The thing about Minneapolis, Minnesota is this: it’s kind of hard to get there by accident.
It’s not impossible, of course — contrary to popular belief, there are signs of intelligent life throughout the Midwestern United States — but it’s not likely.
So then, you might be asking: why should I make a point to visit the City of Lakes? What can you find there that you can’t find in a million other places?
Well fear not, friend! I’ve put together a collection of things one can only see, do, or eat in my hometown, and nowhere else on earth (not that I’m biased or anything). Here’s how to achieve the iconic Minneapolis experience.
Take a walk by Minnehaha Falls
You’ve got your skyscrapers, traffic jams, restaurants, and nightclubs; but you’ve also got expansive green parks, rushing waters, and 13 sparkling lakes, all located within the city proper. It’s the best of both worlds (if you’re into that kind of thing).
One of the city’s largest and most popular parks is Minnehaha, home to the eponymous Minnehaha Creek and Minnehaha Falls — the latter of which is actually the most photographed spot in all of Minnesota. (And considering it’s got 67 state parks and Lake Superior to compete with, that’s really saying something.)
While certainly a great place to visit on a warm summer day, Minnehaha Park is even more stunning in the winter, when temperatures plummet and the falls freeze solid. Nothing really drives home how cold it is like the sight of giant mammoth icicles plunging to the ground.
Go star gazing outside First Avenue
As you may have guessed, each star denotes a musical act who has performed at First Avenue. Prince was arguably the most famous person to do so, but he’s hardly the only big name on the wall. Here’s just a taste of the others keeping him company.
Grab a slice at Pizza Luce and a burger at Matt’s
However, vegetarians and vegans alike should probably steer clear of Matt’s — a dive bar that serves up some of the city’s most popular burgers, and little else. It doesn’t look like much from the outside (or the inside, for that matter), but many locals swear by it.
The signature “dish” at Matt’s is the Jucy Lucy: a double cheeseburger with the cheese in between. (Proceed with caution; the cheese is roughly the temperature of a thousand suns.)
Catch a game at Target Field
Outside the stadium, you’ll find statues of various Minnesota baseball legends and characters from the “Peanuts” comic strips scattered around. There’s also a giant baseball glove, but be prepared to wait in a bit of a line for a photo there. (Personally, I couldn’t be bothered, which is why you won’t find it in this post. Sorry, guys.)
This definitely isn’t the cheapest item on the list — aside from tickets, a hot dog costs like $8 — but if you’ve got a bit of wiggle room in your budget, it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Roam downtown via the skyway system
But wait: there’s more! The skyway level is really like a mini-city of its own. The office workers of downtown have no reason to come down to the streets, because they can pick up lunch, grab a coffee, drop off their dry-cleaning, get their nails done, and stop at the bank without having to leave the comforts of temperature control.
But even if you don’t want to do any of those things, and even if you avoid winter and visit in the summertime (which I would highly recommend), you should check out the skyways anyhow, just for the novelty. They’re accessible through most of the buildings in downtown; just walk in and take the stairs or elevator up to the level above the ground floor (usually marked as “skyway level” on the signs).
Travel through time at Mill Ruins Park
Meander across the famous Stone Arch Bridge and read the posted signs for information on the industry’s development, as well as the excavations and preservation efforts that have taken place over the years. You’ll aso get some great views of the river and downtown skyline.
So there you have it — six uniquely Minneapolis experiences that just might make the journey worth it.
If you feel there’s been an egregious oversight, free to leave your own recommendations for the “Mini Apple” in the comments.
Looking for photography of Minneapolis or other spots in Minnesota to use in your travel publication, advertising, or workspace? Visit the Em Dashed gallery to see photos available for print or download!