Cutting-edge attractions at Downtown's edge
One of the largest parks in the city, Loring Park is best known for housing some of Minneapolis's 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 the winter. When a festival isn't taking over, you can check out great restaurants just outside the park, stroll through the Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center, pop in and out of the Convention Center's full calendar of events, and enjoy the serene park at the center of it all.
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.” It's a true marvel and you just have to see it. Did we mention it's open year-round and totally free?
Best known as the spot where the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival party shifts into overdrive, Loring Park itself is the largest 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 colorful 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.
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 the romantic Café & Bar Lurcat, offering an indulgent menu of souped-up comfort food in an elegant dining room and awesome patio.
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!). For more breakfast and lunch options, check out Zoe's Bakery & Cafe for coffee, croissants, scones, muffins, and cookies, or Eggy's Dinner—their chicken and waffles, loaded omelettes, and Benedicts atop mini Belgian waffles will fill you up.
If you need to quench your thirst, Lakes & Legends Brewing is close by. Stop in for a variety of brews and bring your pooch—the taproom is dog friendly. To soak up your buzz, head to Lotus Restaurant for Vietnamese specialties like pho, vermicelli noodle salads, and pad Thai.
If you have a lot of mouths to feed, the original 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!
Loring Park's neighborhood gay bar 19 Bar has a rich history. Built by the architects behind the historic Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis in 1922, the building housed a speakeasy during Prohibition and became Minneapolis’ first gay bar in 1952. In modern times, the bar has grown into a mainstay during Pride and throughout the year.
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.