The Minnesota State Fair has it all - carnival rides, games, mini-doughnuts, exhibits galore and primo people watching. But to take it all in you have to get there.
With 1.8 million people expected to pass through the turnstiles over the next 12 days (Thursday through Labor Day), fairgoers should do a little planning before leaving home, says spokeswoman Brianna Schutte. The fair's 260 employees manning Park & Ride lots and parking lots and serving as bus ambassadors stand ready to help fairgoers. Here are a few tips for those arriving by car, bus, bicycle, motorcycle or on foot.
The Great Minnesota Get Together has 9,000 on-site parking spaces, but to snap one of those up the best advice is to come early. Lots off Como Avenue and smaller parking facilities off Larpenteur Avenue and Hoyt Avenue generally fill up by mid-morning, Schutte said. Later in the day when lots are full, attendants will wave drivers right on by. Those lucky enough to get a spot, the fee this year is $13, and advanced tickets can not be used in lieu of cash.
Taking the bus is one of the most fun parts of attending the fair, Schutte said. And a new transit hub that debuted last year made it more efficient for those who choose this option. Nearly half of people attending the fair come on a bus, be that a free fair shuttle, express bus or a regular route transit.
Park and Ride
The State Fair operates free shuttles from 33 parking lots near the fairgrounds. The shuttles run from 8 a.m. to midnight with service every 20 minutes. Not all the lots are open everyday and some are only available on weekends and Labor Day, so check the schedule and locations here.
The most popular lots are at the University of Minnesota, Roseville High School and Grace Church Roseville. If those are full, attendants on site "will help you find the closest lot that is not full," Schutte said.
Express Bus Service
Metro Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit and SouthWest Transit will provide round-trip service for $5 from 21 different sites. Some locations will have daily service while others will have only weekday or weekend service. To check hours and locations click here.
Express buses arrive and depart at the State Fair Transit Hub, which is on the west side of the fairgrounds near West End Market.
Regular transit service
Metro Transit routes 960, 84, 61 and 3 serve the fairgrounds directly. The Green Line runs along University Avenue and transfers to Route 84 at Snelling will get fairgoers to the grounds. Fares are $1.75 during off peak hours and $2.25 during peak periods, Transfers between rail lines and bus lines are free.
Those who arrive in two wheels can park for only $7 at the International Institute of Minnesota, on Como west of Snelling Avenue. There is a lot specifically for motorcycles there. Bikers can park in other State Fair lots, but the charge is $13.
The State Fair has three corrals that operate similar to a coat-check system. Bicyclists can park their two-wheelers in a monitored area, take a number and retrieve their bikes at the end of the day. Bike parking is free.
If you need more help, call the State Fair transportation line at 651-288-4400.