20 Things To Do In Minneapolis

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Often mistaken as Minnesota’s state capital (it’s not, St. Paul is), Minneapolis is the state’s largest city and is home to numerous sports teams, theatres, malls, and in true Minnesota fashion, lakes. The city’s bustling streets and towering highrises are home to numerous company headquarters. Then a short drive away, you’ll find yourself walking around picturesque lakes and lovely river shorelines.

Throughout the year, locals enjoy Minneapolis’ many parks and recreation areas. In summer, lakes are brimming with paddleboards, kayakers and boaters, and well-kept trails are busy with keen walkers. Winter hiking trails turn into cross-country ski trails, and lakes turn into ice rinks.

Minnesota has something for you even if you’re not one with the outdoors. Spend the day trying not to get lost in the massive Mall of America, watch a show at the Guthrie Theatre, or admire modern and contemporary art at the Walker Art Center. Keep reading to discover what’s waiting for you on this list of 20 things to do in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

20 Things To Do In Minneapolis

1- Visit Minnesota Zoo

things to do in minneapolis with kids
One of the things to do in Minneapolis with kids is to visit the zoo.

It’s impossible not to love a friendly and happy zoo – and the Minnesota Zoo is exactly that.

The zoo has six themed regions, each of which features animals from different parts of the world.

Walk through ‘Russia’s Grizzly Coast’ to see massive bears and animals from Russia’s east coast.

To get to know the wildlife native to Minnesota, visit the “Medtronic Minnesota Trail”, or to get up close to friendly animals, visit the family farm, where you’ll learn about responsible farming, and, of course, get to pet farm animals.

Minnesota Zoo is at 13000 Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley, MN 55124.

2- Visit The Minnesota Institute Of Art

top things to do in minneapolis
Admiring the city’s architecture is another thing to do in Minneapolis. This is the Basilica of Saint Mary.

Even if visiting an Institute of Art doesn’t typically top your travel to-do list, you’ll have to give the Minnesota Institute Of Art a go.

With everything from ancient Egyptian artefacts to a kid’s scavenger hunt, the museum has created a place everyone will love.

The institute has more than 90,000 works of art and is even ranked among the top 10 museums in the U.S., and it won’t break your vacation budget as admission is free.

Minnesota Institute Of Art is at 2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404.

3- Explore Minnesota Sculpture Garden

things to do in minneapolis landmark
Exploring the Minnesota Sculpture Garden is one of the iconic things to do in Minneapolis. One of the highlights is the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculptural fountain.

If you google pictures of Minneapolis, the famous giant spoon with a cherry is bound to pop up and catch your eye.

This iconic sculpture is one of the many unique pieces of art found in the Minnesota Sculpture Garden in the heart of Minneapolis.

Other pieces include a 25 feet (7.6 metres) giant blue rooster, an impressive arch that meets the ground in 10 different places and an underground chamber that allows you to take in the sky above without any distractions.

The Minnesota Sculpture Garden is free to visit and is open every day from 6 am to midnight.

Minnesota Sculpture Garden is at 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403.

4- Relax At the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area

things to do in minneapolis this weekend
Enjoying nature at the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area is one of the relaxing things to do in Minneapolis.

No matter the time of year, a visit to the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area is a must.

The park stretches 72 miles (115 kilometres), right through Minneapolis and St. Paul, and allows visitors to go hiking, fishing, cycling, canoeing, and bird-watching without leaving the city.

In the summer, it’s also common for the Recreation Area to put on outdoor movie screenings, guided weekend walks, and other fun activities for the entire family.

Mississippi National River & Recreation Area is at 120 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102.

5- Go Shopping In Mall Of America

fun things to do in minneapolis inside the mall
One of the fun things to do in Minneapolis is to spend time at the Mall of America.

While not technically in Minneapolis, one cannot visit the city without doing the 15-minute drive to the world-renowned Mall Of America.

Over 40 million people a year come to shop in the mall’s 500+ stores, head to the nation’s first indoor theme park – Nickelodeon Universe, sample one of the 60 restaurants, check out Minnesota’s largest aquarium, or get some steps in while people watching.

If you’re looking to buy something specific, check out the mall map first, as we can promise it won’t be easy to stumble upon your store of choice.

The Mall Of America is at 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425.

6- Cruise The Mississippi River

things in minneapolis lowry bridge
Some of the best things to do in Minneapolis involve exploring the city at night. Pictured here is the Lowry Avenue Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River.

To take in the impressive skyline and discover the beauty of the Mississippi River, hop aboard the Minneapolis Queen Boat Ride.

On the 90-minute journey, you’ll take in Minneapolis’ historic riverfront, the Stone Arch Bridge, and the University of Minnesota Campus – all while learning about the region’s history and the importance of the Mississippi River.

