Minneapolis is a city of about 430,000 people (2019) and the largest city in Minnesota. Along with neighboring Saint Paul, it forms the urban core of the Twin Cities region, the third largest metropolitan area in the Midwest after Chicago and Detroit.
The central business district, major sports and theater venues, the city's main clubbing area in the Warehouse District, Loring Park, Elliot Park, and the historic mill ruins along the Mississippi River.
West Bank, Seward, Midtown, Nokomis, Longfellow, and Minnehaha Park
Uptown, Lyn-Lake, Linden Hills, Eat Street, and the Chain of Lakes
Near North, Camden, Bryn Mawr and Theodore Wirth Park
The birthplace of Minneapolis in Old Saint Anthony, old Victorian houses on Nicollet Island, and further north the old working class enclaves of Northeast that are now home to a growing artist community.
Dinkytown, Prospect Park, Como, and the University of Minnesota
Minneapolis was destined to be a center of commerce due to its location at the Falls of St. Anthony, which was named by the French explorer Fr. Louis Hennepin in 1680. St. Anthony Falls is by far the largest source of water power on the Mississippi River. The falls were harnessed to power lumber mills in the 1840s and later for flour milling. By 1870, Minneapolis on the west bank and St. Anthony on the east bank formed the largest flour producing center in the world. In 1872, Minneapolis absorbed its older neighbor. Most of the old St Anthony township is now known as Northeast Minneapolis. A small part of the old township comprises most of the current suburb of St. Anthony.
The name "Minneapolis", meaning "The City of Lakes" in a mash-up of the Dakota word minne and the Ancient Greek word polis, refers to the city's 22 natural lakes. The local jewels are the "Chain of Lakes": Cedar, Isles, Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun), Harriet, Nokomis, each 3-4 miles around. The city's excellent parks department maintains walking and biking paths around the lakes, offering residents a place to exercise or stroll. The Lake Harriet Bandshell is a popular summertime event host often featuring the renowned Minnesota Orchestra. Don't miss a ride on the restored trolley between Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet operated by the Minnesota Streetcar Museum.
The city has done an excellent job fostering developed neighborhoods, each with a distinctive feel. Downtown is the visual anchor featuring the high-rise suites, sporting events (the Timberwolves, Twins and Vikings play downtown), and nightclub scene. Northeast is the oldest part of the city, showing off its working-class and immigrant roots in great ethnic food, neighborhood bars, and social clubs, and more recently home to an arts and riverfront redevelopment movement. Uptown historically has been one of the city's youth centers featuring funky food, drink, theater, and plenty of tattoos and mohawks, but is orienting more towards yuppies and young families as real estate anywhere near the lakes becomes an ever more prized commodity. Uptown and the Lakes area dissolves into quiet, tucked-away Linden Hills (a one-time bedroom community) to the south and Lyn-Lake, home to many indie stages, music-oriented cafes and boozers, and alternative lifestyles and hangouts of all sorts, to the east. The University of Minnesota's main campus straddles the Mississippi River in the southeast surrounded by the usual college campus environs.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
With neither mountains nor large bodies of water nearby to moderate the climate, the Twin Cities experience extreme temperatures at both ends of the scale. Winters in Minneapolis can be very cold, while summer is often warm to hot and frequently humid. Snowfall is common in the winter, with at least a few blizzards occurring within the season. Thunderstorms with heavy rainfall occur during the spring, summer, and autumn. The winter cold from December to March can be brutal to the unaccustomed body, with temperatures often dropping below zero. The summer heat from June to September can also be harsh, with temperatures sometimes reaching into the nineties or above, with high humidity. Spring and autumn can be pleasant, with temperatures ranging between the forties and seventies, but during particularly rough years weather-wise those two seasons may either start late or be cut short.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP IATA) is located 10 miles southeast of downtown Minneapolis. The airport contains two terminals: Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey, with most flights arriving at Terminal 1. Savvy travelers should check to make sure they know which terminal they are arriving at/departing from.
