Where to Eat, Shop, and Play in the Twin Cities

Beautiful lakes, world-class museums, and an exciting culinary scene. What’s not to love about Minneapolis–St. Paul?

A person biking across the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota

For those who love to cycle, Minneapolis is one of the biking cities in the country.

Photo by Jenn Ackermann

The human history of the Twin Cities dates back to over 12,000 years. Today, Minneapolis and St. Paul form a bustling metropolis filled with parks, restaurants, and some of most vibrant diaspora communities in the United States.

On your next trip to Minneapolis–St. Paul, use this guide to explore all the city has to offer.

A cook at the Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul, Minnesota

The Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul offers Southeast Asian produce, ingredients, and dishes that are not available at traditional U.S. grocery stores.

Photo by Jenn Ackermann

Where to eat

The Jucy Lucy, a molten cheese–stuffed hamburger from Matt’s Bar & Grill, is a must. So are reservations at Owamni, if you can get them. Minneapolis’s newest food hall, Eat Street Crossing, serves sushi sandwiches and Brazilian pizza. Travelers can peruse the stands at the always bustling HmongTown Marketplace in St. Paul or snack on sambusas at Karmel Mall, the first and largest Somali shopping center in the U.S. Nearby, at Quruxlow, settle in for a hearty spread of beef suqaar, spiced rice, and banana. The cardamom- and ginger-heavy milk tea is the perfect finish.

Two people entering Ingebretsen’s in Minneapolis

Ingebretsen’s in Minneapolis specializes in stocking Scandinavian foods and gifts.

Photo by Jenn Ackermann

Where to shop

Scour the shelves at century-old Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace for lingonberry preserves and Norwegian Hardanger embroidery kits. Birchbark Books, owned by Pulitzer Prize–winning local author and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa member Louise Erdrich, specializes in titles by Indigenous writers. Head to 24 Somali Mall for scores of silk scarves. XIA Gallery & Cafe in St. Paul’s Little Mekong district stocks jewelry, prints, and more by Hmong and other Asian American makers.

Left: A display of drums at the Somali Museum of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Right: A display of colorfully striped rugs

The Somali Museum of Minnesota in Minneapolis is dedicated to exhibiting traditional Somali arts.

Photo by Jenn Ackermann

What to do

Tour the museums—big (Minneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center) and small (the Museum of Russian Art, Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery). The Norway House and Danish American Center host events inspired by their respective diaspora communities, while the Somali Museum of Minnesota houses upwards of 700 artifacts, including a full-scale reproduction of a nomadic hut. If you visit during the warmer months, get yourself on or near some water: Rent a kayak from Mississippi River Paddle Share, cycle your way around the scenic Chain of Lakes, or go for a stroll through Lyndale Park Rose Garden, a horticulturalist’s heaven bordering Lake Harriet. In the winter, ice fishing and crosscountry skiing take over, and you’ll have no shortage of cold-weather festivals (The Great Northern, Art Shanty Projects, and others).

Where to stay

Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis

Location: 245 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis | Find on Google Maps

Book now: From $360 per night

In summer 2022, Minnesota welcomed its first five-star property, Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis. Local flourishes abound, from the regionally stitched Faribault blankets draped over elegant sofas in the suites to the sculptural installations livening up the spa (the handiwork of local ceramicist Juliane Shibata). Mara Restaurant & Bar, the hotel’s Mediterranean eatery from chef Gavin Kaysen, is an indulgent treat.

Hewing Hotel

Location: 300 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis | Find on Google Maps

Book now: From $230 per night

The boutique 124-room Hewing Hotel is located in the heart of Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood. Part of the Aparium hotel group, which prides itself on celebrating local communities, the common rooms are adorned with paintings and decor created by artists living in the area. The on-site restaurant Tullibee offers Scandinavian-inspired fare; the Nordic influences continue to the rooftop, which features a sauna.

Ashlea Halpern is a contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler and cofounder of Minnevangelist, a site dedicated to all things Minnesota. She’s on the road four to six months a year (sometimes with her toddler in tow) and contributes to Afar, New York Magazine, Time, the Wall Street Journal, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Bon Appétit, Oprah, Midwest Living, and more. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @ashleahalpern.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR