Media Trip Sample Itineraries
If you've never been to the City by Nature, this itinerary will get you to all the iconic Minneapolis spots a first-timer should see in a three-day trip.
- Arrive in Minneapolis and check into your hotel.
- Lunch suggestion: Hell’s Kitchen, a Minneapolis original, famous for their Lemon-Ricotta Hotcakes, homemade PB and quirky sense of fun.
- Activity: Visit Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, view Spoonbridge & Cherry, Hahn/Cock and LOVE sculptures among 40 sculptures in the 11-acre park located near the Walker Art Center, which operates this free garden in coordination with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
- Activity: Stroll over the Irene Hixon Whitney bridge to Loring Park (part of the Loring Park neighborhood) and the Loring Greenway to Nicollet, where you'll find restaurants, shopping and public art.
- Dinner suggestion: Brit’s Pub, where you can catch a game of lawn bowling on the rooftop or a refined meal on a rooftop with a year-round retractable roof at Union Rooftop.
- Breakfast suggestion: Keys Café Foshay in the historic, 1929 Foshay Tower.
- Activity: Stroll Nicollet and stop to see the Mary Tyler Moore statue at 7th Street, then the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center at 5th Street and the Minneapolis Central Library at 4th Street.
- Activity: Rent Nice Ride bikes (in season) or walk. Continue on to the Gateway area and see the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, Grainbelt Beer sign and cross the bridge to Nicollet Island. Check out the cobble-stone Main Street area and continue on to Water Power Park to see the top of the St. Anthony Falls. Continue on the path to the Stone Arch Bridge and cross the bridge with stops to read the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail signs and see the falls and Upper Mississippi Lock & Dam. Take a free tour of the Lock & Dam.
- Activity: Visit Mill City Museum; there, go on the Flour Tower and watch the film, “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat,” then learn more about the early days of the city’s flour milling history in the exhibits area and be sure to stop in the Baking Lab for a treat.
- Activity: Stop at the Guthrie Theater building (open daily to the public) to see architect Jean Nouvel’s Pritzker Prize-winning design with a stop on the Endless Bridge and up to 9th floor for the Amber Box's golden-hued views.
- Lunch suggestion and activity: Visit Minneapolis Institute of Art – be sure to check out the period rooms and the collections that span 5,000 years. You can grab a snack or lunch at Mia's Agra Culture Coffee Shop & Cafe before spending a couple hours taking in all this free museum has to offer.
- Dinner suggestion: Eat Street – choose from among the diverse Minneapolis dining options on Nicollet Avenue, like 50-year-old gem Black Forest Inn.
- Breakfast suggestion: The Freehouse, a great breakfast spot -- and a brewery!
- Activity: Explore the North Loop to explore the many boutique shops, cafes and breweries in this growing, popular area.
- Activity and lunch suggestion: Visit the American Swedish Institute at the historic Turnblad mansion. Lunch at their Fika cafe in the Nelson Cultural Center to try traditional Swedish meatballs, Cardamom buns or Gravlax.
- Activity: In any season, the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls is eye-catching – whether frozen in winter or flowing and lush with green foliage in warmer months, when you can also find Wheel Fun Rentals bike surreys, kids on the playground and lines out the door of the Sea Salt Eatery in the pavilion. Hike down to the creek, stroll or bike around this park gem in the middle of urban Minneapolis.
- Dinner suggestion: Bryant Lake Bowl, where you can have a filling meal, a local pint and take in a show or a game of bowling -- all in one spot.
Return Traveler Itinerary
If you've been here before, welcome back; we've been expecting you (data shows visitors are likely to return once they've experienced Minneapolis). This sample itinerary will give you a deeper dive into the City by Nature in a three-day trip.
- Arrive in Minneapolis and check into your hotel.
- Lunch suggestion: Kieran’s Irish Pub is conveniently located downtown and boasts traditional Irish food and drinks, live Irish music and an exceptionally friendly staff. If you're here in the warmer months, enjoy the large patio.
- Activity: Visit Boom Island Park and see the lighthouse and the Minneapolis skyline from the riverfront as you explore the trails that lead you along the riverside and park. You can also tour this area on two wheels by renting a Nice Ride bike or taking a Magical History Tour on a Segway.
- Activity: Go on a brewery crawl in Northeast Minneapolis, lovingly called "Nordeast" by locals. You can walk between Able Seedhouse + Brewery, 612Brew, Bauhaus, and Sociable Cider Werks all within less than 10 minutes.
- Dinner suggestion: End the evening at nearby Young Joni’s and enjoy delicious cocktails, globally influenced dishes and wood-fired pizzas. Make a reservation, as Chef Ann Kim is a 2019 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Midwest. End the night with a visit down the alley to the Back Bar; just look for the red light and have a nightcap in a spot reminiscent of your grandma's basement (in a good way).
- Breakfast/brunch suggestion: Barbette offers French cuisine using local, organic food in Uptown.
- Activity: Visit The Museum of Russian Art and experience the largest collection of Russian Realist paintings, as well as other examples of Russian art, history and culture.
