45 reasons we love spring in Minnesota

Notice how Minnehaha Falls is no longer frozen. Nice. [Photo: Glen Stubbe]

Notice how Minnehaha Falls is no longer frozen. Nice. [Photo: Glen Stubbe]

This article was originally published in 2014, so check all dates for 2018. But this much will never change: We love spring in Minnesota.

This year, winter left in a clumsy manner, dumping a foot of snow on us before promising to return next year. But now that the polar vortex and freezing rain storms seem to be over (for now), we're getting psyched to celebrate rebirth and rejuvenation. We've put together a list of our favorite things about spring in the Twin Cities. Are we missing something? Tell us your favorite thing about spring in Minnesota in the comments!
45. Baby animals at the Minnesota Zoo. What's more spring-like than a ton of little fuzzy baby animals? Get your hands on the cutest critters around at the Minnesota Zoo's Wells Fargo Family Farm. From big babies like calves and goat kids to wee ones like baby chicks and bunnies, there's enough "squee!" to make up for even the bleakest winter days. Never underestimate the power of cuteness as you watch newborn lambs test out their wobbly legs. You'll find yourself saying "Awww!" in no time.
44. Bocce season at Nomad. Forget about baseball -- the most important opening day during spring is the start of bocce season at the Nomad. The pub's Cedar-Riverside location and outdoor fire pits make for fantastic people-watching, all set against a backdrop of the West Bank's distinctive architecture. And even if it's too late to get on a team, nightly bocce drink specials and the social gatherings around the pits mean you don't actually have to be tossing balls to have a great time. 
43. Nice Ride returns. You know it's spring when you finally start seeing green (and we're not talking about the grass). As soon as the Nice Ride stations emerge around town, those lime-green bikes can be seen all over the Twin Cities. With so many places to hop on and start pedaling, it's easy to escape the office for a lunchtime adventure and be back in time for an afternoon meeting, or take a day trip and discover a part of town you've never seen.

42. Disc golf. With the help of VCR tape that helps discs stand out from the snow, some hearty folks play all winter long. For most, however, the thaw signals the start of disc golf season. And, arguably, spring is the best time to play, as it's easier to keep track of errant shots without summer's thick foliage complicating things. Also, with school still in session, you should be able to enjoy one of Minnesota's magnificent courses in relative peace and quiet. It is mostly a young person's game, after all.

41. St. Paul Saints. Midway Stadium is no Target Field. It doesn't sell pork-and-cream cheese egg rolls. But if there's one thing these lovable losers of the minor leagues have to offer on a crisp Monday night, it's dollar beers. Hell, if you're going to watch athletes disgrace themselves in the Twin Cities, you might as well do it dirt cheap.

40. T-shirts. Call it the right to bare arms, or call it flannel backlash. Regardless, spring brings a shower of comfortable wardrobe choices that allow us to pledge allegiance to almost everything we care enough about to drop a few bucks. Most bands don't sell sweaters or galoshes, so our closets fill with these band shirts all winter long. No longer.

39. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Fest. Otherwise known as MSPIFF, this is the largest festival of its kind in the Upper Midwest, with more than 200 short and feature-length movies culled from across the globe. This year, be sure to check out Dear White People, a satirical survey of black identity in a "post-racial" society, most of which was shot in Minneapolis. It got much love at Sundance, earning a special jury award for breakthrough talent.

38. Fishing. As much as we love ice fishing -- that is, day-drinking -- spring presents the best opportunities for a big catch. Even amateurs shouldn't have much trouble slinging back a few large pikes, which tend to cluster during this time of the year, ready to feed. You'll find them in just about any lake in Minnesota. Just remember to bring rod, bait, and beer. It's hardly fishing without all three.

37. Bonfires. We celebrate this ritual in the fall, but what better way to spit on Old Man Winter than to ignite the recently frozen ground? For centuries, civilizations across the globe have used controlled fire for superstitious spectacle -- the thwarting of witchcraft, the resurrection of Jesus, whatever. We keep doing it because there's something invigorating and life-affirming in watching flames.

36. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum starts blooming. What's that smell? Oh yeah, spring. After a winter full of sniffly noses and snow-covered grass, the trees are budding and flowers are peeking out of the soil. Pop an allergy pill and hit up the Minnesota Landscape Arborteum to experience the sensory rush of honeysuckle blossoms and blooming roses after months of enduring skeletal trees and grimy snow.

35. Dry sidewalks. Because memories of twisted ankles, sprained wrists, and bruised tailbones have kept us walking with our heads down, watching our every step. Yes, the inevitable six layers of ice on every pedestrian surface is every Minnesotan's worst winter enemy. Once the concrete is bare, it's a lot easier to keep your eyes on the horizon.

34. The end of winter parking restrictions. Between the handful of snow emergencies we experienced earlier in winter and the seemingly never-ending Winter Parking Restrictions nightmare we just endured, you can forgive car-driving, street-parking city dwellers for having a bit of PTSD. But the end of winter means we're once again able to park on both sides of the street, meaning we can use the money we budgeted for our next tow for a taproom trip instead. Don't forget that spring isn't without its season-specific parking headache, however -- the city's annual street sweeping means there's still a chance you'll end up at the impound lot if you aren't careful.

33. Record Store Day. Warm (or whatever) weather brings fresh vinyl every third Saturday in April. Hymie's, Electric Fetus, Eclipse, Treehouse, Extreme Noise, and other purveyors of fine music take advantage of this nat'l reminder that big box retailers will never be better than homegrown record stores. Deals, live music, and a community of true fans coalesce all over the Cities.

32. Minnesota Lynx's season starts up. Coming off their second championship in three years, the Minnesota Lynx have a chance to establish themselves as a bonafide WNBA dynasty this season. The regular season kicks off
31. Cinco de Mayo. One of the earliest signs of spring is St. Paul's Cinco de Mayo festival on the West Side. At this daylong gathering you'll find lots of great Mexican eats, cultural performances, local hip-hop showcases, the always-awesome lowrider car competition all along Cesar Chavez Street. This year's festival takes place on May 3.

30. Bike trails. Traveling in the Twin Cities via a bicycle is like being in the middle of a customized movie. The picturesque bridges, trails, lakes, and neighborhoods of our cities zip past until we see something worth stopping for. It could be a friend, a sunset, an ice cream cone, or just arriving home. See you out there! Not so sure how to get around? Here are five trails we love to cruise along on.

29. Picnics. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but a lunch packed up into a picnic just seems to taste better. Taking your midday meal al fresco by one of the many scenic lakes will feel like a luxury after the interminable winter. Not that spring won't yo-yo between 60-degree days and winter storms (it will), but you'll develop a keen eye for picnic weather -- and an appreciation for how fleeting it is.

28. Art in Bloom. What does a Rembrandt look like when reinterpreted through flowers? Each year the Minneapolis Institute of Art invites floral artists to give their take on pieces from the permanent collection in a series of over 150 arrangements. This year's celebration takes place May 1-4.

27. Running outside. Spring is nigh, which means you don't have to look like a cat burglar every time you go for a jog. Rip off that ski mask and hit the pavement. Remember what it feels like to have the wind rush through your hair because you're running so fast, not because you're about to get frostbite. Wave at friends as you breeze on by them. Feel like a real human being again. Repeat.

26. Springtime art crawls. Are you ready to see what our local artists have been up to while hiding away during the cold months of Minnesota? The Saint Paul Art Crawl sprawls through our capital city April 25 through 27 with art shows, open studios, live music, and other fun. Meanwhile, Art-a-Whirl takes over northeast Minneapolis for a weekend as artists open up their studio spaces in the Northrup King, California, and Casket Arts buildings from May 16-18 (you can also see what Northeast artists are up to on the first Thursday of each month).

