Best Things to do in Minneapolis

BY Fifty Grande Editors | May 1, 2020

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Minneapolis? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Minneapolis?”

In 1885, a brash New York journalist visited Minnesota and called it “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation.” Turns out he was wrong. Minneapolis-St. Paul is a fascinating blend of human creativity, natural beauty and Midwestern charm. The Twin Cities have a rich history chock full of great music, art and food. So much, in fact, that first-time visitors scanning this lake-spackled vista often don’t know where to start. A truly eclectic town, there’s a little something for everyone here. And you might be looking to take on Minneapolis the same way you would an all-you-can-eat buffet: by trying everything. Like all of our Fifty Grande Best of the U.S. Bucket Lists, this guide will take you through the very best, most unique and quintessential experiences offered here right now. Get to it, people!

First off, you’re here for comfort food

Jucy Lucy, Matt's Bar
Jucy Lucy, Matt's Bar

Matt’s Bar

3500 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Whoever came up with the idea for a Jucy Lucy deserves a prize. Picture this: two patties with cheese in the middle, sealed on the edges to form an oozing cheddar or American core. This flagship burger is the pride of dive bars, diners and alehouses citywide, with lots of different takes on it. Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club both claim to have pioneered the Jucy Lucy, a precursor to stuffed burgers everywhere. The burgers have been featured on “Man Vs. Food” and “Food Wars,” as well as in several national publications. In 2014, even President Obama sang the Jucy Lucy’s praises after trying one at Matt’s.

Hang out Uptown

Popularized by Prince’s “Uptown,” this neighborhood features some of the city’s best food, shopping and nightlife.

Uptown, Shutterstock

Uptown neighborhood

uptown neighborhood minneapolis mn

Okay, this isn’t one specific spot. It’s a full neighborhood, but one with a lot to offer. Around the Hennepin-Lake intersection, you’ll find diverse eateries, boutique shops and cool bars. As a bonus, it’s right next to Chain of Lakes, so after an afternoon in the sun, you can hit Uptown for dinner, drinks and wherever the night takes you.

Check out some local music legends

Minneapolis’ local scene has made national waves since the 80s.

First Avenue
First Avenue

First Avenue

701 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN, USA

First Avenue is one of a handful of legendary and influential American music clubs and the city’s most iconic live music venue. Since opening in 1970, it’s been a launchpad for pioneers in the punk, R&B, alternative and indie scenes. Hometowners Prince, The Replacements, Soul Asylum and Husker Du all launched their careers, in part, from this stage and the club has hosted artists like U2, Nirvana, R.E.M., New Order and Run DMC. 

Electric Fetus
Electric Fetus

Electric Fetus

2000 S 4th Ave, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Chances are, you won’t guess what this is based on the name. But anyone seeking an offbeat, history-steeped music scene should pay this record store a visit. Their unique collection contains albums you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, and it’s captivated fans and visitors since the 1960s. Whether you’re on a quest for a certain rare EP or just want to browse musical history for an hour, Electric Fetus is the spot.

Take a culinary world tour

What better way to celebrate cultural heritage than through food?

Midtown Global Market
Midtown Global Market

Midtown Global Market

920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Slip into another world as you peruse family-owned restaurants, groceries, shops and events while learning about the Twin Cities’ diverse population. You can take a culinary world tour by sampling traditional flavors from Thailand, Morocco, Mexico, Japan and more. Our advice: There’s a lot to explore, so don’t fill up at just one spot. 

You can’t look away, so just do it

Mall of America
Mall of America, Shutterstock

Mall of America

60 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN, USA

Five hundred and twenty stores. Fifty restaurants. An indoor amusement park. This is a mecca of Americana and ode to shoppers and fans of gargantuan buildings. The nation’s largest shopping center (and it’s not even a close contest) lets you explore chain favorites and boutique shops alike. Spend an afternoon window shopping or pick up souvenirs for the whole extended family. And to wear out the kids: Nickelodeon Universe, the nation’s largest indoor theme park, offers a whopping seven acres of rides and fun.

Here’s what to see outside

Schedule your trip for the warm months to take advantage of the Minnesota outdoors life.

Lake Calhoun, Chain of Lakes
Lake Calhoun, Chain of Lakes

The Chain of Lakes (in southwest Minneapolis)

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, MN, USA

They don’t call Minnesota “Land of 10,000 Lakes” for nothing. Just look at a map. The entire state is spotted with them, including the Twin Cities. The Chain of Lakes includes Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet, Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake and Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun). Nature lovers, exercise enthusiasts, boaters and beachgoers flock here every summer to enjoy its extensive network of trails and beaches. They’re perfect for biking, hiking, fishing, boating and sports when you need an escape from the city. 

Minnehaha Park
Minnehaha Park

Minnehaha Park

Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Minnehaha Park is another testament to Minneapolis’s self-proclaimed “City by Nature” moniker. It features numerous trails, gardens and open areas, but its crown jewel is Minnehaha Falls, a 53-foot waterfall at the end of a short hike into the gorge. For a bit of history, you can visit the John H. Stevens House or Longfellow House on-site. Or just kick back for a picnic in one of the park’s many green spaces.

Stone Arch Bridge
Stone Arch Bridge, Shutterstock

The Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge, Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, USA

This is the only stone arch bridge on the entire Mississippi River. But take a stroll across it and you won’t simply be enjoying a one-of-its-kind feat of civil engineering. You’ll also get panoramic views of stunning St. Anthony Falls. Plus, it’s right next to the Mill City Museum, so after you learn about the city’s roots, you can take a quick jaunt over the bridge.

Take in the art

Minneapolis has some of America’s foremost contemporary art as well as something for history buffs.

Walker Art Center
Walker Art Center

Walker Art Center

725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Located in uptown Minneapolis, Walker Art Center isn’t a typical art museum. In its halls, you’ll find a whole spectrum of disciplines: visual arts, performing arts, digital media, design, publishing and more. It’s also home to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, an 11-acre park perfect for afternoon strolls among 40 permanent installments, including the nationally renowned “Spoonbridge and Cherry.”

Mill City Museum
Mill City Museum, Shutterstock

Mill City Museum

704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Upon its completion in 1874, the Washburn A Mill was declared the world’s largest flour mill. Now transformed into a museum — complete with mill re-enactments, baking labs and riverfront observation decks — it’s one of Minneapolis’ premier attractions. Learn about the city’s history, observe flour mill operations and then reap the rewards in a baking class. As a bonus, if you’re there on a Saturday (May-October), you can enjoy locally sourced produce at the Mill City Farmers Market. 

Catch a game

Target Field, Minneapolis
Target Field, Minneapolis

Target Field

1 Twins Way, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Every baseball fan knows that visiting a stadium as much about the experience as it is the game itself. And Target Field offers an unforgettable experience. In 2010, “ESPN: The Magazine” called it the Best Stadium in North America. It’s a small field, nestled in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, so you can cheer on the Twins with a fantastic view of the skyline and an even better sampling of local cuisine. The best part? Decent tickets will only run you $20-50 a piece.