Most cruises are on the river from noon to 1:30 pm, with additional Happy Hour Cruises, Friday Night Dinner Cruises, and Sunday Brunch Cruises scheduled throughout the year.

Minneapolis Queen Boat Rides is at 2150 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55454

7- Learn Something New At The Science Museum of Minnesota

Located next to the mighty Mississippi River and bursting with fun things to do for people of all ages is the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Inside, you’ll find a massive Dinosaurs & Fossils exhibition, a Human Body Gallery that teaches visitors about the inside of the human body, and the much loved Sportsology exhibit where you can try your hand at different spots and learn about your body in motion.

It’s interesting to spend the whole afternoon exploring the museum, so head in well before closing.

Science Museum of Minnesota is at 120 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102.

8- Visit The American Swedish Institute

free things to do in minneapolis buildings in town
Walking around town is a good thing to do in Minneapolis to get your bearings. Pictured here is the City Hall Building and the CenturyLink Building to its left.

You don’t have to be Swedish or have Swedish descent to enjoy a visit to the American Swedish Institute.

Home to Minneapolis’ only castle, otherwise known as the Turnblad Mansion, as well as a museum, a cultural education centre and a cafe serving Swedish treats, you can either join a guided tour or wander around under your own steam.

Also, keep your eye out for special events held throughout the year, which showcase Nordic culture and festivities.

American Swedish Institute is at 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407.

9- See A Show At Guthrie Theatre

Whether you want to see a show or not, the Guthrie Theatre is well worth visiting.

The building itself was designed by a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Jean Nouvel, and built with beautiful views of the Mississippi River and the stretching city.

Inside, there’s not just one theatre but three, each with its own unique uses.

You can also walk across the 178-foot (54 metres) “Endless Bridge”, and if you’re hungry, dine at one of the two restaurants.

Of course, you won’t regret sticking around for its world-class theatre productions if you have the time and budget.

Guthrie Theatre is at 818 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

10- Walk Across The Stone Arch Bridge

things to do in minneapolis tonight night view
Cruising the Mississippi River past the stone arch bridge is one of the things to do in Minneapolis, as is walking across the bridge.

While technically part of the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, the Stone Arch Bridge well deserves in own mention on this list of 20 things to do in Minneapolis.

The bridge was built back in 1883 as a railroad bridge, and it’s now used as a pedestrian bridge as part of the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail.

If you’re up for a walk, add on a few miles of the scenic trail, or walk across the bridge for a great photo-op with St. Anthony Falls as a backdrop.

The Stone Arch Bridge is at 100 Portland Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

11- See Marinelife At Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium

Even though Minnesota is over 1300 miles (2,092 km) from the nearest ocean, did you know you can dive with sharks a mere 15-minute drive from Minneapolis?

You’ll need to be scuba certified to get in the water, but even if you’re not, you can walk through a lengthy ocean tunnel and watch Tiger Sharks, Brown Sharks, and Wobbegong swim around you at the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium.

The aquarium is within the Mall of America, but we promise you’ll feel like you’ve landed in the tropics with sea turtles, jellyfish, seahorses, and so many more incredible sealife to see.

Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium is at 120 East Broadway East Side, Level 1, Bloomington, MN 55425.

12- Explore Chain Of Lakes Regional Park

No trip to Minnesota is complete without a few lake days on one of the state’s 10,000 lakes and you won’t have to travel very far to do just this.

The Chain Of Lakes Regional Park sits just northwest of Minneapolis and encompasses five freshwater lakes.

One of the best ways to discover the region is by bike, with plenty of stops for quick swims and snacks on the way.

Another way is rent a boat or kayak and explore the many bays and beautiful coastlines.

Even in winter, the Chain Of Lakes Regional Park is buzzing with life with cross-country ski trails and maintained ice rinks for skating.

Chain Of Lakes Regional Park is at 3201 Wayzata Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

13- Discover History At The Bakken Museum

things to do in minneapolis minnesota city downtown skyline cityscape of USA.
There are lots of things to do in Minneapolis at night as well as during the day.

Ready for something more off-the-beaten-path that’s sure to light up your world – literally?

Introducing the Bakken Museum, designed to bring you on a journey through the history of medical electricity and electromagnetism.

Inside you’ll find exhibits like Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party, where you can try your hand at electrical party tricks and Frankenstein’s Laboratory, which examines the unique culture of medical electricity.

Outside, the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden showcases edible plants that were and are used for medicinal purposes.

Bakken Museum is at 3537 Zenith Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

14- Walk Around Bde Maka Ska Park

Formerly known as Lake Calhoun, Bde Maka Ska Park is home to the largest lake in Minneapolis and provides ample opportunity to get out and enjoy the lake and its surroundings.

