What To Do When Visiting Minneapolis
Where should I go when I visit Minneapolis!?! As full-time travelers, we get asked that question a lot since we spend every summer in Minnesota AND I used to live in Minneapolis in my early 20’s.
Here are our top suggestions of where to visit and what to do when you visit Minneapolis. Wherever you go, whatever you do, make sure you embrace the Minnesota Nice culture and HAVE FUN!
Go for a Bike Ride
Minneapolis has more hiking and biking trails than any other major city in the USA. The trails are safe, clean and offer great views. There are a number of top notch biking trails and it’s tough to choose a favorite, but we would highly recommend starting with the Chain of Lakes Trail.
If you don’t have your bike, don’t worry! The Minnesota Nice Bike Rental System allows you to check out a bike at one of the many locations and return it at whatever station you’d like. In the video below, I rented a bike while staying at the famous IDS tower and did a big loop following the Mississippi and then over to the Chain of Lakes.
Walk the MPLS Skyway System
Visiting in the winter and you’re afraid of the cold? Maybe you’re visiting in the summer and don’t want to walk outside in the heat? Don’t worry, the MPLS skyway system connects 80 full city blocks over 11 miles of the city! That means you can grab a bite, get a Caribou Coffee, go shopping and visit all of the major spots in the city without ever stepping a foot outside. Very cool!
Kayak the Mississippi River
This is an insane adventure. Easy to do but mind blowing. You’re able to see the city skyline from the water, go up and down the lock & dam system, and paddle down this giant river on your way to Minnehaha Falls.
Get a Drink at the Foshay Tower
This is a MUST stop when you visit MPLS. It’s such a cool building, with a ton of history. It was designed to be modeled after the Washington Monument. It’s a little bit tough to describe; although it’s completely modern, it feels very old. Not in a bad structural way, but in its design.
There’s also the W Hotel, so if you like it as much as we do, you can stay here. It was the tallest building in Minnesota until the IDS Tower passed it in 1972. Fun fact: Andrew Zimmern was the executive chef in the ground floor restaurant for many years.
The best part, however, is the view from the top at the Prohibition Bar. You get 360 degree views, and it is authentically designed to feel like you’re having a cocktail in the 1920’s. I took some neat pictures, but my hard drive crashed, and this picture from inside looking out is the only one I had on my phone.
Minnehaha Park is a city park in MPLS located on the Mississippi. It offers great hiking and you won’t feel like you’re in a big city. The big feature is the roaring waterfall. There’s also a place to eat in the park.
Sleep in the IDS Tower
At 792 ft it’s the tallest building in Minnesota. Whenever we visit the area we try to take a weekend away from the RV and stay at the Marquette Hotel which is located inside this gorgeous building. It has a great history and a pretty cool story of the battle for the tallest building of the Minneapolis Skyline. It’s centrally located and is connected to the Nicollet Mall through the skyway system.
Get a Juicy Lucy and a side of Tator Tots
The world famous Juicy Lucy was invented in MPLS! If you’re not familiar it’s a burger with cheese cooked in the middle that when you eat it, the cheese oozes out into your mouth, YUM! Seriously it’s one of the best inventions in the world.
Tator tots are very popular in Minnesota but if you really want to eat Minnesotan you’ll want to get some Tator Tot Hotdish. It’s a staple meal for Minnesotans and as someone who grew up here, it’s rare to head to a potluck without someone bringing the goods!
Eat Good Food
Minneapolis is known for having incredible restaurants. The problem you’re going to have is having so many great options. It’s home to many famous chefs, including probably the most famous, Andrew Zimmern, known for his Travel Channel show.
Try to avoid going to national chains so you can run into some gems like this insane Bloody Mary Bar that we enjoyed! It was so filling that we didn’t have room for our food! (Thank goodness for leftovers.)
Go Boating on Lake Calhoun
Looking to hit up the lake, soak in the sun and at the same time enjoy the beautiful Minneapolis Skyline? Lake Calhoun is part of the Chain of Lakes and the perfect spot to rent a boat.
Since it’s part of the chain, you don’t have to stay on Lake Calhoun and are able to explore other local lakes while you’re on the water.
Feel like tossing in a line and catching some fish? You can do that too! There’s also a couple of amazing beaches on a few of these lakes if lounging in the sand is more of your style.
Mill City Ruins
Mill City Park hosts a lot of beautiful views as well as The Mill City Ruins. It’s old flour mills that used Hydropower from St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis.
Gold Medal Flower and Pillsbury are some of the famous flour mills from here. Both the park and the museum are full of history and fun to explore.
Catch a Game or Event
Minnesotans love their sports teams like the Vikings, The Twins, The Wild and the Timberwolves. If you’re visiting MPLS, check the schedule and hit up a game.
Walk Stone Arch Bridge
The stone arch bridge is a MUST when you visit Minneapolis, Minnesota. It’s absolutely gorgeous and offers some great people watching.
It’s the only arched stone bridge on the Mississippi River and was built way back in 1883 as a railroad bridge above St. Anthony Falls.
You’ll be able to check out the lock and dam system from above while you’re on the bridge.
Go on a Date at the Guthrie
The Guthrie Theater is right on the Mississippi so you can take a stroll along the River Trail or walk across the stone arch bridge and then go catch a performance at the Theater.
Go Apple Picking
Minnesota is known for agriculture. Just outside the Twin Cities, there are countless places to go pick some apples. Make sure you get Honeycrisp Apples, which were invented in MPLS at the U of M. They’re often considered the best tasting apples in the world and we would have to agree!
Drink Some Pop
Yep, in Minnesota it’s called “pop”. My wife used to have an issue with this and would always mess up and call it “soda”. Not cool… Honestly Minnesotans are so nice they probably won’t correct you, but they’ll know you’re not a Northerner.
Minnesota’s 9th largest lake is packed with fishing and boating fun. It’s also one of Minnesota’s most affluent residential areas, being near the hustle and bustle (and shopping) of the Twin Cities, but offers a gorgeous lake experience.
Visit Music History
Prince is one of the biggest names in music and hails from this beautiful city. First Avenue was his spot and where he filmed the music video for “Purple Rain”. It’s considered to be one of the top 20 nightclubs in the world and is a must stop if you’re hitting up Minneapolis.
Take the Kids to Como Park
Como Park has hiking/biking trails, a lake, a golf course, fishing pier, amusement park, a pool and the zoo.
The Como Zoo is a great opportunity for kids to learn and experience these incredible animals. The zoo is FREE and relies on donations. It’s surprising how big and nice the zoo is without charging a steep fee.
They also have beautiful gardens on the property.
The Science Museum of Minnesota
Want your kids to learn something AND be entertained? The science museum of Minnesota is an interactive learning center where kids can be active for hours.
They have many hands on exhibits and the coolest part is they have REAL DINOSAURS! They’re constantly bringing in new exhibits so there is always something new to see and do here.
Head Up North
When you’re done in the city, do what Minnesotans love to do most: head up North! Being in the city is fantastic but there’s nothing quite like sitting at a campfire on the lake while listening to the loons call with the Northern Lights in the background. Northern Minnesota is PARADISE in the summer!
Let us know if we missed anything that you would recommend people check out while visiting the amazing Twin Cities.
What a stunning shot of the northern lights! How far north were you from the city?
Thanks! I’ve seen them all over MN but some of the best I’ve ever seen was in Princeton MN about 45 min north of MPLS.