Things To Do
Whether you're a theater buff, a shopaholic, a fitness fanatic or anything in between, the vast variety of Minneapolis events and venues ensures you'll feel right at home. Here, you'll find thousands of ways to fill your visiting days in Minneapolis, from fairs and festivals to five-star dining. Revel in annual events, theater, museums, shopping, dining, music and nightlife, recreation, pro sports, family fun and historical attractions.
Every year, Minneapolis is flush with fairs, festivals, and parades that highlight the artistic and cultural diversity at the heart of this city. No matter the season, each month holds exciting and eye-opening affairs sure to be the highlight of your visit.
- Polar Dash
- Lake Harriet Kite Festival
- Minneapolis Boat Show
- Great Northern
- City of Lakes Loppet
- U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
- Saint Paul Winter Carnival
- Saint Paul Winter Carnival
- International Motorcycle Show
- RV, Vacation and Camping Show
- Home and Garden Show
- Lake Home and Cabin Show
- Minneapolis Home & Garden Show
- Twin Cities Auto Show
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade
- Northwest Sportshow
- MN State High School League Championships
- Minnesota Twins Home Opener/Season begins
- Minnneapolis - St. Paul International Film Festival
- Art in Bloom at Minneapolis Institute of Arts
- Get In Gear Race 2K, 5K, 10K, & Half Marathon
- May Day Parade
- Northeast Minneapolis Art-A-Whirl
- Minneapolis and Mill City Farmer’s Markets open
- Dandelion Day at the Ard Godfrey House
- Cinco de Mayo Mexican Fiesta
- Festival of Nations
- Northern Spark
- Stone Arch Festival of the Arts
- Midsommar Celebration at the American Swedish Institute
- Rock the Garden at Walker Art Center
- Twin Cities Pride Festival
- Red, White & Boom TC Half Marathon & Festival, Fireworks
- Basilica Block Party
- Summer Opera at Mill City Museum
- Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest
- Minneapolis Aquatennial
- Uptown Art Fair
- Mill City Live Concerts
- Powderhorn Art Fair
- Minnesota Fringe Festival
- Minnesota Renaissance Festival
- Minnesota State Fair
- Minnesota Renaissance Festival
- Minnesota State Fair
- Minnesota Golden Gophers Football at TCF Bank Stadium
- Minnesota Vikings football
- Monarch Festival/Festival de la Monarca
- Twin Cities Marathon
- U.S. Open Racquetball Championship
- Zombie Pub Crawl
- ValleySCARE at Valleyfair in Shakopee
- Art Attack at the Northrup King Building
- "A Christmas Carol" at Guthrie Theater
- Noon Year’s Eve at Como Zoo
- Holidazzle Festival
- Sports Minneapolis Minnesota Sports Awards
The innovative Minneapolis food and drink scene is ready to impress- whatever your tastes. Whether it's the famous Jucy Lucy cheese-filled burger at Matt's, a signature Old Fashioned at Parlour, fine dining at its finest at Spoon and Stable, trying to choose between 18 ethnic food vendors at the Midtown Global Market, or two scoops of artisan ice cream at Milkjam creamery. We just ask that you bring your appetite.
WAREHOUSE DISTRICT/NORTH LOOP
Anchored by the Target Center’s Cargo Food Authority, plenty of music venues, and the iconic First Avenue, the Warehouse District is the epicenter of Minneapolis nightlife. A wide variety of tastes can be found, ranging from the Monte Carlo, a classy joint with a century of service, to the upscale Cosmos, a popular spot for elevated cocktails and bites. Kieran’s Irish Pub brings a bit of Ireland to Minneapolis in the form of a traditional Irish pub, while brew pubs and restaurants serve casual American fare and European specialties, while the stylish wine make bar food a true art form.
Right in the heart of downtown, CRAVE’s American/Japanese combo menu manages to do justice to both cuisines, including some epic sushi platters. In the warmer months their rooftop seating fills up fast. Housed on the ground floor of Le Meridien Hotel, Mercy serves Instagram-worthy seafood dishes, like the crab leg fried rice, and a variety of small plates and entrees. The vine-covered patio is the preferred spot for breakfast, brunch and after work drinks. Rock Bottom Brewery serves as a nice contrast with its casual atmosphere and crowd-pleasing brews.
