Ask a Minneapolis local, and they’ll tell you it’s possible to experience all four seasons in one day here. While they have a serious point about the weather’s volatility, every time of year presents its own distinctive activities, unveiling new experiences each month.
Post up by a glassy lake in the summer, hike on crunchy leaf-filled trails in fall or cozy up at a top-notch restaurant in winter: the city’s events keep moving 365 days of the year, no matter what the temperature. Here’s our guide to help you decide which season you'll most love to visit Minneapolis.
Shoulder season: September to December
Best for picturesque fall scenes and cozy indoor activities
Cooling off both literally and figuratively from the summer buzz, shoulder season starts with the crisp breeze of fall and carries on through the holidays. Fall in Minneapolis is nothing short of charming, with cozy cafes and restaurants illuminated with both candles and the excitement of sweater-clad patrons. Apart from dates around specific holidays, finding a place to stay in town won't be hard.
Low season: January to April
Best for winter lovers and budget travelers
You won’t find a lot of daylight in the low season, but you will find lower prices and far fewer crowds. Minneapolis makes the most of the colder months with winter-themed activities – races in the snow, ice hockey and even a carnival – and it’s the perfect time to embrace the indoors and hang in some of the city’s best bars, cafes, restaurants, galleries and museums. Minneapolis is no stranger to extreme cold, but with skyways (above-ground corridors to transport you from one building to the next) and tons of all-day worthy indoor spots, there’s a lot to see and do even in winter here.
High season: May to August
Best for festivals and soaking up the sun
Sparing absolutely none of the fanfare, Minneapolis seems to pack a whole year’s worth of summer fun into a few short months. Summer is truly taken seriously here. Because the city is blanketed by winter for almost half of the year, everyone’s fired up about making the most of warm weather once it arrives. The middle summer months can get a little muggy, but that’s nothing a swim in one of the city’s myriad freshwater lakes can’t soothe. While you might find accommodations slightly more expensive during high season, it’s well worth it for the warmth, high-spirited energy and sunshine-doused festivities.
You might mutter some expletives in response to the frigid temperatures, but Minneapolis locals keep it moving even in the winter weeks that mimic a legitimate tundra. After the cheerful happenings of the holidays, January brings a blanket of quietness, though fun winter events are still abound.
Key events: Lake Harriet Kite Festival, Polar Dash, Minneapolis Boat Show, City of Lakes Loppet, US Pond Hockey Championships
February still falls within the “why does my face hurt” portion of winter, but don’t be surprised if you see someone wearing shorts on a rare day above 30°F. Count on comparatively low airfares and hotel stays during these weeks, along with more quintessential winter festivities.
Key events: Restaurant Week, International Motorcycle Show, St. Paul Winter Carnival
Hints of spring saunter in during March, but Minneapolis is known for receiving a surprise late-season blizzard or two around this time of the year. Regardless, because everyone’s clamoring to be outside, streets perk up and the collective energy on those few warmer days is 100% felt.
Key events: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Twin Cities Auto Show
Nearing the end of low season, April brings springtime excitement and more opportunities to hang around outside. It’s that finite transition period between the long winter and highly lauded Minnesota summer, meaning everyone is basically jumping out of their seats in anticipation.
Key events: Art in Bloom, Minneapolis–St. Paul International Film Festival, Minnesota Twins Home Opener
Come May, outdoor festivals and events make a glorious comeback. Flowers are blooming, the air smells incredible, and everyone's trying to find an open patio to grab a cold beer on.
Key events: Northeast Minneapolis Art-A-Whirl Festival, May Day Parade, Festival of Nations
Summer has finally arrived, something Minneapolitans don't take lightly. It’s a formidable time to visit, along with the rest of the season, when the city's vibrancy soars and events of all types happen daily.
Key events: Stone Arch Bridge Festival, Northern Spark Festival, Juneteenth, Rock the Garden
Minneapolis can get sweaty in July, but the lakes have reached an absolute spot-on temperature for taking a dip. Summer is in full swing, and some of the city's most famed festivals happen this month. What we’re trying to say is that Minneapolis in July is unbeatable.
Key events: Twin Cities LGBTQ+ Pride, Loring Park Art Festival, Basilica Block Party, Minneapolis Aquatennial, Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest
Minneapolis is still considerably toasty for the first half of August, but temperatures can cool off a bit toward the end of the month. Art fairs, live concerts and busy restaurant patios still remain the center of the city’s social scene.
Key events: Minnesota State Fair, Minnesota Renaissance Fair, Uptown Art Fair, Powderhorn Art Fair, Mill City Live Concerts
The mood shifts when September rolls around, but it's still a fabulous time to visit. College football games and the legendary Minnesota State Fair are hallmarks of the beginning shift into fall, another highly cherished time of the year.
Key events: Minnesota State Fair, Minnesota Renaissance Fair, Minnesota Golden Gophers Football begins, Minnesota Vikings Football begins
Events start to inch back inside as the weather cools down, but everyone is enthralled by the changing fall colors. Count on multicolored leaves on every corner, Halloween parties and pre-holiday excitement that begins to set in near the end of the month.
Key events: Twin Cities Marathon, Zombie Pub Crawl
As remaining fall colors fade away, Minneapolis makes a swift transformation into winter around the middle of November. Apart from the last few Gopher football games and Thanksgiving, there’s an intermezzo of calm before the big holiday huzzah next month.
Key events: Holidazzle Festival, Art Attack
With an uptick in seasonal travel and festivities, the airport is a busy place this time of year, along with restaurants, bars and indoor events in Minneapolis. December is easily the best time of winter, adorned with twinkling lights and feather-like snowflakes that blanket the city.
Key events: Holidazzle Festival, New Year’s Eve
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