Minneapolis, often referred to as the “Twin Cities” along with neighboring St. Paul, is a vibrant and diverse metropolis located in the heart of the Upper Midwest.
1. Minnehaha Park and Falls
Minnehaha Park is one of Minneapolis’s most iconic natural gems, known for its stunning 53-foot waterfall. The park offers a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle and provides excellent hiking trails, picnic spots, and scenic views of the Mississippi River. You can follow the limestone bluffs that surround the falls or enjoy a leisurely walk through the lush greenery. The park’s name is derived from the Dakota word “Mníȟaha,” meaning “waterfall,” and it’s a must-visit destination for nature lovers.
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2. Walker Art Center
If you’re an art enthusiast, the Walker Art Center should be at the top of your list. It is a world-renowned contemporary art museum known for its cutting-edge exhibitions and collections. Adjacent to the Walker is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to the famous “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture, which has become an iconic symbol of the city. The garden is an urban oasis where you can appreciate both art and nature, making it a perfect combination for a day out.
3. Mall of America
Prepare for a shopping and entertainment extravaganza at the Mall of America, the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States. Featuring over 500 stores, an indoor theme park called Nickelodeon Universe, a mini-golf course, and SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, it’s a destination that caters to all ages and interests. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, the sheer scale and variety of activities will surely impress.
4. Mill City Museum
Learn about the history of Minneapolis as the “Mill City” at the Mill City Museum, situated on the banks of the Mississippi River. It offers a captivating journey through the city’s flour milling past, including interactive exhibits and the opportunity to explore the mill’s remnants. Don’t forget to take the Flour Tower elevator ride, which provides breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
5. Chain of Lakes
Minneapolis is known for its pristine urban lakes, collectively referred to as the Chain of Lakes, which includes Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun (now Bde Maka Ska), Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake. These interconnected lakes are surrounded by walking and biking trails, picnic areas, and water activities. Lake Calhoun, in particular, is famous for its paddleboarding, kayaking, and sandy beaches, while Lake Harriet boasts beautiful gardens and live outdoor concerts during the summer.
6. The Guthrie Theater
For a dose of culture and theater, head to the Guthrie Theater, located along the Mississippi River. This Tony Award-winning theater company has been a Minneapolis cultural institution for decades. The Guthrie offers a wide range of theatrical productions, from classic plays to contemporary works. The building itself is a work of art, designed by architect Jean Nouvel, with a cantilevered “Endless Bridge” providing stunning city views.
7. Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA)
Art lovers will also appreciate the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), a world-class museum that houses an extensive and diverse collection of artwork spanning 5,000 years of history. With over 90,000 pieces in its permanent collection, including works by renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, MIA is a cultural treasure trove. Best of all, general admission is free, making it accessible to everyone.
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8. Como Park Zoo
Head over to St. Paul, just a short drive from Minneapolis, and visit the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. This family-friendly attraction features a zoo with a variety of animals, including giraffes, polar bears, and sea lions. The adjacent Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is a botanical wonder, with beautiful gardens and a stunning collection of exotic plants. Admission to both the zoo and conservatory is free, although donations are encouraged to support these wonderful institutions.