DOWNTOWN CORE/LORING PARK
The depth and quality of downtown’s restaurants – more than 50 in the core alone – is impressive. Offerings span the globe and excite the palate: established visionaries such as Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant, Murray’s and Hell’s Kitchen are favorites among locals, Sushi Train entertains with moving eats and Chef Jamie Malone’s Eastside pushes culinary boundaries. Known for seafood, Oceanaire is loaded with decorative booths and retro charm. Trendy Café Lurcat attracts the foodie crowd while cheery Brit’s Pub offers the perfect beer food and a rooftop lawn bowling court with downtown skyline views.
In Minneapolis, we’re all about our markets. The Mill City Farmers’ Market runs next to the Guthrie Theater and the riverfront, and features organic foods. This year-long farmer’s market holds their indoor markets every second Saturday from November to April inside the historic Mill City Museum. Outdoor markets are held on Chicago Avenue every Saturday from May to October. The Midtown Global Market just south of downtown lets vendors display their goods from countries all over the world in the redeveloped former Sears building on the Midtown Greenway.
RIVERFRONT – MILL DISTRICT
The city’s Mississippi riverfront restaurants wow diners with amazing views and memorable food. Historic cobblestone Main Street hosts both elegant and easygoing American eateries, including Aster Cafe, Wilde Cafe & Spirits and the casual Hideaway Burger Bar. In the nearby Northeast (pronounced by locals as “Nordeast””) neighborhood, a 65-foot Ferris wheel and an eight-hole golf course offers a hipster country club vibe at Betty Danger’s Country Club. It is the only country club that serves “Mexampton” food, a unique fusion of Tex-Mex and preppiness.
The restaurants in this ultra-hip neighborhood have people talking – and eating. Designer martinis, upscale street food, and a tropical vibe make Chino Latino the perfect spot for celebrations or getting the night started. Barbette offers seasonal fare in a bistro setting, while pizza joints and casual eateries round out the Uptown dining scene.
An appetizing stretch of more than 50 ethnic restaurants, Eat Street stretches a mile along Nicollet Avenue, running south from downtown. This culinary hub is home to authentic German, Greek, Israeli, Thai, Vietnamese and more, not to mention ethnic bakeries and grocers. Popular are Eat Street Social, Copper Hen and Black Forest Inn.
Minneapolis is filled with stellar neighborhood restaurants centered on fresh, seasonal and ethnic fare, including Martina, Kieran's Kitchen Northeast and Revival.
Co-ops have made their mark in Minneapolis and households all over the city have gone organic. But those who insist on sustainably grown organic food can go out to eat, too, because many Minneapolis restaurants have the same values. Minnesota sources provide many restaurants a wide palate from grass-fed beef, lamb and naturally raised pork to fresh local produce.
Northeast’s Red Stag Supperclub is Minnesota’s first LEED-CI certified restaurant serves as many local and organic foods as possible while conserving water and energy and composting waste.
BEST CHEF: MIDWEST
- Tim McKee, now a partner with The Fish Guys and consultant for several other restaurants was known for La Belle Vie, which closed in 2015 (won in 2009)
- Alex Roberts, chef/co-owner of Restaurant/Cafe/Hotel Alma and Brasa Rotisserie (won in 2010)
- Isaac Becker, chef/owner of 112 Eatery (won in 2011)
- Paul Berglund, former chef at The Bachelor Farmer (won in 2016)
- Gavin Kaysen, chef/owner of Spoon and Stable, Bellecour and Demi (won in 2018)
- Ann Kim, chef/owner of Young Joni, Hello Pizza, Pizzeria Lola, and to-come to Uptown in 2020, Sooki & Mimi (won in 2019)
Kids rule in Minneapolis, where engaging museums, thrilling amusement parks and action-packed shows keep them easily entertained.
PLAY ALL DAY
Mall of America, the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the country, engages young people with oodles of fun eateries and attractions, including Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, LEGO Imagination Center, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, a stunning walk-through aquarium swimming with sea creatures, and a Crayola Experience, where families can discover the magic of color. The Minnesota Zoo features exotic animals with species from around the globe.
LEARN THE FUN WAY
Bustling with exhibits and events that cater to kids, the Minnesota Children’s Museum in Saint Paul is always a hit. Saint Paul’s Science Museum of Minnesota, known for its popular experiment gallery and awesome dinosaur display, excites the mind and the senses, while the ruins of a flour mill and other milling artifacts at Mill City Museum excite the imagination about Minneapolis history along the Mississippi Riverfront. Explore a grain elevator inside the Minnesota History Center in Saint Paul, or converse with costumed guides at several living history sites.