- Activity: Whether you were a fan or not, a tour of Prince’s former home and studios at Paisley Park is not to be missed. Among the highlights are his private NPG Music Club, the studios where he produced his biggest hits, clothing and instruments he used and his private office and kitchen. (Note: This museum is 22 miles southwest of Minneapolis in Chanhassen, Minn., so you'll need transportation; and tickets must be arranged in advance.)
While you're there, spend some time smelling the roses or hundreds of other flowers and trees at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, just down the street. Stop by the Apple House in the fall to sample the wares from the place the Honeycrisp Apple was invented.
- Activity and dinner suggestion: Complete your tour of the area at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres where you can catch a Broadway musical, musical act or comedy show and enjoy a pre-show meal from the nation’s largest professional dinner theatre, which has been producing hits since 1968.
- Breakfast suggestion: Enjoy pastries and coffee or other morning treats at Café Alma, located in a historic building within Minneapolis’ first neighborhood, which also houses Hotel Alma, a seven-room boutique hotel, and Restaurant Alma, where James Beard Award-winning Chef Alex Roberts and his team provide authentic hospitality in a cozy setting.
- Activity and lunch suggestion: Venture to Midtown Global Market, an internationally-themed public market in South Minneapolis, where you can explore more than 20 different cultures at this international public market, which features 45 businesses offering mouth-watering tastes, locally made art and international entertainment (check the schedule in advance). Try everything from camel-meat burgers to pasta to Baba Ghannuj. Wash it all down with a pint from East Lake Brewery.
- Activity: Visit Minnesota’s only Smithsonian-Affiliate Museum, The Bakken Museum, and enjoy a world-renowned collection of books and artifacts, as well as multiple interactive galleries on invention, science, plant medicine, and more. Don't miss the medicinal garden.
- Activity: Tour U.S. Bank Stadium and learn all about the Minnesota Viking’s $1.3 billion home, which also hosted Super Bowl LII, 2019 NCAA Men's Final Four and four years of the summer X Games, among hundreds of events and shows since opening in 2016. Even those who aren’t football fans will enjoy this behind-the-scenes experience. Check tour schedules online and plan ahead.
- Dinner: Your last night downtown gives you many options for dining so check out the plentiful suggestions from our team of insiders and enjoy every bite.
Lifestyle Writer and Influencer Itinerary
Weisman Art Museum
This collection of Minneapolis favorites will fill your Instagram feed with crowd-pleasing beauty shots as you demonstrate how to enjoy the good life in Minneapolis.
- Arrive in Minneapolis and check into your hotel.
- Activity: Head to the Weisman Art Museum perched high above the Mississippi River on the campus of the University of Minnesota, where you’ll first want to find the perfect vantage point for photos of the stunning metal façade, designed by Frank Gehry. Indoors you’ll find galleries holding more than 25,000 images, Native American Mimbres pottery and traditional Korean furniture.
- Dinner suggestion: Hai Hai in Northeast Minneapolis will transport you to Southeast Asia with tasty and colorful dishes of modern Vietnamese street food from James Beard Award finalist Chef Christina Nguyen. Hai Hai’s tropical craft cocktails are Insta-ready all the time but are perhaps most fun when the patio is open and you can snatch a seat on the tiny plastic stools that will feel just like you’re on the streets of Saigon.
- Dessert option: Save some room: Across the street from Hai Hai, Crepe & Spoon offers a delicious array of vegan ice creams and crepes.
- Activity: Catch a show on one of the Guthrie Theater’s three stages and be sure to arrive early enough to enjoy the views from the Endless Bridge and Amber Box. The 2006 Jean Nouvel building’s deep blue exterior mirror the mood of the river below and the former industrial neighborhood that’s now a posh place to be.
- Activity: Take an early morning photo walk or jog along Mississippi riverfront at Mill Ruins Park and the Stone Arch Bridge, where you’ll spy the best views of St. Anthony Falls and the city skyline rises to make dramatic backdrops for your selfies. (Also excellent spot for a “golden hour” shoot.)
- Breakfast suggestion and shopping: The Bachelor Farmer Café is open early so you can score one of their house-made pastries and your morning cup-o-joe or tea to start your day off right. Next door, you’ll find Askov Finlayson’s flagship store where “climate positive parkas” and “North” hats are fashionable year-round. From there, you’ll find a nearly endless string of haute boutiques as you roam the North Loop’s trendy streets.
- Activity: The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a Minneapolis park adjacent to the Walker Art Center, with more than 40 artworks displayed across 11 beautiful acres. The most famous sculpture, the Spoonbridge and Cherry (Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen), serves as its centerpiece, but the big blue rooster (Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock) is a close second for photographs backed by the magnificent view of the downtown skyline and Basilica of St. Mary, the first basilica in the nation.
- Dinner suggestion: Cross the brightly hued Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge over Hennepin Avenue to Loring Park, where you can stroll while taking in more art and nature. Then grab a table at Café and Bar Lurcat for sophisticated American comfort food with a view.
