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 stay in a romantic hotel, have a delicious breakfast, go on a scenic bike ride along lakeside trails, andenjoy a selection of free attractions. Best family things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota include the Minnesota Zoo, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, farmers market and the children's theater. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. Minneapolis Institute of Art
© Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
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.
2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404, Phone: 888-642-2787
2.Walker Art Center
© Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
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.
725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403, Phone: 612-375-7600
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3. Mill City Farmers Market
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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, Phone: 612-341-7580
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4.Minnesota Zoo, Minneapolis, MN
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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, Phone: 952-431-9200
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5.First Avenue and 7th St entry
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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, Phone: 612-332-1775
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6.Things to Do in Minneapolis: Weisman Art Museum
© Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
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
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7.Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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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, Phone: 612-225-6000
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8.Children's Theatre Company
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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, Phone: 612-874-0400
9.Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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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.
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10.Chain of Lakes, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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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.
11.Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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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, Phone: 952-883-0202
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It’s no secret that Minnesota is home to some beautiful parks. When in Minneapolis, the Minnehaha Park is one such must-visit park with a track record that speaks for itself. It sees over 850,000 visitors every year who come to explore its 167 acres of gorgeous limestone bluffs, greenery, and a 53-foot waterfall. Minnehaha Park has several amenities for visitors to enjoy including a wading pool, a walking path, and a bike path. It also has a decorative fountain, and a Disc Golf Course to enjoy with friends and family. Walk around the park to see several sculptures that are proudly displayed on the grounds such as Jakob Fjelde’s life-size sculpture of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, or Ed Archie Noisecat’s the Chief Little Crow.
4801 S Minnehaha Drive, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55417, Phone: 612-330-6400
13.Lake Harriet Park
Enjoy the best of Minneapolis’ lakeside activities when you visit Lake Harriet Park. Part of the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Lake Harriet Park is known for its endless list of activities as well as its bandstand shell, which hosts a number of summer concerts annually. Visitors can enjoy the North and Southeast Beach with a canoe, kayak, paddleboard, and boat rentals. Meanwhile, the park also has a fishing pier, bike path, and playground for those who want to enjoy the park on the land. Additional amenities include the walking path, the tot lot, a decorative fountain, as well as a garden and picnic area. The park is open to visitors from 6 am to midnight in its developed areas.
4135 W Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55409, Phone: 612-230-6400
14.Target Field Tours
© Target Field 2011 MN Twins Photo by Wayne Kryduba, Meet Minneapolis
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.
© 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, Phone: 612-339-9900
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16.Minneapolis Skyway System
If you want to get lost, but enjoy being lost, head to the Minneapolis Skyway System. Connected a whopping 80 city blocks through an intricate network of pathways totaling 9.5 miles, the Minneapolis Skyway System is the world’s largest contiguous second-level enclosed bridges. Though tricky to navigate, this is exactly what an exploration of the skyway system is about anyways, getting hopelessly lost and finding your way around again. Visit the oldest existing skyway which connects the NorthStar Center and The Roanoke Building, and stop by the many amazing restaurants and shopping opportunities that the Skyway makes easy to visit. The skyway is also connected to some of the city’s most popular hotels, making it a convenient way to explore Minneapolis.
17.Bde Maka Ska Park
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Covering nearly 519 acres of land, the Bde Maka Ska Park is the largest of Minnesota’s Chain of Lakes and is home to three picturesque beaches that see a number of visitors throughout the year. Formerly known as Lake Calhoun, Bde Maka Ska is Dakota language and directly translates to “White Earth Lake”. It’s a fitting name for this beautiful recreational area which features fantastic sailing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, and paddleboarding opportunities. It also has a total of 3.1 miles of walking and running trails in addition to 3.19 miles of biking trails as well as sports areas like a softball field, a soccer ball field, and a sand volleyball court.
300 Bde Maka Ska Parkway, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408, Phone: 612-230-6400
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18.Minneapolis attractions: 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.