AMUSEMENTS AND THRILLS
A swirling vortex of summer fun, Valleyfair! Amusement Park boasts speeding roller coasters, dizzying thrill rides and decidedly cool water attractions. Como Town offers kiddie rides and games within a lion’s roar of neighboring Como Zoo and Conservatory. Life moves more slowly on the Mississippi River, where paddlewheelers like the Minneapolis Queen cruise through history near the waterway’s northernmost lock and dam.
ON STAGE, IN ACTION
Imagination takes center stage during productions by renowned children’s theater companies, including In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, Stages Theatre Company and the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theatre Company. The Minnesota Orchestra encourages active listening with a family music program, while the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts (Saint Paul) hosts concerts, musicals and events that immerse kids in culture. On the field and on the court, Minnesota Twins baseball and Timberwolves and Lynx basketball excite fans of all ages.
Kids are valued customers at many Minneapolis restaurants, from playful theme eateries to old-fashioned malt shops. Busy families only boost the energy inside Minneapolis-born Buca di Beppo, where guests enjoy platters of family-style Italian fare and a bustling, happy atmosphere. Keg & Case Market offers choices for every member of the family, and that includes desserts ranging from cotton candy to doughnuts and ice cream. Mall of America feeds kids at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. among many others.
Here in Minneapolis, we’ll always make room for you to check out our rich theater scene. In “Amazing MN” by Lee Lynch, he states, “On a per capita basis, the Twin Cities are second only to NYC in number of theater tickets sold,” (Pollstar). Whether taking in a world-class production at the Guthrie Theater or participating in our theater-based festival, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, there will always be a show for any taste.
Hennepin Theatre District is home to the State, Orpheum and Pantages theatres and the country’s oldest satirical comedy theater, Brave New Workshop. Broadway shows, headliners and home-grown shows fill the marquees. In fact, big name shows like “The Lion King” and “Sweet Charity” made their debuts in Minneapolis before heading to Broadway. Classics and musicals often grace the stage of the globally renowned, Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater. From cabaret to storytelling, unique playhouses like the Illusion Theater and the Southern Theater also add flavor to the downtown theater space. The sparkling Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts rounds out the list.
Brimming with funky coffee shops and topical theater, the Uptown and Lyn-Lake neighborhoods of Minneapolis are popular for nightlife. Uptown’s edgy cousin, Lyn-Lake, is home to the Jungle Theater, which is right next door to some of the city’s favorite ethnic eateries. Just blocks away, funky hangout Bryant-Lake Bowl features an old-school bowling alley and an offbeat 99-seat theater. The Dinkytown and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods cater largely to the young, urban crowd with stages like the Mixed Blood Theatre, promoting cultural pluralism, and Theatre in the Round, the state’s oldest community theater, that features a unique arena stage for classic productions. The Varsity Theater and Rarig Center at the University of Minnesota are popular spots for live music and theater.
In Saint Paul, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts hosts Broadway hits and also is home to the Minnesota Opera and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. The Fitzgerald Theater is the city’s oldest that features concerts and was the former site of “A Prairie Home Companion” for many years.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, the city of Excelsior is home to the country’s oldest continuously running theater, Old Log Theater. Prince fans may want to take a drive by (or plenty of time for a tour) at Paisley Park on the way to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. With three stages featuring musicals and comedy improv, it’s the largest Equity dinner theater in the U.S.
FOR THE KIDS
The only theater for young people to ever win a Tony® Award, Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) produces first-rate performances that delight audiences of all ages. Time magazine named CTC the top theater in the country for kids. In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in South Minneapolis uses various forms of puppetry inspired by cultures around the world to tell its stories, while the Stages Theatre Company brings children’s literature to life.
DID YOU KNOW?
Minneapolis is home to the largest non-juried theater festival in the U.S. – the Minnesota Fringe Festival. The annual festival packs theaters across the city every August. It’s the ideal time for lovers of the stage to experience the city’s diverse theater scene risk-free – each show is just one hour!
