10 Twin Cities summer date ideas that are more than just a meal

·6 min read

It's midsummer, and you're ready to get back out there. But after 16 months you may be a little rusty, so we asked Star Tribune readers and staff on social media to share their favorite Twin Cities date spots. While restaurant patios or a picnic by the Stone Arch Bridge are always a good bet, we decided to pick places that are more than just a meal. Whether you're headed for music in the park as a pair, or roller-skating as a group, here are 10 ideas to get you started.

Can Can Wonderland

This carnivallike amusement center in St. Paul's Midway district brings some classic first-date choices to an all-in-one setting: arcade, pizza, malts, drinks, mini-golf. It even has a historical twist, housed inside the old American Can Co. building. Just $10 covers arcade games for the visit, $15 for mini-golf. No reservations needed; it's open Thursday through Sunday, and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. (755 N. Prior Av., St. Paul, cancanwonderland.com, 651-925-2261)


For those missing the Roller Garden, this time-honored south metro roller-skating center remains an all-ages destination. A date place for decades, the rink is a spot to circle around the disco ball with throwback jams, or play rounds of snowball and classic arcade games. It hosts special hours throughout the summer like "Schools Out Hours" on select days for $7, and adults-only nights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for $7-$8. Skate rental is $3, lockers are 50 cents, and don't forget a few extra quarters for the games. Concessions are available. (201 River Ridge Circle S., Burnsville, 952-890-0988, skateville.com)

House of Balls

Want something interactive? Close to the Hiawatha Bike Trail and right behind the Cedar-Riverside light rail station, Allen Christian's participatory art gallery is open daily from noon to 4 p.m. except Sundays. The sculptor keeps it available as a public space for anyone to come and wander among his statues, furniture, lights and intricacies. Passionate about the West Bank neighborhood, Christian is often hanging out in the yard and ready to chat with visitors who pop in through its trap door. A visit to House of Balls is free and down the road from bars, restaurants and cafes on Cedar Avenue. (1504 S. 7th St., Mpls., houseofballs.com, 612-332-3992)

Lake Como Wheel Fun

Many Twin Cities lakes offer boat rentals, but at Lake Como, you can also visit the Hamm Memorial Waterfalls and finish the day with a drink and bite to eat at Dock & Paddle restaurant in the lakeside pavilion. Rent a pedal boat, canoe, kayak or paddleboard for $15-$36 — double kayaks and group pedal boats are available — and grab a web coupon for a free second hour before noon. Rentals are available daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through the end of August. Make sure to check out the restaurant's calendar for live music nights at the pavilion, which is open as late as 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. (1360 N. Lexington Pkwy., St. Paul, wheelfunrentals.com, 651-487-8046)

Hewing Hotel

For a classy night out in downtown Minneapolis' North Loop, the Hewing hosts events throughout the week, whether it's a rooftop concert, a wine night or a themed show in its alley. This weekend there's an afternoon charcuterie-making workshop Saturday and a cover band rooftop concert Sunday. Service-industry workers get discounts at the bar and lounge on Sundays. Some events require advance reservations, others are walk-in. Tickets start at around $20 for some events. (300 Washington Av. N., Mpls., hewinghotel.com/calendar, 651-468-0400)

Keg and Case Throwback Theatre

If you'd prefer a movie main event over a concert, Keg and Case Market's all-ages outdoor theater is a Thursday night option. The free screenings at dusk follow live music from 6 to 8 p.m. and feature old movies like "The Mighty Ducks," "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and (this week) "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." Inside, the market's open until 9 and has added several vendors: Joey Meatballs, R + R Cultivation, Juice Wisely and Poppin' popcorn. (928 W. 7th St., St Paul, kegandcase.com, 651-443-6060)

Three Rivers Parks Programs

Bows and arrows, hiking boots and constellations! Hennepin County's parks programming offers events and classes at suburban nature centers and reserves, many of them aimed at adults. This week, there's adult archery Thursday night at Mississippi Gateway Regional Park and a 21+ adventure game night with drinks Saturday at Silverwood Park. There are also guided village tours, drum concerts and yoga and clay date nights throughout the summer; many events are free, or up to around $25. (threeriversparks.org)

Lowertown Sounds Series

Work weekends? This Thursday-night concert series in St. Paul's Mears Park is free and comes with food trucks. A longtime community get-together, it returned this summer and has six weeks left, with local blues singer Annie Mack playing this Thursday from 6 to 6:30 p.m. There's a rotating schedule of egg roll, gyro, barbecue and dessert food trucks each week. Purchases of food, beer, wine and cider benefit St. Paul's Yellow Ribbon Network for military families and veterans. Don't forget to bring lawn chairs or a blanket to share. (221 E. 5th St., St. Paul, lowertownsounds.com)

Acme Comedy Co.

Here's one to help out those who laugh when they're nervous. This landmark Minneapolis comedy club is back to hosting weekly headliners and free open-mic nights on Tuesdays. Headline shows start at around $15, or get dinner-and-a-show tickets for $30 and up. Students can get $5 tickets to 8 p.m. shows on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 9:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. (708 N. 1st St., 612-338-6393, acmecomedycompany.com) Bonus pick: Huge Improv Theater recently reopened with "Summer Potluck" long-form improv shows on Friday and Saturday nights for $12. (3037 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-412-4843, hugetheater.com)

Douglas Flanders gallery

To accompany a neighborhood stroll in Uptown or bowling at Bryant-Lake Bowl & Theater, don't overlook this art gallery next door to the BLB. It's free, with monthly exhibitions. Flanders himself might even be there to chat about the artists' work. Currently, it's showing #streetart, with a collection of comic and poster-like works by Greg Gossel and spray-paint animal stencils by John Grider. (11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 818 W. Lake St., Mpls., flandersart.com, 612-823-0971)

Madison Karas • 612-673-7394

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