Must-Stop Spots

Don’t miss a visit to these local attractions.

Stone Arch Bridge
Stone Arch Bridge

Get acquainted with Minneapolis Saint Paul by first visiting the Stone Arch Bridge—it’s recognized as a National Civil Engineering Landmark that spans 2,100 feet across the Mississippi River. You won’t get a better view of the Minneapolis skyline and St. Anthony Falls. You can bike, jog or blade over the bridge, but there are other paths with great views in the area as well.

Minnesota wasn’t named the Land of 10,000 Lakes for nothing. You’ll find 13.3 miles of pathways that encircle the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis, including Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. No matter where you are in Minneapolis, you will be able to easily find a park, considering that 94 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of one, and in 2013, Minneapolis was named to have the nation’s best park system.

Nickelodeon Universe
Nickelodeon Universe

For a different kind of park—one with twists, turns and hair-raising drops—spend the day at Valleyfair, the Midwest’s largest amusement park with an assortment of thrill, family and kid rides. Launch into 360-degree spirals on Steel Venom, hang out with the Peanuts gang at Planet Snoopy or unwind on the lazy river at Soak City Waterpark. Double up on shopping and thrill seeking by going to Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America. While you’re there, shop and dine at the nation’s largest indoor mall, experience life under the sea at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium where you can travel through a tunnel 14-feet below the water’s surface and spot more than 10,000 sea creatures, or splash at the nearby Water Park of America.

To see other creatures and animals, visit the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, which encompasses 500 acres with close to 3,000 animals and 504 species. Don’t miss the Penguins of the African Coast, the bird show, Discovery Bay where you can touch a stingray, or a chance to catch a movie at the adjoining Great Clips IMAX Theatre. At Saint Paul’s Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, the whole family will enjoy seeing polar bears, zebras, lemurs and 1,000 other animals that call the Como Zoo home. Also check out Como Town, the adjacently located kid-centered amusement park, or the beautiful displays of exotic plants at the conservatory gardens.

Historic Twin Cities

Have a grand time experiencing our rich history.

Minnesota History Center

MN History Center

Minnesota is rich in history and character. Discover the Minnesotan roots through a variety of interactive displays of the state’s struggles, landmarks, successes and past through the interactive museum filled with both changing and permanent exhibits throughout the year including Minnesota’s Greatest Generation, Then Now Wow, Grainland, and The U.S-Dakota War of 1862.

Minnesota State Capitol

MN State Capitol

The beautiful architectural design by Cass Gilbert has captured a classically styled building boasting 23 different types of stone and marble from around the world including Minnesotan granite and limestone for the last 110 years. Discover the architectural masterpiece of our State Capitol and explore the House and Senate chambers; maybe even see the legislature in action. Please note: The Minnesota State Capitol is undergoing a three-year preservation project. Free tours are available Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Sundays from 1-3 p.m. only. Weekday tours have been suspended due to construction. For updates please call 651-296-2881.

Cathedral of Saint Paul

St. Paul Cathedral

The majestic incarnation looking over downtown Saint Paul is the historic Cathedral of Saint Paul. The fourth building to occupy this name—from a humble wood cottage overlooking the river to the stately structure we have today—the history and character of this place of worship creates a rich landmark. The Cathedral’s museum provides an opportunity for visitors to see and appreciate historic photographs, paintings, drawings and artifacts. Free tours Monday-Friday at 1 p.m.

Basilica of Saint Mary

Basilica of Saint Mary

More than a place of worship and a beautiful building, the Basilica of Saint Mary is a defining landmark of our state. Serving as a foundation for the community of Minneapolis for more than a century, the Basilica is one of the most recognizable landmarks on the city skyline, serving as a center for community outreach, a venue for the arts and a spiritual home to a diverse perish. The Basilica is the historic heart of Minneapolis.

History Tours

History Tours

Whether you want to ride, bike, walk or cruise, many local tours offer a peek into our history. Take an Award-Winning City Tour aboard a motorcoach through the unique architecture of Minneapolis, the stately stonework of Saint Paul and the diverse neighborhoods between with the Twin Cities Highlights Tour. The Minnesota Historical Society leads walking tours to special landmarks in both cities, while also offering fun outings like the History Pub Crawl. The Fit Tourist takes you past landmarks on either bike or foot. Take a Wabasha Street Caves Tour or a Gangster Tour, or hop a Segway to see the historic spots in either Saint Paul’s Summit Hill neighborhood or Minneapolis’ Riverfront District.