- Theaters Total: 181*
- Theaters per capita: 45 per 100,000 residents*
*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017)
THE MINNEAPOLIS SOUND
Since the late 1950s when Minnesota-native Bob Dylan broke onto the folk-rock scene playing free shows on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota, Minnesota has highly impacted American music and some of the world’s most respected and well-known artists got their start in Minneapolis clubs.
THE 80S – THE R&B AND PUNK ERA
The early 1980s helped define Minneapolis’ sound and launched the careers of R&B mega-producing team Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who started the band that would become The Time and was joined by Morris Day and toured as an opening act for Prince. The team then went on to produce such artists as Janet Jackson, Sounds of Blackness, Boyz II Men, Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle and Patti LaBelle.
Also in the 80s, Minneapolis’ innovative punk scene and the rise of music-royalty Prince solidified Minneapolis’ music scene place on the map. Several bands including The Suicide Commandos, Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum and The Replacements quickly rose to punk cult status and became pivotal in the development of alternative rock. Hit songs like, “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)” by Minneapolis area band Information Society and The Jayhawks modern folk-rock sound, helped to further solidify Minneapolis purely original sound. But the “Minneapolis sound” was truly pioneered by Prince’s hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B and New Wave. It has influenced many other musicians.
THE 90S - MORE COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
The 1990s saw continued success for Minneapolis bands. Prince introduced one of his most popular albums, "Diamonds and Pearls," and Semisonic, an alternative rock band formed in 1995, topped the charts in 1998 with their single “Closing Time.” Semisonic member Dan Wilson continues to top charts today with his songwriting for Adele, Keith Urban, Josh Groban and many more.
INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM – MAKING WAVES IN THE HIP-HOP SCENE
Home to a thriving underground hip hop scene due largely to the presence of Rhymesayers Entertainment and Doomtree – two major hip hop crews whose artists include Atmosphere, P.O.S. and Dessa, as well as as a growing techno/dance landscape, Minneapolis is still a musical hotbed.
FIRST AVENUE STARS IN THE MINNEAPOLIS MUSIC SCENE
First Avenue has been the starting point for virtually every single band to come out of the Twin Cities, including The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Prince, Soul Asylum, Semisonic, American Head Charge, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Dillinger Four, Dosh, The Jayhawks, Curtiss A and many others. Bands and artists have performed at the nightclub and influenced the Minneapolis music scene from 1970 onward, as exemplified by the silver stars that adorn the black building’s exterior (every star has the name of a band that has played at First Avenue or 7th St Entry). Prince’s star was painted gold after his death in 2016. First Avenue also appeared in Prince’s 1984 film, “Purple Rain.” U2 wrote part of “October” at First Avenue during a sound check. And Grammy Award-winning alt-country star Lucinda Williams was married on stage, following her performance at First Avenue in 2009.
The past perseveres in Minneapolis, where monuments, landmarks and living history sites await guided and independent exploration.
Minneapolis was born and thrived on the banks and water of the mighty Mississippi River where St. Anthony Falls fueled a lucrative flour milling industry now chronicled in one of the city’s many museums, the Mill City Museum. Built within the ruins of a 19th-century mill that was destroyed by fire, the museum overlooks Mill Ruins Park, featuring the remains of water-powered mills. Just blocks away is The Depot. Once a boarding place for trains of the Milwaukee Road Line, the renovated complex houses two hotels and event space.
Take a walk across the Stone Arch Bridge, built in 1883, to St. Anthony Main on Main Street, a cobblestone street lined with buildings that date back to the 1850s. Attractions on Main Street include: Magical History Tours on Segways; Our Lady of Lourdes, a French Catholic church established in 1857 that still sells French meat pies; the Ard Godfrey House, once the family residence of the Maine millwright who helped put the waterpower of St. Anthony Falls to use; and Pracna on Main, the oldest restaurant in Minneapolis.
Hit all the attractions by walking the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, a 1.8-mile interpretive loop that crosses the Stone Arch Bridge that runs along St. Anthony Main and crosses the river again via Nicollet Island, a 19th-century residential district.
Built in 1902, the Minneapolis Grain Exchange was the first steel structure in Minneapolis. Five years later in 1907, the grain industry was booming and the rich economy was reflected in the Basilica of St. Mary, the first basilica in the U.S. and one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts.
