Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Apple Valley, MN

  • Published 2022/10/11

Apple Valley is a city located in Dakota County, Minnesota.

It’s a suburban city just south of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis, and St. Paul.

Originally called Lebanon Township, the city goes way back, particularly during the 1850s.

It was renamed Apple Valley because its first developers hailed from Apple Valley, California.

Because of its proximity to the Twin Cities, Apple Valley has many activities and attractions.

There are several interesting natural sites, exciting parks, and establishments in its urban areas.

When you visit Apple Valley, you won’t have a hard time looking for fun.

Here are the best things to do in Apple Valley, Minnesota:

Immerse Yourself at Minnesota Zoo

An animal at Minnesota Zoo

Wirestock Creators /

Minnesota Zoo is perhaps one of the primary attractions in Apple Valley, along with Lebanon Hills Regional Park.

Minnesota Zoo is one of the two state-supported zoos in the U.S.— the other being North Carolina Zoo.

It has existed since the 1970s and has become a well-loved tourist site.

Ostrich at Minnesota Zoo

Michael Siluk /

The zoo has a wide array of wildlife that live in habitats designed to mimic the wild.

Here, you can spot all sorts of bears, wildcats, primates, raptors, etc.

Within the zoo lies the Wells Fargo Family Farm as well.

Bears at Minnesota Zoo

Michael Siluk /

It’s an area that represents Minnesota’s rich farming heritage.

Both kids and adults will enjoy a trip here, which can take you a whole day.

If you want to see the beautiful animals here, you can enter Minnesota Zoo through 13000 Zoo Boulevard.

Alligator at Minnesota Zoo

Wirestock Creators /

Watch Live Shows at Weesner Family Amphitheater

Weesner Family Amphitheater is inside Minnesota Zoo but deserves its mention because you can easily spend hours in this amphitheater.

While Minnesota Zoo’s animal shows commonly happen here, many people attend Weesner Family Amphitheater because of fun events like concerts and musicals.

The amphitheater peaks during summer, constantly having concerts and other events.

The place becomes even livelier during evening events, where you can appreciate a sense of community due to the many people in attendance.

If there is an event here during your visit, you should check out Weesner Family Amphitheater.

Relax at Apple Valley East Park

Like many other suburban cities surrounding Minneapolis, Apple Valley is home to numerous fun and attractive artificial parks.

Apple Valley East Park, located along Dunbar Avenue, is great for playing a few games and relaxing.

The park has several facilities, such as a basketball court, a playground, and skating and hockey rinks.

Baseball and athletic fields are also in the park.

There are also biking and jogging trails that will lead you to a quaint pond in the park.

If you’re looking for a place to chill and have fun, Apple Valley East Park is an excellent addition to your itinerary.

Cool Down at the Family Aquatic Center

Family Aquatic Center is another reputable tourist hotspot in Apple Valley, though it’s best to visit during warm weather.

Equipped with a lazy river, multiple pools, and slides, Family Aquatic Center is a great way to cool down with friends and family.

The waterpark has several amenities that complement your trips, such as snack bars, picnic areas, and high-speed Wi-Fi.

Its water facilities are clean and spacious, with varying water levels and ample shade to keep you safe from the intense sun.

Few water parks offer a better experience than Family Aquatic Center in Apple Valley.

The waterpark is along Johnny Cake Ridge Road.

Taste a Variety of Beer at Celts Craft House

Are you an avid drinker?

Maybe you’re looking for a delicious pub?

If so, then Celts Craft House is a can’t-miss destination at Apple Valley.

Located at 153rd Street West, Celts Craft House is an Irish pub specializing in craft beer and fried food.

Their beer selection includes Guinness, Deschutes Ipa, Celts Cream Ale, Indeed Pistachio Cream Ale, Magners Irish Cider, etc.

Make sure you taste their house favorites along with their beer.

Their Craft House Wings, Kolsch Beer Cheese, and Steakhouse Burger are highly-rated meals on the menu.

With Celts Craft House, you’ll get a great Irish pub experience while in Apple Valley.

Discover Antiques at Haupt Antiek Market

Haupt Antiek Market will tap into your inner treasure hunter.

The specialty market sells a wide array of vintage and repurposed items worth looking at.

Moreover, this antique shop only opens four times a month.

The concept behind Haupt Antiek Market is to give you a unique experience every time you visit.

The merchandise remains varied through the market’s vendors, containing goods such as home decor, tableware, and accessories.

You’ll not find a market that only opens four times a month every day, so if you happen to be in Apple Valley while they’re open, seize the opportunity.

You can visit Haupt Antiek Market in the city’s busy central districts, particularly at 147th Street West.

Have a Blast at Bogart’s Entertainment Center

Bogart’s Entertainment Center is the premier entertainment hub for the locals of Apple Valley.

If you’re looking for fun indoor sports, this is a place you must visit.

Equipped with several modern bowling alleys, a sand volleyball court, and an arcade area, Bogart’s Entertainment Center can quickly take over your whole afternoon.

The center also has a bar and grill if you’re visiting for dinner.

Its menu offers various classics such as burgers, wings, and pizzas.

They also have a good beer and wine selection if you’re going out with friends.

Bogart’s Entertainment Center is located along Garrett Avenue, just a few blocks from Celts Craft House and Haupt Antiek Market.

