Downtown Minneapolis
Photo: andreykr/Fotolia

From picturesque lakes and outdoor activities to some of the top museums and theaters in the United States, Minneapolis offers plenty to see and do for visitors of all ages. Couples can go on a scenic bike ride along lakeside trails, take a behind-the-scenes tour of a famous baseball field, have a romantic dinner and listen to a live music performance. Best family things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota include the Minnesota Zoo, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, farmers market and the children's theater.

»Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Located in the neighborhood of Whittier on an eight-acre campus formerly known as Morrison Park, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) is a government-funded fine art museum that is open to the public free of charge. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is one of the best things to do in Minneapolis MN.

Featuring an encyclopedic collection of over 80,000 objects, spanning 5,000 years of world history, the MIA is home to one of the finest wide-ranging art collections in the country, consisting of remarkable exhibitions and collections of art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, as well as a vast collection of Asian art and sculpture.

Inspiring wonder through art, the MIA also features traveling collections from other museums, as well as the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program, which focuses on displaying works by local artists from Minnesota. Read more

2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404, Phone: 888-642-2787 Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Walker Art Center

Walker Art Center

Considered one of the nation’s ‘Big Five’ modern art museums and one of the top Minneapolis attractions, the Walker Art Center is a multi-disciplinary contemporary art center in the heart of Minneapolis.

Established as a public art gallery in 1927, and covering an area of over 17 acres after a recent renovation doubled the museum’s size, the Walker covers an array of disciplines, including architecture and design, visual arts, performing arts, film/video, new media initiatives and education and community programs.

The Walker rests opposite the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a sculpture park on the north side of the Walker Campus and is collaboration between the Walker and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Housed in an architecturally stunning building, the museum is a must-visit.

1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403, Phone: 612-375-7600

More places to visit: Grand Marais, Minnesota. Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Mill City Farmers Market

Mill City Farmers Market

Located on the Chicago Mall in the historic train shed of the Mill City Museum, Mill City Farmers Market is a fresh produce market featuring items from local, sustainable and organic farmers and artisans.

Centrally situated close to many popular attractions, the market is open on Saturdays and Sundays throughout summer and every second Saturday of the month in the winter. The market has a wide variety of vendors selling a range of fresh and artisanal products such as handmade arts and crafts, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, seasonal locally prepared food and freshly made juices.

Visitors are treated to live entertainment, cooking demonstrations and food tastings.

704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401, website, Phone: 612-341-7580 Photo: Mill City Farmers Market

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»Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo was founded by the State of Minnesota in 1978 and has played a leading role in organizing animals according to their living environment rather than by species.

Innovative exhibits are spread over six themed areas, including three beautiful walking trails ranging from one to two miles in length. Exciting exhibits include “Russia's Grizzly Coast,” a new indoor/outdoor exhibit featuring animals from Russia's Far East, the “Tropics Trail,” an indoor walking trail presenting animals from the tropics, the “Medtronic Minnesota Trail,” showcasing animals native to Minnesota and “Discovery Bay,” an activity area themed around marine wildlife. If you are looking for fun things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota with kids, this is a great place to visit.

The zoo provides educational programs that engage audiences with the animals at the zoo, and conservation programs highlighting animal conservation and protection of the environment. The zoo is one of the top family attractions in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124, website, Phone: 952-431-9200 Photo: Minnesota Zoo

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»First Avenue and 7th St entry

First Avenue and 7th St entry

First Avenue & 7th St entry is a music club that has nothing less than celebrity status. Playing an integral role in the Twin Cities' vibrant music scene, First Avenue and the 7th St Entry has seen many famous musicians and bands begin their careers here, including the likes of Soul Asylum, the Replacements and Hüsker Dü.

The club was a stepping stone for music icons such as U2, Metallica, Depeche Mode and Tina Turner on their rise to fame. First Avenue presents local acts every night of the week, and hosts benefit shows for local and national non-profit groups, such as The Red Cross and Pastor Paul's Food Shelf.

There are also unique workshops and lectures for students from local schools that are interested in music.

701 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403, website, Phone: 612-332-1775

More destinations: Alexandria, Minnesota. Photo: First Avenue and 7th St entry

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»Weisman Art Museum

Weisman Art Museum

Resembling ‘a crumpled aluminum can’, as described by visitors, the inspiring stainless steel and brick façade of the Weisman Art Museum echoes an impressive collection of art within its walls.

Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum is modern art museum located on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Acting as a teaching museum for the university for over 80 years, the museum’s impressive collection features early twentieth-century American artists, such as Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as a diverse selection of Native American Mimbres pottery and ceramics, contemporary art and a unique display of Korean furniture.

The museum is open every day, except Mondays and major holidays. Admission is free.

333 East River Road, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, Phone: 612-625-9494 Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Guthrie Theater

Guthrie Theater

Founded in 1963, the Guthrie Theater is a center for theater performance, production, education and professional training with the aim of exposing and connecting audiences to classic literature and new works from diverse cultures around the globe.

Located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, next to Gold Medal Park and the Mill City Museum in downtown Minneapolis, the Guthrie Theater has won numerous awards for its design by Jean Nouvel and attracts visitors from all over the world to admire its architecture. The theater houses three theaters with a signature ‘thrust’ stage, and a 78-foot cantilevered bridge called the “Endless Bridge.”

Aside from nationally acclaimed productions and concerts, the theater has two excellent restaurants, namely Sea Change and the Level Five Café, an elegant lounge and a boutique store.

818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415, website, Phone: 612-225-6000 Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Children's Theatre Company

Children's Theatre Company

Known as The Moppet Players in the 1960s, the award-winning Children's Theatre Company is a regional theater that specializes in plays, shows and concerts for families and young audiences in Minneapolis.

The theater was founded in 1965 by John Clark Donahue and has since become a leader in the theatrical community through exposing and educating young people through art. In 2003, the Children's Theatre Company won the Tony Award.

Productions have included classics such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz, among others favorites. If you are wondering what to do in Minneapolis with kids on a rainy day, this is a great place to visit.

2400 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404, website, Phone: 612-874-0400 Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge

Located at the intersection of West River Road and Portland Ave in downtown Minneapolis, Stone Arch Bridge is an important piece of Minnesota history. Built in 1883 by railroad baron James J. Hill, the bridge served as a working railroad bridge, allowing for the movement of people and goods across the river until 1965, and is still seen as a symbol of the railroad age today.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge forms a vital link in the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, a two-mile trail consisting of winding pedestrian walkways and bicycle lanes that people can enjoy year round.

Next read: 20 Great Minnesota Vacation Packages Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Chain of Lakes

Chain of Lakes

The Chain of Lakes consists of several scenic lakes in the Minneapolis metropolitan area, each with their own attractions and things to do. With over 13 miles of paved paths that run along the shoreline, walking, hiking and biking is easy and fun to do.

During the summer months, have fun on the water with canoes or kayaks and savor the tranquility of the lakes, or rent a boat and explore more distant shores.

The winter snowfall brings another round of adventure – watch ice surfers skim the frozen surface of the lake, join a game of ice hockey, or head out on snow skis for cross-country skiing. Photo: Minneapolis Parks and Recreation

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»Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium

Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium

Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium in Mall of America is home to thousands of marine creatures ranging from sea turtles, sharks and manta rays to jellyfish, seahorses and more.

The aquarium boasts a 1,500 gallon Pacific Northwest Rockpool where visitors can explore unusual sea creatures such as cucumbers and sea anemones by touch, as well as a 300-foot glass underwater tunnel for unforgettable views of sharks.

Scuba certified divers can brave the waters and dive with sharks, while other visitors can participate in feeding times with stingrays, seahorses, and rainbow reef fish. The aquarium offers an array of fun sea-based activities and adventures for all, including stamp stations with dive books for children, behind-the-scenes tours and overnight stays.

120 E Broadway, Bloomington, Minnesota 55425, website, Phone: 952-883-0202 Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Izzy's Ice Cream

Izzy's Ice Cream

Izzy’s Ice Cream is an ice cream institution, with shops in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Owned and managed by Lara and Jeff Sommers, what began as a small kitchen serving handmade gelatos has grown into the city’s favorite ice cream spot.

Gelato-lovers can choose from over a hundred delicious flavors, ranging from classics such as chocolate, blueberry cheesecake, and maple nut, to signature flavors like black walnut, crème de menthe, and Mexican chocolate fiesta.