Some of Minneapolis’ most popular historic sites are also the homes of the city’s most notorious haunts. The tallest building in Minneapolis until 1971, the Foshay Tower (now W Minneapolis - The Foshay hotel), built in 1929 as a tribute to the Washington Monument, is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Wilbur Foshay, while the nearby gothic Minneapolis City Hall is said to harbor the spirit of a man hanged in 1898. Although there have been no reports of the paranormal, the Lakewood Cemetery in Uptown takes visitors back through 150 years of history.
The American Swedish Institute’s lavish furnishings and interiors of the former Turnblad Mansion combined with detailed exhibits to convey the stories, traditions and culture of Scandinavia, honoring a heritage shared by many immigrants and residents. An addition in 2011 (Nelson Cultural Center) ensures this historic mansion remains relevant for another century. Also included in the long list of Minneapolis museums is the Bell Museum, which explores the natural history of Minnesota, and the Wells Fargo History Museum, chronicling banking in the Midwest.
Highlighting world-class collections that span millennia, the city’s museums engage, inspire and educate millions each year. Boasting groundbreaking buildings and exhibits, they display tremendous foresight and reach. Nearly 60 destinations—of an astonishing 600 in Minnesota; many in and around downtown —celebrate life’s natural, artistic and scientific wonders.
A CITY-WIDE CANVAS
Minneapolis’ globally acclaimed art museums highlight beauty in all forms. Hailed by Newsweek as “possibly the best contemporary art museum in the country,” the Walker Art Center has a building as dynamic as the events and artworks it presents. A stunning expansion, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, opened in April 2005, doubling the exhibit and performance space of this immensely popular and influential museum. Outside the Walker, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has 58 sculptures, including 19 added in 2017, featuring the landmark “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje von Bruggen.
With its impressive columns and wide-ranging exhibits, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) puts up a classical front – one that houses one of the largest displays of classical Chinese art and architecture in the country in 22 galleries. Considered one of America’s finest encyclopaedic museums,Mia possesses works from every age and medium, many of which reside in the museum’s Michael Graves-designed 2006 expansion.
Architect Frank Gehry, of Guggenheim Bilbao fame, brought global focus to the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, an abstract composition of stainless steel set next to the Mississippi River that opened an expansion in Fall 2011.The museum’s warm, ethereal interiors highlight the University of Minnesota’s modern art collection.
The Museum of Russian Art is the only museum in North America solely dedicated to the preservation and presentation of Russian art and artifacts. Even the Guggenheim has borrowed art from this unique museum.
Each year, more than a million people wrap their heads—and their hands—around science at the hugely popular Science Museum of Minnesota, an interactive learning pioneer located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Saint Paul. Cutting-edge exhibits and colossal attractions include dinosaur fossils and a 90-foot convertible domed Imax movie screen.
The atmosphere is especially charged inside the Bakken Museum, which explores electricity and magnetism while showcasing 2,500 electrical devices dating to the 1700s.
The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting features industry equipment and memorabilia, while the Bell Museum offers dioramas depicting life’s amazing diversity and an expansive, new Planetarium. The Bell opened a sweeping new facility near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on the University of Minnesota's campus in summer 2018.
MILL CITY MUSEUM
Flour milling may not sound like an exciting concept, but Minneapolis was built on flour and the Mill City Museum provides a portal to the city’s storied past. The museum lives in the partially reconstructed ruins of a flour mill that exploded in 1878, burned in 1928 and burned again 1991. You can still see the twisted girders that melted in the heat and the soot on the bricks, but this relic from Minneapolis’ history is still standing.
Billed as “the best-smelling museum ever created,” a baking lab operates in the museum’s basement. Visitors can smell the fabulous aromas of the treats baking while they peruse artifacts of the city’s milling days. They can learn all about Minneapolis, from then to now, in the film, “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat,” which plays in the museum’s small theater all day long. Afterwards, visitors can head to the Flour Tower, an elevator ride that shows how milling makes wheat into flour (and why it’s explosive!) and culminates on a rooftop deck with a panoramic view of the entire Mississippi Riverfront, including St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge.
A concrete jungle we are not. And that’s a great thing. Other major cities can have all that. We’ll keep our breathtaking waterfalls, chain of lakes, perfect parks, and more biking and running trails that keep us active and healthy all year long. Six blocks is all it takes to get to one of our natural landscapes.
