Minneapolis is the Midwest’s Cultural Hub
Over the years, the Twin Cities have gained national attention for being the midwest center for arts, music, theater, culture, incredible cuisine, and nearly 20 Fortune 500 companies, making it a great place to live and work.
Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and Minneapolis is known as the City by Nature with one of the top park systems in the country. Minneapolis boasts some of the best biking and walking trails, connecting lakes, beaches, and popular neighborhoods for miles. Plus, Minneapolis has a 53-foot waterfall at the Minnehaha Regional Park (details below).
Minneapolis also has several fantastic colleges, including the University of Minnesota, a Big 10 with acclaimed undergraduate programs. There’s also Augsburg, Macalester, plus St. Thomas and Hamline who both offer some of the best law school programs in the midwest if not the nation.
Minnesota has nearly 20 Fortune 500 companies, making it a fantastic place to find great jobs with great benefits. Many of these companies are in Minneapolis or the surrounding suburbs including Target, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills, and Cargill.
The Twin Cities have around 100 theaters and two Minneapolis theaters are regional Tony winners. Also, the Orpheum Theater and Ordway Center host touring Broadway shows like Book of Mormon and Hamilton.
And don’t forget about the sports teams. With six major league teams including NFL Vikings, MLB Twins, WNBA Lynx, NBA Timberwolves, NHL Wild, and MLS Loons (the latter two based in St. Paul), there’s always a team to cheer on!
Lastly, Minneapolis is lucky enough to have incredible chefs bringing an impressive culinary scene to our city. A handful of Minneapolis chefs have won James Beard Awards, including Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable and Ann Kim of Young Joni. We also have Iron Chef and Top Chef alums, and most notably Andrew Zimmern, celebrity chef perhaps most known for his time on the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods.”
Minneapolis is an incredible city with so much to offer. Relatively speaking, it’s a smaller city of just 420K residents, but there is a lot of beauty, history, art, and culture packed into this city!
Pro tip: The parking in Minneapolis is usually really easy. It is rarely difficult to find a spot unless there is something unique happening like a Vikings or Twins game. Be sure to pay attention to the meters as during certain days and hours you will need to pay, but street parking is cheap, and there are tons of public parking lots. To save yourself a little time when parking in downtown Minneapolis, download the MPLS Parking app ahead of time. You can get your credit card and vehicle information entered before you even leave home. Then you can pay for parking and add more time directly through the app without having to rush back to the meter to add more quarters.
1. The Food Scene
Minneapolis has an incredible food scene with a wide variety of cuisine. Minneapolis is lucky enough to have incredible chefs bringing an impressive culinary scene to our city. Many of them won the James Beard Award, participated in Iron Chef and Top Chef, and most notably Andrew Zimmern, a celebrity chef. Nic and I love trying new restaurants because you’re going to be sure to find something unique and incredible! Some of our favorites include Alma, Bar La Grassa, Centro, The Butcher’s Tale, Freehouse, Hai Hai, Manny’s Steakhouse and Oceanaire Seafood Room.
2. The Murals
The Twin Cities have a lively art scene, and the painted murals scattered around town are no exception. Use my self-guided mural walking tour blog post and map to explore new neighborhoods and pockets of Minneapolis you maybe haven’t seen before.
3. The Museums
Minneapolis has so many museums. In the past, we’ve been members at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Museum of Russian Art. They always seem to have impressive exhibits on display. Many museums in Minneapolis offer free entry, or tickets may only be required for special exhibits. And be sure to check ahead as sometimes you’ll need to reserve a specific time for your group. Some of the popular ones around Minneapolis are:
- American Swedish Institue
- Baaken Museum
- Foshay Tower
- Hennepin History Museum
- Mill City Museum
- Minneapolis Institute of Art
- The Museums of Russian Art
- Norway House
- The Somali Museums of Minnesota
- Walker Art Center
- Weisman Art Museum
4. Live Concerts and Shows
Minneapolis has a great theater scene for comedians, concerts, and shows. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy David Bromberg at the Dakota Jazz Club, a handful of comedy shows at Brave New Workshop, Guster at the Pantages, Book of Mormon at the Orpheum, Delta Rae at First Ave, rapper NF at the Armory, Yellowcard at Varsity Theater, and a handful of musicians at Rock the Garden, an outdoor concert on the Walker Art Center lawn. There seems to always be something exciting going on, or some big artist coming to town. Check out current happenings on Ticketmaster to see what’s going on right now.
