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.