15 Best Things to Do in Minneapolis For First-Time Visitors

Minneapolis, City By Nature

I recently had the opportunity to host my childhood friend and her husband for a weekend in Minneapolis. It was so much fun showing them around, and feeling like a tourist in my own city!

Minneapolis, with its eclectic blend of art, history, nature, and entertainment, promises an unforgettable experience for first-time visitors. From exploring world-class museums to savoring diverse cuisines and embracing the great outdoors, this vibrant city offers a well-rounded itinerary that caters to every interest. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a nature lover, a sports fan, or simply someone seeking new experiences, Minneapolis welcomes you with open arms. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the top things you should absolutely do when exploring this dynamic city for the very fist time!

1. The Hewing Hotel Rooftop Bar

Experience the city from new heights at the Hewing Hotel’s rooftop bar. Enjoy panoramic views of the Minneapolis skyline while sipping craft cocktails. Whether you’re unwinding after a day of exploration or just kicking off your evening, this rooftop bar offers a memorable atmosphere and incredible sunset views.

Minneapolis Museum Twin Cities Things to do
Minneapolis Museum Twin Cities Things to do
Minneapolis Museum Twin Cities Things to do

2. Walker Art Center

Contemporary art lovers should not miss the Walker Art Center, a cutting-edge institution that features an impressive collection of modern artwork. In addition to its permanent pieces, the Walker regularly hosts temporary exhibitions, performances, and events.

Minneapolis Museum Twin Cities Things to do
Minneapolis Museum Twin Cities Things to do
Minneapolis Museum Twin Cities Things to do

3. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

While visiting the Walker Art Museum, be sure to wander around the free sculpture garden. Home to the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture, this garden showcases an impressive collection of contemporary sculptures set amidst beautifully landscaped grounds. It’s a serene and thought-provoking outdoor space that invites reflection and exploration.


4. Minnehaha Regional Park

Nature enthusiasts will find solace in the beauty of Minnehaha Regional Park, and of course, the highlight here is Minnehaha Falls, a 53-foot waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. Explore hiking trails or enjoy a picnic by the creek.

5. Number 12 Cider

If you’re a cider enthusiast, Number 12 Cider is a must-visit destination. With a focus on high-quality craft ciders made from locally sourced ingredients, this cidery offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere. It’s dog-friendly and also has an onsite wood-fired pizza truck!

Best things to do in Richfield, Minnesota

6. A Twins Game

If you’re a sports enthusiast, attending a Minnesota Twins baseball game at Target Field is a must. The state-of-the-art stadium offers a fantastic atmosphere and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s sports culture with beautiful views of the downtown skyline.


7. Experience the Chain of Lakes

Be sure to spend time exploring the Chain of Lakes, a series of interconnected urban lakes surrounded by walking and biking trails. Rent a canoe or kayak, cycle around the paths, or simply relax on the beach. This serene escape within the city perfectly encapsulates why Minneapolis’ slogan is “City by Nature.”

8. Bread and Pickle

While visiting the Chain of Lakes, be sure to grab a bite to eat at Bread and Pickle, a charming lakeside eatery nestled along the shores of Lake Harriet. Grab a delicious bratwurst, burger or walleye sandwich from their locally sourced menu, then relax on the patio overlooking the serene lake. It’s the perfect place to savor a leisurely meal while soaking in the natural beauty around you.

9. Stone Arch Bridge

The Stone Arch Bridge, a historic masterpiece spanning the Mississippi River, leads you to the charming St. Anthony Main area. Here, cobblestone streets are lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, a coffee break, or a scenic bike ride.

10. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Immerse yourself in art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art where you’ll find a vast collection spanning centuries and cultures. MIA showcases everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary masterpieces. Spend hours wandering through free galleries filled with renowned paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from around the world.

11. Wheel Fun Rentals

If you want to get out onto the water, check out Wheel Fun Rentals. Rent a kayak, stand-up paddle board, peddle boat (or bicycle) for a few hours or the whole day. Enjoy exploring the lakes from a new perspective, and maybe even take a dip to cool off.

12. Surdyk’s Cheese and Liquor

Indulge your taste buds at Surdyk’s, a gourmet cheese shop that has been a Minneapolis institution for decades. Browse through an extensive selection of cheeses, artisanal charcuterie, fine wines, and specialty foods. Be sure to enjoy the restaurant as well for a delicious assortment of sandwiches and other yummy cheesy bites like mac and cheese. Then finish up your visit with free wine and liquor tastings! Whether you’re a food connoisseur or just looking for a tasty snack, Surdyk’s is a culinary haven.

13. Borough

Elevate your dining experience at Borough, a contemporary American restaurant known for its innovative dishes and creative cocktails. With a focus on locally sourced ingredients and artistic presentation, this restaurant offers a gastronomic adventure that will tantalize your taste buds.

Pike Island Fort Snelling State Park
Pike Island Fort Snelling State Park

14. Fort Snelling State Park

Step back in time at Fort Snelling, a historic military outpost that played a significant role in the region’s history. Explore the well-preserved buildings, interact with costumed interpreters, and learn about the site’s past through engaging exhibits. Then enjoy a few hours hiking through the state park while enjoying stunning views of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. The Pike Island loop is my favorite trail.

Minneapolis Twin Cities Brewery Surly Things to Do
Minneapolis Twin Cities Brewery Surly Things to Do

15. Surly Brewing

For beer enthusiasts seeking an authentic taste of Minneapolis’ craft brewing scene, a visit to Surly Brewing is a must. Sip a diverse range of brews, from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts. With a spacious beer hall and plenty of outdoor seating, it’s a perfect place to gather with friends, enjoy live music, and sip some of the city’s finest craft beer.


Minneapolis, A Truly Underrated Midwest City

Minneapolis is a vibrant city situated along the banks of the Mississippi River. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, foodie, or simply looking for unique adventures, Minneapolis has it all.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out my blog posts on 18 Awesome Things to Do in Minneapolis, 18 Instagrammable Murals in Minneapolis, Best Things to Do in Northeast Minneapolis, 18 Free Things to Do in the Twin Cities, and 27 Fun Things to Do in St. Paul.

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