HIT THE LAKES
Minnesota is famous for its lakes; Minneapolis included. There are 22 lakes within city limits, including the popular Chain of Lakes (Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun), Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake), which curls around southwest Minneapolis, drawing bikers, walkers, runners and sun seekers to the area’s hip, active neighborhoods. Boaters, swimmers and anglers can make a splash, too, thanks to convenient lake access, watercraft rentals, clean beaches and well-stocked waters.
In Minneapolis, taking the scenic route means staying in the city, where the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway meanders past gardens, golf courses, waterfalls and idyllic views. One of the only designated urban scenic byways in the country, the Grand Rounds offers 52 miles of hiking, biking, skiing and driving paths that link the city’s lakes and parks “like jewels of a bracelet,” according to Midwest Living magazine.
ON THE RIVER
Having transitioned from industrial to recreational, the Mississippi riverfront delights outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs with parks, picnic areas, landmarks and monuments along miles of well-kept trails. The Audubon Great River Birding Trail, Grand Rounds Scenic Byway and St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, which highlights unique mill ruins, the only stone railroad bridge to cross the Mississippi River, all pass through this history-rich recreational haven.
Recreation happens naturally in the city’s many parks, where offerings range from mountain bike trails to bird sanctuaries. Minnehaha Park was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Song of Hiawatha,” while Theodore Wirth Park features the country’s oldest wildflower garden and a rare “quaking bog” made of moss. USA Today identified Lake Harriet’s Lyndale Park Rose Garden, the second oldest public rose garden in the U.S., as one of “10 Great Places to Inhale the Scents of Spring.” Minneapolis parks are also abuzz in winter, attracting ice skaters, skiers and snowshoers.
TEE UP TO GOLF
It’s easy to come out swinging in Minneapolis. Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any state in the country, which means quality courses abound. There are seven public courses in Minneapolis and 170 more in the surrounding area. One of the first public golf courses in the state, Theodore Wirth, frames the Minneapolis skyline, while tranquil Minnehaha Creek graces the Hiawatha and Meadowbrook courses.
DID YOU KNOW?
Minneapolis has recently been ranked #1 fittest city for four years by American Fitness Index (2011, 2012, 2013 & 2017) and was ranked #2 fittest city in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, and #3 in 2019.
CITY BY NATURE
Take a self-guided tour on the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail through the Minneapolis Riverfront District or, for a longer walking, biking or blading adventure, make your way through seven beautiful districts on the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Along the Grand Rounds is gorgeous Lake Harriet, which offers a variety of activities: free outdoor concerts at the Lake Harriet Band Shell in the summer, an Asian-influenced Peace (Rock) Garden, the second-oldest public rose garden in the U.S. and much more.
Walking and talking pair beautifully in Minneapolis, especially when informed guides provide the narrative during insightful tours of the city’s most popular places. Operators also offer colorful commentary aboard buses, boats, streetcars and historic trains – often for little or no cost. Self-guided exploration of area history, culture and art is easy, too.
THAT’S THE TICKET
Backstage tours of the city’s highly esteemed performance venues, including the Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater and the spectacular historic State, Orpheum and Pantages theaters, highlight what happens behind the scenes at these storied landmarks, from stagecraft to costume design to who has graced the dressing rooms.
ART FOR ALL
With renowned museums offering frequent free tours and events, it’s easy to access world-class art in Minneapolis – and just as easy to understand it! The admission-free Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers fun and engaging family activities every Sunday, while the Walker Art Center features free performances, films, tours and more each Thursday and the first Saturday of the month. The 11-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden encourages leisurely art appreciation in the great outdoors, and is always free.
RIDING THE RAILS ... AND MORE
Riverboat, kayak, scenic railway—you name it, you can ride it, while learning more about the area than you ever imagined. Stately paddlewheelers cruise the Mississippi River. The Minnesota Transportation Museum moves visitors in many ways with its restored streetcar line and classic buses. Experience the Mississippi Riverfront area aboard the Minneapolis Queen, a paddlewheeler that goes through the river’s uppermost lock and dam or, for a truly unique experience, sightsee on a two-wheeled Segway, on a bike by Nice Ride Minnesota, or one of the many running, food or fitness-themed tours available in the City by Nature.
We need to look good during all four seasons. And there’s no better way than to hit up our high-end fashion boutiques, independent designers and even thrift shops for that I-can’t-believe-I-found-this-for- $5 find. Or go big and spend all day at the MOA (short for Mall of America to the locals). Oh, and did we mention that all clothing and shoes are tax free? You’re welcome!
