The Twin Cities consist of the state capital, St. Paul, and its neighbour, Minneapolis, and are home to a thriving craft beer culture, award-winning theatre, world-class dining, and stunning skylines. Here are the top 15 things to do in Minneapolis St. Paul that you must try with your friends.
WHAT IS MINNEAPOLIS FAMOUS FOR?
Located on either side of the Mississippi River, Minneapolis is the state’s economic, cultural, and touristic centrepiece, drawing in tens of millions of tourists every year. You have found yourself in the ideal area if you are looking for a vibrant Midwestern metropolis that offers a wide variety of experiences.
Whether it’s taking in live performance along Minneapolis’s historic Hennepin Avenue or exploring the city’s interconnected lakes nestled among its skyline and parks, enjoying the city’s inner-city hiking, biking, and beaches, or dining at one of the city’s many multicultural museums and restaurants, visitors to Minneapolis are often pleasantly surprised by the sheer breadth and variety of the city’s offerings.
15 BEST THINGS TO DO IN MINNEAPOLIS FAMOUS ST.PAUL (TWIN CITIES)
Enjoy the outdoors at your leisure by visiting any of the many nearby parks, trails, or waterways (including the Mississippi River and the Chain of Lakes). There is also no sales tax on apparel purchases made in the many independent boutiques or the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the United States. Or, you may go to one of the hundreds of annual events held here, ranging from small village festivals to the largest state fair in the country.
Minneapolis is a popular tourist destination since it is home to the largest shopping mall and the most attended state fair in the United States.
Even though most of the Twin Cities’ sights are in Minneapolis, we won’t forget about St. Paul, where there are even more things to do, see, eat, and experience than in Minneapolis. The question then becomes, “Why wait?” So, go to work!
WATCH BROADWAY QUALITY THEATER AT GUTHRIE THEATER
Since its opening in 1963, Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater has served as a platform for innumerable plays and other acts and has become a beloved landmark of the city. Its main theatre can accommodate 850 people, making it one of the largest theatres outside of New York City and Chicago that sells tickets to Broadway-caliber shows at reasonable prices.
Previous guests have raved that there is not a bad seat in the house, thus it is highly advised that you take in a show while you are in town. You can get rush tickets if you get there one hour before the show, which is quite rare these days. It’s also possible to take in the magnificent river views and admire the building’s striking design.
Along with several theatres, the facility also has a cafe/bar, the Guthrie Store, and a big outdoor courtyard perfect for picnics or simply taking in the breathtaking views of the river and downtown skyline.
SPEND THE DAY OUTSIDE AT THE CHAIN OF LAKES REGIONALS PARK
The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes isn’t complete without a tour around some of the most popular in the metropolitan area. Lake Harriet, one of the five lakes that make up the Chain of Lakes byway district, is known for its summertime live music as well as its bird sanctuary, rose gardens, and two family-friendly beaches. In contrast, Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) is popular with those who are looking to get some exercise, as it has numerous boat and bike rental options and paths for jogging and biking.
Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake are lovely places to have a picnic or go for a stroll, despite their relative obscurity. You can enjoy a wide variety of sporting and live music activities in the Chain of Lakes throughout the summer, especially during the month of July when the annual Aquatennial festival is held there.
The regional park incorporates these lakes and the paths that link them together. Recent visitors have nothing but great things to say about the Chain of Lakes, particularly Bde Maka Ska. Many spoke highly of the lake as a place to spend a pleasant afternoon kayaking or riding, while others said that it is also interesting to view the lake covered in snow and ice during the winter.
GO ON A SHOPPING SPREE AT THE MINNEHAHA MILE
The Minnehaha Mile should be at the top of the list of must-do activities in Minneapolis for all shoppers, whether they’re looking for a great deal or just want to indulge their shopping addiction.
Minnehaha Avenue, already a popular destination for shopping and dining, has undergone rapid transformation in the past year, thanks to the proliferation of tiny shops, each with its own distinct personality. The shopping district is located along Minnehaha Avenue, which mostly runs through the city’s Longfellow neighbourhood, and features a wide variety of establishments, from national chains to local boutiques, from record stores to novelty shops selling vintage toys.
NONSTOP SHOPPING AT MALL OF AMERICA
in need of some retail therapy? There is no finer area in the state to go shopping for clothes, souvenirs, or just to window shop. It would be a gross understatement to claim that there isn’t something for everyone at the Mall of America (MOA) in Bloomington, as it is the largest retail mall in the United States.
With a floor space equivalent to seven Yankee Stadiums, an aquarium, a mini-golf course, ropes climbing course, flying simulators, dozens of restaurants and food outlets, and more than a hundred shops to buy a new outfit, this shopping mall has it all.
It’s not only one of Minnesota’s top tourist spots, with almost 40 million annual visitors! Apple, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Macy’s, J.Crew, LEGO, and many other well-known brands are all headquartered there.
Plus, there are over 400 free events every year, including, of course, the highly sought-after Nickelodeon Universe, which is a hit with kids of all ages. For a fun family day, head to Nickelodeon Universe, the primary theme park area of the Mall of America.
