Best Things to Do in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Thinking about booking a trip to Minnesota? Don’t miss a chance to check out all the best things to do in Minneapolis. The state’s biggest city and most interesting urban travel destination, Minneapolis is the perfect addition to any Midwest itinerary.

Known for its amazing art scene, museums, bountiful natural beauty, and famous residents like Prince and Bob Dylan, Minneapolis and neighboring Saint Paul—known as the Twin Cities—are the perfect places to spend a few days. Whether you want to kick back and relax at Minnehaha Park or admire contemporary art at the Walker Art Center, filling your days with the top tourist attractions in Minneapolis is a cinch.

Not sure what to do in Minneapolis? We’ve got you covered with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Minneapolis, MN.

Best places to visit in Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Want to experience beautiful, quirky art in an open-air atmosphere? Well, it sounds like you’ve been searching for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Located in Loring Park at the end of Hennepin Avenue, this outdoor sculpture park is one of the most interesting places to see in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has become an icon in the Minneapolis art scene. Dominated by the striking Spoonbridge and Cherry piece by Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje Van Bruggen, the open-air art gallery is the perfect place to spend a lovely day outdoors.

Even if you’ve been before, there are over 50 permanent and temporary exhibits; there’s always something new and interesting to look at around the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Mill Ruins Park

Looking for a park with a bit of an industrial and historic edge? Check out Mill Ruins Park for an overgrown dive into Minneapolis’ past.

Mill Ruins Park

As Minneapolis was once known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World,” it’s no wonder that many flour industry relics and abandoned factories pepper the cityscape. The difference at Mill Ruins Park is that the old buildings and structures have been turned into a wonderful and unique park. 

You can walk along the millraces as they’ve installed catwalks and thoroughfares. It’ll give you an interactive and newfound appreciation for how the milling process works. All that while getting all that fresh air perfection!

Mill City Museum

So we’ve established that milling was an integral part of Minneapolis’ history. It’s only right that this heritage is celebrated by a museum, the Mill City Museum, to be precise.

Mill City Museum

This unique museum is housed in the old Washburn A Complex, thought to be the largest mill in the world when it opened up in the 19th century. With interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike, it’s no wonder that the Mill City Museum is one of Minneapolis’ top tourist attractions.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Looking to while away a few hours taking in some of the world’s most iconic artwork? Then the Minneapolis Institute of Art, or MIA as it’s locally known, is the perfect spot to add to your itinerary.

Featuring over 80,000 pieces of art spanning centuries and hailing from all over the world, the art museum is bound to have a piece that speaks to your soul. There’s so much to see and enjoy at the MIA, from terracotta shrine heads from Nigeria to pieces from Van Gogh to samurai art to pre-Columbine American artifacts.

It’s worth noting that the Minneapolis Institute of Art is closed on Mondays; be sure to factor that into your travel plans if you’re planning to visit.

General admission to the museum is free. You’ll have to pay extra for special exhibits, however.

Stone Arch Bridge

Want to take a stroll across a Minneapolis legend—or just get a photo of the icon that’s the second-oldest surviving bridge to cross the Mississippi River? Either way, the bridge you’re looking for is Stone Arch Bridge.

Stone Arch Bridge

Built in 1895 to boost railway passenger numbers, the Stone Arch Bridge quickly became one of the most instantly recognizable sights in Minneapolis. Whether you want to sit and people watch, take in the views of Saint Anthony Falls, or build up a sweat cycling across it, the former railroad bridge is one of the must-visit places to go in Minneapolis.

If you’re in Minneapolis on the 4th of July, head to the Stone Arch Bridge for breathtaking views of the fireworks displays.

Minnehaha Regional Park

Do you feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get back in touch with nature? Minnehaha Regional Park is the wilderness paradise you’re after. With its hiking trails and relaxing green spaces, this calming oasis is one of the top Minneapolis attractions for outdoor activities.

Minnehaha Falls

Located just outside downtown Minneapolis along the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Park is dominated by the thunderous 53-foot Minnehaha Falls. As it flows from Minnehaha Creek, follow the sound of the water, trickling until it gets louder and louder until you finally reach Minnehaha Falls itself.

