A sunset along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis
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Things to Do in Minneapolis and St. Paul

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A sunset along the Mississippi River  / Lane Pelovsky, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

Things to Do in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Minnesota's capital (St. Paul) and its biggest city (Minneapolis) stand side-by-side along the Mississippi River and boast some of the Midwest's best cultural institutions, award-winning restaurants, sprawling green spaces, and attractions with year-round family appeal.

Also: Naz Reid!

Here is how you can plan the ultimate 2-for-1 trip around the Timberwolves' historic playoff run, the incredibly popular Twin Cities Pride festival, and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials that'll bring the country's best gymnasts to Target Center on June 27-30, including St. Paul's own Suni Lee. 

The lobby at the Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis

Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis

WHERE TO STAY

Minneapolis and Saint Paul boast an abundance of lodging options, from luxury hotels to short-term rentals. Where you choose to stay depends on the type of trip you’re looking to have, of course. 

Most hotels are positioned in or around downtown Minneapolis, especially in the chic, restaurant-rich North Loop neighborhood. North Loop Hotels include the nordic-inspired Hewing Hotel and the Four Seasons, which is anchored by Gavin Kaysen’s Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Mara.  

A light-filled room at Hotel Alma

Hotel Alma  / Dan Marshall

If you’re looking to be in the River District — closer to attractions like the Guthrie and U.S. Bank Stadium — try the W Minneapolis at the Foshay, or the Canopy by Hilton

But downtown hustle and bustle isn’t for everyone. Alma is a boutique hotel positioned over a James Beard award-winning restaurant and located just five minutes away from downtown. Or choose the historic Nicollet Island Inn in scenic Saint Anthony Main – just don’t forget to plan a few extra hours before checkout to enjoy their legendary brunch.  

Covington Inn floats on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul

The Covington Inn is a floating bed-and-breakfast on the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul

Downtown Saint Paul offers the classic, impeccably-run Saint Paul Hotel and the recently-opened Celeste, which was built in a former Beaux-Arts convent. If your ideal getaway means scenic surroundings and perfect quiet, stay in the stunning Summit Hill neighborhood, where your options include the Davidson Boutique Hotel or several charming bed and breakfasts, including The Historic District St. Paul and the New Victorian.  

Feeling adventurous? Try the Covington Inn, one of America’s only floating bed and breakfasts.

Owamni restaurant exterior

Owamni  / Heidi Ehalt, Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

WHAT TO EAT & DRINK 

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are home to a plethora of James Beard-winning restaurants, craft breweries and distilleries, and diverse cuisines from Hmong to East African.

Eateries that have recently picked up national accolades include Owamni (James Beard award for best new restaurant, New York Times Best New Restaurant in the U.S.) Gai Noi (New York Times 50 Best Restaurants 2023), and Petite León (New York Times Best Restaurants 2022). Our other James Beard Winners include Isaac Becker’s 112 Eatery, Alex Robert’s Alma, Gavin Kaysen’s Spoon and Stable, and Ann Kim’s Young Joni.  

Juicy Lucy burger The Nook

The Nook, St. Paul / Courtesy Visit Saint Paul

Another well-known Minneapolis specialty is the Jucy Lucy burger (yes, it lives up to the hype and yes, you should beware of molten cheese), but the Twin Cities also has an incredible range of bakeries (including those that utilize locally-milled grains), coffee shops, pizza restaurants, food halls, and plant-based eateries.  

See our picks for the best places to eat in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, or check out our roundup of outstanding patios.  

Family at Mall of America, Bloomington

Mall of America, Bloomington / Ryan Taylor

WHERE TO SHOP 

You probably already know about the Mall of America, but just in case you don’t: Minnesota is home to a mecca of more than 500 stores. Plus an indoor theme park, aquarium, and countless restaurants.

But do you know why the mall is here? It’s because Minnesota does not tax clothing and shoes. That’s right – Minnesota is a tax-free shopping haven, and whether you’re looking for the big mall experience or something different, we have you covered.  

