A Guide to Summer in the Twin Cities

It’s almost the end of the school year and we at The Wake can’t wait to exchange those dungeon-esque classrooms for sunny sidewalks and lakeside parks, but do you know what you’re doing this summer? If you aren’t that one friend who has a never-ending supply awesome activity ideas, you may end up doing the same things you did during the school year: go to the bars, eat at Mesa, watch the new episode of [insert new summer TV series], go to a theme party where only half of the people are dressed up, go to the bars. Don’t let that happen. Then you’ll be one of those people who doesn’t have anything cool to say come Fall when the teacher or your school-only friend asks, “What did you do this summer?” And that’s almost as bad as people who brag on and on about their mission trips.

To make sure you’re not that guy, we have compiled some of the best events and activities to take part in throughout the Twin Cities this summer. So whether you’re from out of town and need some local insight or you’re in a fight with “awesome activity idea” friend, read up and do something exciting this summer!


Honestly ask yourself this question: when was the last time you came out of a movie satisfied? I’m sure that you chuckled a little at Your Highness and Hanna was “intense,” but do you really feel you got your $10 worth? Now, I love movies way more than next person and let me tell you this—there is a better way, but it’s only available for a limited time.

The key is drive-in movie theaters! (Yes, they still exist!) And they need you as much as you need them. They provide multiple, newly released movies for less than the price of one at your local AMC. More than that, you get to bring in whatever food you want (grilling, anyone?), watch a movie under the stars, and cozy up to your significant other with as many blankets as you want.

Best Drive-Ins:

Vali-Hi Drive-In, Lake Elmo

(3 movies, $8 per person)

Cottage View Drive-In, Cottage Grove

(2 movies, $8 per person)


The University of Minnesota is full of surprises. It’s so gigantic that you can’t possibly know all it has to offer, even after four years. One of the facets of this institution that you should not overlook is the Arboretum.

Located west of Minneapolis in suburban Chaska, this 1,000 acre expanse is everything you could ask for in a perfect picnic location. The different areas vary from woodlands to wetlands to prairie, and with 12.5 miles of trails it would take you an entire day to see it all. Even if it takes you longer than that, who cares? It’s COMPLETELY FREE to U of M students. Try to smell every type of flower, play frisbee in a meadow, race the 10-year-olds there on a field trip through the labyrinth—whatever! Just promise me you won’t take the option of driving through the wildlife. Leave your car in the parking lot. Get your feet dirty.

For more info:


U of M Students: FREE

Non-Members: $9

Every 3rd Thursday after 4:30 pm:

FREE to everyone


Located within the picturesque Minnehaha Park, and conveniently next to a waterfall, the Sea Salt Eatery is the summertime restaurant. I say this because it is not your typical outdoor cafe. Yes, you sometimes have to wait a while to order your food. Yes, it is more expensive than McDonald’s (but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty cheap for people who actually make a decent wage). But none of that matters because it’s summer and it’s nice out and you’re craving fresh seafood. Or at least you better be, because this place has the best. Their menu has everything from catfish po’ boys to clam fries to marlin tacos. So grab a locally-brewed beer or some Sebastian Joe’s ice cream and get in line (Yes! You CAN have dessert before dinner!).

Good to know:

Open April to October

Daily Specials @


Don’t bring your impatient friend


Monday night movies & music at Loring Park has been a staple of summer tradition for years (and provided my first viewing of Cool Hand Luke!), which made their 2010 hiatus crushing for the thousands that flocked to the park, picnic blankets in hand, to dance like crazy and then lay in the grass for a classic film. Fortunately, The Walker and 89.3 The Current are bringing back the event for summer 2011, and will be bringing in live bands and screening films each Monday night in August. Though there has been no word yet as to the lineup or even the theme (which will be announced in May), The Walker has stated that on August 22 they will host a one-night affair that will feature a silent movie accompanied by a live band, harking back to the event’s 1973 roots.