21 fun things to do in Minneapolis

12 mins read
minneapolis
photo by josh hild / pexels

The city that gave the world Prince and Bob Dylan is a cultural and economic powerhouse in the Midwest, sharing the Twin Cities metropolitan region with Saint Paul.

Minneapolis is one of the few large cities in the world with as much public parkland as it has. Thirteen lakes, the raging Mississippi River, wetlands, and waterfalls abound.

What’s even better is that you can completely immerse yourself in this setting by jumping from lake to lake in the Chain of Lakes without ever leaving the lush foliage of the lakeshores and stream banks.

The Mississippi river Saint Anthony Waterfall sparked the world’s biggest water-powered milling operation in the 19th century, and remnants of this massive structure may still be seen near the iconic Stone Arch Bridge.

Since downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul are just 15 minutes apart, give or take, we’ll look at all there is to do in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan region in this post.

The City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis
photo by Josh Hild / pexels copyright 2022

Spending the winter months in downtown Minneapolis-St. Paul may sound frightening to most Americans, but for the tenacious people of Minneapolis-St. Paul, it’s a fantastic chance to go ice skating or ice fishing outdoors, sled in the snow, put on skis, or throw snowballs.

There are festivals with live music, concerts, and hockey games to attend in addition to all the winter pleasure you may have on your own.

There are plenty of other fun things to do in Minneapolis-St. Paul makes this time of year memorable if you’d prefer to keep warm and enjoy the winter inside.

Here’s how to make the most of your stay in this city transformed into a winter paradise.

1. Visit Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace to do some shopping

For more than a century, Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace has been the area’s go-to site for Scandinavian delicacies, food, and crafts. 

It initially started as the Model Meat Market in 1921 and has since evolved to include a butcher shop, deli, needlework store, and school.

The family-owned shop, which hails from Norway, sells a variety of Scandinavian bread, cheeses, jams, candies, cookies, spices, canned fish, beverages, and other traditional veggie mixes, as well as books and arts and crafts supplies, which are ideal if you want to try your hand at knitting, stitching, or painting while visiting Minneapolis-St. Paul.

2. Take a stroll around the Como Park Zoo and Conservancy

zoo
photo by Anna Tarazevich / pexels copyright 2022

There’s no better place to unwind than Como Park Zoo, a lakes area park, and conservancy situated roughly half way from Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Ride Cafesjian’s Carousel, a historic antique carousel with 68 hand-carved horses, 18 original paintings, and a restored Wurlitzer 153-band organ.

In reality, the Peanuts attraction that first debuted in 1992 has been modernized and renamed as part of Nickelodeon Universe, which is the largest indoor theme park in the United States.

The lakes regional park was rebranded as Nickelodeon Universe when it reopened in 2008, and during Como the previous decade, an investment of millions of dollars was made to finish the makeover.

Besides the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden, the Como Park Zoo is home to lions, tigers, and other exotic creatures from all over the world.

3. Go Tubing in the Snow

If you’ve never felt the exhilaration of sliding down a large hill of snow on an inner tube, it’s time to try snow tubing, which is happily a popular pastime in these parts.

The Loppet Foundation’s Tubing Slope, which is situated behind the trailhead at Theodore Wirth Regional Park and offers a tow line so you don’t have to drag your tube up the hill, is available on weekends throughout the winter.

To ride, kids must be at least 44 inches tall, and you should dress warmly and have as much fun as possible within the two-hour time limit set by the pass.

Additionally, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, snow tubing is famous at Trapp Farm Park and Buck Hill as well as Green Acres Recreation Area and the Elm Creek Park Reserve in nearby Maple Grove.

4. Get a Closer Look at Ice Castles

Ice Castles Minnesota, situated in Long Lake Regional Park approximately 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and open from January to March, offers visitors the unique opportunity to explore castles built of more than 20 million pounds of ice.

Every day, around 12,000 ice crystals are generated to maintain the ice castle artworks in top form, enabling visitors to get lost in the ice labyrinth, explore the wonders of ice caves, crawl through ice tunnels, and race down ice slides.

A popular winter attraction for kids, families, couples, and young-at-heart people of all ages, the attraction opened in 2011 and currently has locations in five states, is also a favorite venue for proposals since private arctic alcoves can be rented out for special parties.

5. Take a Cross-Country Skiing Adventure on Local Trails

Cross-country skiers can find pathways in a variety of parks and gardens across the Twin Cities

Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis has 15.5 miles of tracks ranging from beginner to expert come the 1.25-mile illuminated route for dark skiing. and

The Columbia Golf Course, which is close by, also has many miles of trails. Fort Snelling State Park near St. Paul boasts 12 miles of picturesque trails with river vistas, and Como Park has some of the greatest trails in the metro region.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, near the University of Minnesota, as well as Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan, approximately 25 minutes away, are also lovely places to ski.

Even if you’re not a skier, the City of Lakes Loppet, a cross-country skiing festival featuring races and a torchlit event across Minneapolis that takes place in late January or early February, may appeal to you.

6. Have a Go at Ice Fishing

Ice fishing may be done by joining a group on the ice at a resort or hiring a guide. 