25. Farmers markets. Nothing quite evinces the miracle of spring like the first little bit of green poking up through the dirt. Of course, that bit of green won't become an asparagus spear or a head of leafy lettuce until May, but the seasonal farmers markets will be open before then, selling local eggs, meats, cheeses, milk, pastries, and other artisan foods. With nearly 60 markets in the greater metro area, the Twin Cities are prime for spring farmers market outings.

24. Envision 2014. Once again, this fab runway show will feature spring and summer looks from local designers and boutiques. The party is scheduled for April 26 at a new glam location: Orchestra Hall.

23. Dog parks. Many dogs (and owners) shy away from the dog parks during the long and lonely winter, but come spring, all the wagging tails and floppy ears are out in full force. Sure, the parks were technically open all winter, but everyone knows you need a critical mass of pups to get a dog-park party going, and only warmer temps can bring that about. With tons of local off-leash areas to choose from, you'll find plenty of opportunities to get Fido some much needed outdoor play time.

22. Kentucky Derby celebrations. The races might not happen in Minnesota, but it's pretty fun to watch at live screenings at bars around town. For example, Brit's Pub will be throwing a fab party on Saturday, May 3, filled with mint juleps, screenings both on the lawn and in the upper bar, live bluegrass, and free corsages. Crazy hats are encouraged, of course.

21. Open Streets starts up. What happens when the city closes off a major street to car traffic and opens it up for pedestrians and cyclists? Outside of a few angry drivers, a whole lot of fun. Each year, Open Streets host a handful of events throughout the spring and summer. At each happening, the streets come alive with things like theater performances, morning yoga, casual bike rides, live music, and more. This year's series kicks off May 31 in north Minneapolis.
20. Classic cars hit the main drags. Getting stuck in traffic is never fun. However, sitting at a light next to a classic hot rod is pretty bad ass. While some folks take to their bicycles, car enthusiasts also flaunt their mode of transportation during the warmer months, as they take to the streets in their sparkly retro vehicles, which are as colorful of a burst of flowers. Great car watching happens especially on the weekends on main south Minneapolis drags like Lake Street and Lyndale Avenue, with great viewing to be found outside at bars like Bryant-Lake Bowl, Herkimer Pub and Brewery, Muddy Waters, and Pizza Luce

19. Crafstravaganza. Have you ever wanted to experience the best of local Etsy live and in person? Each year, talented Twin Cities crafters show up to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for an afternoon featuring an adorable showcase of designs and wares. Here, you'll find hipster tea towels, embroidered pillows, necklaces made to look like real miniature food, and other highly covetable items. This year's gathering takes place on May 10.

18. The Twins ranked in first place. It does happen every year -- even the cruddy last few seasons where it only lasted as long as every team in the AL Central was tied for the pennant-race lead with 0-0 records. Optimism, even the unrealistic kind, is the constant companion of early-spring sports fans.

17. Early garden prep. The brightest flowers and best veggies might not sprout until summer's around the corner, but there's still something satisfying about cleaning out the remnants of last year's garden in anticipation of the greenery to come. Few things taste better than tomatoes you've worked hard to grow yourself.

16. Drinking outside on rooftops. There are so many fine rooftops to drink on with amazing views. We love hanging out high up at Brit's, Stella's, Cafeteria, Seven Skybar, Union Restaurant, and the Liffey.

15. Thunderstorms. You have to be a little introverted to live in Minnesota, but during the warm months, it's much harder to come up with an excuse for isolating yourself with Netflix and your cats. Thunderstorms are a great excuse to coop up in your house when you're craving the cave life in non-winter seasons.

14. Cold press. Cold press, we've missed you so. A few of us desperate folks even sucked down one or two of you during the polar vortex, but nothing compares to a cold press on a warm spring day. Caffetto just started serving cold press on tap.

13. May Day. Okay, we're totally partial to the crazy crust-punk float (a.k.a. the pickup truck with weird shit welded onto the back of it), but the whole shebang is worth sticking around for, if only to remember that Minnesota is home to more than you and your stir-crazy cats.

