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20 Things to do in Minneapolis in 2022

Straddling both banks of the Mississippi River, Minneapolis is among the country’s best outdoorsy cities. The city has one of the best park systems in the country. While it’s known for its lakes, Minneapolis has tons of green spaces and wooded natural areas.

That said, this outdoorsy reputation is double-edged, and Minneapolis is often regarded as just a mid-tier city with nothing to offer but green spaces and bodies of water. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

While it doesn’t necessarily grab headlines like other major cities, Minneapolis has a vibrant arts scene, and is replete with performing spaces, art installations, and museums!

Moreover, Minneapolis is rich in history, and has a variety of historical and cultural landmarks. When it comes to architectural gems, the city has everything from historic mansions, to modern skyscrapers.

Lastly, the city also has an exceptional, albeit unassuming, food scene. While it’s not as celebrated as other cities that claim to be gastronomic meccas, Minneapolis is one of the best destinations in the country for comfort food.

Looking to visit the City of Lakes? Check out this list of 20 things to do in Minneapolis, and find out why it’s criminally underrated!

20 Things to do in Minneapolis

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Visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art

What’s special about this place?

There’s no better way to start your Minneapolis adventure than by visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art. One of the largest art museums in the country, MIA’s permanent collection has more than 90,000 works of art.

The museum’s exhibits include works from Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, Luis de Morales, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re even the slightest bit artistic or creative, or if you have a penchant for art history, then this museum is for you. It’s also ideal for tourists looking to explore and learn about artwork from different parts of the world, and from different eras.

What to do here?

Tour the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Explore all of its seven curatorial areas. Check out works by Vincent van Gogh, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Robert Koehler.

Stop by the museum’s Asian Art section, and check out the museum’s collection of Chinese ceramics. Don’t forget to check out the museum’s traveling exhibits!

Best time to visit

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is located at 2400 3rd Ave S. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday. 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursdays; and 10 AM to 5 PM the rest of the week. It’s best to visit on weekdays to avoid large crowds.

Learn more about Minneapolis Institute of Art here!

Spend a day at Minneapolis’ Mall of America

What’s special about this place?

With a total floor area of almost 3 million square feet, Minnesota’s Mall of America is the ninth largest shopping mall in the world. It welcomes over 40 million visitors each year, and it’s not hard to see why.

It features more than 500 stores, a variety of restaurants, a cinema, an aquarium, a mirror maze, and an indoor theme park (the largest in the country)!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Mall of America is a must-visit for families, tourists traveling with children, shopaholics, tourists keen on doing some people-watching, and tourists just looking to chill out and kill a few hours at an enclosed, air-conditioned space.

What to do here?

Wear your best walking shoes. Spend an entire day shopping (or window-shopping).

Grab a bite at the mall’s food court and restaurants. If you’re traveling with children, or are a child at heart, stop by the mall’s Nickelodeon Universe and ride the theme park’s most popular rides.

Observe over 4,500 sea creatures at the mall’s Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. Cap off your adventure with a trip to the mall’s Amazing Mirror Maze!

Best time to visit

The Mall of America is located at 60 E Broadway in Bloomington, over 11 miles south of Minneapolis.

It’s open daily. 11 AM to 8 PM Monday through Thursday; 10 AM to 9 PM on Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 AM to 7 PM on Sundays. While the mall is almost always busy, it’s relatively more peaceful on weekdays!

Learn more about Minneapolis’ Mall of America here!

Tour the Minneapolis Skyway System

What’s special about this place?

Connecting 80 city blocks over 9.5 miles, the Minneapolis Skyway System is a contiguous network of second-level enclosed bridges. It provides easy access to almost all of Minneapolis’ hotels, corporate offices, art galleries, grocery stores, restaurants, shops, and iconic buildings.

More importantly, it allows tourists to explore the city unbothered by extreme weather conditions (which Minneapolis is known for)!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Minneapolis Skyway System is great for tourists who prefer to explore the city by foot and get to know its iconic buildings. It’s particularly great for people who want to shield themselves from the city’s harsh winters!

What to do here?

Explore the Minneapolis Skyway System. Tour the city from the comforts of its enclosed bridges! Check out gyms, restaurants, retail stores, and architectural gems. If you’re new to the city, it’s best to get a map of the Minneapolis Skyway System first.