One of the top-rated day trips from Minneapolis, Minnehaha Park also offers bike rentals, children’s play pools in the summer, and plenty of spaces for picnics.

Walker Art Center

Is contemporary art more your thing? Head down to the legendary Walker Art Center to get your fill of artists like Warhol, Hopper, Klein, and more.

Walker Art Center

The popular art museum is home to a staggering ten galleries, cafes, theater spaces, cinemas—and even a full restaurant; you can easily spend half of your holiday exploring the Walker Art Center. From their permanent exhibits to unique and thought-provoking temporary collections, there’s always something new to uncover here.

The Walker Art Center also hosts a lot of different events throughout the year; check out their events calendar before you plan your visit. You might be able to time it with something truly spectacular!

Weisman Art Museum

Looking for something completely different from your art museum? Check out the striking Weisman Art Museum to combine beautiful art with world-class architecture.

Weisman Art Museum

You don’t need to be an architecture aficionado to know that the building was designed by the legendary architect Frank Gehry, with its shimming angles and curves. Inside the Weisman Art Museum, the quality doesn’t drop with exhibits from Korean furniture to Native American pottery and everything in between.

The art museum is named after Minneapolis native art collector Frederick R. Weisman. He moved to LA to make a name for himself before creating an art foundation that benefits massively from the museum’s entry fee. A visit here is all for a good cause!

Boom Island Park

Want to back yourself some scenic and peaceful views of the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline? Head to Boom Island Park, relax, and enjoy the view!

Boom Island Park

The name is a bit of a misnomer nowadays. The park used to be an island; now, it’s been reconnected to the East Bank, accessible via the riverside trails. If you want to have fun on the water, Boom Island Park offers boat launching spots and canoe rentals.

If you’re just looking to relax with your friends or family, there are plenty of picnic areas and great views of Saint Anthony Falls. So, gather everyone up and head out to the waterfront!

Chain of Lakes Regional Park

With almost two dozen lakes within Minneapolis city limits, it’s fair to say that Minneapolitans like to enjoy the water. The crowning jewel? The Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

Left to develop on their own during the 19th century, this series of lakes—including Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun), Lake Harriet, Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake, and Lake of the Isles—all started to merge into one another. It created a landscape resembling a necklace, hence the name, Chain of Lakes.

The family-friendly Chain of Lakes Regional Park is a great spot to visit year round. In summer, visitors can take to the hiking and biking trails for a walk or bike ride around its lakes. In winter, the park features ice rinks and cross-country ski trails.

Lake Harriet Park

Are you a fan of sailing or getting out on the water in general? You might want to add Lake Harriet Park to your Minneapolis itinerary.

Lake Harriet Park

Part of the Chain of Lakes Regional Park, Lake Harriet Park has garnered a reputation as being the lake in Minneapolis to get your sailboat out and enjoy the skyline from the water. Plenty of sailing schools also dot the lake; if you want to learn more about this fascinating water sport, this is your chance!

If you want to get out on the water but don’t have a boat, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards from the beaches along the shore of Lake Harriet.

Nicollet Mall

Need to get some retail therapy on your trip to Minneapolis? Look no further than the Nicollet Mall, one of the most popular points of interest in Minneapolis for shopaholics.

Nicollet Mall

Spanning twelve blocks in the center of Minneapolis, Nicollet Mall is a shopper’s paradise with all the major chains as well as some independent boutiques and designer stores. After a long day of shopping, settle down in one of the area’s many bars and restaurants.

Nicollet Mall has been the city’s main street for all things retail, entertainment, and hospitality for a century; it’s a Minneapolis staple!

Don’t forget to pick up all the souvenirs while you’re there —and, of course, get one or two things for yourself too, of course.

The Commons

Looking to engage with the local community or just kick back and relax in the heart of the city? The Commons, which opened in downtown Minneapolis in 2016, is just that kind of place.

Although small compared to Minneapolis’ many other green and blue spaces, this two-block downtown park is well-maintained. The Commons offers free community events all through the year, from workshops to concerts to farmer’s markets and much more.

If you’re looking to travel like a local, head to The Commons and check out whatever event they have on this week. It’s always unique and entertaining—and definitely worth adding to your Minneapolis trip itinerary!

