25 Best Things to Do in Minneapolis (MN)

Source: Unsplash / Weston MacKinnon | CC BY 2.0

Minneapolis is the most populated city of the state of Minnesota, one of the coldest states in the USA. The city of Minneapolis has many parks and lakes for you to enjoy being known for its many options for outdoor activities.

Like most big cities in the US, Minneapolis downtown is filled with impressive skyscrapers. So, one of the attractions of Minneapolis is to go through the so-called Skyway. This air-conditioned connection system of more than a hundred buildings in the city is surrounded by shops and restaurants. To go to Minneapolis is to walk in the clouds, almost literally.

Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Minneapolis (MN)

Source: Map data @2022 Google

1. Mall of America®

Mall of America
Source: Flickr / Ted | CC BY-SA 2.0

Do not think the Mall of America is just a shopping mall, because it is actually a fun complex for the entire family. This giant 4-level building is the largest mall in the US with many stores, restaurants, a theme park, cinema, and even an aquarium. So, whether it is Legoland or the Rainforest Cafe, there is something for everyone to keep themselves entertained.

At the end of the day, you will probably get tired of walking when you visit Mall of America and one full day might not even be enough to see it all. Make sure to download the Mall of America map app to help you navigate this place and not get lost.

2. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Source: Flickr / GPA Photo Archive | CC BY 2.0

With 5,000 years of fine and decorative arts on display, the Minneapolis Institute of Art has the largest and most diverse art collection in the city. From a mummy to paintings by European masters, enjoy the wonderful architecture of the place and take the opportunity to see the most varied exhibitions. You can admire works from renowned artists such as Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Modigliani, Mondrian, Matisse, and many more.

But attention! Visiting this museum takes a lot of time out of your day as it has a very large number of exhibitions.

3. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
Source: Flickr / Ken Lund | CC BY-SA 2.0

Sharing an entrance with the Science Museum, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is a paradise of a green scenic area with a terrific view of the Minneapolis skyline. There is an ample space along the river to fish or just enjoy the scenery as the water floats by. The 72-mile waterfront also has many walking and biking trails.

At the visitor center, you can learn more about the human history of the Mississippi River. You can also hire an electrical scooter to travel faster and see more of the park in less time.

4. Target Field

Target Field
Source: Flickr / Mac H | CC BY-SA 2.0

Target Field is the ideal place for you to spend the day cheering for your favorite baseball team, the Minnesota Twins. Do not worry about getting the best seat to get the best view of the stadium, as the view is favored from any seat in the stadium.

The stadium offers group and private behind-the-scenes tours. Target Field has the standard baseball field food, plus much more. Red Cow has decent burgers and brats. But you can also choose to go for the Pizza Lucci or the Soul Bowl which also provides gluten-free food.

5. Walker Art Center

Walker Art Center
Source: Flickr / Richie Diesterheft | CC BY 2.0

The Walker Art Center is an acclaimed venue featuring worldwide art and artifacts in a variety of media, plus an outdoor sculpture garden and a bistro. Their permanent collection is diverse and expansive, so it is difficult to find a place to start. Whether you are into modern art, landscape paintings, ancient sculptures, or architectural interior gems, this excellent museum has got you covered.

Besides, the rooftop offers an incredible view of the city and the Basilica of Saint Mary. Also, the gift shop has some very cool books and Minneapolis souvenirs.

6. Nickelodeon Universe®

Nickelodeon Universe
Source: Flickr / Mark Gstohl | CC BY 2.0

The theme park of Nickelodeon Universe is a well-designed and exciting icon of the Mall of America. Featuring items from the TV station’s shows, you can also take photos with your favorite character. The kids for sure have a blast at this amusement park. There are roller-coaster rides for all ages and if your child is too small to ride by themselves, you can join them for free.

When buying tickets, be sure to check for current packages and extra attractions like mini-golf and ziplining. They also offer special deals with discounts for other attractions inside the mall.

7. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Source: Flickr / Lorie Shaull | CC BY-SA 2.0

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the ideal place for you to enjoy the sculptures that are scattered around the place, including the famous “Spoonbridge and a Cherry”, a symbol of Minneapolis. The 11-acre preserve is part of the Walker Art Center and features a conservatory, an arbor, and over 40 sculptures by modern artists.

There you can enjoy the sun or just stay under the trees in the company of a book. Also, the place is cute and has a very nice view of Downtown Minneapolis.

8. SEA LIFE at Mall of America

SEA LIFE at Mall of America
Source: Flickr / Official U.S. Navy Page | CC BY 2.0

In the heart of Mall of America, SEA LIFE is a family-friendly aquarium exhibiting a wide variety of marine creatures, including a large collection of sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and freshwater fish. The exhibits are amazing, and the staff takes great care to make them educational and interesting for any age.

The highlight of SEA LIFE at Mall of America is walking through the tunnel and observe the animals swimming overhead. Besides a pool where you can interact with rays and fish, the aquarium also has a rescue program in which they help injured turtles.

