The larger of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis is overflowing with attractions and events for people of all ages. Minneapolis consistently ranks as one of the best U.S. cities to live in and its lively entertainment, shopping and art scenes will show you why. No matter the season, Minneapolis has something to offer for sports fans, nature lovers and art enthusiasts alike.
Put on Your Walking Shoes
While Minneapolitans are known for their winter toughness, they love the sunny outdoors — a fact that is evident in the very design of the city. Due to the numerous parks and rivers, no Minneapolis resident lives more than six blocks from a park. Minneapolis lives up to its nickname “City of Lakes,” with thirteen lakes located within the city limits. If you are visiting Minneapolis in spring or summer, you won’t want to spend a minute indoors.
To maximize your Minneapolis nature experience, take a lap around the Grand Rounds Byway. The fifty-mile byway is one of the longest continuous systems of parkways in the nation and combines walking paths, biking trails and roads. The byway weaves through the city itself, hitting many of the Minneapolis’s 197 parks before crossing the Mississippi River to connect to the Chain of Lakes. The Chain of Lakes carries you around the shorelines of five notable lakes: Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake, Bde Maka Ska, Lake Harriet and Lake of the Isles.
On your way around the Grand Rounds Byway, you can stop to rest at one of the byway’s parks for any variety of outdoor activities, including picnic areas, beaches, soccer and baseball fields, playgrounds, boat docks, fishing spots and gardens. Here are some of the best parks on the byway that you won’t want to miss:
- Loring Park: Nicknamed the “Central Park of Minneapolis,” Loring Park features an ice rink in the winter and wading pool in the summer, as well as many other amenities to enjoy on a sunny afternoon.
- Lyndale Park: Lyndale Park is a large park in the Chain of Lakes that is known for its extensive rose gardens.
- Theodore Wirth Regional Park: A great park to take the kids, Theodore Wirth Park features two golf courses, a lake, several gardens and a pavilion that is often used for events.
Experience Minneapolis Museums
If you do get caught in the rain, Minneapolis has an abundance of unique museums to keep even the most curious traveler occupied.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, called “Mia,” is the largest art museum in Minneapolis with over 89,000 pieces of art in their permanent collection. The museum boasts a wide collection of works from around the globe and across centuries. Admission to the Mia is always free, including almost all of their rotating exhibitions, lectures and classes.
For contemporary art in Minneapolis, the Walker Art Center is the place to be. The Walker Art Center is a world-class center for contemporary and modern art that focuses on visual, media and performing arts. The events at the Walker Art Center are always fresh and exciting — catch a film screening, enjoy unique performances on the outdoor terrace, or take a guided tour of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where you can see the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture.
Minneapolis has museums for history buffs too. The Mill City Museum captures the history of Minneapolis as a major center for the flour mill industry in the late 1800s to mid-1900s. The Mill City Museum is built on the Mississippi Riverfront inside the ruins of Washburn A Mill, which was once the largest flour mill in the country. The renovated limestone building is a site to see in itself, and the dynamic events and exhibits at the museum make it well worth a visit.
Still want more Minneapolis arts and culture? The Minneapolis area has 55 museums in total that are all worthy of a day trip. Below are just a few more popular Minneapolis museums:
- Weisman Art Museum: Part of the University of Minnesota, admission to this museum is free.
- Museum of Russian Art: A one-of-a-kind museum featuring exhibits and performance events. Admission is free for children 13 or younger and only $10 for adults.
- Science Museum of Minnesota: This museum has a plethora of special exhibits, films and live events that make its higher admission price worth the cost.
- Bakken Museum: Encouraging innovation through science, technology and the humanities, this museum is also home to the Florence Bakken Medicinal Gardens.
- American Swedish Institute: This museum shares the culture, history, arts and environment of Sweden. Admission is $5 for kids and $10 for adults.
Catch Some Tunes in Minneapolis
Minneapolis is well-known as the hometown of Prince, a musical legend who defined the “Minneapolis sound” with his mix of funk, pop, rock, R&B and psychedelic styles. Prince fans can tour his private estate and production complex, Paisley Park, located a few miles southwest of Minneapolis. Visitors to Paisley Park can see where Prince created and recorded his famous albums and buy Prince apparel and souvenirs.