If you’d rather get happily lost, just remember that whenever there’s an ‘SK’ button in place of a ‘2’ in an elevator, this means that the building connects to the skyway.

Best time to visit

Located in Downtown Minneapolis, there’s really no bad time to explore the skyways.

That said, the bridges don’t really keep uniform hours, so it’s best to keep an eye out for signs that indicate shorter, or longer, than usual skyway hours.

Learn more about Minneapolis Skyway System here!

Get a Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar

What’s special about this place?

Operating since 1954, Matt’s Bar & Grill is an award-winning, cash-only, burger eatery known for inventing the Jucy Lucy–a burger with a cheese-stuffed patty.

While some locals may direct you to other burger joints in Minneapolis for the best version of the iconic burger, Matt’s Bar is where you have to go if you want to try the original Jucy Lucy.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Matt’s Bar & Grill is ideal for families, foodies, food history buffs, and hungry tourists of all ages. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of veggie options, but their fries are also pretty decent.

What to do here?

It’s simple, really. Come in hungry. Get a Jucy Lucy with a side of pickles and/or fries. Pair your meal with a tasty beverage of your choice. There’s not a lot of seating, so it’s best to have your order to go!

Best time to visit

Matt’s Bar is located at 3500 Cedar Avenue. It’s open daily, from 11 AM to 11 PM. If you want to avoid long lines, it’s best to stop by Matt’s Bar on weekdays.

Learn more about Matt’s Bar here!

Learn about 19th century Minneapolis at Mill Ruins Park

What’s special about this place?

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mill Ruins Park is a park that doubles as an outdoor museum. It features the remains of the Minneapolis Mill Company–containing old flour mills, sawmills, and stone piers.

It allows visitors to peek into an industry that made Minneapolis a flourishing city in the 19th century!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Tourists keen on learning about Minneapolis’ local history and/or old economy/industry would enjoy a trip here. It’s also ideal for history buffs curious as to how the whole country was fed in the advent of World War I.

Moreover, it also provides stunning views of the Mississippi River for those just keen on taking a walk by the riverbank.

What to do here?

Explore Mill Ruins Park. Check out the remnants of the Minneapolis Mill Company, and try to make out what these flour mills and canals looked like back in the day.

Check out the Stone Arch Bridge adjacent to the park, and if you’re up for it, stop by the Mill City Museum and learn all about Minneapolis’ 19th-century flour-milling industry.

Best time to visit

Mill Ruins Park is located at 102 Portland Ave S. It’s open all year round, from 6 AM to 10 PM. To avoid large crowds, it’s best to explore the ruins on weekdays!

Learn more about Mill Ruins Park here!

Take in breathtaking views of Minneapolis from the Foshay Tower

What’s special about this place?

Obviously, Minneapolis isn’t just about its lakes and ruins. Like all major cities, it also has its fair share of iconic skyscrapers, and the Foshay Tower is nothing if not iconic!

Completed in 1929, it stands at 447 feet, and is one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the country. Now a 4-star hotel (the W Minneapolis), it houses the Foshay Museum and Observation Deck on its 30th and 31st floors, respectively.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Foshay Tower is ideal for engineering enthusiasts and architecture nerds, especially those who have a predilection for anything Art Deco.

It’s also great for history buffs, and tourists keen on viewing Minneapolis from a height of 447 feet!

What to do here?

Check out the Foshay Tower’s Art Deco architecture. Purchase a ticket at the hotel lobby, and use the provided key card to access the museum on the 30th floor.

Check out the museum’s artifacts and learn all about the building’s history. Cap off your trip here by viewing Minneapolis from the open air Observation Deck on the Foshay’s 31st floor!

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the Foshay Tower depends on your itinerary. The Foshay Museum and Observation Deck is open daily, from 9 AM to 5 PM. To avoid large crowds, it’s best to visit the museum on a weekday.

That said, if you only plan on appreciating the building’s exterior, then there really isn’t a bad time to stop by the building. The Foshay Tower is located at 821 S Marquette Ave.

Immerse yourself in world-class contemporary art at the Walker Art Center

What’s special about this place?

One of the most-visited buildings in Minneapolis, the Walker Art Center is a contemporary art center. It sits on a 17-acre campus, and contains over 11 art galleries.

