Discover Minneapolis' Past at These Historical Attractions

Plan an educational and fun trip around the city and get a history lesson in all things Minneapolis! Hear and learn how the city was once the “Flour Milling Capital of the World”, see a National Historic Monument, find out where the first railroad to Minneapolis was built, and discover past contributions and achievements of African Americans to the city. If you're a history buff these are the Minneapolis historical attractions you'll want to hit!

1. St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center and Lock and Dam

Get a panoramic view of the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam, St. Anthony Falls, and the surrounding Mill District while also learning about the area’s place in Minnesota history. During the free tours, rangers lead you out onto the lock walls and tell you all about how the falls changed the course of history of the region and of the greater nation.

Operating Hours & Seasons:
Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September. Free tours of the lock are available at 11:00 a.m., and 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. on days the visitor center is open. Tours are limited to 20 participants on a first come, first served basis.

Location: 1 Portland Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

2. Historic Fort Snelling

Established in the early 1820s, Fort Snelling was built to protect the fur trade. Today, the reconstructed fort is a National Historic Landmark where visitors can learn not only about military history from before the Civil War through World War II, but also about domestic life, slavery in Minnesota and the U.S. Dakota War of 1862.

The staff at Fort Snelling tell stories from across the fort’s two centuries of history, demonstrate skills needed in 19th-century everyday life and reenact 19th-century military tactics. Archeology exhibits illustrate the 10,000 years of human habitation on the site.

Operating Hours & Seasons: 
Open to the public Memorial Day Weekend and early June through early September. Check out their website for exact dates and times. Closed on Mondays.

Location: 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111 

3. Mill City Museum

Built in the ruins of what was once the largest four mill in the world, the Mill City Museum takes you through Minneapolis’ history of becoming a flour milling powerhouse. The museum features baking demonstrations (and associated tasting samples), the history film “Minneapolis in 19 minutes flat!” and the eight-story, Flour Tower combination milling exhibit and rip-roaring freight elevator ride.

Operating Hours & Season:
Closed on Mondays. Open 10am-5pm Tuesday through Saturday and Noon-5pm on Sundays.

Location: 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

4. Somali Museum of Minnesota

Minnesota’s Somali community is one of the largest in the United States and thus the Somali culture is central to the identity of Minneapolis.

The Somali Museum of Minnesota celebrates the traditions and heritage of the Somali people in a collection of more than 700 pieces of craftwork, paintings and sculptures, ranging from nomadic objects and a model nomad’s hut to contemporary art. Learn about Somalia’s history through this curation of authentic artifacts.

Operating Hours & Seasons: 
Closed on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Open Tuesday and Friday 3:00pm-7:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 1:00pm-5:00 pm

Location: 1516 E Lake St #011, Minneapolis, MN 55407

5. American Swedish Institute

The historic Turnblad Mansion, former home of Swan and Christina Turnbland who migrated to to Minneapolis from Sweden, was built in 1908 and is now home to the American Swedish Institute. This cultural center explores the traditions, immigration, art and heritage of contemporary and historical Sweden. This is done through special exhibits, period rooms, artifacts and workshops.

Operating Hours & Season:
Museum is open year round, but times vary depending on the day. Closed on Mondays. 

Location: 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

6. African American Heritage Museum & Gallery

This is the first Museum in Minnesota dedicated to celebrating the history of African Americans. The Museum strives to “preserve, record and highlight the achievements, contributions, and experiences of African Americans in Minnesota.” See their stories told through creative exhibitions and unique programming and events. 

Operating Hours & Season:
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. Hours vary, check website for details.

Location: 1256 Penn Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55411

7. Minnehaha Depot

Near the famous Minnehaha Falls, wonder over to this historic railroad depot and see where the first rail line out of Minneapolis began. The building itself has beautifully intricate detailing and on days when the indoor exhibit is open you will get a glimpse into the railroad’s history, see some original telegraph equipment and other displays of early railroad travel. Here you’ll learn how the Minnehaha Depot was a fundamental piece in Minneapolis railway history and how it served both residents and visitors from the east coast.

Operating Hours & Season:
The grounds of the Minnehaha Depot are open year-round, but visits inside the station take place only on Sunday afternoons from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Location: Minnehaha Park, Hwy 55 &, E Minnehaha Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55417

8. Hennepin History Museum

The Hennepin History Museum houses an extensive collection dedicated to the history and evolution of Hennepin County which includes many artifacts and archival material related to Minneapolis. Located in the 44-room George Christian Mansion, the museum’s rotating exhibits illustrate the history, some of it quite modern, of Hennepin County, through a variety of styles and mediums. Exhibits change approximately every three months. See their website for current exhibits.

Operating Hours & Season:
Closed on Mondays. Tuesday-Sunday times vary, check their website for details.

Location: 2303 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404

9. Bell Museum

Mixing science and history together, the Bell Museum is a great place to learn about Minnesota’s natural history. Find out what the state’s natural environment used to be like, understand more about the history of Earth with 3D dioramas, see some of the world’s oldest rocks and travel back to the ice age to meet an 11-foot tall woolly mammoth!

Operating hours and seasons:
Open Tuesday–Sunday: 10 am–5 pm. May also be open late on select evenings, check the events calendar for details

Location: 2088 Larpenteur Ave W, St Paul, MN 55113