If you aren’t a Prince fan you might be shunned by the locals, but you will still be able to find your favorite genre of music being performed at one of Minneapolis’ live music venues. Here are just a few of Minneapolis’ hot spots for concerts:
- First Avenue: First Avenue is hands-down the most famous venue in Minneapolis and has hosted A-list performers since 1970. This large venue has two stages that feature over 550 concerts each year.
- Dakota Jazz Club: The Dakota Jazz Club is an intimate venue in downtown Minneapolis featuring jazz every night of the week.
- The Cabooze: The Cabooze is a diverse venue that hosts large touring acts as well as smaller cover bands.
- Minneapolis Armory: The Minneapolis Armory is a new mid-sized venue that hosts a variety of artists as well as trade shows and sporting events.
- Orchestra Hall: Orchestra Hall is home to the Grammy-winning Minnesota Orchestra, but also hosts other talented classical and jazz artists throughout the year.
Sit Back and Enjoy a Show
When you think of theater, you may not think of Minneapolis — but the theater scene in “the Mini Apple” has boomed in the past decade and earned it a reputation as a hub for theater and the performing arts. Together, the Twin Cities rank second only to New York City ior the number of live theater ticket sales per person. Theaters across the city offer a variety of musicals, plays and performances for visitors of Minneapolis to enjoy:
- Guthrie Theater: Located on Mississippi River Boulevard in downtown Minneapolis, Guthrie Theater contains three unique stages that host a variety of world-class acts year-round. The McGuire Proscenium Stage is a standard theater that is perfect for performances of classic plays and musical theater favorites. For a more immersive experience, their Wurtele Thrust Stage provides seating on three sides of the stage, so visitors can get up close to the action. The most intimate of Guthrie Theater’s facilities, The Dowling Studio is a black box theater that seats just two hundred visitors. The adaptive space allows performers to arrange the set however they want, and even allow guests to move around during performances.
- Hennepin Avenue Theater District: Take a stroll down Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis and you will quickly see why the street used to be nicknamed Theatre Row. Touring Broadway acts often make stops at The Orpheum, State and Pantages Theater, which comprise the Hennepin Theatre Trust. If you are looking for a laugh, stop by Brave New Workshop, where you can see original sketches from the longest-running comedy and improv theater in the country. You can even hop into an improv class and learn a few tricks of your own. Illusion Theater is another favorite of Hennepin Ave, featuring smaller local acts and original performances with a focus on social issues.
- Children’s Theatre Company: Established in 1975, Minneapolis’s legendary Children’s Theatre Company has entertained over 11 million guests and written over 200 new plays adapted from children’s literature classics and storybooks. In 2004, it was the first children’s theater to win a Tony award and has continued to dazzle visitors with musicals and plays performed throughout the year.
Sports in Minneapolis
Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you have probably heard of the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota’s NFL football team is a powerhouse in the NFC North Division. The Vikings have been a source of Minnesota pride since 1961 and continue to draw massive crowds for every home game. The Vikings play at the U.S. Bank Stadium located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, which is a feat of architecture that warrants a visit even if you can’t catch a game. Built in 2016, the U.S. Bank Stadium is one-of-a-kind in the NFL, featuring a transparent glass ceiling with 95-foot tall pivoting glass doors. When it isn’t game night, the stadium hosts A-list musical acts and other events, including the 2017-18 Summer X-Games and Superbowl LII.
In addition to the famous NFL Vikings, Minneapolis is home to four other professional sports teams: the Minnesota Lynx, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota United FC. The Lynx and Timberwolves are Minnesota’s Women’s and Men’s NBA basketball teams, respectively. The Minnesota Lynx have dominated in the WNBA, winning four championships in the last eight years, making them the most successful professional sports team in the city. Both the Lynx and Timberwolves play at Target Center in the historic North Loop district.
Adjacent to Target Center is Target Field where you can catch a ballgame with the MLB Minnesota Twins. Named after the Twin Cities, the Twins moved between five different ballparks before Target Field was built in downtown Minneapolis in 2010. The open-air ballpark features restaurants and bars with something for everyone to enjoy — Target Field even earned a spot as the second most vegan-friendly ballpark in the U.S. So grab a beer and a vegan Italian sausage and enjoy the game!