If you have a fishing rod, a license, and something to make a hole in the ice, it’s also an easy pastime to undertake on your own.

You may enjoy this undervalued sport in Lake Nokomis, Lake Harriet, or Fort Snelling State Park in Minneapolis.

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources organizes Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend, a free and unlicensed event for anyone under the age of 15 who want to go fishing or spearfishing.

State parks that participate supply all of the necessary equipment and guide families through the whole process, from drilling holes to keeping them from freezing over.

7. Have a good time at the Winter Festival

The Winter Carnival is a prominent yearly event in St. Paul that features ice and snow sculptures, traditional Minnesotan dishes, and a huge procession through downtown St. Paul.

Additional events, such as an ice fishing tournament and a drive-through ice sculpture park, are also common throughout the winter months in the city of Vulcan.

The majority of the events are free and open to the public, and they take place in downtown Saint Paul near Rice Park and Landmark Center, as well as at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Loring Park’s Holidazzle is a Minneapolis classic, so anticipate a Minneapolis-centric event with lots of well-known local shops and items.

This annual celebration, which attracts thousands of people to admire the lights and listen to holiday music, takes place from Thanksgiving until Christmas. Prepared foods and drinks, packaged foods, souvenirs, live music, and other festive and family-friendly entertainment for all ages will be available.

8. Take a look at the thriving beer scene in the area

While the Great Lakes area has long been a stronghold for American beers, Minneapolis is swiftly establishing itself as one of the top towns in the country for small-batch breweries.

More eateries, from brewpubs to beer halls, are opting to serve solely small-batch, locally produced beers.

Take a tour of the Minneapolis-St. Paul craft beer scene by visiting Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul or Surly Brewing Company in the nearby Brooklyn Center.

9. Visit the Children’s Museum with the Kids

When it’s too chilly for the kids to spend much time outside, the Minnesota Children’s Museum or Minneapolis Weisman art museum in downtown St. Paul provides a beautiful interactive setting geared to entertaining and teaching children aged 10 and up.

Exhibits where children can play with building blocks, create their own art works of art, spritz as well as play with a water table, encounter an interactive shipwreck, climb a 40-foot down the runway, slide down slides, and revisit pertinent in a pretend post office, firehouse, and farmers market are just some of the activities that are available. There is plenty to keep young children occupied for a few hours. Exhibits where children can experience an immersive sunken ship.

10. Take a stroll across the Minneapolis Skyway System

skyway
photo by Josh Hild / pexels copyright 2022

The good news is that if you stay in a downtown hotel with access to the Minneapolis Skyway System, you won’t have to fight the weather to move from one building to the next in this metropolis.

Corporate headquarters, bars, eateries, bakeries, hotels, government services, sales, gyms, supermarkets, liquor stores, and banks are just some of the places you’ll be able to access along with the 9.5-mile network of pathways that connect 80 city blocks. You’ll also have access to live theater performances, three professional sports facilities, a church, and exhibitions of art along the way.

It’s important to remember that the Skyway System has closure hours, so double-check the timetable and prepare appropriately.

11. Attend a Game

Professional sports teams as well as prominent college sports including basketball, football, baseball, ice hockey, and soccer may be found in Minneapolis-St. Paul. 

Since 1990, the Twin Cities have built five major sports facilities in the readily accessible downtown region, making them the focus of the United States’ stadium and arena boom.

Allianz Field, a 20,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium in St. Paul roughly midway between the two downtowns, is the most recent addition.

12. Pay a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) has a collection of over 90,000 pieces of art from six continents spanning 5,000 years. 

Minneapolis institute The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) is a free public fine Weisman art museum that can be found in the city’s Whittier district on an eight-acre property that was originally known as Morrison Park.

The Weisman art museum receives funding from the government and is available to the general public. One of the most enjoyable attractions in Minneapolis, Minnesota is the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is home to one of the exquisite and most comprehensive art collections in the country. It features an eclectic catalog of over 80,000 objects that span 5,000 years of world history.

The art gallery is comprised of impressive exhibitions and compilations of art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and also a wide assortment of Asian art and sculpture.

Among the museum’s many divisions are African and American art, conceptual art, Chinese, South, and Southeast Asian art, Decorative Elements, Japanese and Korean art, and cinematography.

Keep an eye out for Rembrandt and Van Gogh’s works

13. Visit Minnehaha Falls, which are icy

Minnehaha Falls is a 53-foot tall waterfall in Minnehaha Regional Park, roughly 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis.

Minnehaha Creek runs through Minneapolis, tumbling over an unexpected cliff to create the falls.

In the summer, this is one of the city’s most popular parks, and in the winter, you can witness the falls frozen into a stunning wall of ice.

14. Attend a First Avenue performance

Minneapolis’ First Avenue is a landmark

The facility, which was formerly the downtown Minneapolis Greyhound bus terminal, was restored into a live music venue where Prince and Lizzo, among other notable performers, have performed.

Musicians of different genres perform here, and even if you aren’t coming to a concert, don’t miss the opportunity to take a picture with the painted wall of stars outside the building.