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5. Hennepin Ave Bridge and Grain Belt Beer Sign
The bridge was first built in 1855, stretching from downtown Minneapolis into Northeast Minneapolis. The iconic neon Grain Belt Beer sign was built in 1941 and it is approximately 50 feet wide and 40 feet tall. The bridge is built for cars and people, so walk across to get a close look. And then be sure to enjoy a classic Grain Belt Premium or Grain Belt Nordeast beer when you walk over to Northeast Minneapolis.
6. Sporting Events
Minneapolis is home to the NFL Vikings, MLB Twins, NBA Timberwolves, WNBA Lynx, and the University of Minnesota Gophers. I’ve been to a handful of games over the years and the energy never disappoints. It’s really more about the experience than winning, right? The Vikings stadium was recently rebuilt and has a beautiful large glass wall showcasing the Minneapolis skyline behind it.
Minneapolis has a lot of breweries and I’m still working my way down the list to visit them all! Some of my favorites are Wild Mind Ales, Indeed, Surly, and Lakes & Legends. There always seems to be new breweries popping up too. For a fun way to visit multiple breweries, check out my blog post on a self-guided Minneapolis brewery bike tour. The current full list of Minneapolis breweries includes:
- 56 Brewing
- Able Seedhouse + Brewery
- Clockwerks Brewing
- Dangerous Man Brewing
- Eastlake Craft Brewery
- Fair State Brewing
- Fulton Brewing
- HeadFlyer Brewing
- Inbound BrewCo
- Indeed Brewing Company
- Lakes & Legends Brewing
- LynLake Brewery
- Modist Brewing Co.
- Pryes Brewing Company
- Sisyphus Brewing
- Surly Brewing
- Utepils Brewery
- Venn Brewing
- Wild Mind Artisan Ales
- Wooden Ship Brewing
Minneapolis has a great variety of cideries, each with its own unique twist! Check out my blog post about my visit to Number 12 Cider and what I learned about the cider-making process during my tour and chatting with the owners. I’ve only recently started drinking hard cider and I’ve enjoyed learning about it.
I used to think ciders were all very sweet and similar to each other. But I’m learning that they are much like beer and wine in the sense that there is a huge variety of options when it comes to hops, the flavor combinations from herbs and fruits, as well as how sweet or dry cider can be. Here’s a round-up of current cideries in Minneapolis:
- Minneapolis Cider Company
- Number 12 Cider
- Sociable Cider Werks
- Urban Forage Winery and Cider House
9. The Basilica of Saint Mary
The Basilica of Saint Mary is absolutely stunning and I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy it for an Easter Mass and a friend’s wedding. It was the first basilica established in the United States when it was first built in 1907. The details of the stained glass from inside the church looking out are breathtaking.
10. The Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is 11 acres with beautifully landscaped gardens. You’ll find over 40 sculptures with some having been permanent for years and others newer. This park is free for everyone to enjoy and it’s also next to the Walker Art Museum. Often in the summer, you can find free yoga classes in the sculpture garden.
11. Walk the Skyways
Minneapolis is a city that was clearly built for brutal winters. When the wind is biting cold in the middle of January and February, you’ll be grateful you can get lost in nearly 10 miles of skyways crisscrossing their way through downtown, connecting a total of 80 blocks. There are dozens of restaurants, retail shops, coffee shops, and hotels all connected to the skyway. You can even park at a parking ramp that is connected to the skyway so you can run from your heated car straight into the cozy skyways. Note, the skyways are only open during certain hours and days so be sure to check the hours ahead of time.