- Breakfast (or anytime) suggestion: The popular, aesthetically-pleasing Glam Doll Donuts features doughs, fillings and icings prepared in-house from scratch in the company of a photo booth, a patio and a rotating collection of local artwork in the Eat Street location (a second shop is found in Northeast Minneapolis).
- Activity: See a lot in a short time by going on an expert-led sight-seeing tour from Experience the Twin Cities or join in on any number of food, historical, music, bike, boat, Segway and walking tours available in Minneapolis. Some are seasonal, so check websites and plan ahead.
- Lunch suggestion: Featuring street foods from around the world, World Street Kitchen tastes range from Asian-inspired rice bowls to falafel burgers.
History Buff Itinerary
If you majored in history, geek out over old stuff or want to know who lives here and why Minneapolis exists, you can follow this itinerary to get all this and more. Go to these spots in any order, in a day or over several.
- American Swedish Institute is housed in a 33-room mansion featuring vibrant exhibits and programs about the Swedish culture. You can even nosh on Swedish meatballs and smorgasboard.
- The Bakken Museum will have you convinced that all Minneapolis museums are in mansions after you hit these first two spots. The Bakken is the only Smithsonian affiliate museum in Minnesota and features a world-renowned collection of books and artifacts, multiple galleries focusing on the wonders of invention and more.
- Bell Museum has been Minnesota's official natural history museum for over a century, preserving and interpreting the state's rich natural history. In it's new home (see, not a mansion) on the University of Minnesota's Saint Paul campus, you'll also find a planetarium, a woolly mammoth and creatures great and small.
- Hennepin History Museum preserves Hennepin County's history and shares it through engaging exhibits and programs in an historic home in the Washburn-Fair Oaks Historic District.
- Mill City Museum tells the story of the origins of Minneapolis in just 19 minutes flat, and takes you up and down an actual grain elevator where you'll learn how flour fueled the growth of the city. One of the best views of the Mississippi Riverfront can be had on the museum's observation deck. (The Minnesota Historical Society also runs the Minnesota History Center in Saint Paul and Fort Snelling, and you can add those tours on to this busy schedule if you've got the time.)
When you're careful with your spending, you can still find a lot to do in Minneapolis where free and inexpensive activities are our specialty. Many of the above itineraries would also fit the bill, or you can substitute any of those activities into this one to create your perfect trip.
- Hotels: You’ll find the best deals off-season (i.e., winter) or on weekends in Minneapolis. Hotel options are many – look for your stay here.
- Breakfast suggestion: In Dinkytown check out Al’s Breakfast, a James Beard America’s Classics winner in 2004, with made-from-scratch breakfast at only a 14-seat counter. They serve large portions for a small price but make sure you don’t bring a large group because of the limited seating.
- Activity: Stroll down Minneapolis’ downtown pedestrian thoroughfare, Nicollet, using these free audio tours, through the Loring Greenway to Loring Park and across the Whitney bridge to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, while soaking up free art from locals and well-known artists all along the way. Must-stop spots: Mary Tyler Moore statue, Berger Fountain and Hahn/Cock.
- Activity: Take in the sights of animals like giraffes and sloths, and tropical plants, a seasonal Sunken Garden and outdoor Japanese Peace Garden at the Como Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul, where admission is free (but donations gratefully accepted). Bring a picnic or grab a bite at the on-site café.
- Dinner Suggestion: Head to Keg & Case Market, where you can have your choice of tasty food from the market’s many vendors while browsing local maker’s wares.
- Activity: Catch the "golden hour" when you stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge and take in the Minneapolis skyline views, Saint Anthony Falls and Water Power Park, where you can get close to the top of the falls for a rare look.
- Breakfast Suggestion: Go to Hell’s Kitchen for all-day breakfast with their extensive menu (or later, happy hour from 3-6 p.m.). They also have a kid’s menu and large appetizers ready to share.
- Activity: Take a free, self-guided tour (or free pre-arranged group tours) at Lakewood Cemetery, where more than 150 years of Minneapolis history includes the gravesites of notables like Tiny Tim, Hubert H. Humphrey and Paul Wellstone, among the many leaders of the industries that made Minneapolis what it is today.
- Activity: Minneapolis is one of the top cities in the nation for its parks -- and one of the jewels in the crown is Chain of Lakes Park, which includes five of the city's 22 lakes: Bde Maka Ska (formerly Calhoun), Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Cedar and Brownie, with connected parkways, waterways and all ways of fun including free performances in the summer, inexpensive boat and bike rentals and plenty of benches to watch the scene for free.
- Dinner Suggestion: Check out the insider list of cheap eats from Meet Minneapolis that includes Happy Hour deals.
- Evening Activity: Grab a Green Line METRO train and then watch the sunset at Prospect Park Water Tower, where a skyline view is worth the walk up the hill to the famous “Witch’s Hat” Water Tower. Once a year, the public can even go up the stairs inside the tower for a higher perch. After, head to Surly Brewing Co. where there’s always something fun happening in the Beer Garden or on their outdoor patio.