East Town – Downtown East and Elliot Park Neighborhoods
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Until recently, Downtown East was mainly a business district, quiet on nights and weekends except during events at the old Metrodome. The area's rapid residential and entertainment transformation—along with the opening of U.S. Bank Stadium—makes this neighborhood one of the most exciting areas of the expanding downtown. Numerous eateries, entertainment options, a truly local weekend farmers market, and a healthy grouping of new condos have turned this corner of downtown into a thriving neighborhood.
Things to Do
The gleaming U.S. Bank Stadium is East Downtown’s defining landmark. Minnesota Vikings games are held there, of course, but it’s also becoming the go-to venue for sporting events such as the Minneapolis Summer X Games as well as concerts for big-name national artists. Only a few blocks away, the historic Minneapolis Armory is also drawing crowds. Once home to the Minneapolis Lakers and the backdrop for Prince’s “1999” music video, the Armory has been transformed into a mid-sized music, club, and events venue.
Nearby at Elliot Park you can find a large state-of-the-art skate park. Designed by the same company who created the skate park at the 2020 Tokoyo Olympics this colorful street-style park includes a seat wall and quarter pipe, as well as rails and ledges. If you're more of a spectator, there's patio seating for you to relax and watch the locals in action.
Making a museum about the history of flour milling into a fascinating, worthwhile attraction sounds virtually impossible, but the Mill City Museum has done exactly that. The museum is built into the ruins of the Washburn A Mill. Once the largest flour mill in the world, the A Mill was demolished by an explosion and ensuing fire in 1878, destroying five other mills in the process. The tumultuous history didn't stop there—the mill was rebuilt in 1880 and thrived until it was shut down in 1965, and a fire nearly destroyed it again in 1991. The museum's eight-story, Flour Tower exhibit/ride is a thrilling, explosive trip through history, immortalizing Minneapolis as the former “Flour Milling Capital of the World.”
Just down the street from the Mill City Museum is the crown jewel of the Twin Cities’ distinguished theater community, the Guthrie Theater, staging performances year-round in its three-theater complex on West River Parkway. The stage productions aren't the only reason to stop by. You'll find irresistible photo opportunities out on the 178-foot cantilever known as the “Endless Bridge” and yellow-filtered, wide views up in the “Amber Box.”
Head to the public space between the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie on Saturdays from May through October for the excellent Mill City Farmers Market. Home to 40+ farmers, artisan food purveyors, and artists, the market is a great place to discover what's local and sustainable in greater Minnesota.
If you’re looking for green space to let the kids play or to kick back with a picnic basket and a pal, Gold Medal Park, adjacent to the Guthrie, is a 7.4 acre park with a 32-foot mound at its center, providing excellent views of the Mississippi River, the Stone Arch Bridge, the Guthrie, and parts of the Mill District. For more grassy lounging, head to The Commons in front of U.S. Bank Stadium, a 4.2 acre park with seasonal playground items, game cart, a “Splash Pad,” and numerous public events.
For a leisurely walk to stretch your legs after a meal or before a game, there’s the Mississippi-flanking West River Parkway (this particular section is designated as a regional park), with stellar views, bike and walking paths, the St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center, and the highly Instagrammable Stone Arch Bridge. The river pathways serve as a key link on the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 51-mile loop composed of parkways, trails, and lakes. Fun fact: It’s the only scenic byway in the country located entirely within an urban area.
What to Eat & Drink
Many of the neighborhood bars reflect the fact that they’re a short walk from an NFL stadium. Just follow the sounds of TVs blasting sporting commentary to find a pint!
The 6,000-square-foot Finnegans Brew Co. taproom opened strong in spring 2018, with 16 beers on tap, a giant patio, foosball, board games, and a rotating schedule of food trucks outside. (You should know: Finnegans' was the world’s first brewery to donate 100% of its profits to charity!) Day Block Brewing Company doubles as a brewpub with a full bar and live music venue offering solid snacks, sandwiches, and pizzas.
For Argentina-style empanadas and some of the best pizza in town, Chef Facundo De Fraia's Boludo opened a second location in the Mill District just blocks from the stadium. Located inside the Canopy Hotel, Umbra serves bistro classics with a seasonal twist—think Chicken Po Boys and spicy coleslaw made with local produce and flatbreads topped with local cheese from Faribault Cheese Caves.
A downtown staple, Sawatdee has been in the neighborhood since 1986 and is the pioneer of Thai in the Twin Cities as the area's first Thai restaurant. While they now boast multiple Minnesota locations, their flagship shop is a Minneapolis favorite. Stop in Sunday through Thursday for happy hour or enjoy their lunch specials every weekday. Long-time gay bar and nightclub, eagleBOLTbar, has broadened its appeal with a menu featuring a wide range of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and apps, plus a great outdoor patio. Sushi, sashimi, ramen and other Japanese comfort food is available at Zen Box Izakaya.
The Radisson Red caters to a younger crowd with art, music, and fashionable décor. It’s skyway-connected and less than two blocks from both the stadium and the Guthrie. Also exquisitely placed for theater and sports fans is the modern, boutique-style Aloft Minneapolis, with a pool, bar, restaurant, and a 24/7 gym. Recently renovated Hyatt Place offers free breakfasts and Wi-Fi, indoor pool, 24-hour gym and a skyway connection – all just a few of its features. Moxy Minneapolis Downtown is a hip hotel designed to fit any modern lifestyle. Just across the street from U.S. Bank Stadium, Moxy has a beautiful open lobby with indoor and outdoor seating plus a cozy fireplace in their library.
Getting to and Around
(Starting point of Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center on Nicollet)
Most of East Downtown and the Mill District is walking distance from most points in downtown. The Metro Transit Blue and Greens line run right through the area. U.S. Bank Stadium station is the most central stop.
Free parking is rare, but possible. Insider tip: Some meters in this part of downtown aren’t monitored after 6 p.m. on weekdays, or at all on weekends. Alas, the rest are monitored until 10 p.m. or later seven days a week. All meters are enforced for larger U.S. Bank Stadium events (e.g. Vikings games), for a flat $25 rate, no matter how long you plan to stay. For detailed information on block-by-block hours of enforcement and rates, check the interactive Minneapolis Street Parking Map.
To pay, note your parking space number then go to the nearest pay machine, which accepts cash and credit cards. You can also download the MPLS Parking app, which allows you to plug the meter without leaving the office or restaurant. There are pay parking ramps every block or two, if you just want to park and be done with it.