Minneapolis Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Minneapolis

View of the Stone Arch Bridge and skyscrapers in Downtown Minneapolis
Downtown Minneapolis and Stone Arch Bridge

Why We Love Minneapolis: Once known as the flour milling capital of the world, Minneapolis has grown from a humble milling city to the cultural capital of the Midwest. Now dubbed the Mini Apple because of a cultural vibe similar to New York City, Minneapolis has so much to offer from live theater to art galleries. Foodies will also love exploring Minneapolis since it’s home to several James Beard Award-winning chefs. Plus, with gorgeous lake parks and a vibrant bar scene, you’re bound to find plenty to fill your itinerary when you visit Minneapolis.

Best of Minneapolis

Things to Do

View of the skyscrapers and Stone Arch Bridge in Downtown Minneapolis during sunset
View of downtown Minneapolis from Stone Arch Bridge

Whether you love art and museums, nature or shopping, Minneapolis has something to offer everyone:

  • Como Park Zoo and Conservatory – a free zoo featuring exotic and local animals, along with gardens that have a variety of plants like bonsai trees.
  • Walker Art Center – a large collection of contemporary art, plus a large sculpture garden next door.
  • Minnehaha Regional Park – a quaint park where you can have a picnic and view its popular waterfall, Minnehaha Falls
  • Mill City Museum – a museum that was rebuilt on the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, where you can learn about the history of the flour industry.
  • Mall of America – the largest mall in the U.S. with restaurants, an aquarium, an indoor theme park, and much more!

👉 Explore all things to do in Minneapolis.

🗺️ Where to Stay

If you’re unsure where to stay in Minneapolis, you can’t go wrong with these top areas: 

  • Downtown West – a walkable area of downtown Minneapolis with tons to do. Its central location also makes it convenient to get to other attractions throughout Minneapolis.
  • North Loop – also called the Warehouse District, many of the trendy boutiques and bars here were renovated from old warehouses.
  • Bloomington – a suburb south of Minneapolis where the Mall of America is. It’s also close to the international airport.

👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay in Minneapolis.

View of skyscrapers in Downtown West at night time
A shot of Downtown West

🛎️ Best Hotels

A paw print design on a bed in Great Wolf Lodge
A bed in Great Wolf Lodge (photo: Lost_in_the_Midwest / Shutterstock)

Minneapolis has lots of high end and interesting hotels like the following: 

  • 300 Clifton – a luxurious bed and breakfast in a historical mansion, located near Walker Art Center
  • Great Wolf Lodge – a water park resort in Bloomington. Great fun for the whole family!
  • W Minneapolis – a chic skyscraper hotel in downtown Minneapolis

🍽️ Restaurants

The restaurant scene in Minneapolis is thriving with diverse cuisines and award-winning chefs. Check out these tasty spots: 

  • Young Joni – a pizza and cocktail restaurant run by James Beard Award-winning chef Ann Kim.
  • French Meadow Cafe – a bakery and cafe that’s the perfect place to pop by for brunch.
  • Murray’s – a fine dining steakhouse known for their Silver Butter Knife Steak, a signature dish that’s carved tableside.
  • Moto-i – a sake brewpub serving up ramen, steamed buns, and craft sake.
  • Revival Minneapolis – a great place to go for Southern comfort food and cheese curds, a Midwest classic.
A bowl of cheese curds in Revival Minneapolis
Cheese curds at Revival Minneapolis

🚗 Day Trips

View of people in Duluth Cityscape during summer season
Duluth cityscape in the summer
  • Duluth – a beautiful little city known for its locally-made craft beers and food.
  • Stillwater – this small city on the St. Croix River is the birthplace of Minnesota.
  • Redwood Falls – nicknamed the Little Yellowstone of Minnesota, this is the perfect place to go camping or hiking.
  • Pepin, Wisconsin – the birthplace of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder, where you can learn more about her life in the museum there.
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin – a hip city with great bars and restaurants. It’s also great for water activities like kayaking and canoeing on the Eau Claire River

👉 Read the complete guide to day trips from Minneapolis.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

View of apartments in Uptown Minneapolis
Apartments in Uptown
  • Downtown West – the best area to stay for its central location and tons of stuff to do.
  • Downtown East – an affluent neighborhood that’s home to the Mill District, Minneapolis’s historical district.
  • Lowry Hill – northwest of downtown Minneapolis, this is a great area for those who want to be near art galleries and museums.
  • Uptown – a hip area that’s perfect for foodies and thrifting.
  • North Loop – a vibrant downtown neighborhood known for its nightlife and unique bars.

🍸 Bars

View of different craft beers on a table
Craft beers in Minneapolis
  • Prohibition Bar – inspired by speakeasies, this bar will transport you to the past while you enjoy the skyline from the 27th floor of the W Hotel.
  • Volstead’s Emporium – this cozy bar serves craft cocktails and American-style food.
  • Cobble Social House – a great date night location, this bar offers an intimate vibe and a wide selection of cocktails.
  • Town Hall Brewery – this brewpub is the best place to go for craft beers.
  • 19 Bar – this LGBT-friendly bar is a casual hangout offering darts, pool tables, and a jukebox.

🚤 Outdoors

View of the Boom Island Lighthouse in Minneapolis
Boom Island Lighthouse
  • Boom Island Park – a riverside park with a picturesque mini lighthouse
  • Kayaking on the Mississippi River – take a tour with the Paddle Bridge Guide Collective, or you can rent a kayak from the Mississippi Paddle Share Program.
  • Apple Orchards – the University of Minnesota has developed over thirty varieties of apples, including the delicious HoneyCrisp! Make sure to visit an apple orchard like Pine Tree Apple Orchard during the fall to get a taste of some unique apple varieties.
  • Cross-Country Skiing – many parks, like Hyland Lake Park Reserve, offer ski rentals and several miles of ski trails.
  • Chain of Lakes Regional Park – this is a set of five nearby lakes. When visiting Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, visiting at least one lake park is a must.

