Minneapolis Travel Guide
Where to Eat, Drink and Play, All Year Long
Of all the hidden gems in America’s Midwest, few may surprise you like the city of Minneapolis. Now don’t let visions of snow piles and frozen lakes fool you. Our fabulous city and its neighboring counterpart, St. Paul, are wholly vivacious and full of life year-round thanks to our diverse local communities, gorgeous scenery, delicious dining, buzzy riverfronts, and much, much more.
Whatever experiences you’re looking for, Minneapolis has them in spades. Art connoisseurs have their pick of world-class museums. Foodies will drool over the award-winning restaurants. Fishing, biking, ice skating and skiing are just a handful of adventures awaiting outdoors folks. And you’re never more than six blocks away from one of Minneapolis’ award-winning parks!
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local in search of an exciting staycation, our Minneapolis travel guide offers local insight to some of the best experiences around. Check out our top picks on things to do and places to go for your next Minneapolis vacation.
Of the many reasons to visit Minneapolis, beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities rank at the top.
Minneapolis consistently ranks among America’s most bike-friendly cities. During warmer months, explore hundreds of interconnected pathways with the city’s Nice Ride bike share program. Cruise along the Mississippi River towards the Stone Arch Bridge or Chain of Lakes, or visit Minnehaha Regional Park – one of the city’s oldest and most popular parks – to see vibrant fall foliage and an epic 53-foot waterfall.
Eager to get on the water? Travelers can kayak the Mississippi River with a little help from Paddleshare, a self-serve kayak sharing system in the Twin Cities. Book a reservation online, unlock your kayak, and follow one of Paddleshare’s routes to your favorite downriver destination.
Fishing & More
In “The Land of 10,000 Lakes,” you might guess fishing is a year-round sport. And you’d guess correctly! Experience Minnesota’s famous freshwater fishing with a private charter, or find yourself a lakeside dock and cast your line to hook walleye, bass, northern pike, and the ever elusive muskie.
Winter visitors will have plenty of fun outdoors, too. When in Minneapolis, do as the Minneapolitans do and embrace the perennial cold with ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice hockey on the (frozen) lake.
Whenever you’re traveling, rest assured you’ll be able to get around smoothly. Our hotel is conveniently connected to the Minneapolis Skyway System, a 9.5-mile network of indoor pedestrian bridges and pathways that connect downtown restaurants, shops, theaters, and more.
For the Art Lovers
If the weather demands a day indoors, hop around Minneapolis’ (heated) world-class cultural institutions. Check out ambitious modern and contemporary art at the Walker Art Center, then stroll to the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the largest urban sculpture parks in the country. Snap your selfie at the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, then kick up your feet at nearby Loring Park or Sisyphus Brewing.
Another heavy hitter among Minneapolis’ museums, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is home to over 90,000 artworks spanning every category and continent you can think of. Set aside a few hours and get lost in the museum’s collection of Dutch paintings, Native American textiles, classic Chinese furniture, and more.
The Museum of Russian Art is the only cultural institute in North America devoted exclusively to Russian works, a tempting reason to stop in for a visit.
Although it’s technically not an art museum, the Northrup King Building is a must-do for serious art lovers. This 102-year-old structure is now the largest art complex in Minnesota serving over 350 artists and 200 artist studios. Visit during “Open Studio Saturdays” to shop local artworks and meet regional artists in their studios.
For the History Buffs
Finally, history aficionados should plan to visit the Mill City Museum, a National Historic Landmark and interactive museum that commemorates Minneapolis’ past life as the flour milling capital of the world. Plan your visit around the Mill City Farmers Market, a year-round, indoor/outdoor farmers market that showcases local purveyors and farmers. Check their calendar for free community events, too, like chef-led cooking classes, kid-friendly arts and crafts, outdoor yoga, and more.
CATCH A SHOW
You might not guess it, but Minneapolis has a lot of local theaters waiting to entertain you. And many are just a quick walk or drive from Rand Tower Hotel!