12. Foshay Tower
Looking for a unique view of the Minneapolis skyline? Check out the Foshay Tower observation deck in downtown Minneapolis for incredible views. Purchase tickets in the hotel lobby for $10/adult, then take the elevator up to the Foshay Tower museum where you can learn about the builder, Wilbur Foshay, and the building’s interesting history during the roaring 1920s. Then head out to the observation deck and walk around for a complete 360 view of Minneapolis. On a clear day, you can see St. Paul!
13. Boom and Nicollet Islands
I love spending time in downtown Minneapolis, and I especially love walking around the Boom Island and Nicollet Island area. You’ll find a ton of unique bridges and colorful Victorian-style homes. There is also a lighthouse on Boom Island and a large grassy park where you’ll likely see dogs and children playing and people throwing frisbees. You’ll find yourself surrounded by nature and in an oasis that feels far from the noise of the city. Yet, at certain spots, you’ll find breathtaking views of the Minneapolis skyline as well as the Mississippi River.
14. Northeast Minneapolis
Northeast Minneapolis is my favorite neighborhood in Minneapolis. It’s lively and vibrant and it’s one of the best places to go on an adventurous Friday night or lazy Sunday morning. From Surdyk’s to Kramarczuk’s to Betty Dangers and the Stone Arch Bridge, Northeast Minneapolis is a great neighborhood and we love to visit often. For more details on the Northeast neighborhood, read my blog post on Northeast Minneapolis here.
15. The Chain of Lakes
The Chain of Lakes consists of five lakes, four of which are connected by a stream or channel. The Chain of Lakes includes Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, Lake Harriet and Brownie Lake. These lakes are wonderful for kayaking, fishing, and walking around on the paved paths. You can often find me walking around Lake of the Isles with my dog checking out the giant homes and stunning gardens. I also love cross-country skiing on the frozen lakes in the winter! There are also free activities at the lakes, like yoga classes, movie nights, and live music. Stay updated with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation event calendar.
16. Minnehaha Falls
Minnehaha Falls is a beautiful waterfall right in the city limits. You can walk down the steep winding steps to the base of the waterfall for a close view and awesome photos. And it’s a great place to walk around in any season. Check out the massive, gushing falls in summer. The autumn colors along the Mississippi River are stunning in September and October or visit in the winter when the falls are frozen solid. You can even climb behind the frozen waterfall, which creates an ice cave in winter’s coldest months. There is also a winding trail you can walk along the Mississippi River, which leads to Fort Snelling State Park. Lastly, you’ll find the Sea Salt Eatery at the top of the waterfall, which is a great spot for lunch or a drink after your walk. Check out my blog post on 8 incredible waterfalls near the Twin Cities.
17. The Market at Malcolm Yards
A super fun and unique place to spend an afternoon is at the Market at Malcolm Yards. This food hall opened in August 2021 in the Prospect Park neighborhood. It’s such a chill and relaxed vibe with reasonable prices. There’s a large, free parking lot and the Light Rail runs right past it, making it easy to get to. As soon as you walk in, you’ll check in to swipe your credit card, then you get a card that keeps track of each vendor you visit, making payment simple and quick. There is a self-pour beer wall, a wide array of food from meatballs to Korean chicken to burgers and ice cream. And be sure to grab a fancy cocktail at Boxcar for a delicious beverage!
18. Nice Ride Bike Rentals
Minneapolis is a great city to bike in with 16 miles of on-street protected bikelanes. And if you don’t own a bike, you can rent a Nice Ride Minnesota bike for just $6 per day. With 3,000 bikes and 400 stations, it will be easy to find a bike and start exploring the city. Nice Ride Minnesota is a nonprofit that brought the bike share program to Minneapolis in 2010. It’s a very popular and affordable way to get around. They also have scooters for rent. Their website includes popular routes to check out where you can easily bike to parks, museums, and waterfalls. Click here for a continually updated live view of where bikes are available right now.
Pro tip: Download the Nice Ride Bike Share app before your trip. The app allows you to locate available bikes and scooters, unlock and pay directly.
Minneapolis is a Great City
Minneapolis is an incredible place and it often ranks as one of the top cities in the country for affordability, healthy residents, and great career opportunities. It’s really a great place to live. Looking for more inspiration? Check out my blog posts on Stillwater, Northfield, and Duluth!