The Best Things to Do in Minneapolis–Saint Paul

Absorb the history of the Twin Cities at one of many museums and monuments, then revel in contemporary culture at galleries and theaters. Or get active and explore the parks and lakes by foot, bike, and boat in the summer, or snowshoe, sled, and skate in the winter. Minneapolis–St. Paul will keep you as busy—or relaxed—as you like.

Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, MN, USA
This former railroad bridge, built across the Mississippi River in the 1880s, is now a pedestrian and bike path perfect for strolling between parks. With panoramic views of the downtown skyline, river, and St. Anthony Falls, Stone Arch Bridge is a favorite trail for locals.
818 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55415, USA
Although the new Guthrie Theater was only completed in 2006, it has a rich history in the resident-theater movement of the 1960s. Architect Jean Nouvel created this stunning masterpiece that is worth visiting even if not attending a show, although attending one would be ideal. The space has three, differently sized theaters, and the “Endless Bridge” lobby extension leads to panoramic views of the Mississippi River, Stone Arch Bridge, and St. Anthony Falls.
240 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55102, USA
Scattered with Victorian mansions, St. Paul’s tree-lined Summit Ave. is one of the most beautiful residential streets in the Midwest, with famous former residents including author F. Scott Fitzgerald and early railroad entrepreneur James J. Hill. Guided tours are offered from the James J. Hill House Wed–Sun, but it is also a worthwhile independent stroll. Make sure to start or end at the gorgeous St. Paul Cathedral, overlooking downtown St. Paul.
4801 S Minnehaha Dr, Minneapolis, MN 55417, USA
One of the unique things about the Twin Cities is just how much nature is part of the urban landscape. Few places exemplify this better than Minnehaha, one of Minneapolis’s oldest and most popular parks. Here, visitors will find everything from limestone bluffs and river overlooks to a majestic 53-foot waterfall that freezes in winter. Explore the area via various walking and biking paths, or bring your furry friend to the epic dog park. There’s also a disc golf course, picnic area, playground, volleyball court, and wading pool, making the park perfect for family outings.
725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA
The Walker Art Center is one of the major contemporary art museums in the U.S., housing some of the most iconic and innovative visual, performing, and mixed media art in the world. The Center hosted the first major museum exhibits by Joseph Cornell, Frank Gehry, Julie Mehretu, and Maria Merz and has acquired work by O’Keeffe and Warhol. Exhibitions here push the boundaries and strive to engage the audience in unique ways.
10 Mounds Blvd, St Paul, MN 55106, USA
Six out of what was once at least 16 Native American burial mounds remain preserved atop the bluffs overlooking St. Paul and the Mississippi River. These sites, 1,500–2,000 years old, are thought to have been built by the Hopewellians and then added to by the Dakotas. Upon excavation, archaeologists discovered a variety of offerings, such as mussel shells, arrowheads, copper ornaments, and bear teeth, as well as an unprecedented clay death mask with the imprint of the original face fully intact in the mold.
1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103, USA
The conservatory portion of the Como Park Zoo is worth a stop for its various gardens and exotic plants, especially on a cold winter day when you’re craving a pop of green. Start in the Sunken Garden, which hosts seasonal displays of everything from azaleas and tulips to roses and chrysanthemums, then explore the Tropical Encounters exhibition, which is home to an authentic South American rain forest filled with plants and animals. Also on-site is a palm dome, water lily pond, Japanese garden, orchid house, bonsai display, and Enchanted Garden, which attracts hundreds of butterflies every summer with its fragrant selection of plants, trees, and shrubs.
Bde Maka Ska, Minneapolis, MN, USA
A trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes wouldn’t be complete without spending some time on, well, a lake—even if you’re only visiting the cities. In Minneapolis, everyone heads to Bde Maka Ska, the largest of five in the city’s Chain of Lakes. Located in the Uptown neighborhood, the 401-acre lake is surrounded by parkland and trails, making it a favorite of locals for everything from ice fishing in the winter to swimming, biking, and volleyball games in the summer. Along the shore are rental options for nearly every water sport, from sailing and kayaking to paddleboarding, plus lockers for stashing your stuff when you’re out on the water. For those who prefer dry land, there are also several Nice Ride stations where you can access the city’s bike-share program, and a seasonal restaurant serving sandwiches, wings, and tacos.
2088 Larpenteur Ave W, St Paul, MN 55113, USA
Minnesota’s official natural history museum, the Bell recently moved to a brand-new space in St. Paul and now features a digital planetarium, high-tech exhibitions, wildlife dioramas, outdoor learning experiences, and more. Visit the state-of-the-art planetarium to explore the far reaches of the cosmos, then head to the permanent galleries to learn about everything from the origins of the universe and the diversification of life on earth to how University of Minnesota researchers are working to create a better future for our evolving world. Children will especially love the Touch & See Lab, where they can learn through observation and sensory engagement, while nature lovers will want to head to the green roof and observatory deck, home to native plants, a geology exploration area, and a solar station.
704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA
Located along the Mississippi riverfront, the Mill City Museum rises eight stories from the limestone ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill. Today, this National Historic Landmark houses antique milling equipment, vintage advertising, and exhibitions on the wheat farms, and visitors can ride the grain elevator, watch a movie about Minneapolis’s humble beginnings, learn how the Mississippi River powered all the local mills, and sample freshly made treats in the Baking Lab. There’s also an observation deck with panoramic views over the city, and the Ruin Courtyard, which hosts events and live music throughout the year. When hunger strikes, head to the on-site restaurant, Bushel & Peck, for lunch fare like burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA
Located next door to the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden features more than 60 works by big names like Alexander Calder, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Indiana. At its center stands Claes Oldenburg’s iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry, which locals regard as an unofficial symbol of the city. Perhaps the best thing about the sculpture garden, however, is that it’s free, unlike the Walker—or the surrounding parking, for that matter. It’s open 365 days a year, from 6 a.m. to midnight, and also hosts the two-day Rock the Garden musical festival every June.
520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA
One of the first breweries in Minneapolis, Surly set the stage for all the places that opened in its wake. Today, breweries and distilleries are everywhere in the Twin Cities, but before the Surly Bill was signed into law in 2011, they couldn’t serve alcohol on-site. This popular spot helped changed everything and now offers some of the most beloved brews in the region.

Surly Brewing Co. operates out of a sprawling space near the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. Here, guests can visit the brewhouse, fermentation cellar, and packaging hall on public tours, or simply head to the beer hall to sample a rotating tap list of up to 35 brews. Also on-site is a seasonal beer garden lined with fire pits and a pizza restaurant serving New Haven–style pies. Wherever you choose to hang, be sure to try beers like the Furious (slightly dark and hoppy), the Bender (an oatmeal brown stout), the Cynic (a Belgian-style pale ale), and the Hell (a standard lager beloved by locals).
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