Its holdings include more than 13,000 modern and contemporary art pieces. The building itself is considered a work of art, and is noted for its minimalist architecture.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Walker Art Center is a must-visit for artists and art enthusiasts, especially for fans of modern and contemporary art. It’s also ideal for architecture enthusiasts and fans of Edward Larrabee Barnes’ work.

Even if you’re not into art, the art center’s main building has a mini-golf course on its roof (perfect for families), and features great views of the city!

What to do here?

Explore all 17 acres of the Walker Art Center’s grounds. Check out the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in front of the Walker Art Center, and take selfies by the garden’s most iconic art installations, such as the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculptural fountain.

Tour the Walker Art Center, and check out some of its current exhibits. Watch a film at the Walker Cinema. Not really into modern art? Take in views of Minneapolis from the building’s roof!

Best time to visit

Located at 725 Vineland Pl, the Walker Art Center is open Thursday through Sunday. 11 AM to 6 PM on Fridays and Saturdays; 11 AM to 5 PM on Sundays; and 11 AM to 9 PM Thursdays. To avoid large crowds, it’s best to visit the Walker Art Center on Fridays.

Learn more about Walker Art Center here!

See a show at the Guthrie Theater

What’s special about this place?

Yet another modern architectural gem on this list is the Jean Nouvel-designed Guthrie Theater.

Regarded as a world-class center for the performing arts, the facility houses three theaters: the theater’s thrust stage, which seats 1,100; a 700-seat proscenium stage; and lastly, a black-box studio with flexible seating.

The Guthrie Theater also features a cantilever bridge that provides breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis Mill District!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Guthrie Theater is a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts, theater aficionados, performing artists, and performing arts enthusiasts.

It’s also ideal for families and tourists just looking to check out the Mississippi from the theater’s famous “Endless Bridge.”

What to do here?

Check out the Guthrie Theater’s architecture. Note how it has silo-like features–an homage to the city’s industrial history. Watch a show or two at one of the facility’s three theaters.

Watch a rendition of The Tempest, or A Christmas Carol, or A Raisin in the Sun. Not seeing a show? Take in stunning views of the Mississippi at the Guthrie’s “Endless Bridge.”

Best time to visit

The Guthrie Theater is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 AM to 6 PM. The best time to visit the theater largely depends on your itinerary, or the schedule of the show you’re watching.

The Guthrie Theater is located at 818 S 2nd Street.

Learn more about Guthrie Theater here!

Explore Minnehaha Regional Park

What’s special about this place?

Spanning 170 acres, Minnehaha Regional Park is one of Minneapolis’ most popular city parks.

It features a variety of trails, historical buildings, limestone bluffs, grassy open areas, river overlooks, and its centerpiece–Minnehaha Falls. The park also contains a large number of trees and plants native to Minnesota!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Anyone looking for a nice nature getaway would love Minnehaha Regional Park. It’s ideal for families, nature photographers, history buffs, and people just looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis.

What to do here?

Explore all 170 acres of Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Regional Park. Have a nice little picnic in the park’s open areas. Hike through its long walking trails, and check out some of the unusual plants that thrive within the park.

Check out some of the historical buildings in and around the Minnehaha Regional Park, such as the Minnehaha Princess Station and the John H. Stevens House. Don’t forget to stop by the park’s main attraction–Minnehaha Falls!

Best time to visit

Minnehaha Regional Park is open all year round and is beautiful in any season. That said, it takes on a magical atmosphere during the winter, when its waters freeze over and Minnehaha Falls become a great wall of ice! Minnehaha Regional Park is located at 4801 S Minnehaha Drive.

Learn more about Minnehaha Regional Park here!

Visit the Weisman Art Museum

What’s special about this place?

Known for its distinct stainless steel and brick construction, the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum is a modern art museum.

While it is small compared to other museums in Minneapolis, it houses more than 20,000 works of art, and is famous for its collection of American modernist and abstract paintings, as well as its collection of Native American ceramics.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

If you’re into American art, the Weisman Art Museum is a must-visit. That said, the museum is also ideal for architecture enthusiasts, especially those who are fans of Frank Gehry.

If you’re not necessarily into art or architecture, it’s still a great place to kill time, as it offers great views of the Mississippi River.

What to do here?