Guthrie Theater

Want to inject some culture into your Minneapolis escapade? Check out what’s on at the beautifully designed Guthrie Theater, one of the most popular attractions in Minneapolis.

Guthrie Theater

Founded by the world-renowned theater director Sir Tyrone Guthrie in 1963 and relocated in 2006, this venue quickly became a Minneapolis hub for all things performing arts. With approximately nine productions a year, there’s a good variety of popular and lesser-known shows to dive into at the Guthrie Theater.

If theater isn’t your thing, but you’re into architecture, head down to the Guthrie to check out the building. Designed by Jean Nouvel, it’s a sight to behold. Be sure to bring your camera with you!

The Mall of America

Looking for something truly outstanding that’s going to have something for everyone in your family? You absolutely have to check out the massive Mall of America. Sitting out by the airport, the Mall of America is one of the city’s must-sees—even if you’re not into shopping.

The Mall of America

Known as the largest mall in the United States, the Mall of America is not your average shopping experience. With interactive experiences from Nickelodeon, Crayola, and even an aquarium, there’s plenty to keep the kiddos entertained here. Add in the shops and other amenities on offer, and you could literally spend your entire trip here!

After a long day of exploring the Mall of America, kick back in the food court, complete with over 60 vendors to choose from. You’ll truly be spoiled for choice with this behemoth of a Minneapolis tourist attraction!

Mercado Central

Now, Minneapolis might not be the first place you’d think of if you were looking for a spot with authentic Latin American cuisine. But the bustling Mercado Central will prove that thought completely wrong!

Located on Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue, Mercado Central is easy to spot thanks to the beautiful, vibrant murals and the heavenly smells. The market offers over 35 vendors, all specializing in different foods and produce. There’s something delicious here for everyone, and the perfect low-key place to spend a couple of hours.

Whether you’re in need of a spot for lunch or you want to pick up some high-quality produce to whip up dinner with, visiting Mercado Central is one of the best things to do in Minneapolis, MN.

Fort Snelling State Park

For history buffs, no Minneapolis visit is complete without a trip to Fort Snelling State Park. Located southeast of the city in Saint Paul, this Minnesota state park is one of the top Minneapolis points of interest for historical sightseeing.

Fort Snelling State Park

Home of historic Fort Snelling, the state park was the site of a training center for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. Fort Snelling was initially used in 1819 and was only decommissioned after the end of the Second World War, so there are over 200 years of military history at this site.

Prior to the US military usage of the site, the Dakota people, who refer to the area as Bdote, lived here, amassing almost 10,000 years of history. With re-enactments from different eras, Fort Snelling State Park truly is history coming to life.

Where to stay in Minneapolis for sightseeing

If you’re trying to tackle all of the city’s highlights, the top choices for where to stay in Minneapolis are Downtown Minneapolis, the Warehouse District (North Loop), and the Mill District. These areas are home to many of the city’s top hotels and accommodations options. Although you’ll pay higher prices in these neighborhoods, each is within close proximity to plenty of attractions and activities to fill up your Minnesota getaway.

Hampton Inn & Suites - Minneapolis/Downtown

Hampton Inn & Suites – Minneapolis/Downtown

Whether you’re traveling as a family, couple, or solo, this top Downtown hotel should fit the bill. Sweat out your stresses in the well-equipped fitness center or relax in the evening with a drink on the outdoor patio.

Elliot Park Hotel, Autograph Collection

Elliot Park Hotel, Autograph Collection

Add a splash of elegance to your stay with this boutique hotel in the heart of the city. The Hygge-inspired decor reflects on the area’s Nordic heritage while wide picture windows unleash beautiful views over Downtown Minneapolis. Be sure to stop in at the on-site Tavola Kitchen & Bar to indulge an authentic taste of Italy.

W Minneapolis - The Foshay

W Minneapolis – The Foshay

For the ultimate in Midwest luxury, spend a night in this glorious 4-star hotel. Besides soaking away all your stress in an upgraded suite with a saoker tub, sashay over to the 27th-floor speakeasy for a cocktail and to enjoy spectacular views over the city from the bar’s outdoor observation deck.


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