Check out the great places we’ve scoped out for people watching, solo strolling, or even meeting some new friends if you’re feeling social.
Day 1: Downtown Minneapolis
Where to Eat & Drink
Start your day with a morning meal at Hen House Eatery and treat yourself to a cheeky-sloganed mug of coffee and a made-fresh-daily caramel roll while you study the rest of the impressive diner menu. No matter what you’re craving, Hen House will have it, and nobody will raise an eyebrow if you order cake for breakfast or a cocktail from the extensive list of boozy breakfast drinks—like the Red Eye Rooster, a housemade bloody mary with Sriracha Vodka, cheese, and a hard boiled egg, or the Pancake Shot, a blend of Irish whiskey and butterscotch Schnapps with an OJ chaser and a side of bacon. (Be sure to arrive early on the weekends to avoid the brunch rush!)
For lunch, head to local favorite Trieste Cafe, a hole-in-the-wall Greek deli in the Lumber Exchange building, for an unbelievably fresh gyro plate with tabouli. Trieste caters to the downtown office crowd and is only open Monday through Friday, so if you’re traveling on the weekend, your best bet is swanky but approachable farm-to-table eatery Fire Lake Grill. There you’ll be able to dive headfirst into comforting Midwestern classics made with local ingredients from regional farms, ranches, and waters—like Eichten’s cheese curds, poutine with vegetable gravy, and Minnesota walleye burgers.
After a full day of exploring downtown, relax at the Spoon and Stable, James Beard Award-winning chef Gavin Kaysen’s rustic-meets-urban culinary destination. One of the primo perks of dining solo is that you can often grab a seat at the bar without a reservation. If you’re going to splurge on one meal, this is it! For a roudier dinner experience, grab a table at The Local, a traditional Irish pub owned by Irish whiskey lovers who imported all of the bar’s woodwork and stained glass from the Emerald Isle to recreate the true Irish pub experience in Minnesota.
For a quiet moment between sightseeing excursions—and to fuel up for even more solo fun—grab a latte at the greenery-and-marble filled Spyhouse Coffee inside the Emery Hotel, enjoy a rainbow-hued smoothie bowl Gray Fox Coffee and Wine, or settle in for some people watching at Penny’s Coffee, offering indoor and outdoor seating (and livable wages for its baristas). If a pint is what you’re craving, wind down at Day Block Brewing Company or Clockwerks Brewing, two Downtown beer hubs serving up great local brews with a side of live music and trivia.
What to Do
There’s plenty to keep you busy in Downtown Minneapolis, no matter your mood. If you’re itching for a stretch and sweat and the weather is cooperating, enjoy rooftop yoga at the Douglas Dayton YMCA at Gaviidae (free with a 5-day trial). Visiting in less-than-ideal rooftop yoga weather? Join a small-group fitness class at Flyfeet Running by the kaleidoscopic Bob Dylan Mural.
Once you’ve got your burn on, catch your breath then lose it again with the breathtaking view from the 30th floor Foshay Museum and Observation Deck, Minneapolis’ first skyscraper. For more Minneapolis history, explore the Mill City Museum to dive into the fascinating world of the once-mighty flour industry and the Mississippi’s role in shaping livelihoods and the legacy of the Twin Cities. (Mill City is also home to a truly excellent, hyper-local farmers market on Saturdays, May–October.) For one more must-see museum stop, the Louvre It or Leave it Museum offers a free, tiny contemporary art experience hidden on a busy street like a secret treasure. Louvre It or Leave It is connected to the Skyway, if you’d like to get lost in the twists and turns of the city’s miles-long maze of second-level bridges connecting downtown’s busiest buildings.
For some of the best selfie photo-ops in the city, check out the view of downtown from the iconic pedestrian-only Stone Arch Bridge spanning the Mississippi. This former railroad bridge connects the extremely strollable St. Anthony Main neighborhood (the oldest part of Minneapolis) with the Mill City district, home to the Guthrie Theater, where you can take in even more views from the architecturally stunning Endless Bridge and Amber Box designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel.
Sports lovers will be in heaven in downtown Minneapolis, where you can catch a tour or game at Target Field (MLB’s Twins Territory), Target Center (home to NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx), or the U.S. Bank Stadium (home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings). Locals are notoriously friendly, so don’t hesitate to chat with the fans in the surrounding seats!
How to get around
While there are plenty of parking lots and street meters, it can be much more enjoyable to navigate downtown on foot—especially because downtown’s many one-way streets and near-constant construction projects can make driving a little stressful. Nearly everything Downtown is connected by the extensive Skyway system, 9.5 miles of second-floor pathways connecting 80 city blocks. Nearly everything on this itinerary is Skyway connected, so go explore (and ask for directions, there’s no shame in getting lost in the web—we’ve all done it).