The METRO Blue Line light rail operates service between the airport and downtown, the Mall of America, and parts of South Minneapolis, and offers connections to buses to other parts of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The trains are convenient, fast, and clean. Fare is $2-2.50 depending on time of day. The light rail has stations at both terminals.
Interstate Highways 35W and 94 are the main arteries into town. Both will take you to the edges of downtown. I-35W runs north and south (for the most part) and I-94 east and west; both interstates will connect you to the I-494/694 beltway around the metro area. I-394 runs west from downtown to I-494, where it becomes US Hwy 12. Keep an eye on which lane you're in, as freeway interchanges come up fast, and traffic back-ups will occur at any time, day or night; the morning (7-9AM) and evening (3-7PM) rush hours are predictably congested.
Amtrak. Daily service to Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul. The Empire Builder, Amtrak trains 7/27 and 8/28, serves the Twin Cities area, terminating at Chicago and Seattle or Portland (the train splits in Spokane, Washington). This train covers a route similar to the historic Empire Builder of the James J. Hill Great Northern Railway.
Northstar Line. This commuter train connects the northwest suburbs to Downtown Minneapolis, terminating at a station near Target Field with connections to the light rail. The weekday schedule is oriented to rush hour commuters, with five trips heading to Minneapolis in the morning and five trips leaving Minneapolis in the late afternoon; there is only one reverse trip in the morning and in the afternoon. There are three trips in each direction on Saturdays and Sundays, and occasional special trips scheduled to take commuters to Twins or Vikings games.
Greyhound and Jefferson Lines buses arrive at the Hawthorne Transportation Center, at 950 Hawthorne Ave (at 10th St, one block west of Hennepin) in downtown Minneapolis. It's just a few minute's taxi ride away from most of the downtown hotels. It's 4-5 blocks away from a few major bus routes and the light rail. The depot is near a homeless shelter, so it's not uncommon to see a few homeless people hanging out nearby. The area is well-patrolled and quite safe. Some routes make additional stops.
- Badger Coaches (at Hawthorne Transportation Center). 4x weekly scheduled services in cooperation with Jefferson Lines to Madison daily and Milwaukee, with a few local stops in between. $45-53.
- Greyhound (at Hawthorne Transportation Center). Service from Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and other places in Wisconsin. Some Chicago and Milwaukee services are express runs.
- Jefferson Lines (at Hawthorne Transportation Center). Operate scheduled services across Minnesota to South Dakota, Wisconsin, and beyond. Also operates service between the Twin Cities and Kansas City, via Des Moines. Jefferson prides itself on its 'eco-friendly' new coaches.
- Megabus. Service from Madison (4 times daily), Milwaukee (4 times daily), and Chicago (8 times daily). Fares can be as little as $1 each way if reserved far enough in advance. The bus stop is in downtown Minneapolis at 318 3rd Avenue North, between Washington Avenue and 5th Street, under the Ramp C parking garage; there is an indoor waiting area near the bus stop. The nearest Metro Light Rail station, at Target Field, is three blocks away. Buses have wifi.
The city streets have a grid system that's helpful if you learn it. Minneapolis is divided into quadrants: North, South, Northeast and Southeast. Hennepin Avenue forms the divider between streets labeled N and S near downtown. This division continues through the smaller portion of Minneapolis east of the Mississippi, dividing it into Northeast (NE) and Southeast (SE). Further west of downtown, this division lies along Linden Avenue, just north of the I-394 freeway. In North, Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis, all roads carry N, NE, or SE prefixes on street signs. In South Minneapolis, the north-south avenues are marked S. The east-west streets are marked with W or E, depending if you are west or east of Nicollet Avenue. Even though street signs show these directions before the names, most locals read the addresses with them at the end. Thus "York Avenue South" appears on signs as "S York Ave" and "N 33rd Ave" is called "33rd Avenue North".
