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22 Reasons to Visit Shakopee
Shakopee is where the Midwest comes to play! Shakopee is home to world-class attractions and festivals like Valleyfair Amusement Park, Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and Canterbury Park. Shakopee is also part of the vibrant Minneapolis and Saint Paul metro area, so there are other great entertainment options nearby!
Shakopee is home to the Upper-Midwest’s Largest Amusement featuring over 75 rides and attractions meaning fun or people all ages. Take in thrill rides such as Steel Venom, Wild Thing, Xtreme Swings or Renegade or take young ins to Planet Snoopy and let them get their thrills on pint-sized rides. Add in live entertainment throughout the summer, Dinosaurs Alive, and Soak City Waterpark and you have everything to make your visit spectacular.
New for park goers for 2017 is North Star. This 230-foot tower spins riders at 20-stories above the ground at speeds of up to 40mph!
2) Canterbury Park
Canterbury Park is one of Minnesota’s premier year-round entertainment destinations, featuring live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing mid-May through September. A family-friendly destination, check out special days like Buck Night and Family Day, or special events like Extreme Race Day and Bulldog Races. When live racing has concluded, enjoy blackjack or poker in the Canterbury Card Casino, or bet on horses during live simulcast racing on one of their many television screens. There are also great festivals and events throughout the year including Junk Bonanza and winter snocross racing.
3) Minnesota Renaissance Festival
The largest Renaissance Festival in the country, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival has brought the merriment of the 16th century to Shakopee for over 41 years. Guests coming to the festival are whisked back in time to a 16th century village with more than 300 street characters entertaining as you explore. The kids can have fun of their own at the Mystical Fairy Wing Forest, venture into Mermaid Cove, play on games and rides, watch sheep herding, enjoy the petting zoo, and more! Sixteen stages of live entertainment, 250 artisan vendors, live jousting, and all the amazing foods, the entire family will enjoy a full day of entertainment for the entire family.
4) Mystic Lake Casino
For a Vegas feel in the Midwest, head to Mystic Lake Casino, located minutes from Shakopee. Mystic Lake has a wide array of gaming options, but that’s not all at this beautiful resort. Amazing dining options including The Buffet, Mystic Steakhouse, Minnehaha Café are located throughout the property. Check out the lineup of concerts in the Mystic Showroom or the outdoor Mystic Amphitheater, or recharge and relax at The Spa. Plan your escape around the fun, FREE events taking place throughout the season, including The Great Midwest Rib Fest; Rock and Rockets; Rock, Brats & Beer, and more!
5) The Landing
Nestled along the banks of the Minnesota River, The Landing is an 88-acre living-history park that explores the charms and challenges of life in the Minnesota River Valley from the 1840s to the 1890s. Visit a pioneer-era farmstead, a fur trader’s cabin, or the merchants along the streets of Eagle Creek. The Landing also has costumed interpreters and special events throughout the year. Some of these events include Wild West Weekend, Independence Day Celebration, Folkways of the Holidays, and Living History Days.
6) Sand Creek Adventures
Located just minutes from Shakopee in nearby Jordan, Sand Creek Adventures is your ultimate outdoor challenge featuring zip lining, ropes courses, and more! This venue is great for individuals, parties, groups, and team building activities.
7) Destination Golf
The Shakopee area is adorned with numerous 18-hole championship courses for the golf enthusiast to enjoy. Take a swing at one of the naturally beautiful and challenging courses in the area – The Wilds Golf Club, Stonebrooke, The Ridges at Sand Creek, Legends GC, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, and Creeks Bend.
Shakopee and the surrounding area, and the great Twin Cities region, area hotbed of engaging live theater options that offer top-rate performances all year. Locally, enjoy the River Valley Theatre Company as it offers a season of new productions each year.
A short drive from Shakopee in nearby Chanhassen is the nation’s largest dinner theatre, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Enjoy a wonderful dinner and show in this wonderful setting. Playing now through October 28 is Grease.
There are other high-caliber theatres located throughout the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro, including independents to the nationally acclaimed Guthrie Theatre.
9) Minnesota Zoo
Located in nearby Apple Valley, The Minnesota Zoo features more than 4,200 animals representing over 500 species from five continents in naturalistic settings, including Amur Tiger, Chinese Takin, South African Penguins, Wolverines, and many other endangered species. Other popular exhibits include Discovery Bay, Russia’s Grizzly Coast, Tropics Trail, and more!
New for 2017 at the Minnesota Zoo is Kangaroo Crossing. See this new Australian exhibit now through Labor Day and special weekends into October. Experience the outback while walking among kangaroos, wallabies, and emus. This is a wonderfully up-close experience for the entire family.
10) Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a corridor of land and water that stretches nearly 70 miles along the Minnesota River. You can explore this amazing natural attraction by bike, foot, snowshoe, snowmobiling, or cross-country skiing. See numerous animals including the over 297 species of birds recorded throughout the refuge.
11) Mall of America
With over 40-million guests per year, Mall of America is the largest shopping and entertainment destination complex in the Western Hemisphere. In nearby Bloomington, this shopping mecca features over 520 stores, and over 50 restaurants, and in the center of it all, Nickelodeon Universe with over 27 rides and attractions. Other great attractions inside Mall of America include SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, American Girl, The LEGO Store, miniature golf, SMAASH, and more!
12) Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Open 363 days a year, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is home to stunning gardens, art, workshops, cooking classes, nature hikes, and more. Families can learn about plant life in the Marion Andrus Learning Center and children will love to get lost in the Maze Garden, located along the beautiful three-mile drive.
13) Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries
The Southwest Minneapolis/Saint Paul metro is home numerous wineries and breweries. Take the libations tour throughout the region and enjoy great wineries such as Parley Lake Winery, Sovereign Estate Vineyard and Winery, Woodland Hill Winery, Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery, or Cannon River Winery.
Is craft beer more your thing? Shakopee is your next stop for a brewcation. Badger Hill Brewery and their award winning craft beers served in a cool taproom is located minutes from Valleyfair and Canterbury Park.
In nearby Waconia, you’ll find the J. Carver Distillery, stocked with fine spirits distilled on-site, including Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Premium Gin, Premium Vodka Apple Brandy, and more! Also, come for a tour of the venue and try one of their spirits at the facility.
14) Scott County Historical Society
History buffs can learn some of the rich history of the Minnesota Valley Region at the Scott County Historical Society, located in Downtown Shakopee. Come and see some of the current on-site exhibits including the Maurice Stans Family and Government Life, the Native American Gallery, 40 Years of Fun at Valleyfair, and more!
15) Main Street Shopping
Shakopee is home to shops and boutiques located in historic Downtown Shakopee. You will appreciate the sophisticated styles of clothing for men located at Bill’s Toggery, or for women at Shelly’s Boutique and Fifth Avenue Finds. Find a variety of creative gifts for yourself or that special someone at Tupelo – A Gift Studio. Women biker enthusiast will enjoy the unique accessories, sassy shirts, and custom leather goods at One Sexy Biker Chick. Or, admire the beauty and detail of Native American crafts and collectibles at the Shakopee Trading Post.
16) Great Dining
Check out local dining in downtown Shakopee with your choice of true Irish fare in an authentic Irish setting at O’Brien’s Public House, or Turtle’s Bar and Grill for a true, home town pub with delicious pizzas and over 90 beers on tap. Have some of the area’s best Mexican cuisines at Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant or El Toro, a delicious meal at the historic Dangerfield’s, terrific sushi at Tokyo Sushi & Grill, or venture across the Minnesota River and try one of the Lions Tap’s famous hamburgers.
17) Apple Picking at Minnesota Harvest
The Minnesota River Valley has an array of apple picking options for families. One of the area’s largest farms for apple picking is Minnesota Harvest, located minutes from Shakopee in Jordan, MN. Come out on a beautiful fall day and choose from 27 varieties of apples including “Topper’s Apples” such as Bessie Junn, Plum Crabbie, Golden Haralson, Golden Earl and Sugar Shack. Other fun activities you can enjoy while visiting Minnesota Harvest include hay rides, a Sunday Brunch, a petting zoo, pony rides, and more!
18) Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
Located south of Shakopee along Highway 169, is the can’t miss yellow barn known as Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store. Follow the yellow fence to this unique Minnesota attraction and be amazed at their extensive variety of some unique candies rarely found anymore. Also, enjoy baked goods, a wide-selection of sodas, apple-wood smoked jerky, and more.
19) Shakopee City Parks and Trails
Located on the edge of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro, and along the Minnesota River Valley, Shakopee has plenty of green space available for the outdoor enthusiast. The City of Shakopee parks system has nearly 920 acres of parks and open space, including over 60 miles of recreation and transportation trails for walking and biking. Huber Park is home to the Performance and Event Series, and Quarry Lake Park is home to the Shakopee-Prior Lake Shockwaves Water Ski Show in the summer. SandVenture Aquatic Park is also part of the City’s park system.
20) Sever’s Corn Maze & Fall Festival
The Midwest’s original Corn Maze has entertained families since 1997. Sever’s Corn Maze comes up with a new theme for the maze each year (see past mazes HERE), and also includes additional family friendly activities to take part in during your visit. Some of these activities include pig races, a corn pit, a giant slide, camel and pony rides, a petting zoo, and more!
21) A Haunting Good Time
Valleyfair and the Minnesota Renaissance Festival both transform into some of the Midwest’s largest Halloween attractions.
Valleyfair turns into ValleySCARE beginning in mid-September. During the evening, Halloween Haunt comes alive with nearly 400 creatures occupying more than a dozen terrifying mazes and scare zones, ensconced by all of the park’s thrill rides. Bring the younger kids during the day and experience the Great Pumpkin Fest with some not-so-scary daytime run with the PEANTUS Gang.
Trail of Terror, located on the Renaissance Festival grounds, is a sprawling, terror-filled festival that finds plenty of ways to make you scream. Check out some of the great scare zones located at the festival like Howling Pines Woods Walk, Hotel 666, Club Scream, and more!
22) Pro Sports
When staying in Shakopee, visitors have a great opportunity to see the major professional sports teams in some of the best venues in the world, located no more than 30 minutes away. During the summer, see the Minnesota Twins (MLB) play at the quaint and beautiful Target Field in Downtown Minneapolis. Catch a Minnesota Wild (NHL) or Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA) game during the winter months. Or, see the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) play their NFC North rivals at US Bank Stadium (home to Super Bowl 52).
For more reasons to visit, go to VisitShakopee.org.