15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions 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, with extensive parks and green spaces that blend seamlessly into the urban environment.
Minneapolis offers an abundance of cultural attractions, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the American Swedish Institute, and the Mill City Museum. You can also find great shopping both in the city center and at nearby Mall of America, in Bloomington.
Many of the city's top places to visit can be accessed by public transportation or without a vehicle, including the more natural settings found in such places as Minnehaha Regional Park. Bike and multi-use pathways, like the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, are a great way to get around, if not the most recommended route.
Explore the city and interesting things to do with our list of the top attractions in Minneapolis.
See also: Where to Stay in Minneapolis
- 1. Hit the Shops at the Mall of America
- 2. Stroll through Minnehaha Regional Park
- 3. Minneapolis Institute of Art
- 4. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
- 5. Take in a Show at the Guthrie Theater
- 6. Weisman Art Museum
- 7. Mill City Museum
- 8. Experience Nature at Chain of Lakes Regional Park
- 9. Walker Art Center
- 10. Enjoy the Shops and Restaurants at Nicollet
- 11. Take the Kids to the Children's Theatre Company
- 12. American Swedish Institute
- 13. City Hall
- 14. Walk the Stone Arch Bridge
- 15. Minnesota Zoo
- Where to Stay in Minneapolis for Sightseeing
1. Hit the Shops at the Mall of America
If you're more interested in shopping than museums and parks, then head straight for the Mall of America. This mega-mall has over 520 shops that are more than happy to help you part with your hard-earned cash.
In addition to all the shopping, the mall is an entertainment hot spot. The XD ride is a roller coaster and video game all in one, and Moose Mountain Mini Golf is a course complete with full-size horses, moose, and other forest creatures, a logging truck, and a bi-plane. Go underwater at the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, and be sure to walk through the shark lagoon tunnel.
At center court, you'll find the Nickelodeon Universe. This fantasyland of rides is sure to enthrall any young people who may be traveling with you.
2. Stroll through Minnehaha Regional Park
To the southeast of the city, extending along the banks of the Mississippi, is Minnehaha Park. This city treasure is home to the 53-foot-high Minnehaha Falls, as well as statues of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, the chief characters in Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha.
The park is one of the oldest and most popular in the city, receiving more than 800,000 visitors each year. Other fun things to do include strolling through a pergola garden, dining at the Sea Salt Eatery, and enjoying a live show at the Minnehaha Bandstand.
Address: 4801 South Minnehaha Park Drive, Minneapolis, Minnesota
3. Minneapolis Institute of Art
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) 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 display are sculptures, photographs, paintings, drawings, textiles, and prints. Admission is always free, and so are the public tours, and with a Family Center on-site, this cultural resource is a good option for all ages.
Address: 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
4. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden displays sculptures of the Walker Art Center in a lovely 19-acre urban green space. One of the most famous pieces is Claes Oldenburg's Spoonbridge and Cherry. In addition to the sculptures, this popular tourist attraction is also home to the Cowles Pavilion & Regis Promenade and the Alene Grossman Memorial Arbor and Flower Garden with seasonal displays.
Other interesting and intriguing works of art in the Sculpture Garden include the Bog Walker by Aaron Spangler, the Geometric Mouse - Scale A by Claes Oldenburg, and The Spinner by Alexander Calder.
Address: 726 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, Minnesota
5. Take in a Show at the 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 on three different stages and 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 of past performances on its exterior.
Address: 818 South Second Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota
6. Weisman Art Museum
The Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota is an architectural highlight of the campus and the city. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building is an eye-catching, four-story, stainless steel structure of a hard-to-define shape.
The museum's collection focuses primarily on American Modernism, traditional Korean furniture, and ancient Mimbres pottery from the American Southwest. The museum's Public Art on Campus program has resulted in a variety of art being displayed around the campus. General admission to the facility and all exhibitions is free.
Address: 333 East River Parkway, Minneapolis, Minnesota
7. Mill City Museum
The Mill City Museum chronicles the flour milling industry and history in Minneapolis. The Mill was built in 1880 and was once the largest of its kind in the world. A devastating fire in 1991 left the structure in ruins. However, civic pride ensured that the remaining history was preserved and showcased in a first-class museum.
Innovative engineers and architects built on the ruins, and the former mill rose from the ashes to feature an eight-story glass façade, giving the building a contrasting historic and modern look. Exhibits recount Minneapolis' status as a world leader in flour production from 1880 to 1930.