15. Indulge in a juicy Lucy

When you visit Minneapolis, everyone will tell you to try the Juicy Lucy Burger, a delightful regional specialty in which burgers are cooked with the cheese within the patty, resulting in luscious molten cheese oozing out of every mouthful.

Depending on who you ask, the Juicy Lucy was created in the 1950s by either the 5-8 Club or Matt’s Bar.

The two pubs in south Minneapolis are feuding about who originated the renowned burger. 

so sample them both and judge for yourself which has the culinary qualifications to be the Juicy Lucy’s official home.

16. Go shopping at the Mall of America

mall of merica
photo by Josh Hild / pexels copyright 2022

Bloomington, 15 minutes south of the city, is home to the Mall of America, the country’s largest retail mall. 

As you would assume, there are hundreds of stores and restaurants here, but there are also unexpected attractions like a theme park, an aquarium, and a wedding chapel.

It’s easy to lose track of time here, and since apparel is exempt from sales tax in Minnesota, the mall is a favorite destination for out-of-state visitors who often load up on a season’s worth of clothes before flying home.

17. Sledding in a City Park is a great way to spend a winter day

You can trust the locals in this snow-loving section of the nation to know all the greatest sledding sites in town. 

St. Paul’s municipal parks feature more slopes than Minneapolis’, with 15 designated sledding areas compared to Minneapolis’ two (Columbia Park Golf Course and Theodore Wirth Regional Park).

If you’re looking for the most adrenaline, go to Battle Creek Regional Park in St. Paul, which boasts an extremely steep slope that is guaranteed to mesmerize daring sledders.

18. Participate in the National Pond Hockey Championships

Every year in late January, the US Pond Hockey Championships are hosted in Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, bringing thousands of players and spectators together for a weekend of fun and hard competition.

Each year, the tournament has attracted up to 300 teams and welcomed participants of all ages and ability levels—just in case you wish to form a team.

19. Visit the Mill City Museum to Travel Through Time

Minneapolis began as a mill town, processing wood before becoming the country’s top flour producer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

The Mill City Museum, situated on the Mississippi River’s bank in downtown Minneapolis, offers an insight into that era.

The Mill City Museum offers a hands-on historical lesson on Minneapolis, its flour business, and the Mississippi River.

After the building burnt down, the Minnesota Historical Society took over the ruins and turned it into a museum, making it one of the most realistic sites to learn about Minneapolis’ history.

The Mill City Museum will transport you back in time. Mill City Museum is a museum in Mill City, Pennsylvania.

Minneapolis began as a mill town, processing wood before becoming the country’s top flour producer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Mill City Museum, situated on the Mississippi River’s bank in downtown Minneapolis, offers an insight into that era.

A tour of the mill city museum takes you through the history of the region, the milling industry, and the mill that formerly stood there.

20. Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Nothing like a horse-drawn carriage ride in the snow to round off a lovely winter day, particularly a romantic one.

Take a one-hour Mississippi River Grand Carriage Tour or a half-hour Mississippi River Carriage Tour with The Hitching Company.

Both excursions pass past notable Minneapolis attractions like the skyline and Nicollet Island, allowing you to wrap up and take in the views while you ride through the streets in a horse-drawn carriage.

21. Walker Art Center

walker art centre
photo by Wendy Wei / pexels copyright 2022

The Walker Art Center is a multi-disciplinary contemporary art center in the heart of Minneapolis that is considered one of the country’s ‘Big Five’ modern art museums and one of the top Minneapolis attractions.

The Walker sits directly across from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a sculpture park on the Walker Campus that was created in conjunction with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.

The Walker Art Center, which opened in 1927 as a public art gallery and now spans over 17 acres following a recent expansion, encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including architecture and design, visual arts, performing arts, film/video, new media projects, and education and community events.

The Walker sits directly across from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a sculpture park on the Walker Campus that was created in conjunction with the Minneapolis sculpture garden & Recreation Board.

The museum, which is housed in an aesthetically spectacular edifice, is a must-see. 

Commence making preparations for your trip to Minneapolis

We are very looking forward to welcoming you to Minneapolis as soon as possible. 

It doesn’t matter whether it’s tonight, this weekend, or even years from now; we can guarantee that you won’t run out of enjoyable activities to participate in.

In Minneapolis, there is such a diverse range of locations to explore and activities to partake in. 

Even though we have covered a lot of ground in terms of the sights and activities available in Minneapolis and the cities and towns in the surrounding area, we are aware that this is a city that is filled with beauty on every corner.

You should make an effort to see as many of these places as you can, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to confine your exploration to that area.

It’s possible that you like particular activities in your spare time, such as playing an instrument or participating in a sport.

Try to visit as many interesting places as you can that will both cater to your preferences and leave you with cherished memories.

There are fantastic things to see and see in Minneapolis, both inside and outside, inside the city boundaries and in the surrounding area.

You’ll be able to plan the most enjoyable vacation possible with the help of this book, and when you get back home, you’ll be able to brag to everyone about how much fun you had in Minneapolis.

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