The Minnesota United FC is a newer addition to Minneapolis’ collection of professional sports teams, but have already made a big impact on Major League Soccer. The team joined the MLS in 2017 and ranked ninth in the Western Conference in their first year. This year, one of MNUFC’s captains, Francisco Calvo, will play for Costa Rica in the 2018 World Cup. You can catch a World Cup game at one of Minneapolis’s sports bars and cheer for Calvo with the locals.
Score Some Minneapolis Souvenirs
With no sales tax on clothing or footwear, Minnesota is the best place to indulge your love of shopping and Minneapolis has plenty of shops for you to enjoy.
Located just fifteen minutes south of Minneapolis, Mall of America provides a shopping experience that truly includes everything. Mall of America (MOA) features over 520 stores from fashion and accessories to home goods and beauty supplies that will thrill any shopaholic. While at Mall of America you can also grab a bite at one of 60 restaurants in the mall or spend the night in one over 50 hotels nearby.
Mall of America is also a center for entertainment. MOA features numerous attractions, including the biggest indoor amusement park in the country, Nickelodeon Universe and SEA LIFE Aquarium. Other attractions in MOA include a cinema center, escape room games, two mini golf courses and many stores with hands-on activities. With so much packed into one location, it’s no wonder that Mall of America is one of the top tourist destinations in the country.
Within Minneapolis, Nicollet is the hotspot for all things shopping. Formerly Nicollet Mall, Nicollet has been remodeled to become a pedestrian-only shopping strip featuring art installations and plenty of greenery. The mile-long strip has everything from a two-level Target megastore to locally made gifts from boutiques. The Minneapolis Visitor Information is a great place to begin your shopping expedition at Nicollet — You can pick up a “Love from Minneapolis” souvenir as well as get pointed in the right direction for the best fashion finds.
If you are looking for a more locally based and crafty shopping scene, spend some time exploring the North Loop district. This rapidly growing district has become a hub for small independent shops and local chains of retail stores, restaurants and more. Discover unique finds at thrift stores and handcrafted jewelry made by Minneapolis locals.
Minneapolis also boasts several farmer’s markets that sell produce and meats, as well as crafts, paintings and jewelry. Check out these local markets to find one-of-a-kind gifts and an abundance of fresh local foods:
- Northeast Minneapolis Farmer’s Market: Held Saturdays from May until October at the corner of University Avenue and 7th Avenue NE.
- Midtown Farmer’s Market: Held Saturday mornings and Tuesday afternoons on Lake Street.
- Mill City Farmers Market: Held Saturday mornings from May to October on 2nd Street and Tuesday evenings from June to September at the Commons.
- Minneapolis Farmers Market: Held at Lyndale Park every morning from May to November.
Experience a Winter Wonderland
Visiting Minneapolis in the winter is not for the faint of heart— Minneapolis is known to have temperatures below freezing for days on end. But for those willing to bundle up and brave the cold, they will be rewarded with a sparkling winter wonderland.
Theodore Wirth Park is the largest park in Minneapolis and features activities year-round. In the winter, Theodore Wirth Park is the perfect location for sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, snow tubing or simply having a snowball fight. You can rent even rent skis or snowboards right at the park. Many other local parks feature hills perfect for sledding and fields made for showing off your best snow sculpture.
Even those who do not want to go outside can still enjoy the Minneapolis winter by taking a stroll in the Minneapolis Skyway. This intricate system of enclosed bridges allows pedestrians to navigate 9.5 miles of downtown Minneapolis from the comfort of the indoors. The Minneapolis Skyway System connects hundreds of stores, restaurants and other attractions so you can still do some Minneapolis sight-seeing without setting foot in the cold.
Grab a Slice of Home in Minneapolis
After experiencing so many new things in Minneapolis, you’ll be craving a bite of something familiar. Giordano’s Minneapolis location is right around the corner serving the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza in the city. If you aren’t in the mood for pizza, you can enjoy another Italian favorite from our full menu that features crisp salads, filling sandwiches, savory pasta and more.
Order take-out from our Hennepin Avenue location and head to the nearby Lake of the Isles or Bde Maka Ska Park to enjoy a slice on the lake shore. Too tired to leave your room after a long day of sight-seeing in Minneapolis? Give us a call at 612-444-3143 and we’ll deliver an artisan-crafted pizza right to your hotel.
If you don’t get a chance to stop by Giordano’s while exploring downtown Minneapolis, you can still grab a slice at our Richfield location on the way to the airport!