Minneapolis–Saint Paul
There’s only one festival that matters in the Midwest, and that’s the Minnesota State Fair—the second-largest in the country. Free entertainment and endless food stands attract nearly 2 million people to the fairgrounds throughout 12 days around Labor Day each year. From candy bars to meatloaf, you can find almost anything prepared according to the fair’s signature style: fried and skewered on a stick. In January and February, St. Paul’s Winter Carnival transforms the city into a literal winter wonderland of intricate ice sculptures, including an ice palace centerpiece that’s as iconic as Cinderella’s Castle.