Summit Avenue

Summit Avenue

Named one of America’s Great Streets, it’s only necessary that Summit Avenue offers 90-minute walking tours of the beautifully historic neighborhood. Guided by those with insights about the Gilded Age architecture, social history and current preservation, the tours of the historic avenue become an awe-inspiring experience of the longest remaining stretch of Victorian homes in the country. The tour covers more than a mile, beginning at the James J. Hill House and continuing on through the cobblestone side streets and historic stone curbs of the breathtaking avenue. The homes are beautiful, but paired with the large, old trees that line the stretch, Summit Avenue is picturesque, making it a favorite jogging route for many and a must-stroll in the fall as the leaves transform into a canopy of colors.

Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum

Take a trip through Minneapolis’ history as you tour what was once the world’s largest flourmill at Mill City Museum. Built on the historic riverfront of the Mississippi, the museum offers a number of exhibits and tours all colliding history with fantastic sightseeing. Explore the nooks and crannies of the Washburn A Mill, learn of the hardships endured by men and women who milled flour, see expansive views on the observation deck or learn about brands like Pillsbury and General Mills. Join a guide from Mill City to visit a railroad landmark, or wet your beer and historical palate as you discover the richness of Minneapolis’ history through a Pub Crawl tour down Washington Avenue. Who says learning can’t be fun… and delicious.

Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge

The bridge’s 2,100 feet of native granite and limestone arch over the Mississippi River below St. Anthony Falls. Built by railroad tycoon James J. Hill in 1883, the Stone Arch Bridge is a historic landmark connecting both ends of our downtown. Mill City Museum, St. Anthony Falls, and boats and barges passing through can all be enjoyed as you walk, bike or run atop the 23 arches of history. Enjoy the trail on your own or take advantage of the many walking tours of St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge.

10 Neighborhoods We Love

Askov Finlayson
Askov Finalyson, North Loop Neighborhood

Minnesota is known for fluctuating weather, but it’s always 72 degrees in the eight miles of climate-controlled skyways downtown, which makes it possible to get where you want to go one level above the street. When you visit Nicollet Mall, however, you will want to walk outside to experience its lively atmosphere. Take a picture with the Mary Tyler Moore statue, read a book at the César Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library, or stop in the two-level Target. When the weather is nice, eat on a rooftop patio. Shop at one of the major department stores, be entertained with a show on one of the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s stages, laugh at the Brave New Workshop, or listen to live music at the Dakota Jazz Club or First Avenue.

Before the railroad era in the 1880s, Saint Paul was the “end of the line” for Mississippi River steamboat traffic and served as an arrival point for immigrants entering Minnesota. Now, Minnesota’s capital celebrates the culture and history of the people who came here decades ago. The Minnesota History Center, Cathedral of Saint Paul, Landmark Center and Fitzgerald Theater are historic sites that define the city. Rice Park showcases statues of The Great Gatsby writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and Peanuts comic strip characters created by Charles Schulz—both men were Saint Paul natives. Complementing the history are modern attractions like the Science Museum of Minnesota, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and Xcel Energy Center.

Think organic—not just food-wise, but in art, entertainment and scenic views. Lowertown Saint Paul is transforming into a lively hub of local and raw character. Known for the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market, the area also hosts spring and fall art crawls and a three-day jazz festival at the end of June. Catch live music at Mears Park or unwind with a walk through the garden. A place you might not expect to find in the city is Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, a 27-acre park with skyline views, sandstone bluffs, prairie grass and the Wakan Tipi cave that is sacred to the Dakota.

Grand Avenue in Saint Paul was once the place where Fitzgerald attended dance classes and Saint Paul’s elite came to shop and dine. These days it is one of the most popular shopping districts in the Twin Cities and was named one of Forbes’ Prettiest Neighborhoods in America. Most shops on the avenue are locally owned and located in historic houses. Karma, Quince and Atelier 957 are popular women’s fashion stores and Trade Winds sells fair-trade clothing. You can take your child to Paint Your Plate or to pick out a book at Red Balloon Bookshop. Then get homemade ice cream at Grand Ole Creamery or indulge in dessert at Cafe Latté.

