sugar-rimmed, Mini Donut Beer. You’ll be surprised how great this tastes.
7. Hold Still at the Butterfly House
For $3.50 per person, you’ll be enchanted by the colorful butterflies fluttering around you. If you’re lucky, one will land on you.
Guaranteed you’ll see the wonder in your kids’ eyes.