Tour the Weisman Art Museum. Check out its unique Deconstructivist architecture. Check out the museum’s ongoing exhibits.

Explore some of its famous exhibits, such as its traditional Korean furniture exhibit and Native American Mimbres pottery exhibit. See works from Alfred Maurer, Charles Biederman, and Marsden Hartley.

Best time to visit

The Weisman Art Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. 10 AM to 8 PM on Wednesdays; 10 AM to 5 PM on Thursdays and Fridays; and 11 AM to 5 PM during weekends.

As it’s located at 333 E River Pkwy, within the University of Minnesota campus, it’s best to visit the museum on Fridays and on weekends to avoid large crowds!

Learn more about Weisman Art Museum here!

Tour Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes

What’s special about this place?

One of the most famous routes in Minneapolis, the Chain of Lakes encompasses five lakes: Lake Harriet, Bde Maka Ska (formerly known as Lake Calhoun), Lake of the Isles, and Brownie Lake.

It features a number of interconnected trails and pedestrian paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a number of other amenities.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes is perfect for outdoor recreationists, nature lovers, and families. It’s definitely a must-visit for tourists looking to do some swimming, kayaking, boating, fishing, and other lakeside activities!

What to do here?

Spend a day exploring Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes. Hike through the Chain of Lakes’ many trails. Go fishing at Bde Maka Ska. Check out the elf house at Lake Harriet Park.

Go kayaking at Brownie Lake, and go mountain biking at Brownie Lake Park. Explore the islands at Lake of the Isles.

Best time to visit

The Chain of Lakes is accessible all year round, from 6 AM to 10 PM (’til midnight in some areas). The best time to explore the Chain of Lakes depends on your itinerary.

Bde Maka Ska is one of the best lakes in Minnesota for ice fishing. That said, the lakes are just as enjoyable in any other season!

Learn more about Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes here!

Catch a Twins game at Target Field

What’s special about this place?

One of the most recognizable Minneapolis landmarks, Target Field is an open-air baseball stadium. Home to the Minnesota Twins, Target Field has a capacity of 39,504.

While primarily a baseball stadium, Target Field occasionally hosts non-baseball events, such as concerts and college football games.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Target Field is a must-visit for all baseball fans, regardless if they’re Twins fans. It’s ideal for families, and tourists just looking to pass the time watching a ball game at one of the country’s best ballparks!

What to do here?

Watch a Twins game at Target Field. Soak up the Minneapolis baseball experience (arguably one of the best in the country). For the full experience, book a Target Field tour.

Learn about the vibrant history of the Twins. Check out the ballpark’s Visiting Clubhouse, batting cage, and bullpen.

Best time to visit

Target Field is located at 1 Twins Way. The best time to visit Target Field depends on your itinerary. That said, if you intend to go on a Target Field tour, it’s best to purchase your ticket/s at least weeks in advance!

Learn more about Target Field here!

Do some cool science stuff at The Bakken Museum

What’s special about this place?

Known for its world class artifact collection and dynamic exhibit experiences, The Bakken Museum is a science museum with a special focus on electricity and electromagnetism. The museum contains over 11,000 works and around 2,000 scientific instruments.

The museum’s collections highlight the connection between science, history, engineering, and pop culture! Exhibits include Frankenstein’s Laboratory, Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party, and Deep Roots: Plants as Medicine.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Bakken Museum is a must-visit for families, science enthusiasts, history buffs, and fans of Mary Shelley. It’s great for any tourist keen on learning about electricity and the history and nature of electromagnetism.

What to do here?

Tour The Bakken Museum. Check out works by Benjamin Franklin, Alessandro Volta, and Jean Antoine Nollet. Check out some of the museum’s most popular exhibits.

Watch Frankenstein’s monster come to life at the museum’s Frankenstein’s Laboratory. Immerse yourself in the museum’s Spark Exhibit. Check out some of the curious contraptions that Ben Franklin and other scientists in the 1700s tinkered with at Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party!

Best time to visit

The Bakken Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. It’s best to visit the museum on Thursdays and Fridays to avoid large crowds. The Bakken Museum is located at 3537 Zenith Avenue S.

Learn more about The Bakken Museum here!

Visit The Quietest Place on Earth

What’s special about this place?

