For those hoping for a hip, fast-paced vacation in the Midwest, Minneapolis is the place to visit. It’s one of the Twin Cities, the other of which is St Paul, the state’s capital, to the east. Whether you’re seeking to enjoy the lively nightlife, view historic architecture or enjoy a Broadway-worthy theater performance, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Minneapolis. Here are 25 must-visit attractions to incorporate into your trip.
People visit Minnehaha Regional Park for many reasons, though its biggest draw is the 53-ft (16-m) high Minnehaha Falls. The park is one of the oldest in Minneapolis and also features incredible limestone bluffs and river overlooks. The park attracts about 850,000 visitors annually who enjoy performances at the bandstands, biking along the paths, disc golf, walking through the garden and taking children to the playground and tot lot.
Grand Avenue is a St Paul street that’s known for its fantastic shopping, restaurants, bars and events. It’s 25 blocks long, stretching from the Mississippi River to downtown. Local independent shops include Bibelot, a retail outlet known for curating a wide-ranging assortment of unique items including jewelry, stationery and home accents. Another popular store is Irish on Grand, filled with everything Irish: products, jewelry, clothing, music, crystals and more. For the kids, there’s the Mischief Toy Store, a place packed with science kits, art supplies, pop culture items and more.
This Minneapolis neighborhood is a trendy commercial district, known for its high-energy nightlife, and sits along the popular Chain of Lakes. The streets are lined with inviting gastropubs, modern restaurants and independent boutiques with items ranging from designer clothing to locally made gifts. Indie movies and foreign films are screened at the historic Uptown Theater. The district’s status was cemented when Prince wrote about it in some of his better-known songs.
This park is one of the most beloved destinations in the Minneapolis park system and part of the Chain of Lakes district lining the Uptown neighborhood and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Visitors can lounge in the sun and explore the shorelines of Lake Harriet, Bde Maka Ska, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake, with nearly 15mi (24.1km) of trails that connect them all to Lyndale Park, which has plenty to offer no matter the season. Other amenities include cross-country ski trails, boat docks, a biking path, hockey rink, fishing pier, bandstand and garden, with free movies and music in the summer.
Built between 1881 and 1883, the Stone Arch Bridge is the oldest crossing in Minneapolis and is acknowledged to be one of the finest stone viaducts on the planet. Originally a railway bridge connecting industries on both banks of the Mississippi, it was renovated in 1980 and is now exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a great spot from which to survey the city’s skyline and, during summer, to enjoy local festivals and firework shows.
Nicollet, formerly known as Nicollet Mall, is Minneapolis’s premier shopping destination – a mile-long stretch of boutiques, big brands, bars, restaurants, art and greenery. The mall is also part of another unique Minneapolis feature – the futuristic Skyway System. Connecting 80 city blocks and running for 9.5mi (15km), it’s the largest network of enclosed, second-floor bridges in the world, and provides an ideal retreat from the bitter cold of winter.
Hidden Beach, as it’s colloquially known, is the most famous secret stretch of sand in Minneapolis, and is reached by paths cutting through dense greenery. Officially called Cedar Lake East Beach, it used to be the Twin Cities’ only nudist beach, and also had a reputation as being an alternative lakeshore hangout, due to its popularity among counter-culturists. This tranquil spot also boasts a mud bath (slightly to the east) and is dog- and kid-friendly.
Dating from the late 19th century, Minneapolis City Hall presents a striking contrast with the modern, glass-fronted buildings that surround it. When inaugurated, it was said to have the biggest four-sided clock in the world – even bigger than London’s world-famous Big Ben. The bell tower was also the city’s tallest structure until the 1920s. Notable interior features include the Father of the Waters statue – rubbing the big toe of which reputedly brings you good luck.
Located at 1701 5th Street NE, St Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral is one of many Orthodox churches in St Paul and Minneapolis. The original wooden structure was built for the city’s Slovakian, Ukranian and Carpatho-Russian immigrants at the end of the 19th century, but was destroyed in a fire in 1904. The church built to replace it remains to this day, and was elevated to cathedral status in 1971. An on-site gift shop sells trinkets made out of copper that once belonged to the original rooftop dome.
Additional reporting by Mark Nayler