19.112 Eatery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
© 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, Phone: 612-343-7696
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20.The Bakken Museum
© The Bakken Museum
Founded in 1975, The Bakken Museum has been dedicated to cultivating a true passion for science in youngsters and adults alike through their innovative, dynamic, and world-class exhibitions. Situated on Bda Maka Ska, The Bakken Museum is known for its exceptional collection of artifacts that are put together dynamically and engagingly. In addition to their spectacular collections, The Bakken Museum is also home to a historic mansion and medicinal gardens, which are ready and waiting to be explored. Don’t miss out on the many educational programs that the museum has to offer, as their programs have been touted as industry leaders and groundbreakers by many in the field.
3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416, Phone: 612-926-3878
21.What to Do in Minneapolis: 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, Phone: 612-722-4474
22.Mill City Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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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, Phone: 612-341-7555
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23.The Museum of Russian Art
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Take a deep dive into the gorgeous and eye-catching art, and unique cultures of Muscovite Russia, the Russian Empire, as well as that of the Soviet Union, post-Soviet Russia, and the country’s other former republics at the Museum of Russian Art. Interestingly, the Museum of Russian Art is the only one of its kind in the entirety of North America, and it is housed in multi-level historic building. The museum finds its humble beginnings in 1991 when Raymond E. Jonhson, an avid collector and art dealer, sponsored the first exhibition of Russian impressionist art in the continent. The museum is home to masterfully curated exhibitions, entertaining and educational cultural presentations, as well as a variety of programs such as lectures, concerts, and seminars, all geared towards immersing guests in Russian ingenuity and artistic flair. The Museum of Russian Art is open from Monday through Sunday with a modest admission fee.
5500 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55419, Phone: 612-821-9045
24.American Swedish Institute
© American Swedish Institute
A historic mansion, a museum, a cultural education center, a destination store, and even a café, the American Swedish Institute is an all-in-one destination that shouldn’t be missed when you’re traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The American Swedish Institute, or ASI for short, offers guests a visit to the historic Turnblad Mansion, which was built sometime between 1904 and 1908 and features 33 decorative and stylish rooms. Guests can also see lovingly curated exhibitions at the museum, or enjoy a cup of coffee and a Swedish treat or two at the FIKA Café, an award-winning café that is a great introduction to New Nordic cuisine. The museum is open 10 am to 4 pm daily and offers guided tours for those who want to get the most out of their trip to the institute.
2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407, Phone: 612-871-4907
25.Nice Ride Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
© Courtesy of Gilmour Creative, Meet Minneapolis
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.
25 Best Things to Do in Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Minneapolis Institute of Art, Photo: Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
- Walker Art Center, Photo: Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
- Mill City Farmers Market, Photo: Courtesy of Jim - Fotolia.com
- Minnesota Zoo, Minneapolis, MN, Photo: Courtesy of stevengaertner - Fotolia.com
- First Avenue and 7th St entry, Photo: Courtesy of Matthias - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Minneapolis: Weisman Art Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
- Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: Courtesy of lapandr - Fotolia.com
- Children's Theatre Company, Photo: Courtesy of JackF - Fotolia.com
- Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: Courtesy of andreykr - Fotolia.com
- Chain of Lakes, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: Courtesy of Allen Gray - Fotolia.com
- Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Minnehaha Park, Photo: Oleg/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Harriet Park, Photo: stevengaertner/stock.adobe.com
- Target Field Tours, Photo: Target Field 2011 MN Twins Photo by Wayne Kryduba, Meet Minneapolis
- Manny's Steakhouse, Photo: Manny's Steakhouse
- Minneapolis Skyway System, Photo: ak_a_laura/stock.adobe.com
- Bde Maka Ska Park, Photo: Jill Greer/stock.adobe.com
- Minneapolis attractions: Paradise Charter Cruises, Photo: Paradise Charter Cruises
- 112 Eatery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: 112 Eatery
- The Bakken Museum, Photo: The Bakken Museum
- What to Do in Minneapolis: Birchwood Cafe, Photo: Birchwood Cafe
- Mill City Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: Courtesy of burningmine - Fotolia.com
- The Museum of Russian Art, Photo: Pavel Losevsky/stock.adobe.com
- American Swedish Institute, Photo: American Swedish Institute
- Nice Ride Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Photo: Courtesy of Gilmour Creative, Meet Minneapolis
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of andreykr - Fotolia.com
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