Orfield Labs is an independent Multi-Sensory Design Research Lab. The only laboratory of its kind, Orfield Labs is known for its anechoic chamber, once dubbed as “the quietest place on Earth.”

While that title now officially belongs to another anechoic chamber, the one in Orfield Labs measures at -9 decibels–quiet enough that you can hear your own organs!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

A tour of Orfield Labs is ideal for sound and design nerds. If you like to learn about the science behind the perception of sound, then Orfiled Labs is definitely a must-visit.

Its anechoic chamber is particularly great for thrill-seekers and brave tourists keen on experiencing the kind of silence that can drive people mad.

What to do here?

Book a tour of Orfield Labs. Learn about the unique research they’re doing, and how their research is used in product and architecture design.

Try the Orfield Challenge. Enjoy the silence, and try to stay in their famous anechoic chamber for more than two hours!

Best time to visit

Orfield Laboratories is located at 2709 East 25th Street. It’s open on weekdays, from 8 AM to 5 PM. As it is a research lab, tours are available by reservation only. It’s best to book a tour at least a few weeks in advance.

Learn more about The Quietest Place on Earth here!

Explore Mississippi Gorge Regional Park

What’s special about this place?

Spanning 132 acres of land area and covering both the east and west banks of the Mississippi River, the Mississippi Gorge Regional Park is one of the most scenic parks in Minnesota.

It protects the natural areas of the Mississippi River gorge, and features a variety of paved and natural surface trails, as well as diverse wildlife, which includes over 150 species of migratory birds and a growing population of bald eagles!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Mississippi Gorge Regional Park is a must-visit for families, nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts, birders, avid hikers, and tourists looking to do some boating along the Mississippi River.

In the winter, the park is ideal for skiers and snowshoers.

What to do here?

Explore the Mississippi Gorge Regional Park. Go hiking through natural surface trails on the east and/or the west banks of the Mississippi River.

Bring a camera with you and take pictures of some of the most scenic trails within the park. Check out some of the wildlife that thrive here. Go canoeing along the Mississippi River.

Best time to visit

The Mississippi Gorge Regional Park is open daily, from 6 AM to 10 PM. The best time to visit the park largely depends on your itinerary.

It’s great for cross-country skiing in the winter, and it’s one of the best spots in Minnesota to observe the fall colors. The Mississippi Gorge Regional Park is located at 3349 W River Pkwy.

Learn more about Mississippi Gorge Regional Park here!

Grab a beer at Surly Brewing

What’s special about this place?

It’s impossible to imagine a time when Minneapolis was not a beer town, and while there’s a ton of craft breweries in Minneapolis today, the brewery that really started it all was Surly Brewing.

This OG Minneapolis brewery offers one of the most diverse selections of craft beers in Minnesota, as well as a great selection of smoked meats!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Surly Brewing is a must-visit for craft beer aficionados, foodies, and tourists just looking to have a drink after a day of exploring Minneapolis.

It’s also a great starting point for anyone interested in tracing Minneapolis’ craft beer history!

What to do here?

Try some of Surly Brewing’s best selling craft beers. Try their iconic Furious IPA, known for its hoppy and citrusy notes. For something more aromatic, try Surly’s world-renowned Axe Man.

Don’t forget to try Surly Brewing’s famous brisket!

Best time to visit

Located at 520 Malcolm Avenue SE, Surly Brewing is open Tuesday through Sunday. 3 PM to 9 PM Tuesday through Thursday; 3 PM to 11 PM on Fridays; 11 AM to 11 PM on Saturdays; and 10 AM to 3 PM on Sundays.

To avoid large crowds, it’s best to visit on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and/or Sundays.

Learn more about Surly Brewing here!

Visit Lakewood Cemetery

What’s special about this place?

Known for its Byzantine-styled chapel, Lakewood Cemetery is a 250-acre non-sectarian cemetery.

Modeled after the rural cemeteries of 19th-century France, Lakewood is rich in art and architecture, and is generally considered to be among the most beautiful cemeteries in the country.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Lakewood Cemetery is ideal for families, architecture enthusiasts, history buffs, nature lovers, and tourists keen on visiting the graves of some of the notable people buried within its grounds.

It’s also great for tourists who just want to have a nice and peaceful walk among beautiful tombstones.

What to do here?