Clothing racks at the Minneapolis boutique Parc

Parc  / Dina Kantor

What about a little browsing of directional fashion or contemporary brands at one of the Twin Cities’ best boutiques? Or, perhaps clothes aren’t your thing, and you’d prefer to get lost in the stacks at some of Minnesota’s great independent bookstores.  

Shopping for a little one? Try Pacifier. Need a gift? We’ve got Patina!

The Minneapolis-based vintage shop findfurnish

findfurnish

You can even shop one of the nation’s greatest collection of 20th century furniture at Northeast Minneapolis’s findfurnish (and yes, they’ll work with you on shipping).  

From luxury malls like the Galleria to the collection of vintage shops on Selby and Snelling (Lula, Up Six, Succotash, and Everyday People are conveniently located on one Saint Paul corner), Minneapolis and Saint Paul are a shopper’s paradise.  

Two women bike along the Mississippi River Trail in South St. Paul

Mississippi River Trail in South St. Paul  / Min Enterprises

WHERE TO GO OUTSIDE 

Minnesota is the #3 most active state in the U.S., largely because abundant natural spaces are fully integrated into the cities and residents value getting outside, no matter the weather.

Minneapolis is specifically known as one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities. Casual bikers will love the loops around the Chain of Lakes and the Greenway Bike Highway, while those who “clip in” may want to bike the North Star Route or Mississippi River Trail from start to finish. Of course, both of those trails have plenty of city-only sections that are appropriate for bikers of all levels and ages.  

Minnesota Zoo's Treetop Trail

Minnesota Zoo's Treetop Trail  / Andrew Parks

Prefer to travel on two feet instead of two wheels? Take a walk along the Mississippi River trail on either the Saint Paul or Minneapolis side (or be bi-coastal and cross a bridge halfway), or stroll along one of the Twin Cities’ scenic lakes: Harriet, Bde Maka Ska, Lake of the Isles, Nokomis, or Como. Minnehaha Creek is also a gorgeous walk, and tends to be a little quieter. 

If you’ve got little ones in tow, check out our roundup of playgrounds, or take them on a kid-friendly hike or out for a day of geocaching. If animals are more your thing, the Minnesota Zoo boasts the Treetop Trail, the world’s largest elevated pedestrian loop, and the Como Zoo is attached to the beautiful Como Conservatory.

Kayaking in the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes

Chain of Lakes, Minneapolis  / Ryan Taylor

Paddling is also extremely popular, and there are lots of canoe and kayak rentals available throughout the warm season. Here are our top canoeing and kayaking spots in and around Minneapolis. 

In the warmer months, you can also hit a Farmer’s Market. Try the Mill City Farmer’s market and then go for a walk along the river, or take a self-guided tour of the Guthrie Theatre (pro tip: go up to the 9th floor to experience the famous Amber Box).  

Minnesota State Fair's Corn Roast stand

Minnesota State Fair's iconic Corn Roast stand  / Paul Vincent

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS 

Let’s get the big guy out of the way: the Great Minnesota Get-Together welcomes 2 million guests a year, making it the second-largest state fair in the nation (but we’re coming for you, Texas!). Check out our 25 must-dos at the fair, or see what prominent Minnesotans recommend!  

Right behind the state fair is Minnesota’s second-largest festival: the annual Pride Festival, which is held the final week in June. Minneapolis was the first city to pass a non-discrimination ordinance (in 1975), and the city’s Pride Parade remains one of the nation’s largest.  

A band plays in front a a large audience in front of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis

Basilica Block Party, Minneapolis / Ryan Taylor

Similar in spirit are the many cultural festivals that happen nearly every month of the year, and include closer looks at the food, music and traditions of Minnesotans originally from Liberia, Japan, Ukraine, Ireland, Poland, Mexico, India, Somalia and more. Music festivals are also big in the Twin Cities, with the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis and the newly launched Minnesota Yacht Club Festival anchoring St. Paul.

Minneapolis often plays host to big, national sporting events, too — everything from the Super Bowl to the X Games. This summer, June 27-30, 2024, Target Center will light up for the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials. We can't wait to welcome gold medalist Suni Lee back to her home state, along with Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, and the other stars of USA Gymnastics!

