Things to do in Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis skyline at nightMinneapolis, Minnesota, and its sister city, Saint Paul, are collectively known as the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities region is one of the largest economic and cultural centers in the Midwest. Known for its thriving art and theater districts and numerous lakes and nature areas, greater Minneapolis is also home to the world-famous Mall of America, one of the greatest shopping destinations in the United States. Whether you're searching for family-friendly fun, nightlife, outdoor adventures, or cultural institutions, we have you covered in this helpful guide to the best things to do in Minneapolis.

Top Attractions in Minneapolis, MN

Visiting the Mall of America is one of the absolute top things to do in Minneapolis. Located in the nearby suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota, the Mall of America is the largest mall in the United States and houses more than 500 stores from nationally known brands; some of the largest and most popular stores within the mall include Macy's, Nordstrom, IKEA, American Girl, and The Lego Store. The mall attracts more than 40 million visitors per year, generating more than $2 billion in revenue. In addition to retail stores, the mall features dining locations, a movie theater, an escape-room game, miniature golf, periodic special events, and a Crayola Experience location. Visitors can also ride the Flyover America simulation ride, visit Sea Life Aquarium, and experience the Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme park.

Minnesota is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." So it should come as no surprise that lakeside recreation is one of the most popular and fun things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Residents of the Twin Cities region enjoy access to swimming, fishing, kayaking, and lakeside walking and bicycle trails at more than 20 lakes in Minneapolis alone. Popular lakes in the area include Lake Hiawatha, Lake Nokomis, and Wirth Lake. Just a few miles from downtown, visit Chain of Lakes Regional Park to enjoy five interconnected lakes in one park: Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet. The park includes nearby golf, tennis, and volleyball facilities, scenic Lakewood Cemetery, the Lyndale Park Rose Garden, the Bakken Museum of electricity, a dog park, and Roberts Bird Sanctuary. If you're looking for fun things to do in Minneapolis this weekend, give one of these beautiful places a try!

Downtown This Weekend

There are plenty of interesting things to do in downtown Minneapolis! The city center is very walkable, with walking tours available on a variety of topics. We recommend Taste Twin Cities Food Tours, Urban Adventure Quest, and the historical summer walking tours offered by Preserve Minneapolis. The Riverfront area is another easily walkable part of downtown. Popular attractions along the Riverfront include Mill Ruins Park, Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, St. Anthony Falls, Stone Arch Bridge, and the Mill City Museum. Other popular attractions downtown include shopping along Nicollet Avenue, multiple farmers' markets, the historic Basilica of Saint Mary, periodic events at the Minneapolis Convention Center, walking the unique Minneapolis Skyway System, and free tours of City Hall.

Sports fans need not drive into the suburbs to watch their favorite teams; almost all of the Twin Cities' major professional sports teams are right in downtown Minneapolis! Catch the NFL's Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium and the MLB's Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Not to be confused with Target Field, the nearby Target Center is home to the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Right across the river on the University of Minnesota campus, TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Division I football team, is also the current host of Major League Soccer's Minnesota United while a new soccer stadium is being constructed. The only professional sports team not located downtown is the NHL's Minnesota Wild; you'll find them in downtown St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center.

Family-Friendly Fun With Kids

Zoo tigerWhen you're searching for kid-friendly ways to fill the weekend with your family, things to do in Minneapolis include local museums, kid-specific attractions, and outdoor fun. Museums in the area popular with families include the Minnesota Children's Museum, Twin City Model Railroad Museum, Minnesota Streetcar Museum with its accompanying streetcar line, and Firefighters Hall & Museum. Adults and kids alike also love the Minnesota Zoo near Bloomington as well as the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul. Kids of all ages can enjoy plays presented by the Children's Theatre Company, and head into the suburbs to check out the indoor playground and swimming pool at Edinborough Park.