The famous Guthrie Theater showcases a range of works, from Pulitzer Prize-winning dramas to classic Shakespeare plays. Experience award-winning musicals and dance performances at the Orpheum Theatre – a historic theater and former cinema house once owned by Bob Dylan – or visit the nearby State Theatre for stand-up comedy, experimental music acts, and more.
First Avenue is a glorious, independently-owned concert venue in an iconic building. Check their calendar for a range of concerts, from avant-garde to mainstream pop. Jazz lovers should also plan a night out at the Dakota, an intimate jazz club with stellar live music and a creative chef-driven menu.
MEET THE LOCALS
Minneapolis is a fascinating melting pot of cultures and communities. In addition to native Dakota people, the Twin Cities are home to numerous indigenous nations as well as large communities of Mexican, Somali, Chinese, and Scandinavian descent, among many others.
During your stay, experience Native American culture at a ceremonial powwow or visit one of many heritage sites across Minnesota. The Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery also offers a fascinating look at the history, culture, and art of African Americans in Minnesota.
Did you know Minnesota has the largest Scandinavian American population in the U.S.? Learn about Sweden’s unique culture at the American Swedish Institute (and stay for lunch at Fika Cafe!), or plan a trip to Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace, a 100-year-old, family-run, Nordic marketplace that sells everything from home goods to butcher cuts to tiny troll statues.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Like its unique cultural DNA, Minneapolis’ restaurant scene is a welcomed surprise. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it here: Asian delicacies, tater tot “hotdishes,” deep-fried walleye, upscale dining by James Beard-winning chefs, and everything in between.
Hop along “Eat Street” for an affordable food tour of international flavors, or visit the Midtown Global Market to shop stalls of groceries and crafts from around the world. Similarly, the new Market at Malcolm Yards offers global treats like Nepalese dumplings and Japanese sandwiches in a modern food hall.
Foodies should also plan in advance for Owamni, a new restaurant by celebrated Sioux Chef founder and James Beard Award winner, Sean Sherman, which aims to educate guests on true Native American cuisine through indigenous cooking techniques and ingredients.
Of course, a trip to Minnesota would be incomplete without sampling its unofficial dish: the cheese-filled “Juicy Lucy.” Where to find the best is a hotly contested topic among locals. Some will argue Matt's or The Nook serves the best Juicy Lucy. Why not visit both and decide for yourself?
For the brunch lovers, check out Aster Cafe, an adorable indoor/outdoor cafe with drool-worthy eggs benedict and skyline views.
Hungry for something freshly caught and deep-fried? Stella’s Fish Cafe will cure your cravings with crispy, flakey walleye and awesome rooftop views. Smack Shack is another Rand Tower favorite!
If you’re visiting Minneapolis on business, consider hosting your power brunch or post-deal dinner at Martina, an Argentine-Italian fusion restaurant with sophisticated decor and a mouthwatering menu by Chef Daniel del Prado, a James Beard Award semi-finalist. Martina’s sister restaurant, Colita, is also a place for grand celebrations. Inspired by Texan barbeque and Oaxacan cuisine, Colita’s dishes are bursting with flavor and beautifully plated, almost too beautiful to eat! (“Almost” being the key word here…)
Wherever you go, you’re bound to stumble upon one of Minneapolis’ local craft breweries. There are over 80 between the Twin Cities!
Pop into Surly, one of the region’s biggest names in beer, or kick back at Bauhaus Brew Labs’ colorful tap room. Fancy something different? Find a spot in the sun at Indeed’s outdoor patio and order a pistachio cream ale, or pair your craft beer with live music, trivia and other fun happenings at Inbound BrewCo, one of Minneapolis’ newest craft breweries in the North Loop. Fair State is another local favorite with award-winning pours.
For the ultimate sampling, plan your Minneapolis staycation around the Autumn Brew Review or Summer Beer Dabbler Festival.
Feeling inspired? Check out Rand Tower’s special offers on rooms and suites, and book your Minneapolis vacation today!