Minneapolis is one of few cities to use multi-colored street signs. The colors indicate the priority of plowing during winter storms. Although plowing has since changed, they still indicate what sort of street. Blue signs indicate major roads which are "Snow Emergency Routes". These are still the first to be plowed. Rust-colored signs indicate roads that run primarily east-west. Light green signs indicate roads primarily north-south. Dark green signs indicate scenic parkways that ring the city and the lakes.
By public transit
Metro Transit, ☏ . Operator of the public transit system in the Twin Cities. Single-ride fares (including unlimited transfers for 2.5 hours) for local and limited-stop services (including the Metro Light Rail) are $2.50 during peak service hours (M-F 6AM-9AM and 3PM-6:30PM, excluding certain holidays) and $2 at all other times. For express services, the fares are $3.25 during peak hours and $2.50 during off-peak hours. Other fare options are described below.
- Metro Light Rail. The light rail system in Minneapolis consists of two lines, the Blue Line and the Green Line. Both lines run on 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis. Past downtown, the Green Line runs on Washington Avenue through the University of Minnesota campus and University Avenue through the city of Saint Paul, before terminating at Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul. The Blue Line heads to South Minneapolis along Hiawatha Avenue, and then passes through MSP Airport before terminating at the Mall of America in Bloomington.
- Bus. Knowing your Route 2 from your Route 22 is considered one mark of a true-blue Twin Citian. The routes and fares are confusing to non-natives. The Metro Transit web site, however, is user-friendly. The Trip Planner lets you provide your beginning and ending points and times, and suggests the best route. You can customize this on walking distances, number of transfers, and the like. As routes are anything but linear, carry a schedule and map for any bus route you are riding; these are available on buses (generally right behind the bus driver) as well as at many city government buildings, libraries, and the like. Bus stops are nearly everywhere throughout the city, but some are served infrequently, and some are not labeled as to which routes serve them at which times. White Metro Transit notices sometimes posted at stops: routes often change due to construction or local events and parades.
Unlimited ride passes are available in 1-day, 7-day, and 31-day formats. Stored value passes (pay-per-ride) are also available. Day passes are $6 and can be purchased online, at a Metro Transit Store, from a bus driver, or a ticket machine at any light rail station. 7-day ($24) and 31-day ($65-120) passes must be loaded on a Go-To card, which can be purchased online, at a Metro Transit Store, or participating Metro Transit sales outlets. Stored value passes can be loaded on a Go-To card in increments of $10 (up to $400). Once in possession of a Go-To card, reloading it with new unlimited ride passes or stored value is easy and can be done online, at Metro Transit stores and outlets, or at light rail ticket machines.
Introduction to Minneapolis public transit
The northern head of the LRT is a station at 5th Street and 3rd Avenue North, next to the Minnesota Twins' (baseball) new home of Target Field. The Target Field station is also the southern terminus of the Northstar Line. Along Hennepin next to the LRT station are bus stops for Route 6, connecting Uptown, Downtown, Dinkytown/University of Minnesota. This Route 6/LRT nexus is a good start for first-time visitors, as most hotels (provided you're staying in the city and not some airport/suburban business traveler hovel) are within a few minutes' walk. If you stay at the airport you can get here via the LRT. Other suburban accommodations are likely to be near express buses, which largely terminate one block over at Hennepin and South 4th Street. Ask your concierge.
Taking the LRT south from downtown, the first stop you might be interested in is U.S. Bank Stadium, where a stadium of the same name opened in 2016. The stadium, home to the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, stands on the former site of the Metrodome, which served not only as home to the Vikings, but also to the Minnesota Twins (baseball), Minnesota Golden Gophers football team (University of Minnesota), and the occasional rock concert. U.S. Bank Stadium also hosts occasional concerts, large events such as NCAA (college) basketball tournaments and WWE (professional wrestling) shows, and even a few Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball games.
What's In a Name?