Address: 704 South Second Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota
8. Experience Nature at Chain of Lakes Regional Park
Southwest of the city center, Chain of Lakes Regional Park is comprised of five different shorelines connected by pedestrian trails and green space. Boating, biking, and visits to the Lyndale Park Rose Garden are all fun things to do within this sprawling public area, and special events like live music at the Lake Harriet Bandshell occur throughout the year.
Chain of Lakes is one of seven districts along the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, which circumnavigates the city, connecting parks, natural spaces, and other bodies of water. Lakeside walking paths and public beaches are also popular attractions at Chain of Lakes, and in winter, the area offers some of the best cross-country ski trails in the city.
Address: 2000 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minnesota
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. Founded by lumber baron Thomas Barlow Walker, the Walker Art Center began at its current location in 1927 and was comprised solely of a personal collection.
The award-winning facility you see today was built in 1971, expanded in 2005, and now hosts more than 700,000 people each year. The center contains numerous exhibition galleries, a theater, a cinema, lounges, terraces, and eating establishments. Opposite the building is the associated Sculpture Garden.
Address: 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, Minnesota
10. Enjoy the Shops and Restaurants at Nicollet
The main shopping center in downtown Minneapolis is Nicollet, formerly known as Nicollet Mall, and is a beautifully laid-out precinct running along Nicollet Avenue. This mainly pedestrian zone has a large concentration of shops, restaurants, galleries, and public art displays alongside a well-manicured walkway.
The central feature of the complex, over which looms the 775-foot tower of the IDS Center, is the Crystal Court piazza. From here a network of glazed skyways lead to other buildings. Further skyscrapers tower all around.
11. Take the Kids to the Children's Theatre Company
One of the best places to visit for families is the Children's Theatre Company. On the events calendar are plays for all ages, including performances designed to inspire youth. Many productions are based on classic children's literature. Check before your visit to see what's coming up and plan to take in a show. It may be the highlight of your children's trip to Minneapolis.
Plays are presented all year long, and the CTC also offers theater arts training programs for youth to introduce them to the performing arts.
Address: 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
12. American Swedish Institute
The American Swedish Institute offers a look at and demonstrates the importance of the surrounding region's Swedish heritage. The institute consists of the modern Nelson Cultural Center and the historic Turnblad Mansion.
The Turnblad Mansion was originally commissioned in the early 20th century by Swan Turnblad, owner of the largest Swedish Newspaper in the United States. Swan and his family donated their mansion and the newspaper to what was then the American Institute for Swedish Art.
Today, visitors can tour the mansion and observe the original carved oak, walnut, and mahogany of the interior. Swedish glass, textiles, fine art, and authentic tile stoves are also on display.
Address: 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
13. City Hall
To the east of Nicollet Mall and Crystal Court 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 day. The Municipal Building is a National Historic Landmark.
Address: 350 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota
14. Walk the Stone Arch Bridge
The Stone Arch Bridge is an iconic must-see sight in Minneapolis and a favorite with locals and visitors alike. The bridge, with its 21 arches, dates from 1883 and stretches for 2,100 feet across the Mississippi River.
It's the perfect place to visit for a long leisurely walk with friends or, incorporate it as part of a longer bike trip along the river. As you stroll along, you can't help but admire the city's downtown architecture. Another highlight of a walk is the gorgeous views of St. Anthony Falls.
15. Minnesota Zoo
A great family activity while in Minneapolis is a trip to the Minnesota Zoo. Home to just over 2,300 animals, this fantastic facility is sure to please all ages. The zoo has indoor and outdoor enclosures featuring creatures from all regions of the globe.
Be sure to check out the Northern Trail, a self-guiding outdoor pathway that will take you past wild boar, leopards, camels, llamas, the ever-so-cute prairie dogs, and many others. For a taste of the jungle and the creatures that inhabit that part of the world, follow the indoor Tropics Trail.
A trip to the Minnesota Zoo wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Wells Fargo Family Farm where friendly farm animals are always willing to accept a pat or two (or more!).
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:
- In a great location downtown, near entertainment venues, restaurants, and shops, and connected to the Skyway, The Hyatt Centric Downtown Minneapolis 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 Royal Sonesta Minneapolis Downtown offers well-appointed rooms and suites.
- The Chambers Hotel in two landmark revival buildings 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.
- The 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 Minneapolis has been completely renovated and offers contemporary rooms and suites.
- At the top end of the mid-range category, the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis features Scandinavian décor and great views over the city from the upper floors.
- Further out from the main downtown area, but still within a reasonable distance, is the recently renovated Days Hotel by Wyndham University Ave SE, with free breakfast and rooms with fridges.