Nighttime Activities for Couples

Live dance performanceCouples looking for fun things to do Minneapolis at night will find plenty of top-notch restaurants, hip bars, and spectacular performing arts venues for a great date night. Try a fine dining experience at The Capital Grille, 112 Eatery, or Spoon and Stable. For more moderately priced options, we recommend Pizzeria Lola, South American cuisine from Chimborazo, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare from Holy Land, or Broders' Pasta Bar. If you're heading out for drinks, some highly recommended options include The Corner Bar, Marvel Bar, Up-Down, and Crooked Pint Ale House. Minneapolis has a thriving theater district, too; in fact, it's one of the largest theater markets in the United States. To impress your date with an excellent live music, theater, or opera experience, we recommend Guthrie Theater, Red Eye Theater, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Orpheum Theatre, or Illusion Theater.

Free Things to Do

On a budget? Not to worry! There are lots of fun, free things to do in Minneapolis that will keep both you and your wallet happy. History buffs can check out the Textile Center and tours of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul or head to the airport to visit the Northwest Airlines History Centre or Minnesota Air National Guard Museum. Periodic free classes on a variety of subjects are offered at Midtown Global Market and the Hennepin County Library, and you can catch free movie nights on a seasonal basis at Loring Park. Free seasonal events and festivals held throughout the year include the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Twin Cities Pride Festival, Art Car Parade, and the annual Swedish heritage festival Svenskarnas Dag.

Indoor Activities

Need to find indoor activities for a rainy day? Museums offer some of the most popular indoor things to do in Minneapolis. Locally popular art museums and galleries in the area include Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Weisman Art Museum, and the Museum of Russian Art. You should also check out the American Swedish Institute for exhibits on the history and culture of Minnesota's Swedish community, and the Bell Museum of Natural History for exhibits on the evolution of life on Earth, local ecology, and the impact of humanity on the environment. The museum features a planetarium, an interactive "touch-and-see" lab, and a rooftop garden. Other popular indoor attractions around Minneapolis include the Loft Literary Center, Foshay Tower Observation Deck, and indoor rock-climbing at Vertical Endeavors.

Outdoor and Seasonal Fun

Minneapolis Spoonbridge and Cherry sculptureThere are lots of fun things to do outside in Minneapolis, including at the area's numerous lakes. The city is also known for its large number of parks and greenspaces. Some local favorite natural areas include Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, Minnehaha Falls, Theodore Wirth Regional Park, and River Road Trail. Golf enthusiasts can play at Hiawatha Golf Club, Gross National Golf Club, or the Minikahda Club. Art-lovers can talk a beautiful stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and the athletes among us can participate in the annual Twin Cities Marathon. Some of our favorite seasonal things to do in Minneapolis in winter months include ice-skating at Northeast Ice Arena or on the area's lakes, watching the national Pond Hockey Championships at Lake Nokomis, renting snowshoes at many of the city's parks, and trying out ice fishing.

St. Paul and Surrounding Area

Lighthouse on the lake in DulutThose who couldn't get enough of Minneapolis's beautiful lakes and nature areas will be happy to know that there are many more opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors in the surrounding region. Popular destinations for outdoor fun that are easy to get to from Minneapolis-St. Paul include Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, Afton State Park, Taylors Falls, Gooseberry Falls State Park, and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Other popular day-trip destinations include the nearby cities of Red Wing and Duluth. Red Wing is known for the Cannon Valley Trail and Treasure Island Casino. In Duluth, visitors can go skiing and enjoy other fun activities at Spirit Mountain, go surfing and sailing on the waters of Lake Superior, or take the kids to Great Lakes Aquarium, Lake Superior Zoo, or the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.

When you've sampled many of the best things to do in Minneapolis, St. Paul should be your next stop. While we've highlighted a few of St. Paul's attractions already, there's much more fun to be had in downtown St. Paul. Some of the most popular attractions for museum-goers include the Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota History Center, historic James J. Hill House, and Minnesota Museum of American Art. Outdoor recreation in St. Paul is centered on the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Battle Creek Regional Park, and Lake Phalen.

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