Locals distinguish two sections of the West Bank: Seven Corners and Cedar-Riverside. The two are separated by the University of Minnesota's West Bank campus. To the north is the collegiate Seven Corners, home to campus-flavored bars and student apartments which bleed into downtown. Cedar-Riverside on the south is a combination of young artists, musicians, and the accompanying scenesters , substances, and subculture. Many locals refer to "their" West Bank as simply The West Bank, and call the other half by its specific name. The two are divided not only by the university but by the sunken freeway, which connects Washington Ave with Interstate 35W and serves as a traffic bypass. Cedar-Riverside sits on the doorstep of some of the city's most neglected and victimized (but not particularly unsafe) ghettos and largely East African immigrant settlements. For more on Minneapolis' sordid history of urban "renewal" and demarcation via freeway building, see Larry Millett's excellent Lost Twin Cities.
Next stop, Cedar/Riverside. If you walk a few blocks east to Cedar Avenue, there's a vibrant, diverse and sometimes dangerous neighborhood known, coincidentally, as Cedar-Riverside or the West Bank. In terms of danger, it's a neighborhood where you should stay in well-lit areas and cab home if you have a few too many or stay a little too late. (Bars are open until 2AM) Before you are frightened away, there's much this neighborhood has to offer that shouldn't be missed.
East on Riverside Avenue is the Hard Times Cafe. Hard Times is only closed for two hours every day, from 4AM to 6AM. The food can vary widely depending on who is on duty. They offer good coffee, (often) loud music, games, etc. The Nomad is a little further south on Cedar Ave. It has a nice outdoor patio for smoking and inside a stage where you can see a variety of local rock or jazz shows. Across the street from The Nomad, is Palmers. Palmers gets a little rough if you don't know how to behave yourself while drinking. Not for the weak of heart or mind. Mind your own business if you go there.
Still further down Cedar Avenue are the Whiskey Junction and The Cabooze. Whiskey Junction is a favorite hang out for bikers, but a good number of those are the suburban type with expensive Harley Davidsons. The crowd and atmosphere at the Cabooze varies widely, depending at least in part on who is doing their best interpretation of blues that night - from all those people who disappeared from campus freshman year to long-haired exurbans with Polaris ballcaps. Both venues offer live music most nights. If you make it to the Cabooze, you're already near the Franklin Avenue Light Rail stop. Get back on and head down to Lake Street.
Lake Street/Midtown has a lot to offer on weekend days in the spring and summer. Namely an outdoor market with lots of good food and locally made goodies. The neighborhood has become a center for Mexican and Central American immigrants, and hence the food of those regions, in Minneapolis. See the Eat section for more information. Worth a stop for sure. You can also catch a 21 bus from here to Uptown (make sure the bus is going west).
The next few stops take you to mostly residential neighborhoods. While there are things to do along them, they're not easily accessible on foot, so we'll skip ahead to 50th Street/Minnehaha Park. The Minnehaha Park station is adjacent to a park and Minnehaha Falls. You can see the 53 foot falls and walk along the creek on its way to the Mississippi River.
The Fort Snelling station is after the VA Medical Center station. Fort Snelling makes a great day trip. It's the original settlement in Minnesota and an early wilderness outpost.
Next is the Airport and then the Mall of America, the gargantuan monument to advanced capitalism. The MOA is not quite as sparkling as it was on its opening over two decades ago, but it is still the largest mall around and by some accounts the leading tourist destination in the United States. Tour operators from as far away as Japan organize charter flights and hotel bookings for the single purpose of experiencing "The Mall". It offers an indoor amusement park, movies, restaurants and more shopping than is comprehensible. It's a day trip in itself, but not for the thrifty. Food, shopping and the Camp Formerly Known as Snoopy (now Nickelodeon Universe) can burn through your wallet fast. Not for those with poor impulse control. For the tourist in you, check out local kitsch such as the Lake Wobegon Store.