Visit Lakewood Cemetery’s Byzantine-styled chapel. Check out its ornate domed ceiling and its stained glass windows. Have a peaceful stroll through the cemetery’s grounds. Stop by the cemetery’s Garden Mausoleum.

Check out the cemetery’s gorgeous tombstones and monuments.

Best time to visit

Lakewood Cemetery is located at 3600 Hennepin Avenue. It’s open daily, from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.

While there’s really no bad time to visit this beautiful cemetery, it’s important to remember that it is a cemetery, and not merely a tourist destination!

Learn more about Lakewood Cemetery here!

Explore the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

What’s special about this place?

Operated by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department, exhibits at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory include a seal island, primates and African hoofed animals, birds, and a polar bear exhibit!

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, on the other hand, houses a variety of plant exhibits, including bonsai trees, seasonal flowers, and ferns. The Zoo and Conservatory are linked by a 65,000 square feet Visitor Center that features meeting rooms, event spaces, and a café!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is ideal for families, wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, aspiring botanists and horticulturists, and pretty much all tourists keen on observing and learning about plant and animal wildlife!

What to do here?

Explore the Como Park Zoo & Observatory. Mingle with Galapagos Tortoises, Giraffes, Gorillas, Snow Leopards, and Kudus at the Como Park Zoo. Check out the outdoor gardens at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.

Check out the conservatory’s Sunken Garden. Stop by the Tropical Encounters exhibit at the Visitor’s Center, a neo-tropical rainforest exhibit that combines both the plant and animal worlds!

Best time to visit

The Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is located at 1225 Estabrook Drive in Saint Paul, just under 9 miles east of Minneapolis.

It’s open daily, from 10 AM to 4 PM. It’s best to visit the zoo and conservatory during weekdays to avoid large crowds.

Learn more about Como Park Zoo & Conservatory here!

Stop by the American Swedish Institute

What’s special about this place?

While the first Europeans to arrive in Minnesota were French, it’s its Swedish settlers that have had the most impact on the state; and there’s no better place to explore Minnesota’s rich Swedish roots than in the American Swedish Institute.

The American Swedish Institute maintains a library and an extensive collection relating to, and celebrating Swedish and Swedish-American culture. More than just a museum, ASI also holds annual festivals that honor Swedish traditions and culture!

Who’ll enjoy it here?

The American Swedish Institute is a must-visit for families, cultural explorers, history buffs, and architecture enthusiasts.

It’s particularly great for tourists with Swedish/Scandinavian roots who are keen on learning about the history of Swedish-Americans in the country.

What to do here?

Tour the American Swedish Institute’s grounds. Explore the historic Turnblad Mansion. Check out the mansion’s 33 rooms (!), and check out the mansion’s 11 kakelugnars.

Explore ASI’s material collections, featuring over 7,000 objects related to Sweden and Swedish America, including artworks, textiles, and everyday objects reflecting the daily lives of Swedish Americans!

Best time to visit

Located at 2600 Park Avenue, the American Swedish Institute is open Thursday through Sunday. 10 AM to 8 PM on Thursdays; and 10 AM to 4 PM on Fridays through Sundays.

The best time to visit ASI depends on your itinerary. If you plan on attending ASI’s annual festivals, make sure to check their website for their complete schedule!

Learn more about American Swedish Institute here!

Explore Saint Paul’s Hidden Falls Regional Park

What’s special about this place?

Hidden Falls Regional Park is a favorite among Saint Paul locals. Running along the bluff and floodplain of the Mississippi River, the park encompasses 130 acres and 1.6 miles of shoreline.

The park features 6.7 miles of paved trails for hiking and biking, scenic picnic areas, and a boat launch. The park’s centerpiece, however, is Hidden Falls, a waterfall located within the park’s protected natural area.

Who’ll enjoy it here?

Hidden Falls Regional Park is a must-visit for families, nature lovers, hiking and biking enthusiasts, outdoor recreationists, birders, wildlife enthusiasts, and tourists looking to explore Saint Paul’s great outdoors!

What to do here?

Explore all 130 acres of Hidden Falls Regional Park. Spend a day picnicking at one of the park’s picnic areas.

Have a nice little walk along the river, and try to spot some of the wildlife that thrive in the area. Do some boating and fishing along the Mississippi River. Try to find the (somewhat) elusive Hidden Falls.

