Your Guide to Minnesota Car Shows, Roll-Ins & Cruises

By Lisa Havelka

New Ulm Car Hop and Shop
New Ulm Car Hop and Shop

The sparkle of the chrome bumper, the rumble of the souped-up motor, custom steel wheels, pinstripes and fender skirts find their way to car shows, roll-ins and cruises across Minnesota.

Here are just a few you can catch this summer, no matter what part of the state you’re in.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Hastings Saturday Night Car Cruise
Photo by Paul Kampe

Cruise the Great River Road Scenic Byway to Hastings for the Historic Saturday Night Cruise-Ins. The season kicks off the first Saturday in June, with cruise-ins held every other Saturday through August. The cruise-ins are open to all classic cars 1976 and older.

Admission is free, and visitors can meander down both sides of the street for several blocks to admire the vintage collection of cars. Other highlights of the event include food trucks and face painting.

The Minnesota Street Rod Association (MSRA) brings the annual Back to the 50s Weekend to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds the third weekend in June. An estimated 70,000 car enthusiasts flock to St. Paul to see the more than 11,000 street rods, customs, classics and restored vehicles (1964 and older) during this three-day event. The weekend is filled with tons of automobiles, a swap meet, craft fair, food vendors, auto exhibits, live music from the 1950s, and more.

Southern Minnesota

Bring back the nostalgia of a simpler time when you cruised the strip of Main Street. Every Tuesday night from mid-May to late September, the Henderson Classic Car Roll-In draws more than 150 classic cars and motorcycles to this charming downtown. Businesses, food vendors, the Henderson Farmers Market, the Sibley County Historical Society and the Joseph R. Brown Minnesota River Center are always open and ready to serve the more than 500 visitors at this popular event.

The second weekend of June, head to Albert Lea for Eddie Cochran Weekend, a celebration of the hometown hero best known for his hit “Summertime Blues.” The annual event features a classic car cruise-in on Friday night in the historic downtown and a car show on Saturday with live music, food concessions, dash plaques and trophies. The Freeborn County Historical Museum hosts an Eddie Cochran exhibit year-round.

Central Minnesota

New London to New Brighton Car Run
Photo by Jim Nash

Enjoy the showcase of great American automobiles from the 1920s, '30s and '40s at the St. Cloud “Pantowners" Antique Auto Club’s Annual Car Show & Swap Meet the third Sunday in August. The show hosts more than 1,000 classic and restored cars, trucks, motorcycles and snowmobiles. Stroll through the automotive history displays, including antique pedal cars and bicycles, model-car contest and arts-and-crafts marketplace. Look for a bargain deal at the swap meet or in the “Cars-4-Sale Corral.” Take a cruise Saturday evening during the fun-run for classic cars and motorcycles.

The New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run is an American version of the prestigious London to Brighton Commemorative Run. Held the second Saturday in August, the run starts in New London, winding 120 miles through the countryside and ending in New Brighton. It kicks off with a parade down Main Street in New London on Friday evening. Only vehicles from 1908 or earlier, or any 1- or 2-cylinder vehicles up to 1915, are eligible to participate, adding turn-of-the-century charm to this unique event.

Northeast Minnesota

Seven blocks of classic cars and one block of custom Harleys line Superior Street in downtown Duluth during the Duluth Annual Classic Car Show & Harley Revue in July. Part of Duluth’s Sidewalk Days Festival, the event features great shopping, mouthwatering food, toe-tapping music and fun for the kids in the heart of the city.

Held the last full weekend in July at the Itasca County Fairgrounds in Grand Rapids, the Northern Minnesota Car Show & Swap Meet includes more than 200 classic cars, vendor booths and a swap meet. Admission to the show is free, and breakfast is served on Saturday and Sunday morning.

The Powerhouse Car Show, held in August during the annual Hoghead Festival in Proctor, draws hundreds of vintage and classic cars and motorcycles from around the Midwest. A quirky component of the show is the Ugly Car & Truck Contest. In addition, the South St. Louis County Fair Association sponsors a Studebaker Car Show at the Proctor Fairgrounds the same weekend.

Northwest Minnesota

Detroit Lakes Car Cruise
Photo by Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce

Cruise the mile-long beach along the famous West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes this summer. More than 200 cars gather the second Wednesday of the month June through September for the Detroit Lakes Cruise DL Nights. Stop by one of the lakeside restaurants for a bite to eat and enjoy the view of the classic cars parked beachside.  

Started as a gathering of “rodders” to spend the weekend together talking about, looking at and driving classic cars, the Annual Northern Knights Run to the Rapids Street Rod Show is now open to all attendees. Held the second weekend in August in Park Rapids, the Street Rod Show features a Friday night barbeque and live rock ‘n’ roll music. On Saturday, the party begins with the Show N' Shine on Main Street. The trophy presentation is at noon, with root beer floats at the C’Mon Inn in the evening.

Find more Minnesota car shows, cruises and roll-ins online in our Festivals & Events calendar.