The return trip: by disembarking at the Lake Street Station and catching a #21 Bus going west, or by returning to the LRT headwaters at Hennepin Avenue and catching a #6 Bus bearing south, one can end up at Uptown and the jewel of Minneapolis, the gorgeous Chain of Lakes. If you're here between Memorial Day and Labor Day, rent a canoe at Bde Maka Ska (stop at the nearby Lunds grocery on Lake Street for picnic materials) and see four lakes, three enchanting sheltered canals, two islands, and one classic creosote-tastic railroad trestle from a duck's eye view.
The 21 brings you past the Midtown Market and Lyn-Lake on the way, while the 6 takes you through downtown and past the gleaming Loring Park area, featuring the spectacular Basilica of St. Mary, the infamous Spoon and Cherry, and the shiny metal Rock 'Em-Sock 'Em Robot head that is the Walker Art Center expansion. Heading north on the 6 will take you across Nicollet Island, another of Minneapolis' abundant urban havens, and through the original Minneapolis/St. Anthony milling district and a touch of the ethnic food and drink haven that is Northeast Minneapolis on the way to Dinkytown and the University of Minnesota (including an old campus district which is on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as some of the top libraries in the world).
NiceRide bike sharing lets you jump on a bike in downtown and take it anywhere. The cost is minimal but the convenience isn't!
Biking in Minneapolis is a big deal. Over the years, the city has invested heavily in bike trails, lanes and "bicycle boulevards," and a good chunk of its populace uses the man-powered two-wheeler to get around. The larger Twin Cities area also offers a good mix of off-road bike trails; for example one can bike from Chaska to St. Paul using only bike trails, some thirty miles. A variety of maps show the web of on and off-road routes that span the greater metropolitan area. During the winter, major bike trails such as the Midtown Greenway are plowed at the same time as major streets. In some neighborhoods like Downtown, Dinkytown, Uptown, and near the University of Minnesota campus, bikes are seen almost as often as cars.
One of the country's largest urban bike rental programs, Nice Ride Minnesota, offers two-wheelers for rent at 150 locations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Rides are priced at $3 per half-hour, or you can buy a day pass for $6 which allows for unlimited free rides in 30 minute increments; extra charges can be avoided if you simply return the bike to a station and hop on a new one. If staying in town a bit longer, you can get a 30-day pass for $18, which has the extra benefit of allowing you to use a bike for one full hour without extra charges. You need a credit card to rent a bike or purchase a day pass at a station; 30-day passes can only be purchased online.
The Twin Cities also offer a big variety of cycling shops from very race oriented ones (e.g Grand Performance in St. Paul and Flanders Bros in Minneapolis) to more consumer oriented shops (e.g. Freewheel, Erik's, Boehm's) to the most women-friendly worker cooperative bike shop, The Hub Bike Co-op.
A very useful cycling shop for visitors and tourists is Perennial Cycle, which offers, among other services, offers bike rental (both regular and tandem bikes).
For additional cycling information in the Twin Cities area please visit the Twin Cities Bicycling Club.
No discussion of getting around Minneapolis would be complete without mention of the Skyway. Covering most of an approximate 7x7 block region of central downtown, the Skyway is a series of public pedestrian spaces on the 2nd floor of downtown buildings connected by enclosed bridges between buildings. It is possible to walk through most of downtown and never go outdoors, a real advantage during winter. Additionally, the Skyway allows you to bypass stoplights and quickly move through the city. Beyond the core region, the Skyway reaches about 12 blocks in the north/south direction and 8 blocks east/west. The Skyway is home to multiple restaurants, stores, shops and malls. If visiting downtown Minneapolis during the winter, using a parking deck or staying at a hotel on or very near the Skyway is well worth the investment. Hours vary slightly, but most buildings are open M-F 6:30AM-9PM or 10PM, Sa 9:30AM-8PM, and Su noon-6PM.
The museums, natural parks and waterfronts, malls, shopping districts, and dining zones should give you several options no matter what your age.