The downtown area is filled with plenty of local shops and designer boutiques to go on a spending spree for yourself or find that continually elusive unique gift. Nicollet (formerly known as Nicollet Mall) has long been downtown’s core shopping and entertainment center. You’ll find Minneapolis-based Target’s flagship store among other shops like Saks Off Fifth, Nordstrom Rack and Marshalls. Virtually every building offers a climate-controlled skyway connection, while the convenient METRO Blue Line takes shoppers on a quick 35-minute trip to Mall of America.
MALL OF AMERICA
Looking for the best selection? You’ll find it at Mall of America, the country’s largest retail and entertainment destination. Home to more than 520 stores, including unique shops, national flagship stores and emerging retail concepts means there’s something for everyone. Other attractions include Nickelodeon Universe (the nation’s largest, fully enclosed theme park), SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Crayola Experience, FlyOver America, an appetizing range of more than 60 restaurants and bars and a 13-screen movie theater. All this makes staying in one of the two on-site hotels a good idea as you could spend days there and not see everything.
NORTH LOOP, UPTOWN AND BEYOND
Original boutiques and signature retailers add charm and entice shoppers into the city’s many distinct neighborhoods.
In the North Loop you’ll find new shops popping up regularly. This trendy neighborhood is lined with unique boutiques including PARC, MartinPatrick3, D'Nolo and Ribnick Luxury Outerwear & Leather. Statement Boutique and Larissa Loden offer beautifully handcrafted jewelry.
Uptown has more of a hipster vibe, with trendy home furnishing shops and recognizable brand names.
Linden Hills in southwest Minneapolis embodies all that is local with locally owned gift shops, bakeries and bookstores.
Minneapolis made retail history in 1956 when Southdale Center in suburban Edina opened as the world’s first enclosed mall. This bright, airy location continually delights with plenty of store options, busy restaurants, and a movie theater.
Nearby, Galleria refined the mall concept by showcasing high-end retailers, elegant dining and spa services. You’ll find more elite labels and high-end housewares further south in Edina on 50th and France.
On the other end of the spectrum, Albertville Premium Outlets, west of Minneapolis, carries discount designer pieces for those who crave a range of shopping experiences.
DISCOUNTS & BARGAINS
Retail therapy comes cheap in Minneapolis,where locally based Target sells affordable, stylish wares inside its flagship store. Albertville Premium Outlets offer 100 stores, including Banana Republic and Polo Ralph Lauren. And the bargains inside Mall of America’s discount stores are surpassed only by its mammoth interiors, which guests can gawk at for free.
With six major professional sports teams, six incredible venues and some of the most enthusiastic sports fans on the planet, Minneapolis is a major-league town.
In spring 2010, the Minnesota Twins (MLB) scored a grand slam with their new ballpark, Target Field. The 40,000 seat facility was awarded LEED-Silver certification, making it the second Major League ballpark in the United States to achieve that status. The Twins Field also offers a Taste of Twins Territory featuring signature food from local restaurants and vendors.
The Minnesota Vikings (NFL) season’s kick-off brings countless Vikings fans downtown to tailgate and show their purple pride. The Vikings home, U.S. Bank Stadium, opened the summer of 2016 on the site of the former Metrodome. The stadium has the largest ETFE roof and the five largest pivoting glass doors in the world, and is the site of the X Games (2017-2019), Super Bowl LII and the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2019.
Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) four-time WNBA champions (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017), and Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), along with concerts and other public events, keep Target Center busy year-round.
Dubbed the “State of Hockey,” it’s only fitting that Minnesota has a beautiful ice arena, the Xcel Energy Center, for the Minnesota Wild (NHL).
Minnesota United FC was selected as an expansion team by Major League Soccer and began playing in the new Allianz Field in Saint Paul in spring 2019.
Every year, the National Sports Center in Blaine, just north of Minneapolis, plays host to many amateur and professional soccer games, drawing crowds of all ages.
Revel in the summer weather at a minor league Saint Paul Saints baseball game at the open-air CHS Field. Always packed with quirky activities like mascot pig races and much more, fans are guaranteed a good time.
For college sports, the University of Minnesota is the largest university in the Minneapolis area and is known for its men’s and women’s hockey teams, which play at the Mariucci Arena on campus.