Mix in your favorite nuts or candy, or have a soy-based or a sorbet treat. Izzy’s Ice Cream provides catering for birthday parties, family celebrations and corporate and team building events.

1100 2nd St. S., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415, website, Phone: 612-206-3356 Photo: Izzy's Ice Cream

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»Target Field Tours

Target Field Tours

Take a tour of the home of the Minnesota Twins and explore the famous Target Field.

This unforgettable 90-minute guided tour will take you to parts of the ballpark that are rarely seen by regular visitors. Depending on availability, the tour will enable you to explore a variety of different spaces within the ballpark, such as the press box, the clubhouse, and the dugout. Head up to the suite level to get a bird’s eye view and visit the Metropolitan Club, Legends Club, and Champions Club.

Check out the Budweiser Roof Deck before heading back down to the playing field. The tour will take you through the history of the Twins team, highlighting past and present players, excellent displays of baseball memorabilia, and special environmental features of the playing field.

Tours vary from a non-game day, game day and pre-game experiences, all of which are guided by a local baseball expert (website). Photo: Target Field 2011 MN Twins Photo by Wayne Kryduba, Meet Minneapolis

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»Manny's Steakhouse

Manny's Steakhouse

With a reputation for excellent red meat dishes accompanied by exceptionally fine wines, Manny’s Steakhouse at W Minneapolis - The Foshay is the place to go for a great steak. Manny’s Steakhouse has been a staple of the Minneapolis dining scene for the last 26 years, renowned for their signature meat cart, top-grade surf and turf – think stone crab claws and fresh Alaskan king crab legs - and rotating specials, including the 50 oz. bone-in rib eye.

Everything about Manny’s is larger than life, from oversized pieces of meat served with a collection of sides, to must-try decadent desserts. The restaurant boasts a 300-bottle wine list, as well as extensive reserve list. If you are looking for unique date night ideas in Minneapolis, this restaurant is a good choice.

825 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403, website, Phone: 612-339-9900 Photo: Manny's Steakhouse

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»CSI: The Experience

CSI: The Experience

CSI fans and lovers of forensic crime will delight in “CSI: The Experience” at Mall of America.

This interactive exhibit aims to teach visitors about forensic processes, procedures and technologies through hands-on learning, where they can investigate a “real” crime scene with the help of popular characters from the hit television show and real-life forensic experts.

The exhibit aims to develop critical thinking skills through forensic investigation, scientific inquiry, and technology, by providing a multi-sensory experience where visitors can delve into the world of crime scene investigation.

Give forensic sleuthing a go with a virtual mystery game designed by Rice University or get a sneak peak at what to expect next on your favorite CSI show (website). Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Spoonriver Restaurant

Spoonriver Restaurant

Spoonriver is a contemporary eatery and bar that serves gourmet organic cuisine just across the plaza from the Tyrone Guthrie Theater.

Opened in 2006 by owners Brenda Langton and Timothy Kane, the glass-wrapped, clementine-colored eatery offers an array of creative dishes that are both healthy and delicious, made from sustainable, organic, locally sourced products, many of which come from the local Mill City Farmer’s Market.

The elegant dining room creates the perfect setting in which to enjoy the fine gourmet fare, while the bar offers sophisticated cocktails and an extensive wine list. The restaurant also boasts a stylish deli a where beautiful prepared snacks and meals can be bought for picnics and as meals-to-go.

750 South 2nd St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401, website, Phone: 612-436-2236 Photo: Spoonriver Restaurant

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»Paradise Charter Cruises

Paradise Charter Cruises

Experience the largest river system in North America from the deck of a beautiful old water cruiser on an exclusive Mississippi River or Lake Minnetonka cruise.

Paradise Charter Cruises offer a variety of river cruises, ranging from private charters and special events cruises to public cruises on either the river or the lake.

One of the more popular cruises, the narrated Mississippi River Tour, departs from Bohemian Flats in Minnesota and makes its way along the waterfront, following the southern trails of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway and Heritage Trail, highlighting interesting attractions such as the striking 35W Bridge, St. Anthony Falls, and the historic Stone Arch Bridge. Finally, take in the magnificent downtown Minneapolis skyline as you head back up the river.