- The major fine art museum in town is the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Whittier, which covers 5,000 years of art and has a particularly strong collection of Asian art. Not too far away is the Walker Art Center near Loring Park, one of the big five modern art museums in the U.S. Another (mostly) contemporary art museum is the Weisman Art Museum on the U of M East Bank campus; it tends to be more known for its Frank Gehry-designed building than any of the art collections inside. The Museum of Russian Art, housed in a former church in Southwest Minneapolis, opened in 2005; its focus is on 20th-century Russian art which means there is also a strong collection of Soviet art.
- For history buffs, there's the Mill City Museum near the Downtown riverfront, housed in the former Washburn "A" Mill. The museum chronicles the development of the flour milling industry in Minneapolis; the city was the world's leading producer of flour around the turn of the 20th century. Down in Whittier near the MIA is the Hennepin History Museum, a somewhat low-key museum with permanent and rotating exhibits covering the history of Minneapolis and Hennepin County. They also have an archival library (free and open to the public) covering local history.
Large theaters are clustered in Downtown, the West Bank, and Uptown, with smaller venues dotting the rest of the city. The city has a vibrant theater scene that incorporates all levels of theatrical engagement. The Guthrie Theater is the regional theater for the state of Minnesota, crafting high-quality productions with local talent, as well as bringing in artists from the wider professional theater circuit. Organizations like The Playwrights' Center have made the Twin Cities a nationally-renowned center for new work, while companies like Mixed Blood Theatre Company, Jungle Theater, Penumbra Theatre, and Ten Thousand Things Theater, Theater in the Round,among others, have created a local theater scene with diverse, high-quality offerings.
Lake Street is also home to the Heart of the Beast Puppet theater, which offers family friendly shows Saturday mornings, and a variety of other unique puppet shows through the year. They also host the Mayday Parade the first Sunday in May. If you want to see the community feel of Minneapolis, it's a great event!
The Twin Cities has a great and diverse local music scene- punk, folk, club, jazz, classical, house, reggae, hip-hop, etc. Check out CityPages for listings throughout the cities.
In the summers the Mpls Park and Rec sponsors music in the parks: a variety of local music groups, family friendly.
Minneapolis on the surface seems like a pretty but rather quiet tourist destination. If you properly do your research though, there is plenty to do.
- As mentioned earlier above, Minneapolis has beautiful lakes and riverfronts that the local residents work hard to keep clean. It is also easy with a car, the proper permits, and necessary equipment to go camping as close as twenty miles east on the St. Croix River, or as far as seven hours north on the Canadian border. And it can be delightfully cheap.
- Biking. An old freight train railway has been converted into the Midtown Greenway, which cuts through the middle of South Minneapolis beginning on the West Bank and crossing west all the way to the Bde Maka Ska area and meeting up with the, Kenworth Trail which in turn connects with the, Cedar Lake Trail.
Lakes and parks
- Walk, bike, drive, swim or paddle around the chain of lakes running north to south along the western side of Minneapolis proper. Some are connected by lagoons and creeks which eventually spill into the Mississippi River at the famed Minnehaha Falls, inspiration of Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha". These are all part of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds, a 40-mile loop around the city begun over a century ago during the nation's first grand movement to toss the "Keep Off the Grass!" signs into the dustbin of history. Each of the Chain of Lakes has a walking path and a one-way biking/skating path. At least one path is kept clear even during snowy winter month, and it is possible to use the paths almost every day of the year.
- Cedar Lake. Cedar Lake has three public beaches, and is accessible by canoe, rowboat, or kayak by its connecting lagoon to Lake of the Isles and, by extension, Bde Maka Ska. It is also the only one of the Chain of Lakes where private property actually fronts the lake.
- Lake of the Isles. Lake of the Isles has bird sanctuaries on its (officially off-limits) islands, and a public skating rink, with a warming house, is groomed in the winter months. Check the newspaper; you may get lucky and catch a world-class speed-skating competition here. Its shores also feature some of the best climbing trees in the city, particularly for those who carry a short rope ladder in their pack. Although residents can lease rack space for their rowboats, canoes, or kayaks, there is no public boat rental. Boats rented or launched from Lake Calhoun can access Lake of the Isles via the lagoon which flows under Lake Street. There are also no public swimming beaches.