TAKE A WALKING TOUR ON THE STONE ARCH BRIDGE
It is the second-oldest pedestrian and cycling bridge across the Mississippi River, and it is called the Stone Arch Bridge. Used to carry passengers until 1978, when trains stopped stopping there. In 1994, it opened to the public as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing.
The bridge, which has 21 stone arches, has become an instant landmark since its construction. To stroll or ride across it now is one of the most popular things to do in Minneapolis, drawing sightseers from all over to take in the city’s dazzling skyline and marvel at the bridge’s imposing grandeur (and St Anthony Falls). One of the nicest (and most free!) things to do in Minneapolis is to walk or ride bikes along this path.
The paved walkway is perfect for a leisurely stroll on a warm day, and at only 2100 feet in length, it won’t take you long to cross.
Walking across the bridge will reward you with breathtaking panoramas of the downtown Minneapolis skyline, the Mill City Museum, the Guthrie Theater, and the US Bank Stadium.
St. Anthony Falls, the dam that once powered the Washburn A Mill, and the Mill City Museum may all be seen from a short walk outside of downtown Minneapolis.
The riverfront area around the Stone Arch Bridge is always bustling with visitors during local celebrations like the Fourth of July and the Aquatennial Celebration.
Northeast Minneapolis is full of hip and historic neighbourhoods, and you can get a glimpse of both while dining at one of the many excellent restaurants located there.
ENJOY THE VIEW FROM THE FOSHAY TOWER
One of the Twin Cities’ most iconic structures is the Foshay Tower. Built in 1929 by utility tycoon Wilbur Foshay, it is a charming tribute to the Washington Monument. For 48 years, the Foshay Tower, with its 447-foot height and 32 floors, dominated the Midwest as the region’s highest structure.
There is a small but informative museum on the 31st floor that examines the building’s history and an observation deck on the top floor that provides breathtaking views of downtown Minneapolis and beyond.
TAKE A LOOK AT PRE-MODERN ART AT WEISMAN ART MUSEUM
One of the most comprehensive collections in the Upper Midwest can be found in this sleek, contemporary building on the banks of the Mississippi River, created by the renowned architect Frank Gehry (of Guggenheim fame).
Any art lover can while away a few hours perusing the museum’s collection of paintings, sculptures, Native American pottery, Korean furniture, multimedia pieces, and installations by both famous and obscure artists.
The museum’s primary goal is education, thus it draws on the expertise of a top academic institution to provide visitors with fresh viewpoints on art and culture.
Exhibits at the Weisman Art Museum feature works that provoke contemplation and can be viewed in light of their social and historical contexts. Open weekdays from 11 am – 5 pm, and on weekends from 12 pm – 5 pm, it has a total visitor capacity of 5 pm. There is no cover charge, but donations are gratefully accepted.
RELIVE THE HISTORY OF ART AT THE MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART
See works ranging from ancient sculpture to modern photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Among the top 10 largest art museums in the United States. After more than a century of service, the museum has earned its place among the world’s finest art galleries.
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design is a beautiful example of beaux-arts architecture, and the campus as a whole is an artistic endeavour.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art houses about 90,000 works of art from 5,000 years and on six continents. Lecture halls and performing venues are also available all year round.
In addition to the galleries, there is a bookstore, a bar, and a restaurant where you can get food, wine, and beer.
Tours run every day and are an hour long, and both are free to the public. There is also a cute little cafe and gift shop. The museum is open to the public every day from 10 am to 5 pm.
ADMIRE THE WALKER ART CENTER’S DIVERSE COLLECTION/h2>
The Center for Cartoon Studies has been open to the public since 1927 (though its origins can be traced back even further), and it now houses a collection of over 13,000 items. These include everything from books and costumes to sketches and photographs to sculptures.
The Walker is a must-see for everyone interested in modern and contemporary art, as it houses eleven galleries, a cinema, and a theatre. Grab a bite at the Gather Café and browse the unique gifts at the Walker Shop. The nearby Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is open from 6 AM to Midnight daily and has the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture and fountain on its 11-acre grounds.
In addition to its extensive collection of ancient antiquities, European classics, and American masterpieces, the Walker Art Center also hosts frequent live performances and multidisciplinary art (see the website to see what’s happening during your visit).
VISIT THE BELL MUSEUM
This state’s official natural history museum can now be found on the University of Minnesota’s Saint Paul campus. In the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium, you can go on incredible adventures all the way from the edge of the universe to the center of your own head. Discover the history of the cosmos and the variety of life on Earth in our galleries, which feature their renowned wildlife dioramas.
Explore the world of 10,000-year-old fossils, live plants and creatures, and more at Touch & See Lab. Explore the native flora, geology gardens, and solar station outside on the green roof and viewing deck. And while you’re in town, stop by the Solutions Studio, a temporary summer workshop where your imagination can run free.