9. Centennial Lakes Park

Centennial Lakes Park
Source: Flickr / Thomson20192 | Public Domain

Near coffee shops and small eating joints, the Centennial Lakes Park is the perfect urban park featuring a large lake, seating areas, fishing, boat rentals, and more. Besides the walkways and bridges surrounding the lake, there is also a 1.45-mile loop trail great for a walk after lunch or a sunset jog. And the kids especially like the maze.

The stone walkways and fountains add a beautiful touch to something that otherwise would feel like just another business district and shopping mall. The park also hosts concerts and golf during summer and ice skating during winter.

10. Guthrie Theater

Guthrie Theater
Source: Flickr / Ken Lund | CC BY-SA 2.0

With 3 stages, full-service dining, and several bars, the Guthrie Theater is a performance arts center with incredible views of the river and St. Anthony Bridge. You can explore the history and heart of the Guthrie with a guided behind-the-scenes tour. The tours are divided into a backstage tour, architecture tour, costume rentals tour, and access tour.

At this cultural venue, you will find a variety of shows, theater plays, and outdoor entertainment. The Guthrie also offers acting classes that are incredibly fun for all ages. Besides, the venue keeps their endless bridge and top floor lookout room open to the public, so make sure to check them out.

11. Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Minnesota

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Minnesota
Source: Flickr / Jerry | CC BY 2.0

Just 1 mile from Mall of America, the Great Wolf Lodge is a hotel with an amazing indoor water park. However, this is more than just a resort as it offers many other attractions. For example, you can enjoy your time at the climbing wall, the arcade, the bowling alley, and the rope circuit.

With cabin themed rooms, this is the perfect resort if you are traveling with kids. While you relax in one of the jacuzzies, the little ones can be a part of the pajama party, meet the Great Wolf characters and enjoy storytime. Besides, the hotel also offers many dining options.

12. Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge
Source: Flickr / Sharon Mollerus | CC BY 2.0

The National Engineering Landmark of Stone Arch Bridge offers a scenic view of St. Anthony Falls, the Mill City Ruins, and the Guthrie Theater. The bridge has a unique architecture, and it is well-positioned to see the entire city linking Mill Ruins Park and Father Hennepin Bluff Park.

You can enjoy walking and biking paths or even rent a scooter to cross this, which is a former railroad bridge over the Mississippi River. In other words, you can explore decades of Minneapolis history hidden in this marvelous structure.

13. Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum
Source: Unsplash / Weston MacKinnon | CC BY 2.0

Built within the ruins of the Washburn A. Mill, the Mill City Museum is the best place for you to visit and learn more about the local history and the former flour factory. At the time of its construction in the 1800s, this was the most modern mill factory in the world. And it was not until 2003 that it turned into a museum open to the public.

With interactive exhibitions and rebuilt ruins of the old mill, you can have a good idea of how the factory worked at that time. Amongst its attractions, you can visit the Flour Tower elevator show, Water and Baking Labs, and the Rooftop observation deck.

14. Theodore Wirth Regional Park

Theodore Wirth Regional Park
Source: Flickr / Joe Passe | CC BY-SA 2.0

The 759-acre park of Theodore Wirth Regional Park is actually the largest in the Minneapolis park system. Besides, the park is home to many natural treasures like an urban forest and a lake. Also, hikers and bikers seek the Luce Line Trail and a walk along it can take up to 3 hours.

Its amenities include a disc golf course, a soccer field, a tennis court, a cross-country ski trail, among others. Within the park, the Wirth Pavilion and the Wirth Chalet Fireplace Room hosts many events and activities throughout the year.

15. Crayola Experience Mall of America

Crayola Experience Mall of America
Source: Wikimedia / Brianegge | Public Domain

The amusement park of Crayola Experience, inside the Mall of America, is the place to let your creativity run free in a colorful environment. The park features 25 hands-on attractions where color, chemistry, and technology come together. From modeling and coloring stations to high-tech play zones, this is a Crayon company-sponsored kids’ attraction.

Besides creating your art, you can also watch the Crayon Factory Show where the staff and the animated crayon friends put together a theater performance about how crayons are created. At the end of your visit, recharge your energies at the Café Crayola and visit the Crayola Store.

16. Mill Ruins Park

Mill Ruins Park
Source: Flickr / Rain0975 | CC BY-ND 2.0

Located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, Mill Ruins Park was built around a historic old mill featuring walking and biking paths. The park is also next to the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls.

Back in the 19th century, this was the largest water-powered facility in the world and as such it has a lot of history in its ruins. So, the park includes ruins of an old, abandoned flour mill incorporated into a nice green space in Minneapolis. Along the restored tailrace canal, you can explore historic walls and waterpower system.

17. Edinborough Park

Edinborough Park
Source: Flickr / minnemom | CC BY-ND 2.0

Edinborough Park is the perfect indoor playground and recreational center to let your kids run free. There is something fun for all ages, even toddlers. There is a Great Hall full of scooters and bikes, as well as a wide variety of toys, like hula hoops. But the highlights are the bouncy house and the climbing wall which is big enough for the adults to join.