Cruises have a full-service bar along with a range of snacks and light meals available for purchase on each tour (website). Photo: Paradise Charter Cruises

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»112 Eatery

112 Eatery

112 Eatery is an acclaimed downtown restaurant that offers a casual ambiance, top-notch service, and incredible cuisine. Award-winning chef Isaac Becker has created this cozy spot where the hardwood floors and exposed brick walls resemble a comfortable apartment rather than a narrow restaurant, making it the ideal go-to place for a decadent dinner or late-night bite.

Complementing the home-away-from-home atmosphere is a menu filled with sublime concoctions from mouthwatering lamb scottadito to pillowy pan-fried gnocchi smothered in crumbly Parmigiano Reggiano. Open until 1 a.m. on weekends, the place is always packed and getting a table is not easy, but definitely worth the wait.

112 north 3rd street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401, website, Phone: 612-343-7696 Photo: 112 Eatery

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»Above the Falls Sports – Mississippi River Adventures

Above the Falls Sports – Mississippi River Adventures

Above The Falls Sports is an adventure company that promotes and shares the beauty of the Mississippi River Valley through a variety of fun and adventurous river tours.

Paddle or kayak the river on a range of tours to suit every need and soak up the beautiful surroundings of the Mississippi River and Minneapolis’ breathtaking skyline. Tours include exploration, discovery, and recreational tours of varying lengths. “Exploring the Gorge” takes you through the only gorge on the Mississippi River while you take in magnificent views of the cliffs.

“Down River Float” tours begin at either the Coon Rapids Dam or Bohemian Flats - these 4-hour tours are all about relaxation and savoring the view as you float down the river (website). Photo: Above the Falls Sports

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»Birchwood Cafe

Birchwood Cafe

Birchwood Cafe is an informal, cozy neighborhood café that serves delicious breakfast-to-dinner American fare made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Located in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, the funky 50s-style cafeteria offers a classic menu of handmade pizzas, soups, sandwiches and waffles that are ordered at the counter and brought to your table.

As you tuck into the healthy fare, you cannot help but want to stay simply lounge for the rest of the day and watch the world go by.

3311 East 25th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406, website, Phone: 612-722-4474 Photo: Birchwood Cafe

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»Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum

Resting on the banks of the historic Mississippi Riverfront and built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, known as the Washburn "A" Mill, Mill City Museum is a small, intimate museum that presents birth and growth of Minneapolis and the subsequent history of the growing city with the flour industry and the river.

Dating back to the 1870s, the mill complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, playing an important role in the preservation and education of the state’s heritage.

The museum offers award-winning programs, exhibitions and events that cover the history of the area, including exhibits about the history of Minneapolis and how the flour industry played a role in the development of the city.

704 South 2nd St., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401, website, Phone: 612-341-7555

If you are looking for weekend getaway ideas, click here. Photo: Meet Minneapolis

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»Butcher and the Boar

Butcher and the Boar

Butcher & the Boar is an award-winning American eatery located in downtown Minneapolis, which serves a meat-focused menu of regional American food, along with a variety of craft beers and bourbons.

Housed in a raw, eclectic space with exposed industrial ceilings and decorative concrete floors, the menu boasts winners such as handmade sausage and wild boar’s head cheese, along with an unrivaled long-rib plate. Choose from a variety of craft beers, bourbon shots and cocktails to complement a perfect meal.

Usually packed with meat-loving regulars, guests can eat at the bar, in the dining room or out in the 5,000-square foot beer garden where the atmosphere is nothing less than electric.

1121 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403, website, Phone: 612-238-8888 Photo: Butcher and the Boar

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»Nice Ride Minnesota

Nice Ride Minnesota

Nice Ride Minnesota is a non-profit bike sharing system that offers a unique and innovative way of exploring the city through bike sharing. To use the system, you need to purchase a membership or a pass, which you can do online before your trip.

Once you have signed up, you receive a key or passcode, which you then insert into the required slot at one of the many bike stations across the city, get the green light and take your bike. You will be given a certain amount of time to use the bike, according to your pass or membership, after which time the bike needs to be returned to any station. Once the bike is locked into the station, your key or pass is cleared, and you are good to go. Fast, easy and affordable, it’s the perfect way to explore the city at your own pace (website).

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25 Best Things to Do in Minneapolis, Minnesota