Guide to the Minnesota State Fair with Kids

It’s that time of year again… time to load up the family and gorge ourselves on fried food with hundreds of thousands of our closest friends. That’s right, it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair! Although the fair is loved by many, it can seem a bit overwhelming to bring the kids. Here are some tips to make it fun for everyone!

Make a plan.

While showing up the fair with no agenda and going with the flow can be fun, now is not the time for that. There are many things to consider. How do you plan to get there? Will you drive, take the bus, or take a free shuttle from the park and ride? What day will you go, and how much time will you spend there? Are there any discounts on the day you plan to go? What do your kids like to do – and what is a must for you? Make sure to grab a map when you enter the Minnesota State Fair!

Think about how you’ll transport the kids.

My preferred method is babywearing. It’s simple, your kid can’t escape, and you don’t take up much more room than normal. You can bring your stroller or wagon to haul the kids around, but those take up a lot of space and can be annoying in crowds. The fair also has wagons and strollers you can rent for $15-$17 per day.

Write your information on your kids in case you get separated.

There are multiple ways to do this – some people just write on their kids arms with permanent marker. You can make a necklace/lanyard for them with your information on it. You can also get a free bracelet made specifically for this reason from the information booths. And make sure you have photos of your kid from that day in your phone. This is always our first step once we get into the fair.

You can bring food and (non-alcoholic) drinks into the fair!

Pack some of your kid’s favorite healthy snacks along with water bottles for everyone. Since a lot of the food at the fair is decadent, bring something healthy. Fruits and veggies are always a good option. Offer them to kids in between activities. You can even bring coolers into the fair – but not the grandstand. And be prepared for your bag and cooler to be searched when you enter the fair.


Photo by @mrs_rachdana ⁣

Make time for breaks.

The fair is fun, but it can also be too much if we go go go without taking the time to rest. Find a quiet, shaded bench to have a break and a snack. If your kid still naps, take that into account as well. Do you need to leave before they nap, or go in the evening after they nap? Can you leave and come back again later? Will they nap in the wagon or stroller?

Check out the myTalk 107.1 tent for a quiet place to pump or feed your baby.

This space is great! I used this space for 3 years of the fair and am so glad it exists! They have fans, toys for older siblings, places to plug in your pump, comfy seating, and a diaper changing area with supplies. It’s semi-private – there are no divided spaces. It’s just a big tent. There are also other areas around the fair that you can pump or feed if you need a calm, quiet space with electricity. Some also have space to change your baby’s diaper.

Lower your expectations.

High expectations can ruin any experience. You may think you’ll take your kids and everything will be perfect, but that’s not guaranteed. It can get hot, tiring, and overstimulation for little ones. The Minnesota State Fair is one of the most attended state fairs in the country! Large crowds, new foods, noises, and lots of walking can overwhelm anyone but especially our kids. If you go into the day expecting too much, you might be disappointed at the end. And don’t think you’ll get to do every single activity you have on the list, or eat all the foods you want to try. Keep it laidback and simple.

Some of our favorite activities for kids at the Minnesota State Fair…

Eat an apple cider freezie
Alphabet Forest and Math on a Stick
Great Big Sandbox
Little Farm Hands
Look at the tractors on Machinery Hill
DNR building
Giant Slide
Miracle of Birth Center
Animal buildings
Scavenger hunt (pick up at Alphabet Forest)
Sit on the horse in the Horse Barn
Nature Adventure Play Yard at the Eco Experience
Minnesota Farm Bureau
Rides at Kidway or Midway
Free live music
Education building
Watch the parade
Meet a PBS Kids character at the TPT booth

minnesota state fair
Photo by Jenelle Hill

What are YOUR favorite Minnesota State Fair tips or activities for kids? Let me know in the comments or contact me!

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