Bde Maka Ska is Dakota for ‘Lake White Earth’, and as you walk or cycle around the lake, it’s easy to see why locals and visitors have long loved the expansive fresh water.

Besides the great trails surrounding the lake, you can also go sailing, canoeing, paddleboarding and boating on the water.

While visiting is free, parking can come with challenges and price tag, so always leave extra time and spare change to find yourself a good spot.

Bde Maka Ska Park is at 3739-3729 W Bde Maka Ska Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

15- Admire Art At The Walker Art Center

things to do in minneapolis Minneapolis City Photo downtown skyline Minnesota Midwest.
Looking for things to do in Minneapolis? Check out these 20 ideas.

Minneapolis has no shortage of great art centres, and the Walker Art Center is one of the best.

In fact, the Walker Art Center is one of the most-visited modern art museums in the United States and features 11 galleries, a cinema, theatre, restaurant and a gift shop.

Even if you’re not traditionally an art enthusiast, the thought-provoking exhibits and unique takes on art may just change your mind.

Walker Art Center is at 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403 – right next door to the Minnesota Sculpture Garden.

16- See The Animals At Como Park Zoo

While the Minnesota Zoo topped our list of 20 things to do in Minneapolis, that’s not to say the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is anything less than equally as impressive.

Como Park Zoo is smaller and older than the Minnesota Zoo, but with the smaller size comes a more intimate experience and less walking between exhibits – making it especially great for families with small children.

The walk-in butterfly garden is another fan favourite, and if you’re lucky, you may even have an opportunity to release a butterfly into the exhibit.

Entrance to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is free.

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is at 1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103.

17- Admire The Scenery At Minnehaha Park

things to do in minneapolis mn aerial view of waterfall
Taking a hike to Minnehaha Falls is one of the best things to do in Minneapolis for nature lovers.

If you haven’t noticed, Minneapolis and the surroundings are filled with lovely parks and recreation areas, and we have another one to add to the list – Minnehaha Park.

We promise you won’t be disappointed by your visit, with a 53-foot (16 metres) waterfall, numerous Mississippi River overlooks, and impressive limestone bluffs making up the park’s interior.

Remember that Minnehaha Park is also one of the most popular parks in the Twin Cities, with over 850,000 visitors a year, so be prepared to share its beauty with others.

Minnehaha Park is at 5000 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55406.

18- Cycle The Midtown Greenway

best things to do in minneapolis
Minneapolis city downtown skyline.

While the Midtown Greenway is used more by locals as a way to commute by bike across Minneapolis, it’s still a great item to add to your list of things to do in Minneapolis.

The Greenway stretches 5.7 miles (9.2 kilometres) long on a reimagined railroad track, and often, it’s quicker to bike across town on the Greenway than drive in the backed-up traffic.

If you’re staying in Minneapolis for a while, do as the locals do, rent a bike and travel between destinations via the Midtown Greenway.

The Midtown Greenway stretches from the west side of Chowen Avenue to the Mississippi River at West River Parkway.

19- See The Exhibits At The Mill City Museum

While many museums in Minneapolis showcase impressive art and fun science experiments, the Mill City Museum changes things up.

Instead, it takes a deep dive into the history of Minneapolis and life in the 1870s.

The museum is built right in the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, giving you a real sense of the magnificence and importance of the mill.

Inside you’ll find relics of Minneapolis’ past life along with exhibits that portray how the mill was used and the technology and manpower behind the processes.

The museum is only open four nights a week (Thursday to Sunday) and hours are somewhat limited.

Mill City Museum is at 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

20- Visit The Bird Sanctuary At Theodore Wirth Park

You might be thinking – another park? And yes, Minneapolis and the surroundings have an abundance of green space, and even though Theodore Wirth Park comes in last on this list, it’s very worth the visit.

Like other parks, you’ll find lovely walking trails, lakes, sports facilities and picnic areas. But, Theodore Wirth Park doesn’t stop there.

The park also features a bird sanctuary, a substantial wildflower garden, a disc golf course, and even a sledding and tubing hill in the winter.

Theodore Wirth Park is at 1301 Theodore Wirth Pkwy, Golden Valley, MN 55422.

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cropped Danielle Strayer Bio Pic.jpg
Danielle grew up in central Minnesota, spending her summers enjoying the many lakes and her winters playing ice hockey. After graduating from college, she booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand and never looked back. Now, 10 years later, Danielle spends her time hiking amongst the Southern Alps, Airbnb hopping around Europe and travelling the U.S. Rarely a day goes by you won't find her searching for her next grand adventure.