GO ALL-IN ON LIVE MUSIC ON FIRST AVENUE
The First Avenue & 7th St Entry in Minneapolis is a legendary nightclub and live music venue that has hosted and performed for its fair share of notable names throughout the years (Prince, The Revolution, and Semisonic, to name a few).
As one of the longest-running, independently owned and operated clubs in the United States, First Avenue boasts a busy schedule full of acts from a wide variety of genres. There are both smaller, regional acts and larger, national artists that play there. Moreover, it is the site of the world-famous star wall, where Prince’s name stands out in gold against a background of silver stars belonging to other musical greats. Don’t leave Minneapolis without seeing a play at this legendary venue and having your picture taken in front of the star wall.
This is a great place for huge concerts to be held. The sound quality is superb, and the venue itself is ideal for a memorable evening out in the heart of Minneapolis. T-shirts and posters are also for sale at the venue. Cool souvenirs can be found in signs like “I Saw Prince Here,” even if you didn’t actually see the prince.
LEARN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AT THE BAKKEN MUSEUM
The Bakken Museum ignites a desire to improve the world through cutting-edge research in the sciences, arts, and humanities. The museum, which can be found on the western bank of Minneapolis’s Bde Maka Ska, is home to engaging exhibits and educational opportunities for people of all ages, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Visitors can try out some of Ben Franklin’s favorite experiments in the Electricity Party Room, create their own short films at the Spark exhibit, and meet the mother of science fiction in Mary & Her Monster.
Elmer Bakken, a forefather of the medical electronics industry, established the museum in his name in 1974. Bakken intended for his museum to serve as a teaching tool regarding the role of electricity and magnetism in the evolution of modern medicine.
More than five thousand objects, from ancient Egyptian electrical tools to cutting-edge medical technology, are on display at the Bakken Museum. There is a research center and a library with more than 10,000 volumes and periodicals at the museum.
CHILLAX WITH NATURE IN MINNEHAHA REGIONAL PARK AND FALLS
This urban waterfall is reminiscent of something out of the wild. Minnehaha Park is one of Minneapolis’s oldest and most popular parks, and its location on a bluff above the Mississippi River contributes to the attraction of more than 850,000 visitors every year.
The park’s entrance is at the corner of Hiawatha Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway; it spans 193 acres and is home to a 53-foot waterfall, as well as limestone bluffs and river vistas. The park is home to native and prairie woodland wildflowers, as well as oak, elm, silver maple, basswood, hackberry, and cottonwood trees.
Minnehaha Park, located on the banks of the Mississippi River (not far from the airport) and brimming with trees and grass, is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is home to a number of attractions, including the Mississippi River Walk, a zoo, and a children’s playground.
There are several places to have a picnic (including barbecue pits), a bandstand for performances, sculptures, a disc golf course, bike and jogging paths, and themed garden areas (the Longfellow House, Princess Depot, and John H Stevens House).
The park’s primary draw, though, is the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, which cascades majestically over a limestone valley and attracts more than 850,000 tourists annually as a reminder of nature’s untamed grandeur.
LEARN ABOUT PRINCE AT PAISLEY PARK
It’s common knowledge that Prince, an American singer-songwriter, is one of Minneapolis’s most beloved figures. Now the Purple One has arrived in the City of Lakes, where a museum dedicated to his life and work, Paisley Park, has been established.
Paisley Park is a hub for the creative industries where the pioneering spirit of Prince can be felt and appreciated by everybody. People from all over the world flock to Paisley Park, Prince’s home and studio, to experience the feelings of love, astonishment, and wonder that he so eloquently described when he said, “Paisley Park is in your heart.”
Those who purchase general admission tickets get access to a 70-minute guided tour of the ground floor, which includes the artist’s recording studios. You’ll also get to see the large soundstage and performance hall where Prince practiced, as well as visit Prince’s exclusive NPG Music Club.
Brunches, additional rooms and studio areas, the opportunity to explore supplementary archival artifacts, a private showing of the exclusive film, and a unique photo opportunity are all part of the VIP experience.
WANDER AROUND THE AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE
Both the historic Turnblad Mansion from 1908 (Minneapolis’ only castle) and the contemporary Nelson Cultural Institution make up the American Swedish Institute (ASI), a thriving museum and cultural center. Modern Nordic art is the focus of ASI’s exhibitions, programming, and family activities. The Museum Store at ASI is stocked with unique gifts and souvenirs from the Nordic region, while FIKA, ASI’s award-winning café, serves up delicious New Nordic fare.
It’s well worth spending half a day or more exploring everything ASI has to offer; admission prices start at just $12 for adults, and the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). A guided tour is highly recommended to get the most out of your visit and uncover a sense of how the wealthy lived in the past.
Students and adults alike can take advantage of the various educational opportunities presented there. Members of the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of American Museums include the American Swedish Institute. The museum is housed in Birger Jarl’s former home; he was the publisher of one of the major Swedish language newspapers in Minnesota.
These are things to do in Minneapolis St. Paul that Hyannis Holiday recommends you try when coming here. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. Have a nice Holiday!