Minneapolis Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Depending on what you want to do in Minneapolis, any season could be a good time to visit but here’s my advice:

  • 🌞 Summer –  Summer is the perfect time to visit for those who love dining outside or on rooftops. It may get a bit hot but you can cool off in wading pools or with some ice cream.
  • 🍂 Fall –  The refreshingly cool weather and beautiful foliage make fall a great time to explore the city. But beware that the weather can quickly become cold and snowy starting in November, so you may want to visit in September or October if you want to avoid the snow.
  • 🌼 Spring –  Similar to fall, early spring can have unexpected snowstorms and cold surges, but by late spring, temperatures begin to warm up.
  • ❄️ Winter –  Winter can be daunting in Minneapolis, with temperatures dipping into the negatives some days. Plus, the snow and ice on the roads and sidewalks can make your stay a bit dangerous. Unless you want to do winter activities like skiing, I’d avoid visiting in the winter.

🚌 Getting Around

You have many options when it comes to getting around in Minneapolis. Here are some quick tips:

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Downtown Minneapolis is the most walkable area of the city. The Skyway system—a set of elevated enclosed walkways connecting various buildings in Downtown West—can also make it easier to walk the city, especially in bad weather.
  • 🚗 Driving – Probably the easiest way to get around, especially if you want to do things outside of the downtown area, or if you also want to visit Minneapolis’s twin city, St. Paul.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – You can use the light rail, which connects downtown Minneapolis to the southern suburb of Bloomington, to get around. You can also take it from the airport to downtown.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Both Uber and Lyft are usually very active around Minneapolis, but prices can be pretty steep.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – With cycling paths on the streets and biking trails in most parks, Minneapolis is great for biking.
  • 🛴 Scooters – Minneapolis uses both Bird and Lyft for scooter rentals around the city.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🗺️ Check out St. Paul too! – Minneapolis and St. Paul make up the Twin Cities. There’s plenty to do in St. Paul too and it’s really close as well, so don’t limit yourself to Minneapolis alone.
  • ❄️ Don’t take winter lightly – If you’ll be visiting in the winter, make sure you pack plenty of layers and a warm coat. If you’ll be renting a car, check the condition of the roads after snowfall and drive carefully.
  • 💵 Save money while shopping  – Apparel and accessories don’t have sales tax in Minnesota so those would be great things to buy here.
  • 🚲 Secure your bike! – Unfortunately bike theft is pretty common in Minneapolis, maybe because the city is so bikeable. If you plan on biking around the city, try not to leave your bike unattended and if you must, secure it well with a good bike lock.
  • 🏞️ Parks are plentiful – Minneapolis has 15 lakes, each one with a park attached to it. Families and nature lovers will enjoy spending time in one of the various parks.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🧥 A coat & layers – If you’ll be visiting between October and April, prepare for potentially cold and snowy weather. Even if you visit in the summer, you may want to bring a light cardigan since it can get chilly at night sometimes.
  • 🕶️ Sunglasses – The sun can be harsh on the eyes no matter the season, even in winter when the white snow may reflect the sun in your eyes.
  • 👟 Comfortable Shoes – You might be walking around a lot so comfortable shoes like sneakers can save your feet.
  • 🩱 Swimsuit – Minneapolis has tons of lakes which you can swim in. Many parks also have free wading pools.
  • 🥾 Waterproof Boots – You’ll want a pair of waterproof boots to protect your feet from the rain or snow.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 429,954 (city), 3.65 million (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Central Time (UTC -6 / UTC -5 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 612, 651
  • Airports – Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Nickname – the Twin Cities, the Mini Apple
  • Demonynm – Minneapolitan
  • State – Minnesota
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $90-$200/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $60-$125/night
  • Rental Car – $50-$80/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2.50 ($2 to airport from center)
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $30-$50
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-$40
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $30-$100
  • Draft Beer – $6-$10

FAQs About Visiting Minneapolis

Is Minneapolis safe for tourists?

Minneapolis is generally safe for tourists and it’s about as dangerous as the average city in the U.S. Sticking to well-trafficked tourist areas and attractions will make your trip safer. Check out my guide on how to stay safe in Minneapolis for detailed tips and information.

Is Minneapolis worth visiting?

Minneapolis is worth visiting no matter what your interests are. Whether it’s restaurants, museums, nature or shopping, you’re sure to find plenty of things you’ll want to do.

What is the best month to visit Minneapolis?

The best month to visit Minneapolis would be May or June. The weather isn’t too hot and the chances of snow are very slim. Plus, the excitement of winter being over translates to many opportunities for outdoor activities and dining.

What is Minneapolis known for?

Minneapolis is sometimes called the Mini Apple because its vibe is similar to New York City—plenty of art galleries and museums, live theater, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues. It’s also known as the place where many modern products were invented, such as the Bundt pan, sticky notes, and the HoneyCrisp apple variety.

📰 Minneapolis Travel Guides

Check out all our other guides in Minneapolis:

Meet Our Minneapolis Travel Experts

Jessica Hurtault

Jessica Hurtault is a freelance writer in Minnesota. She explored South Korea while teaching English there for three years and traveled around Europe and Asia during her vacations. Now that she’s back in the U.S., she’s dedicated to finding the best sunrise spots and vegetarian restaurants on this side of the world.

👉 Read Jessica’s Articles

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