Know Before You Go – Tips And Tricks for Minneapolis

Feed your curiosity with Minneapolis facts and information.

Minneapolis routinely ranks high on livability lists and while the term “Minnesota Nice,” might be a little over-used, we’re known for being particularly friendly, curious and helpful. 

There are few visitor-related situations that can’t be resolved by asking one or two people on the street, but here are a few tips to get you prepared for your visit.

  • Before marching out for a full day of sight seeing and activities, stop in at the  Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center, on the corner of 5th Street and Nicollet, directly in front of the Nicollet Metro Transit light rail station. They have maps, all manner of visitor information and an especially alluring selection of locally-made crafts, gifts and souvenirs.
  • Don’t marvel about how we don’t have the same accents as the people in the movie “Fargo.” We already know. If you want to experience that cultural quirk, you’ll need to drive farther north.
  • That said, you may hear people say “uff da,” a very polite, very Norwegian term used to express surprise, disappointment or in other circumstances when stronger language might otherwise be warranted. 
  • Thinking about renting a car for your visit? Hold on! Unless you have business or plans in hard-to-reach suburbs, consider relying on our inexpensive and comprehensive public transportation. Our light rail lines can get you from the airport to downtown in about 22 minutes and from downtown to the University of Minnesota campus in less than 10 minutes for $2.00-2.50, depending on the time of day. Learn more here.
  • If you want to start a conversation with a stranger, ask them about their Prince story (pretty much everyone has one) or make literally any open-ended comment about the weather, like “Nice day,” or “How about this [insert weather condition]?” If you’re desperate for a topic, ask us where we were during the Halloween Day blizzard of ‘91. 
  •  “Soft drink” = “Pop”
  • We are sometimes a whiplash-inducing four-season city—all in the same week, on occasion. Monitor the weather forecast closely and pack accordingly. 
  • Yes, there’s a neighborhood called “Dinkytown.” It doesn’t seem weird or funny to us. 
  • If the weather suddenly turns bad, and you’re downtown, the Skyway System (those enclosed, second level bridges you see everywhere) connects roughly 80 city blocks without stepping a toe outdoors. Learn more about the skyway system here
  • Live theater has a storied history in Minneapolis, including the world renowned, flagship Guthrie Theater.
  • Same goes for live music. It’s no coincidence that The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Semisonic, Hüsker Dü (technically from St Paul), Babes in Toyland, Morris Day and the Time, Lipps Inc., Tapes ‘n Tapes, The Andrews Sisters, Prince and Bob Dylan all came from this town in a more modest time. And contemporary artists are still carrying the Minneapolis music baton, like Brother Ali, Doomtree, Atmosphere and Lizzo.
  • You like brunch? Well, then this is your town. Few cities plan brunch as carefully Minneapolitans do. If you’re here visiting friends, count on brunch plans, including several agonizing minutes trying to decide which outstanding brunch to go to. Check out our favorite spots.
  • Liquor stores close at 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sundays. Alcohol is not sold in groceries stores.
  • Yes, you can really walk across frozen lakes in winter, but make absolutely sure it’s safe to cross before you venture out. Triple goes for driving out onto frozen lakes. Your best bet is to do (or don’t do) what the locals are doing (not doing).
  • We go outside—a lot. Year-round. By design, no Minneapolis resident lives farther than six blocks from a park, with a spider’s web of lakes, trails and boulevards connecting them all. If you’re a serious walker or cyclist, set time aside for these diversions, assuming a local hasn’t already worked this into your itinerary.
  • The Twin Cities were recently described as “the Silicon Valley of food,” by a top food writer. We had 12 James Beard Award finalists in 2018 alone. If dining out isn’t already at the top of your itinerary, perhaps you should review our list of “don’t miss” eating experiences in Minneapolis.
  • Keep an eye out for selfie opportunities with the numerous tributes to famous native Minnesotans around town, including Bob Dylan (mural), Charles Schulz (enormous Peanuts characters figurines), Mary Tyler Moore (statue) and, of course, Prince (literally everywhere). 
  • If you’re here long enough, sooner or later someone will mention lutefisk, probably as a punchline for some joke about inedible food. For background, lutefisk is whitefish (usually cod), which has been soaked in lye and water for days. The result is a gelatinous, foul-smelling glob that is not agreeable to most palates. Andrew Zimmern, host of the popular traveling food show Bizarre Foods and long-time Twin Cities resident, has declared it to be “one of the worst foods in the world,” which is really saying something. You’re unlikely to encounter lutefisk (on purpose) during your visit to the Twin Cities, but it’s a frequent cultural reference.
  • A more agreeable Minneapolis signature dish is the Jucy Lucy (A.K.A. “Juicy Lucy”), a hamburger prepared by pinching two thin beef patties together around a hunk of cheese, creating a somewhat dangerous molten center when grilled. Two local bars have been feuding about who invented the Lucy since the 1950s: Matt’s Bar (they of the infamous “Jucy” spelling) and the 5-8 Club, both located on Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis. You can find upscale versions of Lucys at restaurants around town, such as the Blue Door Pub, but treat yourself to an original if you get the chance.
  • The “Minnesota goodbye,” is famous for stretching on for upwards of 20 minutes. Factor this into your travel times while visiting friends and relatives.