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.
Note: The content in this section will be updated at least once per year. Due to COVID-19 changes and restrictions, please check with individual businesses before making plans.
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.
Lake Harriet Kite Festival
Minneapolis Boat Show
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
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
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
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 Huntington 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
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.
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.
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.
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!