For the grown-ups, there are several basketball hoops, a swimming pool, and a running track. They also offer a seating area so you can watch your kids play or take a break. During their break, feel free to use the snack and cold beverage vending machine or visit the little cafe.

18. Lake Harriet Bandshell Park

Lake Harriet Bandshell Park
Source: Flickr / Joe Passe | CC BY-SA 2.0

Amid Minneapolis residential areas, Lake Harriet provides a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of city life with a scenic lake. The 3-mile biking and walking path around Lake Harriet is one of the many in the park. You can also access the Minnehaha parkway regional trail connecting Lake Harriet and Minnehaha Regional park (Minnehaha Falls).

The castle-inspired bandshell hosts many events throughout the year with performances every evening during summer and movies on weekends. And at the end of your visit, a wonderful dining option is the Bread and Pickle restaurant, which is only feet away from the park.

19. FlyOVER America

FlyOVER America
Source: Flickr / Jeremy Thompson | CC BY 2.0

Rated as one of the top attractions in Mall of America, FlyOVER America offers the unique experience of flying over famous landscapes of the US. Besides the scenic views, the ride also features special effects. So, you can feel the mist on your face as you fly over water bodies and the sweet fragrance as you fly over some prairies.

The fantastic background music adds up to the entire feel of the whole experience in this 10-minute adventure! And be aware that it is not allowed to take photos inside, as you would probably lose your camera.

20. Fort Snelling State Park

Fort Snelling State Park
Source: Flickr / Tony Webster | CC BY 2.0

Cut by the Minnesota River, the lakeside Fort Snelling State Park features extensive trails, a golf course, and swimming opportunities. Make sure to go out on Pike Island and look for the native fruits and wildlife. As a bonus, you can watch jets taking off at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.

You can also look at the great displays and well-maintained visitor center under the bridge. Set upon a hill looking out to the city, the history of the fort itself is not pretty and there is a lot to learn.

21. American Swedish Institute

American Swedish Institute
Source: Flickr / Amy Meredith | CC BY-ND 2.0

At the American Swedish Institute, you get both a historical museum and a cultural center featuring Swedish exhibits and art classes. The exhibits mix current pen/ink drawings and contemporary design mixed with the original architecture. The historic Turnblad Mansion is worth the visit alone. Try paying attention to the ornate decorations, the intricate woodwork, and all the little cool details everywhere.

The institute provides lots of activities, classes, and one of the best gift shops in the city. The outdoor patio offers a fun seating area with the tasty Scandinavian cuisine at the Fika Cafe.

22. Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls
Source: Flickr / Hafiz Issadeen | CC BY-ND 2.0

The Minnehaha Falls, located in Minnehaha Park, offers not only beautiful scenery but also a great place to go for a swim during summer. The breath-taking cascade has visitors throughout the year. In fact, during the winter, the waterfall freezes, making the landscape even more beautiful. Just watch out as you go down the slippery staircase!

Minnehaha Park itself is an incredible place for you to spend the day having a picnic or bathing in one of the rivers and waterfalls located there. There are also a few walking and running trails so you can get some exercise done.

23. The Escape Game Minneapolis

The Escape Game Minneapolis
Source: Wikimedia / Hudson Bloom | CC BY-SA 4.0

Inside the Mall of America, the Escape Game is an entertainment option offering several themed escape rooms in which you have missions to accomplish. There is a wide range of rooms and adventures lasting around 60 minutes each. You can go on a mission to Mars or a hunt in the woods with the Gold Rush. You can also go on a Heist, escape the Prison Break room, or be a part of the Special Ops: Mysterious Market.

The rooms are incredibly detailed, making the experience that much better! And the staff and guides make sure the entire family is having fun, even the kids.

24. Basilica of Saint Mary

Basilica of Saint Mary
Source: Flickr / Brian Altmeyer | CC BY 2.0

The Basilica of Saint Mary was the US’s first basilica and features different nativity scenes across the church. Besides the stained-glass windows, the organ and the altar area will catch your attention. The church also houses an art gallery covering five centuries and several continents.

Given that this is a functioning basilica, be respectful, and avoid taking photos when there are masses, funerals, and weddings happening. Also, the church is willing to help its community with programs focused on mental health and job coaching, for example.

25. Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum
Source: Flickr / Lorie Shaull | CC BY-SA 2.0

The Weisman Art Museum functions in a building with Frank Gehry’s unmistakable architecture, with its modern stainless steel and brick structure. Besides, across the Mississippi River, you can visit the Minnesota University. The collection, with works of art, ceramics, and works on paper covers American and contemporary works.

With interactive art, an exciting permanent collection, beautiful midday light, this is an honored spot on campus. Even though the museum is small, you can easily spend the whole afternoon exploring it. Also, the intimate space for modern art has a great view.