To get to the Mill City Museum, Day Block Brewing, or the North Loop, you may want to bus or take the light rail, depending on the weather and your schedule. The 7 and 22 run SE on Washington, the 14 runs NW toward the North loop. The Light Rail Blue and Green Lines run roughly east-west through downtown on 5th Street. A ride within the downtown zone is only $0.50.
Popular rideshares operate in downtown and the surrounding area. These can be slow in rush hour traffic, but are efficient at getting you door to door. In warmer months, you can rent bikes or motorized scooters throughout downtown for an affordable and fun transportation adventure.
Day 2, Beyond Downtown
Where to Eat & Drink
Patisserie 46, a quintessential—dare we say perfect—bakery and patisserie in south Minneapolis is the ideal way to start any day in the Twin Cities. Expect a welcoming Midwest-meets-French atmosphere and good prices on fresh-baked pastries, bread, bon bons, and breakfast favorites from quiche to avocado toast. For bigger appetites, Hot Plate’s hearty platters of omelets, benedicts, french toast, buttermilk pancakes, and breakfast burritos will fill you up for wherever the day takes you.
Come Midday, Northeast eats are calling! While Betty Danger’s Animal Farm—surreal home to Northeast’s year round ferris wheel and mini golf—can get dizzyingly crowded at night, lunchtime is much less busy and you’ll have your choice of where to sit and what over-the-top oddity to stare at. For quicker but no less classic-Minneapolis bites, Uncle Franky’s delivers on “damn good” hot dogs, burgers, and shakes, and Matt’s Bar is the go-to if you’ve always wanted to try a legendary Jucy Lucy.
If you’ve stuck around Northeast for the afternoon, stay for dinner at Hai Hai for Southeast Asian street food with sophisticated tiki bar vibes and bump shoulders with Minneapolis’s foodie A-list. If you find yourself in Uptown, indulge in a dozen oysters, a few glasses of wine, and some cozy French fare at the romantic Barbette, or hop over to Sonora Grill in South Minneapolis for a margarita and paella.
To raise a glass with locals and toast to your awesome solo adventures, grab a pint after a taproom tour at Sociable Cider Werks or Indeed Brewing, or settle in with an Old Fashioned made with local rye whiskey made from 100% Minnesota-grown rye at Tattersall Distilling’s Cocktail Room.
What to Do
Is it really a visit to Minnesota if you haven’t strolled around a lake? We think not. Take in the views on the shores of Lake Bde Maka Ska, the largest link in the Chain of Lakes, then head to the fascinating galleries of the Bakken Museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated temple to scientific and technological innovation and invention. For an artsier gallery experience, the Walker Art Center offers indoor modern art exploration and the iconic (and free) outdoor sculpture garden featuring the selfie-magnet Spoonbridge and Cherry.
If you’ve ever wanted to expose yourself to Scandinavian culture beyond a trip to Ikea, the American Swedish Institute is the epicenter of Minneapolis’s sizeable Nordic community, and a fantastic place to explore Norse history, peruse great design and find fantastic gifts at the ASI Museum Store, and imagine the good life in a true Minneapolis mansion.
Shop your way through the afternoon! Local gift shop CorAzoN, located in the Longfellow neighborhood on Lake Street, offers a collection of stationary, shape-of-the-state home goods, cookbooks, local jewelry, and curious gifts for kids, friends, and pups that will keep you browsing for hours. (Be sure to grab a bottle of Cry Baby Craig’s pickled habanero & garlic hot sauce made by Minneapolis chef Craig Kaiser.) 14 Hill Gift Shop is another worthy stop showcasing “uncommon goods for uncommon people.” The eclectic, women-owned store features everything from barware and quirky ornaments to handmade games and beautiful bags, scarves, and jewelry. With several locations around the Twin Cities, home decor haven Patina also hosts a surprising collection of jewelry, toys, apparel, succulents, books, and stationary. The selection is always evolving, giving you a good reason to stop by whenever you’re in town again.
For a musically minded evening, find your way to Icehouse, an intimate, two-story music venue with an eclectic roster of low- or no-cover shows (think jazz, americana, West African, and local singer songwriters) you can watch from the comfort of your dinner table, or stop into Tapestry Folk Dance Center in South Minneapolis if you’re feeling social and kick up your heels. Over 28 dance styles are represented every week, like Flamenco, Somali, Hungarian, and Scottish or English Country Dance.
How to get around
Exploring the outer neighborhoods by foot is probably out of the question, but free parking abounds if you’re driving, and public transit connects pretty much everything. Buses depart regularly from Nicollet in every direction and can carry you to most destinations. You can also catch the blue line train to parts of South Minneapolis. For an in-depth guide to getting around most Minneapolis neighborhoods, we’ve got you covered.