35 Things to Do Instead of the Super Bowl

It’s coming.

The Super Bowl is almost here, and it won’t just be taking over US Bank Stadium and the surrounding areas on game day—there are 10 days of official celebrations planned, running January 26 through February 4. Understandably, if you won’t be attending, you’ve probably been thinking hard about how to avoid the crowds and traffic.

Not to worry—we’ve done the heavy lifting for you! Below you’ll find some events happening during those 10 days that have nothing to do with the Super Bowl, many of them keeping you well away from downtown Minneapolis. Click on the event name for more information.

The Minneapolis skyline

Madeleine Vasaly

Books and Literary Events

Robert Burns Night at Merlins Rest (January 27)

Celebrate Scottish poet Robert Burns with a haggis dinner, bagpipes, and, of course, poetry readings. Reservations are required, and pricing for the dinner is TBA.

Boom Site Literary Magazine Launch Party (January 28)

If you’re in the Stillwater area, hit up this party for Boom Site Literary Magazine, which calls itself St. Croix Valley’s first literary publication led by middle-school and high-school students.

A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota Author Event (January 30)

Come see the contributing authors of the book A Good Time for the Truth, edited by Sun Yung Shin, which focuses on the experiences of people of color in Minnesota. The night begins with a panel discussion featuring Sun Yung Shin, Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, Kao Kalia Yang, and Heid E. Erdich.

Fireside Reading Series with Bao Phi (January 31)

This annual series showcases Minnesota writers with readings accompanied by cookies and other refreshments. Bao Phi will be presenting from his second book of poetry published by Minneapolis’s Coffee House Press.

Visiting the Morgue: A Twin Cities Sisters in Crime Panel (February 3)

Authors Pat Dennis, Barbara Deese, Midge Bubany, and Christine Husom will gather for a panel discussion at Burnhaven Library hosted by Sisters in Crime, an organization that promotes women writing in the mystery genre.

Inside the museum

The Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul. Courtesy Minnesota Children’s Museum


Three Rivers Park District Winter Beach Party (January 26)

Pretend summer is here with indoor sand-castle building, “fishing,” face painting, and other beachy kid fun at Eastman Nature Center in Dayton.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit (Starting January 27)

The Minnesota Children’s Museum’s newest exhibit is all about Mr. Rogers’s favorite striped friend. There’s a members-only sneak peek on January 26, and then the exhibit opens to the public on the 27th. The museum reopened in late 2017 after an extensive remodel, so if you haven’t been back since, there will be lots of other new things for you to explore too.

Rogers Ice Arena Glow N’ Skate (January 31)

Light up the night with this skating event. A glow necklace is included with admission.

Mia Ice Maze (February 1–4)

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is constructing an art-themed ice maze that will be open during museum hours on the first four days of February. This activity ties in with the new exhibition Power and Beauty in China’s Last Dynasty: Concept and Design by Robert Wilson.


St. Paul Winter Carnival (January 25–February 10)

If you’re feeling brave, most of St. Paul’s annual Winter Carnival will overlap with the Super Bowl festivities. Be warned: in addition to the crowds visiting the carnival, downtown St. Paul is where the out-of-town media covering the big game are staying, so the area will probably be almost as much of a zoo as Minneapolis.

Duluth Cold Front Celebration (February 2–4)

If you want to get out of the Twin Cities altogether, go north to Duluth for vendors, games, and more in the city’s Canal Park.

Plymouth Fire & Ice Festival (February 3)

Plymouth’s winter festival includes a cardboard-sled contest, recycling-bin races, hayrides, pony and sled-dog rides, on-ice mini golf, snow bowling, box hockey, and other outdoor activities.

Luminary Loppet (February 3)

Lake of the Isles plays host to candlelit trails, ice art, fire dancers, an outdoor concert, and more in this annual event.

Fire dancers on the snow

Fire dancers at the 2014 Luminary Loppet. Matt DeMay via Flickr


Gamecraft (January 26–28)

Want to spend the whole weekend creating your own video game with a team? Gamecraft, hosted by local tech nonprofit GLITCH, is the Twin Cities site for the Global Game Jam 48-hour challenge. (Twin Cities Geek is an official media partner for Gamecraft 2018; click here to read about last year’s event.)

Level Up Tabletop Day (January 28)

Level Up Games’ South St. Paul location is hosting its regular Tabletop Day event, where gaming demonstrations will be going on and you’re also encouraged to bring your own games to play.

RPG Sunday Game Day (February 4)

Enjoy a different kind of game on Sunday with the United Geeks of Gaming group’s monthly tabletop role-playing event, open to veteran and beginner players alike.

