Our fleeting months of warmth that land sometime between the frost’s thaw and the first falling leaves tend to fill up quickly. Calendars by now are nearly marked up with beachside vacays and visits to the in-laws, all bracketed between Memorial Day and Labor Day destination weddings. Our advice? Put the calendar down. Better yet, burn it in a backyard bonfire.

Maybe palm trees or Europe’s cobblestone streets are in the works. A mule ride into the Grand Canyon or back-to-back Broadway shows beckon. All great ideas.

But summer in Minnesota is best left to homegrown spontaneity. Rooftop barbecues and small-town road trips, patio happy hours and sparkling lake dips are the organic moments that make the season unforgettable.

Need a plan? Well, what’s your flavor? Lock in every other weekend with season passes to the ballpark of your choice. Book a week at a North Shore cabin. Hire a guide for a camping sojourn in the Boundary Waters. Line up tickets to Rock the Garden, the Basilica Block Party or any number of outdoor music fests. Start dieting now so you can fill up guiltlessly on State Fair food. All are worthy of your time this summer.

On these pages, you’ll find hundreds more ideas of how to fill your summer days and nights.

Just don’t forget to leave yourself time to discover the yet-undiscovered magical, memorable, Minnesota moments that don’t get scheduled into a monthly planner. The lazy evening sipping wine on the front porch with neighbors, so relaxing that you don’t even mind when the mosquitoes begin to eat you alive. The epic walk from lake to lake to lake, stopping along the way for roast beef sandwiches and ice cream. The patio brunch that lasts so long it’s time for dinner. The aimless day that turns into night with good friends and nowhere to go, nothing to take you away from experiencing every minute as it happens.

The best way to do summer in Minnesota is to stay open to everything summer can be. No reservations needed.

Sharyn Jackson