Have Fun with Your Dog at Alimagnet Park

Disc golf hole at Alimagnet Park

Joe Ferrer /

Like Lebanon Hills Regional Park, Alimagnet Park reaches Apple Valley’s neighboring cities, particularly Burnsville, west of the city.

Also called Alimagnet Dog Park, this 85-acre space has broad grassy fields with proper fencing, making it a great place to let your furry friend loose.

There are even two different areas for dogs, one for more giant breeds and the other for smaller ones.

Within the park lies Alimagnet Lake as well, a large lake that covers most of the park’s northern area.

Here, you can let your dog waddle through the water.

You’ll have a fantastic time at Alimagnet Park, so check it out through Ridgeview Drive.

Spend Quiet Time at Galaxie Library

Galaxie Library is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a quiet place to get some work done.

It’s also geared towards children, so bringing your kids may be lovely.

Just a few walks away from Bogart’s Entertainment Center at Garrett Avenue, Galaxie Library is spacious, offering multiple study areas and lounges with computer access.

The computers have child-friendly games installed, but if you’d like your kid to experience something more interactive, you can let them play the wall game installations.

Of course, the Galaxie Library has a wide selection of books; their friendly librarians are willing to lend you a hand in finding one.

Because of its proximity to diners, there are also many food options nearby if you need to grab a bite.

Play Your Favorite Sport at Johnny Cake Ridge Park

Johnny Cake Ridge Park is a sports park that lets guests play various sports.

It has several football fields along with tennis courts and baseball fields.

You can enjoy watching locals play a competitive match or join a game if the opportunity arises.

Johnny Cake Ridge Park is also home to Apple Valley’s pickleball courts.

It’s not often you find a dedicated pickleball court, so if you play the sport or want to try it, this place will accommodate you nicely.

You can reach the park through its parking lot along 140th Street West.

Play Winter Sports with the Locals at the Mid-Winter Festival

Apply Valley celebrates its winter culture annually through its Mid-Winter Festival, usually around February.

While the events are primarily geared toward locals, this festival can be a great visitor experience.

The city has a festive vibe during this time, filled with many activities such as winter sports, snow hunts, and food bazaars.

Other exciting activities vary yearly, such as riding a horse wagon and flying kites.

If you’re planning to enjoy a snow-white Apple Valley, there’s no better time to see it than during their Mid-Winter Festival.

Locations usually vary yearly, but the usual venue is the community center along Hayes Road.

See the Parades and Concerts at Freedom Days Festival

If you’re not visiting during winter, fret not, as Apple Valley has one more annual festival—this time during U.S. Independence Day.

Apple Valley’s Freedom Days Festival is the city’s way of commemorating U.S. independence through week-long recreational activities that engage the community.

Typically, some parades and fireworks would make for a great and memorable Apple Valley experience.

Other activities vary, such as fishing and live concerts scattered throughout the days leading to the 4th of July.

The Apple Valley Freedom Days Festival doesn’t have an exact location, but most of its events are typically held at the expansive Johnny Cake Ridge Park.

Go Fishing at Cobblestone Lake

Cobblestone Lake lies near the city’s business districts, which makes it easily accessible for everyone.

Fishing is one of the things you’d enjoy doing here.

Various fish live in the lake, such as largemouth bass, bluegill, and walleyes.

The sunsets are also beautiful at Cobblestone Lake, so if you love fishing with a view, you’ll have a serene experience.

When you’re done fishing, a nice trail loop spans a mile and a half if you want to cycle or jog.

You can access Cobblestone Lake through its park entrance, 160th Street West.

Fill Your Garden with Pahl’s Market

Pahl’s Market is a haven for gardening enthusiasts.

They have many potted plants, flowers, herbs, and trees.

Locals highly rate the market for its customer service and industry knowledge.

Even if you’re not buying, going here is a treat for the eyes with how big their place is.

Seeing it from a distance makes it look as huge as an IKEA.

Besides plants, the market sells gardening decor and tools.

You can also buy local vegetables and fruits from Minnesota at Pahl’s Market along 160th Street West.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Camp or Hike at Lebanon Hills Regional Park

The waters of Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Sam Wagner /

Lebanon Hills Regional Park is a massive site that spans two cities, including Eagan City, Minnesota, 15 minutes from Apple Valley.

The large park is 1,800-plus acres, offering you lots of outdoor activities.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park is the largest in Dakota County.

A heron perched on a tree at Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Joe Ferrer /

It’s filled with natural diversity, boasting marshlands, wetlands, forests, and lakes.

The regional park is a great place to go camping during the dry seasons, as the site has lush vegetation and fascinating wildlife such as deer, woodpeckers, and hawks.

There’s even a beach with a sandy shoreline called Schulze Lake Beach.

During the winter, the place transforms into a serene and snowy area where you can ski and ice skate.

Trail at Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Michael J Thompson /

Ice fishing and hiking in its snowy hills are popular activities here.

You won’t have to worry if you’re traveling with kids; most of the area has amenities that meet proper safety standards.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park is accessible through Clifford Road.

Mallard duck on Lebanon Hills Regional Park's lake

Michael J Thompson /

Final Thoughts

The best things to do in Apple Valley, Minnesota, will not disappoint you.

There are so many things to do here, and some places, such as Minnesota Park and Lebanon Hills, are hard to experience elsewhere in the country.

Whether it’s your leading destination or not, check out Apple Valley and its notable hotspots!

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