Scott County offers visitors everything they could wish for in a destination
Thrilling rides, exciting casino games, horse races and a 16th-century village draw millions of visitors to Scott County each year. It’s no wonder that organizers of a new joint public-private marketing venture, RiverSouth, have dubbed this area “the land of big fun.” While the county’s four main attractions – Mystic Lake Casino, Canterbury Park Racetrack, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and Valleyfair – offer vast entertainment potential, families can find even more fun at area water parks, apple farms, motocross races and concerts. It’s all within 20 minutes of the Twin Cities, just south of the Minnesota River, hence the name RiverSouth.
“There are a lot of options to be had: great music, fine dining, a championship golf course – we have a wide variety here; there are a bunch of experiences you can have without having to drive all over,” says Kelley Thomas Ries, vice president of marketing for Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. “Of course, we’ve also got the lake, with icehouses in winter and miles of hiking and running trails. The plan with our new RiverSouth is make it really easy to get the best experience possible.”
Sports and Games
The fun begins at Canterbury Park, which Ries refers to as “really one of the best in class racetrack venuesâ€ in the nation. The racing season runs from May to September, but offers year-round experiences, including the popular Card Casino, with indoor games running 24 hours a day, simulcast horse racing and family activities, including a corn maze, arts and crafts shows, motocross and more.
With new joint marketing of both properties, a trolley runs multiple times daily during race season to and from Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. Mystic Lake is one of the largest casinos and resort hotels in the Midwest, offering more than 600 fine hotel rooms; 10 bars and restaurants providing everything from coffee to formal dining; live entertainment; an accessible golf course; and, of course, plenty of gaming in the casino.
Delightful Valleyfair provides days of fun for adults and kids, with 75 rides and attractions and the Soak City Waterpark. A new area, Route 76, revisits and reinvents classic amusement park rides in a family-friendly locale blending old-school and new rides. And don’t forget to visit Dinosaurs Alive – a big crowd pleaser.
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival celebrates the 16th century with added fantasy, replete with jousters, jesters and abundant live entertainment for six weeks each year, mid-August through the end of September. For 40 years, the Festival has showcased the best performances, great food and fun shopping.
All four sites bring back locals and draw tourists. Lara Friedman Shedlov has performed at the Renaissance Festival for 20 years as a singer and Scottish dancer.
“The heart of its appeal is the immersive experience, the feeling of being in another place and time,” Friedman Shedlov says. “We’re known for our street culture. Unlike many fairs, there are lots of performers wandering and interacting with guests– performances aren’t just on stages. Some people come for the history, some for the fantasy, some for the family activities or shopping, some for bawdy, more adult-friendly acts.”
If you’re looking for something to do, Scott County has it. The cities of Prior Lake and Shakopee, walkable, charming and full of their own shopping and dining destinations, round out a destination guaranteed for good times for visitors of all ages.
“This is a whole multi-generational outreach.There are a lot of options to be had for everyone: great music, fine dining, a championship golf course – we have a wide variety here; there are a bunch of experiences you can have without having to drive all over. Of course, we’ve also got the lake, with icehouses in winter, and miles of hiking and running trails. The plan with our new RiverSouth is to make it really easy on guests to get the best experience possible.”