Along and near the Mississippi riverfront is a slew of art, food and brews. Galleries, theaters and music venues provide a variety of entertainment and taste of local culture. Microbreweries are booming in the area where the old Grain Belt brewery was once king. Indeed Brewing is located here, and a 10-minute walk away is 612 Brew. You will also discover that Northeast has some very atypical bars. Drink beer out of das boot and shout “Ziggy zaggy oy oy oy!” at Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit, or go on a tropical getaway to Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge and drink out of a tiki cup on the patio that overlooks the river. And don’t miss Nye’s Polonaise Room, a nationally acclaimed bar and home to the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band.

Psycho Suzi's
Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge, Northeast Minneapolis

Whether it’s a group of bicyclists zipping past, vibrant art, the reflection of the sun off Lake Calhoun or the taste of local produce, Uptown Minneapolis is one cool place to hang out. The area is populated with restaurants that believe in using organic, sustainable and local food, as well as ones with rooftops that offers views of Minneapolis’ skyline, like Uptown Cafeteria. You’ll find plenty of retail at Calhoun Square, and can expose yourself to local artists in the area by attending a show at Jungle Theater or by strolling through the Uptown Art Fair in August. You’ll also want to get outside by renting a Nice Ride bike and pedaling down the Midtown Greenway, which has been named the best urban bike trail in the nation.

West of the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis is Linden Hills, a family-oriented area with a tightly knit community. The shopping district at 43rd Street and Upton Avenue is home to boutiques and restaurants, including Zumbro Café and the award-winning Tilia. You’ll want to spend time outdoors to listen to tunes at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, admire the Lyndale Rose Garden, picnic at one of the many parks and walk, bike or blade on the paths that lead you to the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. You can also go back in time by taking a ride on a historic Minnesota Trolley along the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, and then learn about the mysteries of electricity at the Bakken Museum.

In the oldest part of Minneapolis you can visit the Mill City Museum to learn about what it was like to mill flour and bake bread for the likes of Pillsbury and General Mills (both are headquartered in Minnesota). Visit The Depot, a train station built in 1864. Its last train left in 1971 and now it’s the location of a hotel, waterpark and in the wintertime, a skating rink. The area is also home to some of the best views in Minneapolis. Stroll along Nicollet Island Park or on the Stone Arch Bridge for a view of the Minneapolis skyline and St. Anthony Falls. You can also see the skyline from Gold Medal Park or the Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theater’s endless bridge; then you’ll want to catch a show on one of three stages.

Once where abandoned buildings sorely sat next to railroad tracks, this area of Minneapolis has become a dining and shopping hot spot. Beginning with nationally known Bar La Grassa in 2009, the restaurant and nightlife scene continues to grow with places like The Bachelor Farmer, Borough, Haute Dish, Smack Shack and craft beer at Fulton Brewery’s taproom. Scattered throughout the North Loop are high-end boutiques, including fair trade and eco-friendly home goods at The Foundry, men’s pieces at Askov Finlayson and martinpatrick3, and women’s fashions at Statement Boutique and C’est Chic Boutique. Also in the neighborhood you can catch a Twins game at Target Field, home of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.

10. 50TH & FRANCE
The neighborly, yet sophisticated style of 50th and France in Edina is where a collection of boutiques and local eats collide to create a charming cobblestone stretch. More than 175 retailers and professional services line the avenue, including popular chains like Anthropologie, Sur La Table and Athleta, but the real reasons to come are the high-end boutiques, like the ritzy Grethen House, custom stationery and invitation store Paperista, and consignment-clothing shop Fashion Avenue. You can find home décor at Gather, meaningful gifts at Live, Laugh, Love, and children’s clothes at Goodnight Moon and Pacifier. You can also pamper yourself at one of several spas. Stop at Beaujo’s wine bar, the cozy Pig & Fiddle, Raku for sushi, or Mozza Mia for handmade mozzarella and wood-fire pizza.