20 BEST Things to do in Minneapolis [2021 UPDATED]
Minneapolis, Minnesota, sits in the heart of the upper Midwest and is a trendy, progressive city. With a diverse population, including a sizable 15% immigrant population, Minneapolis continually recreates itself. Peppered by universities and colleges, and trademarked by multiple lakes within the city, Minneapolis is both intellectual and a whole lot of fun. If you’re looking to experience “Minnesota nice” get ready to journey to the beautiful and friendly Minneapolis. Read on to discover our top things to do in Minneapolis for your northern getaway!
1) Minnehaha Park and Falls
Minnehaha Park epitomizes the outdoor factor of Minneapolis, as an urban park that may make you feel as though you’re on a hiking expedition. Though easy to access, it’s Minnehaha Falls that is central to this city gem. Cascading down a rockface, Minnehaha Falls is beautiful in every season; even when the water turns to impressive ice.
2) Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s notable collection spans 5,000 years and includes some 80,000 pieces. The perfect activity for a snowy Minnesota day, the Minneapolis Institute of Art has permanent and rotating exhibits, ensuring there’s always something new to see, including the outdoor sculpture garden. General admission is free, making this one of the best deals in the city. Advanced reservations are required through the online platform.
3) Target Field
Catch the Minnesota Twins for a summer game at iconic Target Field. Set in the historic Warehouse District, Target Field is a must-see for anyone who loves America’s pastime. Sign up to get a tour of the field for a 90-minute immersive tour that takes you into territory not usually seen. You can also make your tour extra special by booking a Pregame Tour, where you can witness what Target Field’s prep looks like before a big game.
4) Guthrie Theater
A staple in Minneapolis entertainment since it was founded in 1963, Guthrie Theater is a cultural hotspot for contemporary and classic theater. An architectural wonder, the Guthrie Theater was designed by Jean Nouvel and is marked by its iconic 175-foot cantilever bridge overlooking the beautiful Mississippi River. The Guthrie Theater also provides education and professional training, although most of the programs are currently being held online.
5) Chain of Lakes
The Chain of Lakes is comprised of Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet, all of which have easily accessible pedestrian walkways. Step outside on any given day to one of these lakes and you’ll see what the Minneapolis lifestyle is like—people here are active and excited to be outside. These lovely lakes, which also have public beach access for swimming, add to the overall charm of the city.
6) Minneapolis Skyway System
Feel like a local when you utilize the Minneapolis Skyways System, a climate-controlled footbridge system that covers nine miles of downtown Minneapolis. A smart way to beat the frigid temperatures that accompany Minneapolis’ winters. The Minneapolis Skyway System ensures you can get from point A to B, without frostbite. The Skyway is the largest system of interconnected, enclosed bridges in the world, making it a to-do on your Minneapolis itinerary.
7) The Museum of Russian Art
Perhaps an unexpected treasure in Minneapolis is The Museum of Russian Art, the only museum in the United States dedicated to Russian art. With a collection that includes Muscovite Russia, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, as well as post-Soviet Russia, there is so much to learn. The museum prides itself on educating people about Russian culture, and its outreach includes talks, rotating exhibits, and concerts embodying Russian culture.
8) Foshay Tower
To get a bird’s eye view of the city, ascend Foshay Tower and Observation Deck, which is located within the W- Minneapolis Hotel. Modeled after the Washington Monument, Foshay Tower stretches 32 stories into the Minneapolis skyline. The tower and observation deck are open daily from 11 am to 5 pm except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
9) St. Anthony Falls
Another natural must-see in Minneapolis, St. Anthony Falls has long held spiritual significance for Native people of the area and was a major source of power for settlers during the 1800s. Though the falls suffered damage from mismanagement during the late 1800s, St. Anthony continues to be a significant landmark in Minneapolis’ natural and cultural history. Set in The St. Anthony’s Historic District, enjoy the falls and their quaint surroundings when you visit.
10) Midtown Global Market
A fun place to grab a casual bite to eat, Midtown Global Market is essentially an international food court. Take a walk through different cultures and cuisines of the world with a visit to Midtown Global Market where you’ll find restaurants and artisans from Morocco, India, Mexico, and Cambodia. Also, a great place to pick up presents, shop Midtown Global Market for unique finds.
11) Basilica of Saint Mary
A Roman Catholic basilica and landmark of the Hennepin, the Basilica of Saint Mary is a gorgeous architectural structure. Whether you’re visiting Saint Mary as a religious experience or simply bask in some beauty, Saint Mary is worth stopping by. Though the Basilica has limited hours for the public during the pandemic, you can still take a virtual tour or attend mass, through the Basilica’s website.
12) Grand Rounds Scenic Byway System
Bike your way through this beautiful city with the 51 miles of trail found at the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. Linking several parks, the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is great for those craving an outdoor adventure. Bike through landscapes that include creeks, lakes, woodlands, and riverbeds. The territory also covers downtown areas and the Chain of Lakes.
13) University of Minnesota
Catch the energy of the campus at the University of Minnesota, a large university including undergraduate and graduate programs in 70 areas of study. The campus hugs the Mississippi River, and the central mall area is especially worth checking out. With over 30,000 students, it’s a fun place to feel the buzz of learning and youth.
14) Mill Ruins Park
Mill Ruins Park in downtown Minneapolis is not only a great place to stretch your legs, but it also provides insight into the historic flour milling past of the city. Learn the backstory of flour milling with interpretive signs, while also taking in ruins of former flour factories. While visiting Mill Ruins Park, check out St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, within close proximity.
15) Lyndale Park Rose Garden
Of course, you’ve got to time it right to see Lyndale Park Rose Garden in its full glory, but when you do, you’ll be rewarded. The second oldest rose garden in the United States, the garden began as a test rose garden in 1946. A bronze fountain, originally from Florence, Italy, is another highlight of the park. Come late June to early August for the best of the garden.
16) Mary Tyler Moore Statue
For a whimsical step into the past, visit the Mary Tyler Moore Statue located in Nicollet Mall. The statue captures the opening scene of the show where she tosses her hat into the wind. The show was set in Minneapolis and helped give rise to interest in the city. Today the statue makes a perfect Insta-worthy shot.
17) Minneapolis Farmers Market
Discover the local bounty with the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Though the best time to visit the market is in the summer, the market does continue to operate at a lesser capacity during the winter. The market has been operating since 1937 and includes more than 200 farmers. The market is conveniently located downtown in the Nicollet Mall, with a second Lyndale location.
18) Mall of America
Just outside of Minneapolis in Bloomington is the Mall of America, one of the largest megamalls in the United States and the world. With 520 stores, the Mall of America also includes attractions like Nickelodeon Universe. Check out the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, with a 300-foot long aquarium tunnel.
19) Minnesota Zoo
The Minnesota Zoo is a must-see for animal lovers. Located in nearby Apple Valley, the Minnesota Zoo is home to nearly 5,000 animals. With animals from around the world, the Minnesota Zoo also offers the opportunity to learn more about local fauna with the Medtronic Minnesota Trail exhibit. Open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time online.
20) The Stone Arch Bridge
The oldest bridge in Minnesota, the Stone Arch Bridge is an iconic part of the city’s history. Once a working train bridge, the bridge has been designated as a National Historic Engineering Landmark. Bike or walk across the bridge to look down below at the Mississippi River or to catch stunning views of the city.
This city is a rich cornucopia of nature, culture, and history. From heading outside to get some fresh air, to going indoors to take in some art, this city has you covered. With this round-up of things to do in Minneapolis, you’re well on your way to a successful visit to this multifaceted Midwestern metropolis.