Indoor Nerf Battle (Every Day)

Tactical Urban Combat, which opened last fall in Eden Prairie, offers Call of Duty–style courses for Nerf-battling fun. Be sure to book in advance.

A small room full of designers, empty pop cans and snack wrappers. (Photo T.A. Wardrope)

Game creators at Gamecraft 2017. T. A. Wardrope


Arab Film Fest: Those Who Remain (January 26)

Kicking off Mizna’s Arab Film Fest, Those Who Remain will be screening at Macalester College’s John B. Davis Hall.

Geek Partnership Society Movie Night (January 26)

The Geek Partnership Society hosts a free screening of Disney’s Brave at GPS headquarters in Northeast. Bring your own snacks or buy some there.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Shadowcast (January 27)

On the last Saturday of every month, the “shadowcast” performers of Transvestite Soup carry on the longstanding interactive cult tradition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Uptown Theatre. Showings are friendly to Rocky Horror newbies.

Rocky Horror performers onstage

The cast of Transvestite Soup at a past Rocky Horror Picture Show performance. Madeleine Vasaly


Free First Thursday at the Hennepin History Museum (February 1)

Take advantage of the History Center’s monthly free day to check out the last few weeks of its current special exhibit, Eat Street at 20, or its permanent collections. (When you’re done, you can also head one block south to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which is free every day and has an event in the “Family” section, above.)

Twin City Model Railway Museum Night Trains (February 3)

Saturday nights through February 24, the Twin City Model Railway Museum decks out its miniature displays in special illuminated finery. The museum will also be open during expanded daytime hours for Super Bowl week.


Pint of Music (January 29)

See Minnesota Orchestra musicians outside of Orchestra Hall—and for free! Brass players Charles Lazarus, Lynn Erickson, Michael Gast, R. Douglas Wright, and Steven Campbell will perform a “micro-concert” at Utepils Brewing near Bassett’s Creek Park in Minneapolis.

The Cactus Blossoms Residency (January 29)

The Cactus Blossoms are at the Turf Club every Monday in January. Catch the last performance of their residency on January 29.


Candlelight Walk (January 26)

Enjoy a candlelit walk along the Mississippi, then warm up with local food trucks. Note that dogs are not allowed at this event except for service animals, so check out the Full Moon Snowshoe below if you want to bring your four-legged friend.

Family Full Moon Snowshoe (January 27)

Head to Oakdale for this moonlit snowshoe stroll based out of the Oakdale Discovery Center and Nature Preserve. This event is both kid friendly and dog friendly, and there will be a firepit, s’mores, and hot chocolate to warm you up.

Candlelight Snowshoe Walk (January 27)

If you want to get farther out of the Twin Cities, this event in Chisago is yet another option for illuminated snowshoeing. There are snowshoes available if you don’t have your own, and there will be facepainting and a scavenger hunt to appeal to kids.

International Ski Jumping Competition (January 30)

Watch professionals face off in this ski-jump distance competition in Bloomington. Concessions are available onsite.

Otter Tail Co. on Ice (February 3–4)

If you want to get even farther from Minneapolis, head to Otter Tail Lake for snowmobiling, ice golf, live music, and more.

General Geekery

Black Lodge Pop-Up Shop (Now through February 4)

Twin Peaks fans can visit this temporary setup in Kingfield for a Red room photo op or to buy a plush log or slice of pie (cash only). The shop is the work of local artist Nancy Waller.

Pixar Trivia (January 26)

Test your knowledge of Pixar films, either on your own or as part of a team, at Community Grounds coffeeshop in Northeast Minneapolis.

Outpost Anime (January 27)

Anime Twin Cities hosts its free annual event for convention goers who are in the throes of winter con withdrawal. Enjoy cosplay, gaming, workshops, and more.

Supercon (February 2–5)

The 25th annual Supercon, a low-key convention featuring gaming, movies, mingling, and more, takes place in Hastings over game-day weekend.

Viking Shield Workshop (February 3, 4, and other dates)

If historical Vikings are more your thing than the football-playing kind, Ásfólk in Eagan will teach you how to build your own shield from start to finish over the course of a two- or four-day class. No woodworking experience required.

3D Printing 101 (February 4)

If you’ve been wanting to know just how 3D printing works and learn to do it yourself, this intro class from the Hack Factory may be just the thing for you.

For even more ideas, you can also check out our weekly This Week in Geek events column—and look for our theater-specific “not the Super Bowl” guide, coming soon.

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