As great as the Minnesota State Fair can be, trying to get to the fair can be just awful, and finding parking can be even worse.
Good thing there's some cheap parking just to the south and the north of Southwest Minneapolis, in Richfield in Minneapolis' Kenwood neighborhood. Express busses run from the Richfield Best Buy campus and from Kenwood's Parade Ice Garden, with the total cost coming in at just $5 per person.
Here are some other ways to get to the 2012 Great Minnesota Get-Together that minimize the driving:
- Bike! Google Maps offers bicycle-friendly directions, and free bike racks are offered at the Como-Snelling and Hoyt-Snelling gates and at Commonwealth-West Dan Patch from 6 a.m. to midnight daily. Southwest Minneapolis Patch's favorite ways to get there look can be found on this map (if you don't mind hills, 8.7 miles), or on this map (if you hate hills, 11.4 miles). Both use Martin Luther King, Jr. Park as a convinient starting point.
- Bus! Three Metro Transit buses service the fair and accept cash or transit passes. Route 960 goes from Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis to the fairgrounds in about 15 minutes. Route 84 travels along Snelling Avenue. Route 3 connects downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul along Como Avenue. State Fair Express buses operate from 17 Twin Cities locations on 15- and 30-minute loops. Check the fair’s express bus website for more information.
If you gotta drive: Take 35W north to I-94 east. Exit on Snelling Ave., then turn left and head north. Or take 35E north to I-94 west. Exit on Snelling Avenue, then turn right and head north.
The Minnesota State Fairgrounds are located at 1265 North Snelling Ave. N. in St. Paul. Maps and directions are available on the fair’s website. Note that light-rail construction on University Avenue will slow traffic flow; the fair’s website has tips on how to avoid the congestion.
State fair parking lots cost $12 and can be accessed off Larpenteur, Snelling, or Cleveland avenues. Discount tickets can be purchased in advance through Aug. 22 at Cub Foods or the State Fair Box Office. (Motorcycle parking is offered for $6 on Como Avenue.)
Free parking is available at 34 locations around the fairgrounds. Complimentary buses leave every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to midnight to pick up fair-goers. In 2011, the park and ride program gave more than 900,000 rides.
So once you get to the fair, what's going on?
It’s the second ever Military Appreciation Day at the fair, and active and retired members of the military and their immediate families can get in for $7. The rides at Mighty Midway and Kidway have a one ticket discount until 1 p.m. Hundreds of service members will march from the 10:25 a.m. flag-raising ceremony at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell to Carousel Park, where they will be treated to a "Tribute to the Troops" concert by country artist Rockie Lynn. Demi Lovato's grandstand show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. Check out the fair's website for a schedule of the day's activities and events.
Admission gates open daily at 6 a.m. Ticket sales end at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Labor Day). Grounds close at midnight (10 p.m. on Labor Day). Most buildings are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Adults (13-64) pay $12, seniors and children 5 and older pay $10, and children younger than 5 are admitted for free. Promotional days are offered throughout the fair. Pre-fair discount admission is available for purchase through Aug. 22.
Navigating the fair
The state fair’s website has downloadable maps of the grounds and daily activity schedules.
The state fair is also smart phone accessible, with a mobile website and stand-alone apps for iPhones and Android phones that include a manipulable map and the ability to search listings of events, merchandise and food.