The Mood Room at Walker Art Center

"The Mood Room" at Walker Art Center  / Maria Baranova

ARTS & CULTURE 

Minnesota has the highest per-capita public arts funding of any state in the nation, and Minneapolis-St. Paul is ranked as the #6 most vibrant arts community in the U.S.   

The Twin Cities arts community is often noted for punching above it’s population-based weight class, with three major art museums (Minneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center, and the Weisman), two major orchestras (the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra), several TONY-winning theaters, and enough galleries and artist studios to spend an entire day wandering the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.

Oh, and you may have heard of a little place called First Avenue

We’ve rounded up the best in theater, music, and museums for you, but we also want to call attention to Minnesota’s amazing immigrant communities who contribute to our thriving and diverse culture.  

Minnesota Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium

Minnesota Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium

SPORTS

Every major professional sport is represented in Minnesota, from basketball (the top-rated Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx) and baseball (Minnesota Twins) to hockey (Minnesota Wild, PWHL Minnesota) and football (Minnesota Vikings). We also have two up-and-coming soccer teams that often draw sold-out crowds, Minnesota United FC and Minnesota Aurora FC

Speaking of packed stadiums, the home teams spread between Minneapolis and St. Paul are eager to have you in their stands, whether that means offering local food vendors like Union Hmong Kitchen, Soul Bowl and Wrecktangle Pizza or booking major acts like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, or The Rolling Stones.

Megan Rapinoe at Black Hart of Saint Paul

Megan Rapinoe at Black Hart of Saint Paul

If you'd rather just watch The Big Game at a stellar sports bar, we've got those too. Tom's Watch Bar drives fans to downtown Minneapolis every week due to a sprawling 7,000-square-foot space that reimagines what a sports bar can, and should, be.

The Black Hart of Saint Paul is so beloved within the soccer and LGBTQ+ communities that it had a visit from national team star Megan Rapinoe when she was in town for a friendly match. A Bar of Their Own is one of the only sports bars in the country devoted entirely to women's sports. Not surprisingly, it's been packed since day one.  

An aerial shot of Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY  

As we mentioned earlier, the Mall of America is a Minnesota icon that's home to more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants, exciting entertainment options, events, and more. Inside the mall is Nickelodeon Universe, a completely indoor theme park boasting 27 attractions, including three roller coasters, a zip line and the legendary Log Chute. Don’t miss Crayola Experience, SEA LIFE, or The Fair on  4 either.   

If your kids are wild about animals, visit Minnesota Zoo, Como Zoo and Conservatory, Snake Discovery: A Reptile Experience, and more. 

Girl looking at Wooly Mammoth at the Bell Museum, Saint Paul

Uncover natural wonders at the Bell Museum in St. Paul!

Other family-favorites in the Twin Cities include the  Bell Museum, Valleyfair, Science Museum of Minnesota, Mill City Museum, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and more

Children’s museums will delight kids of all ages and leave them feeling like they actually learned something with rotating exhibits, special events and hands-on activities. Some favorites include the Minnesota Children’s Museum, The Works Museum, The Bakken Museum, and more

How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Children's Theatre Company

How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Children's Theatre Company  / Glen Stubbe

In Minnesota, finding indoor kid-friendly spots is essential for cold-weather months. Some favorite indoor attractions are the MiniSota Play Cafe, Edinborough Park, Eagles Nest, KUBE, Good Times Park, Can Can Wonderland, an indoor water park, your local community center, mall, or library are also great options to burn some energy. When the weather warms up, don’t miss these top outdoor playgrounds.  

Catch a show at The Children’s Theater Company, the only theatre focused on young audiences to win the coveted Tony Award® for regional theatre, Stages Theatre Company, or Youth Performance Company.  

Multigenerational family geocaching at Whitewater State Park

Multigenerational family geocaching at Whitewater State Park / MN DNR

In Minnesota, you don’t have to go far to find a park or spend some time outside. Take a kid-friendly hike, go geocaching, sleddng, ice skating, walk or bike around the lakes, and more.  

Find more family-friendly things to do in Minnesota.