Best time to visit

Hidden Falls Regional Park is open all year round, from 6 AM to 10 PM. It’s located at 1313 Hidden Falls Drive in Saint Paul, just under 8 miles south of Minneapolis. It’s best to visit the park on weekdays to avoid large crowds.

Learn more about Saint Paul’s Hidden Falls Regional Park here!

History of Minneapolis: 

Dating back to roughly 10,000 B.C.E., the earliest inhabitants of what is now called Minneapolis were Paleo-Indians, which preceded the Sioux and Ojibwa people that would later call the area home.

The area was then explored by French fur traders in the late 1600s. Later, the area’s Native American inhabitants would sell the land to Europeans in a series of treaties.

In the early 1800s, the U.S. took ownership of the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The U.S. then sent a series of military expeditions into the area to establish a fort for further expansion into its new western territory.

This would lead to the establishment of Fort Snelling near Saint Anthony Falls, the Mississippi’s largest waterfalls. The fort served as the primary center for U.S. forces during the Dakota Uprising, and would later serve as a recruiting station for the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and both World Wars.

The falls near Fort Snelling were an important factor in Minneapolis’ early economic growth. The waterpower provided by the falls led to the area becoming a lumber and flour-milling center.

By 1870 (right at the start of the country’s Gilded Age), Minneapolis was the country’s top producer of flour; the Minneapolis Grain Exchange would be formed 11 years alter. During this time, Minneapolis became a world-leading center of flour-production, and earned the name “Mill City.” Its lumber industry also reached its peak in the late 19th century.

The city’s lumber and flour milling industries consequently led to railroads being built, which consequently led to an increased demand in workers and land buyers. It was during this time that hundreds of thousands of Swedish immigrants flocked to the Minnesota area, as they were, at that time, deemed perfect for both capacities.

The flour milling industry soon replaced lumbering as the leading industry as wheat growing in the northwest increased (the last lumbermill in the area closed in 1919).

Though eventually much of the export flour trade shifted to Buffalo, New York due to the railroads, Minneapolis remained the headquarters for some large milling companies.

In 1930, Buffalo, New York eventually replaced Minneapolis as the nation’s flour-milling capital, and the Minneapolis’ flour mills, just like its lumber mills, fell into disuse (the remnants of which can still be seen today at Minneapolis’ Mill Ruins Park).

That said, the economic boom that Minneapolis enjoyed during its time as a flour-milling capital would leave an indelible mark on the city. By the end of the century, Minneapolis became a major hub of finance and culture for the upper Midwest; and has remained to be such to this day.

From the late 19th to the mid-20th century, Minneapolis experienced a steady increase of its population, reaching a peak of over 500,000 in 1950. This led to a more diverse Minneapolis. Today, although the majority of its residents are of Scandinavian descent, the city enjoys a significant population of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.

Minneapolis in the 21st century is a commercial, transportation, distribution, health care, financial and industrial center. The city’s current major industries include machinery manufacturing, fabricated metal product manufacturing, retail, and plastics and rubber manufacturing.

Additionally, the city is defined by its world-class park system, its vibrant arts and music scene (the city has a legendary Blues, Jazz, R&B, and Rock culture), and its growing culinary scene.

The city also has a vibrant sports culture, as a number of Minnesota’s professional sports teams are based in Minneapolis.

Moreover, Minneapolis is also known for its Skyway system, which is composed of a number of climate-controlled pedestrian walkways that connect a network of buildings in its downtown area.

FAQ

FAQs - Frequently asked questions about Minneapolis:

What is Minneapolis known for?

Minneapolis is most famous for its thriving arts scene. The city is full of art installations, art museums that showcase local and international art, and performing spaces. That said, the city is also known for its beautiful lakes (it has over 22 lakes!) and consequently, its outdoor culture.

Is Minneapolis a good place to visit?

Minneapolis, while not as celebrated as bigger cities in other regions, is definitely worth visiting. It has a thriving arts scene, tons of beautiful green spaces and urban parks, and it is among the best food cities in the country!

Do you need a car when visiting Minneapolis?

You don’t really need a car when visiting Minneapolis. The city is quite walkable (especially with its skyway system), and has a decent public transportation system. Moreover, if you’re not very familiar with the city’s parking fees, it’s better to just take a cab/bus or walk/bike to your destinations.

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