12. Yoga pants. Goodbye layers, hello booties. Women of the Twin Cities, we know you've missed your lazy yoga pants and hoodie combo. And men, don't lie -- you've totally missed staring at those spandex bums. The latter isn't necessarily our thing, but when you're happy, we're happy. Just try to be tasteful about it.

11. Staycation in the Twin Cities. Don't fret -- there's plenty of fun, cheap stuff to do around here. During the week, get out and enjoy the thaw by visiting one of the Twin Cities' gorgeous parks. And if it's a spring-break weekend, check out Freeloader
10. Northern Spark. The epic nighttime party returns to Minneapolis this year on June 14 with performances, music, theater, and visual art downtown, on the Walker Art Center's lawn, all over Uptown, and just about everywhere in between. Special happenings include the Greenway Glow, an illuminated bike ride; a swing set that seats many, located in the MCAD skyway; and an installation from yarn bomber HOT TEA.

9. Sunbathing at the lake. It's never too early to tan away the winter.

8. Comic Con Wizard World's Comic Con will make its first appearance this year in the Twin Cities this spring. High-profile guests like William Shatner and Sean Astin will share their insights with fans at panels while plenty of comic book vendors and cosplayers will also take over the Minneapolis Convention Center. Celebrating geekdom has never looked so glamorous.

7. Walker on the Green. After taking a year off for construction, the charming Walker on the Green returns for spring and summer starting May 22. Here, you will find an intersection of putt-putt enthusiasts and art lovers, with challenging holes that test skills while delightfully bending the mind. This year's holes include a giant gumball machine, an ode to Marcel Duchamp's The Fountain, and the return of garden gnome foosball.

6. Minnehaha melts, and Sea Salt opens up. After a whole season of frozen silence, the return of spring means the quiet burbling behind Minnehaha Falls will soon melt into a roaring waterfall. A trip to the falls isn't complete without a picnic, but why bother packing one when you can feast on the seafood delights at Sea Salt in the park? We recommend the incredible po' boys, but everything on the menu deserves a taste under the sun near the water.

5. Food trucks. The vibrant food truck scene has been revving its engines, preparing for another season of curbside catering and movable feasts. Though some of our favorites -- World Street Kitchen, Chef Shack, Hola Arepa -- have made the leap to the brick-and-mortar biz, we're still charmed by their mobile kitchens and eager to see what other new ventures will pop up to join the fleet. There's just something about kicking back in the shade with amazing food in a plain paper carton that gets us every time.

4. RetroRama Spring is about moving forward and putting those cold, dreary days behind us. However, the folks at the Minnesota Historical Society use this season to team up with local designers and look back at some of the most iconic trends of decades past. The RetroRama fashion show is a celebration of all things vintage -- whether it's been 20 years or 80 since a look was en vogue. Best of all, guests get to play dress up themselves and watch a runway show that looks like it stepped right out of history.

3. New footwear. It's amazing how quickly your shoes go from life-saving to onerous. But as the weather warms, few things feel as good as ditching those clunky Wolverines for Chuck Taylors. The moment of podiatry liberation is upon us, people. Let your dogs breathe easy.

2. Bar and restaurant patios. It hasn't necessarily been proven by science that beer and onion rings taste better outdoors, but continued research in that field doesn't hurt. Some of our favorite locations include W.A. Frost, Butcher & the Boar, Black Forest Inn, Aster Cafe, Psycho Suzi's, and Swede Hollow Cafe.

1. Outdoor live music. Nearly every scrap of patio, pavement, or dry ground that can legally host a band will set about filling the open air with music in the coming months. Soundset, Rock the Garden, City Pages' 10 Thousand Sounds Festival, Basilica Block Party, Music in the Zoo, and so many more are doing this on a huge scale this summer. But neighborhood parks, bars, and parking lots aren't immune to sounds sprouting up once the amps won't be covered with snow.