Downtown edge, cutting edge attractions
Loring Park is best known for housing some of our biggest festivals. You'll find the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival and Rock the Garden in June, Loring Park Art Fair in July, and Holidazzle in late November and early December. When a festival isn't taking over, you can find foodies swooning over the trendy eateries just outside the park, people strolling through the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, and Convention-goers popping in and out of the Convention Center. Loring Park is where mellow meets trendy, and it's the best kept secret in the city.
Things to Do
Since 1940, the Walker Art Center has been a Minneapolis institution and one of the most visited modern and contemporary art museums in the country. The interdisciplinary exhibits are enriched by a roof-top terrace (with mini golf in the summer!), plazas and gardens. Across the street, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the largest urban sculpture park in the world, featuring some 40 works of contemporary art, including the city’s iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry.” Recently renovated, it's a true marvel and you just have to see it.
Best known as the spot where the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival party shifts into overdrive, Loring Park itself is the most complete park in the downtown area, with basketball and tennis courts, a wading pool, picnic areas, a garden, a playground, a pond and a bandstand. Three sides face residential buildings and businesses, while the fourth looks onto the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, conveniently accessible by a bridge that crosses over the zooming traffic on Lyndale Avenue.
Nearby you'll find the very first Basilica in the United States, the Basilica of St. Mary. It's widely known for its ornamental and detailed Beaux-Arts architecture, and also for hosting the Basilica Block Party every summer. The Basilica of St. Mary is more than a place of worship; it’s a gathering spot for the community to come together to appreciate diversity, art and culture. It's home to several art exhibits and galleries, and concerts are held there throughout the year. The Basilica proudly welcomes people of all backgrounds and through celebrations of weddings, baptisms, holidays and events, people are brought together to connect and support each other.
Where to Eat and Drink
Café and Bar Lurcat
The neighborhood’s eating options are generally outstanding. The indisputable special night out spot in the neighborhood is Café & Bar Lurcat, offering an indulgent menu of souped-up comfort food, which includes delectable twists on sea and land food. Butcher & the Boar was an overnight hit when it opened in 2012. If you like sausage, charcuterie and, obviously, boar, this is your spot. Head out to the year-round beer garden for a more relaxed environment and an amazing beer list. Just a few years on the scene, 4 Bells serves “South Carolina low-country” food in the form of fried chicken, beef and pretty much the whole checklist of east coast seafood. Don't miss their rooftop patio - the views are stunning.
Looking for something a little healthier? Try The Bird, right next to 4 Bells. They're best known for their healthy yet satisfying breakfast menu (served until 3pm every day!) You can't go wrong with quinoa pancakes, the brown rice bowl or any one of their brain-boosting smoothies.
Just a few blocks from Loring Park you'll find the Nicollet Diner. Get your pancake, burger, or chocolate shake fix at any time of day (they're open 24 hours!). If you need to quench your thirst, Lakes & Legends Brewing is close by. Stop in for a variety of brews and some indoor lawn games.
If you have a lot of mouths to feed, Buca di Beppo Italian will do the trick. Its mountains of pasta can feed three to five people per serving – perfect for a family night out. The maze-like Loring Park location was the first of what is now over 100 locations worldwide!
How To Get Here
(Starting point of Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center on Nicollet)
Unless you’re on the very northeastern edge of downtown, Loring Park is reasonable walking distance from most points in downtown. From Nicollet, you can access the park via the Loring Greenway, a landscaped walkway with places to sit or art and fountains to Instagram. If you’d rather give your feet a break, just hop on pretty much any bus running down Nicollet, get off at Grant Street and it’s about a three block walk from there. Insider Tip: There's actually a free bus that goes back and forth along Nicollet, just look for the buses marked "Free Ride."
With all the apartment buildings around Loring Park, street parking can be fierce, but there's also the paid parking ramps option which you can find on the south and east sides of the park.