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Minneapolis, Minnesota

Great Destination:

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know….?

  • Every resident lives within six blocks of a park.
  • Minneapolis claims more golfers per capita than any other U.S. city.
  • The city was the world’s top flour producer from 1882 to 1930.
  • Sixty percent of Minnesota’s population lives in the metro area.
  • Minnehaha Falls, made famous by Longfellow, is in Minneapolis.

The larger twin

There are 22 lakes in Minneapolis alone, and the city is the gateway to the state’s uncounted thousands of lakes, some of which are vacation playgrounds. Minneapolis also is known as a city of the cold north. That means there are winter events, but Minneapolis’ smaller twin and Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul, hosts the biggest celebration, the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

Minneapolis, in southeastern Minnesota, is cut in two by the Mississippi River, with the bulk of the city on the west side and most of the University of Minnesota campus on the east side.

The city is named for its lakes, but its story is more about its location on the river, straddling St. Anthony Falls, the Mississippi’s only significant waterfall. The falls provided the power for sawmills and flour mills, eventually making Minneapolis the milling capital of the world and fostering development of the modern corporate giants Cargill, General Mills and Pillsbury.

For tourists, this translates into the Riverfront district dotted with historical buildings and other attractions accessible along a self-guided walking route. It’s also an area for outdoor recreation, dining, nightlife, shopping and special events.

As for the 21st century city, Minneapolis offers a culture-rich menu. Museums and art galleries cover a wide range of interests; sometimes the buildings themselves are tourist attractions.  The Guthrie Theater is the largest regional playhouse in the country, in a 10-story complex overlooking the Mississippi. But the Guthrie is only one of about 100 venues offering shows.

Most of the city’s numerous parks line the river or surround its lakes, providing recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Lake Minnetonka, 12 miles southwest of the city, also is popular for boating and swimming.

Not to be overlooked, the Mall of America in Bloomington is the largest shopping mall in the U.S. and the sole reason some tourists come to town.

Unless drawn by a special event in winter, most tourists visit in other seasons. For winter visits, one consolation is the Skyway connecting most buildings in downtown with glass-enclosed walkways. Tourists also applaud Minneapolis as a clean, safe and welcoming midwestern city.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Put the Hot Summer Jazz Festival, in June, on your schedule. The city boasts the fourth most active jazz scene in the country, behind only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
  • Take scuba diving lessons, and practice your skills in metro area lakes.
  • Get tickets to a theatrical performance. The Guthrie is the city’s best-known theater, but neighborhood choices are worth considering, such as the Brave New Workshop, the nation’s oldest satirical theater; the Jungle Theater, and, a few blocks away from that, a 99-seat theater in a bowling alley called the Bryant-Lake Bowl. The list goes on.
  • If modern art speaks to you, you will want to make time for a tour of the Walker Art Center, one of the top contemporary art museums in the country.
  • Attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (mid-August through September), characterized by themed weekends. For example, at the Highland Fling weekend, events include beer tasting, Celtic dances, heavy games competitions and kilt fashions. At the Italian Carnival, events include garlic-cooking demonstrations, a mask fashion show, meatball-throwing competition and spaghetti-eating contest. Attend in appropriate costume for a chance to win free entry.  Or, for a memorable day, get married at the Renaissance Festival.
  • Go ice skating, tubing or downhill skiing at the nearby Lutsen Mountains. Or ice skate indoors at the Depot in the Riverfront district.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Get a taste of the offerings at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the largest dinner theater in the U.S. For other unique opportunities, consider the Great American History Theatre, which stages plays with historical themes, or the Mixed Blood Theatre, which promotes cultural pluralism.
  • Go hiking in the city’s largest park, Theodore Wirth Park, which covers nearly 740 acres including a wooded area suitable for this activity.
  • Drive the 50-mile Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, all in the city. The Grand Rounds also offers options for hiking, biking and skiing.
  • Take a guided tour of the Riverfront district in a horse-drawn carriage. Another option is to see the area while riding a Segway, the motorized way to “walk” through an area.
  • Join a cocktail cruise, or other sightseeing cruise, aboard the 125-passenger paddlewheeler, the Minneapolis Queen.
  • Stay in the 1893 Nicollet Island Inn, a B&B-style facility that originated as the Island Sash and Door Company.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Check out college sports options, and depending on season, attend a University of Minnesota football game or basketball game. Or, attend a Minnesota Twins baseball game.
  • Join the fun at the July Minneapolis Aquatennial, which features a canoe derby, costume balls, parades and water ballets.
  • Seek out at least one fine dining experience. This city in the chilly north attracts internationally renowned chefs and so produces culinary experiences competitive with any top dining destination. Some possibilities are Dakota, D’Amico Cucina and Hell’s Kitchen, all in downtown.  Or go to so-called Eat Street, which is part of Nicollet Avenue and is home to more than 50 ethnic restaurants representing points all around the globe.
  • Play golf in a city that loves the game. Minneapolis may be well known as a cold spot in winter, but it has more than 175 golf courses.
  • Take a guided walking tour. Join one of the free Minneapolis Heritage Preservation tours, offered from May through September. (One itinerary, the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line tour, costs $5, for the ride on a streetcar.)
  • See the Mill City Museum as much for the building as for the contents. It is housed in the partially reconstructed ruins of a flour mill that exploded once and burned twice.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Meet Minneapolis at www.minneapolis.org