Also known as being part of the Twin Cities due to being located across the Mississippi River from the Minnesota capital of St. Paul, Minneapolis is a core of urbanity in the midst of a mostly rural state.
While this vibrant metropolis has more than its fair share of high culture and world class shopping, even this place is infused with the type of outdoor magic that makes this place a favorite among physically active adults.
Indeed, this city owes its very existence to a waterfall that it had harnessed to power its flour mills back in the 19th century, and through the ages, Minneapolis has constantly adapted and reinvented itself to remain the stable, friendly city it is today.
Want to jog by multiple stunning lakes, see some cutting edge art, and shop at all your favorite stores under one roof (plus many others you have never heard of before), all in one day? A trip to Minneapolis will scratch all those itches, making this city a no-brainer stop for those traveling around the Midwest or across the country.
While the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden are must-sees on your cultural wanderings through this city, they have been covered in-depth in the state article for Minnesota, so check it out for more info on these intriguing attractions.
In this article, we’ll start off with another visual arts point of interest well worth mentioning, as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts deserves all the lofty accolades it receives. Since this museum is funded by the state government, admission is free, and with eight acres of space, there is a ton of exhibit space for the 80,000 pieces in its collection. Especially recommended is its Asian art section, as it contains fine art that dates back as far as 5,000 years into the past.
In this part of America, immigration from Scandinavian countries had been very robust in the past, as the landscape here resembled their home back in the Old World. In Minnesota, the Swedish population is particularly prominent, and as such, the American Swedish Institute has made it their mission to document their heritage and past experiences involved in integrating and adjusting to a new life in a new land. After learning about this unique segment of the American melting pot, be sure to enjoy some Nordic cuisine at the on-site cafe.
Those wanting to learn more about the story of the city of Minneapolis will want to tour the Mill City Museum. Set on the site of an old flour mill, this museum’s surrounding environment highlights this city’s industrial heritage that jumpstarted this settlement on the banks of the Mississippi to the vibrant city that exists here today.
Be sure to take in the Washburn A Mill, the site of one of the worst industrial accidents of the 19th century, you will be shocked to learn that the task of making the powder you use to make your mother’s bread could ever be so dangerous.
Got an itch to update your wardrobe from top to bottom? There is no better place to do this than at the Mall of America, which is the biggest shopping center in the USA. After racking up the charges on your VISA, indulge in roller coaster thrills even in the depths of winter at Nickelodeon Universe, and see the creatures of the sea up close at Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, where a glass tunnel puts you in the midst of a tank containing sharks, sting rays, turtles and more.
If you’d rather spend your time in Minneapolis outdoors, you’ll have your hands full with the Chain of Lakes. As you might suspect, this string of jewels within this city’s park system are connected to one another by trails and running paths, and the main highlight of this feature are a series of gorgeous lakes, with Lake Calhoun being a favorite among swimmers, Lake of the Isles being a choice place for avid fishers, and Lake Harriett is a great place to watch locals enjoy the water in their sailboats.
Finally, those that prefer to watch water fall over a cliff rather than sit there like a stump on a log will want to pay a visit to the local waterfalls in the area. Saint Anthony Falls is the place that granted Minneapolis the power to make the gears of its flour mills turn back in the 1800’s, while Minnehaha Falls is more authentic and more dramatic, as it still exists in its original state, and is the tallest waterfall in the entire state.