11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Minneapolis
Minneapolis and St Paul, the Twin Cities on the upper course of the Mississippi, together form the largest city in Minnesota. Minneapolis is the quintessence of the glistening modern American city. The city has extensive parks and green spaces, and is also the commercial centre of one of the largest farming areas in the United States.
The city grew out of two mills built at the St Anthony Falls in 1847. Although this was Indian country, other settlements soon followed, and these displaced the Indians, whose reservation was moved elsewhere. The city's name comes from the Indian word minne, meaning water, and the Greek polis, meaning city.
See also: Where to Stay in Minneapolis
1 Minnehaha Park
To the southeast of the city, extending along the banks of the Mississippi is Minnehaha Park. This city treasure is home to the 55 ft high Minnehaha Falls, as well as statues of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, the chief characters in Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha". The 193 acre park is one of the oldest and most popular in the city.
Address: 4801 South Minnehaha Park Drive
2 Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Institute of Arts has a large collection of works from many countries and in many styles, including pictures by European masters such as Rubens and Rembrandt. The collection features pieces from a wide variety of cultures dating back 5,000 years. On displays are sculptures, photographs, paintings, drawings, textiles and prints.
Address: 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404-3506, United States
3 Guthrie Theater
The Guthrie Theater opened on May 7,1963 with a production of Hamlet directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the theater's founder. Today the theater presents classic and contemporary productions but has remained true to its commitment to offer productions of Shakespeare's plays. More than 40 years after it was established, a new building was constructed in 2006, situated along the Mississippi River. The unique building showcases large images on the exterior of past performances.
Address: 818 South Second Street
4 Frederick R Weisman Art Museum
The Frederick R Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota is an architectural highlight of the campus and the city. The building is an eye catching, four story, hard to define shape, stainless steel structure. The museum focuses primarily on American art from the early 20th C to the present. The museum's Public Art on Campus program has resulted in a variety of art being displayed around the campus.
Address: 333 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, United States
5 Children's Theatre Company
The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis presents plays for all ages, but designed to inspire youth. Many productions are based on classic children's literature. Plays are presented from September through to June. The CTC also offers a Theater Arts Training program for youth to introduce them to performing arts.
Address: 2400 Third Avenue South
6 Mill City Museum
The Mill City Museum was built within the Washburn A Mill and chronicles the flour milling industry. The Mill was built in 1880 and was the largest of its kind at that time. A devastating fire in 1991 left the structure in ruins. The present day museum has been built on the ruins and features an 8 story glass facade, giving the building a contrasting historic and modern look. Exhibits recount Minneapolis' status as a world leader in flour production from 1880 to 1903.
Address: 704 South Second Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401, United States
7 American Swedish Institute
The American Swedish Institute offers a look at, and demonstrate the importance of the surrounding region's Swedish heritage. It was founded in 1929 by Swan J Turnblad and is housed within the Turnblad mansion. Carved oak, walnut, and mahogany are featured throughout the interior and painted plaster sculpturing decorates the ceilings. Swedish glass, textiles, decorative and fine arts are displayed.
Address: 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407-1090, United States
8 Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden displays sculptures of the Walker Art Center in a lovely 11 acre urban green space. One of the most famous pieces is Claes Oldenburg's "Spoonbridge and Cherry". In addition to the sculptures, the park is also home to the Cowles Conservatory and the Alene Grossman Memorial Arbor and Flower Garden, with seasonal displays.
9 Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center is devoted to contemporary art. The center is an important venue in the city, with visual and performing arts, as well as film screenings and various other events. This large facility, built in 1971 and expanded in 2005, contains numerous exhibition galleries, a theater, cinema, lounges, terraces, and eating establishments. Opposite the building is the associated Sculpture Garden.
Address: 1750 Hennepin Avenue
10 Nicollet Mall
The main shopping center in downtown Minneapolis is Nicollet Mall, a beautifully laid out precinct running along Nicollet Avenue. This mainly pedestrian zone has a large concentration of shops, restaurants, galleries and other attractions. The central feature of the complex, over which looms the 775 ft tower of the IDS Center, is the Crystal Court. From here a network of glazed skyways lead to other buildings. Further skyscrapers tower all around.
11 City Hall
To the east of Nicollet Mall is City Hall, also known as the Municipal Building. It was built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Of note in the interior is the statue in the Rotunda, "Father of the Waters", carved from a single block of Carrara marble. The building's clock tower, which set records in the city at the time it was built, rises above the building and chimes at certain times of the week. The Municipal Building is a National Historic Landmark.
Address: 350 South Fifth Street
Where to Stay in Minneapolis for Sightseeing
The best place to stay in Minneapolis, either for work or pleasure, is downtown. Minneapolis has a vibrant city center, with museums, shopping, and restaurants; and the Minneapolis Skyway System, which connects 69 blocks with indoor pedestrian bridges, is perfect for getting around on cold winter days. Below are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxury Hotels: In a great location downtown, near entertainment venues, restaurants, and shops, and connected to the Skyway, The Grand Hotel Minneapolis - a Kimpton Hotel is an elegant landmark hotel in a historic building. Within easy walking distance of Nicollet Mall and the theaters along Hennepin Avenue, the recently renovated Radisson Blu offers well-appointed rooms and suites. The unique, Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis, in two landmark revival buildings and featuring contemporary art, is a cultural treat. Within a one-mile vicinity of this hotel are the Minnesota Sculpture Garden, the Walker Art Center, and several historic theaters.
- Mid-Range Hotels: BEST WESTERN PLUS The Normandy Inn & Suites is a lovely property in the heart of downtown, featuring large rooms and suites and an indoor pool in a garden atrium. On Nicollet Mall and connected to the Convention Center by a skyway, the Millennium Hotel has been completely renovated and offers contemporary rooms and suites. Nearby, and at the top-end of the mid-range category, the Hyatt Regency features Scandinavian décor and great views over the city from the upper floors.
- Budget Hotels: Good budget options are limited in the city center, but the University Inn is an exception, with a convenient location and decent rooms. Further out from the main downtown area, but still within a reasonable distance, is the recently renovated Days Hotel University Ave SE, with free breakfast and rooms with fridges.