- Bde Maka Ska. Bde Maka Ska (formerly 'Lake Calhoun') has several public beaches, including volleyball nets on the South beaches. It also has rowboat and canoe rentals (and lessons) and sailboat lessons. There is an active yacht club that sponsors several races weekly. Also, the surface conditions on Bde Maka Ska make this lake most popular among sailboarders, often well into the Fall. While sails can't pass the low street crossings above the lagoons, paddlers can easily reach Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. The commissary is an affordable fish restaurant that's well rated by local residents and guides.
- Lake Harriet. Lake Harriet also has boat rentals. Lake Harriet's features include a bandshell at which numerous local and regional talent perform, and has included the Minnesota Orchestra, among others. It has several public swimming beaches, a marina, and is arguably the most popular and crowded lake among local residents for swimming, boating, walking, biking, and organized family and group celebrations.
- Lake Nokomis. Lake Nokomis has several beaches. In Minneapolis, a public swimming beach is identified by at least a small stretch of sand, and at least one lifeguard during midday hours. Lake Nokomis qualifies. It also has public boat access for canoes, kayaks and sail boats. Several convenience stores and a grocery store are nearby on Cedar Avenue if you need to make a run for that item you forgot on your picnic.
- Minnehaha Creek. Minnehaha Creek connects Lake Minnetonka in the far west suburbs with the Mississippi river, running through Lake Nokomis and other small lakes along the way. A short tributary connects it to the southeast corner of Lake Harriet, but it is not navigable directly from any of the lakes..
The face of Minneapolis' lakes and creeks has been ever-changing since the Industrial Age began. Each of the chain of lakes has been dredged repeatedly, shifting the shores and in the case of Isles accidentally submerging a long-lost third island. Basset Creek once connected the northwest section of the Grand Rounds—including Wirth Lake and points north and west—with the Mississippi before being diverted and buried to serve as storm drainage. Large stretches of swampy wetlands once made for a makable, if buggy, passage from the north and west suburbs through all of the Lakes to the river. Now this is possible only for those willing to brave manholes, raccoons, and the law in a descent below the city.
- The Chain of Lakes is not a continuous navigable waterway by any means, although the bike and walking paths, and auto parkways, connect parks and waterways from North Minneapolis almost without interruption to the Mississippi River. Minnehaha Creek is a shallow creek that allows canoeing or inflatables' traffic for only a couple months of the year. It terminates into the Mississippi, just after the dramatic Minnehaha Falls, a popular family park destination.
- Minneapolis features many other parks with recreational, natural, and historical merit in various degrees. Boom Island Park, just North of Nicollet Island and most easily accessible from the Stone Arch Bridge, features nice fishing on side channels and some of the most unique skyline views in the United States, as well as a look at the century-old remains of massive brickworks and water-power tailrace tunnels of the Pillsbury A Mill. The Mill was the last functioning reminder of Minneapolis' boomtown heyday to shut down in 2005.
- Directly across the river is the Mill Ruins Park and Mill City Museum, next to the St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam—the final lock on the journey up the Mississippi. The Mill Ruins was the site of the Washburn A Mill among others, host of an infamous explosion and fire in the 19th century. And the 20th. And the 20th again. Oh, and there were two more in the 19th. Eventually, the burnt shells were given up on and left standing, and much of the canal and tunnel system which provided water power was covered with earth and paved over to form West River Road. The park features excavations of quite a bit of these early stoneworks from an age when very rich men prided themselves on the quality of even the most mundane, invisible, underground works; as well as the outfall of Basset Creek, buried for the last 1.5 miles of its run beneath downtown.
- Tower Hill Park. In Southeast Minneapolis is home to the venerable Witch's Hat, the Prospect Park neighborhood's 1914 water tower. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and offers maybe the best (if not the broadest) view in the city on the one day per year that its observation deck is open.
- Minneapolis is home to the Minnesota Twins (Major League Baseball), Minnesota Vikings (National Football League), Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA basketball), and Minnesota Lynx (WNBA basketball). The Twins play at Target Field and the Timberwolves and Lynx at Target Center, both of which are located in Downtown Minneapolis. The Vikings moved into their new U.S. Bank Stadium, also in Downtown Minneapolis and occupying the site of the team's former home of the Metrodome, for the 2016 season.
- The Twin Cities have an NHL hockey team, the Minnesota Wild, but they play next door in Saint Paul at the Xcel Energy Center. The Lynx played here in 2017 during the latest renovations to Target Center.
- Minnesota United FC is a professional soccer team that began playing in Major League Soccer in 2017, replacing a team of the same name that played in the second North American Soccer League. The team was to build a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, but those plans fell through, and Allianz Field was instead built in St. Paul and opened in 2019. The games can be very exciting and the team has a strong group of supporters at each match.
- The Minnesota Golden Gophers are the college sports teams for the University of Minnesota, and their venues are naturally near the U of M campus in Southeast Minneapolis. The Gophers football team plays at Huntington Bank Stadium, where the Vikings played while U.S. Bank Stadium was being built.
- University of Minnesota.
- Augsburg College.
- Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
- Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
- Uptown area, centered on Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, south of Downtown Minneapolis and extending East to the Lake/Lyndale avant-garde theatre district. In this area you'll find all kinds of retailers.
- Nicollet Mall is a pedestrian mall right in the heart of downtown.
Clothing boutiques tend to be clustered near Uptown and Lyn-Lake. There are also boutiques in the 50th and France area.
The Twin Cities are a hotbed of independent presses and bookstores. Specialty and used bookstores can be found scattered across the city.
Southwest is home to the bulk of record stores in Minneapolis, including the Electric Fetus, Roadrunner Records, Extreme Noise Records (specializing in punk), and Cheapo. South is home to Hymie's Vintage Records.
Groceries and other basics
The major supermarket chains in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are Cub Foods, Hy-Vee, Lund's and Byerly's, Kowalski's, Aldi, Whole Foods Market, and Trader Joe's. The discount store chain Target also has a store in Minneapolis. The Walgreens drug store chain is ubiquitous throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, and its suburbs with many locations open 24 hours a day.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have a large variety of ethnic grocery stores catering to the sizable Mexican, Somali, and Hmong community. These tend to be found along Lake Street in Minneapolis and along University Avenue in St. Paul.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
- Don't miss Nicollet Avenue's Eat Street for a variety of ethnic fare; it is particularly heavy on Southeast Asian options. Options include Quang and Jasmine Deli for Vietnamese and the Black Forest Inn for German cuisine. The Vietnamese restaurants are incredibly cheap ($5-10 per person) and have received consistently exuberant reviews since their openings.
- The Dinkytown and Stadium Village areas near the University of Minnesota have great offerings mostly catering to the collegiate crowd. Plenty of Americanized Chinese and cheap burgers-and-fries joints.
- Midtown is home to the Midtown Global Market, operating on the first floor of what used to be a large Sears store. It is now home to a variety of cafes and restaurants from all around the world. Favorites like Holy Land Deli and Bakery, Andy's Garage, and several restaurants from around the city have opened satellite locations here. Mercado Central is another indoor market featuring several Mexican eateries. Outside of the markets, plenty of Mexican and other Latin restaurants dot the Lake Street strip.
- Northeast contains a wide variety of establishments. Old Saint Anthony is home to decades-old Eastern European mainstays like Kramarczuk's Deli and newer favorites like Pizza Nea and Red Stag. Closer to Central and Lowry you can find well-regarded Middle Eastern eateries like Holy Land and Crescent Moon and Mexican restaurants such as Taco Riendo and Adelita's.
Food trucks have also become very popular throughout the twin cities. On weekends during the summers (approx. May- Oct) they can be found at the variety of neighborhood farmer's markets, including Midtown, Kingsfield, Linden Hills, and Northeast.
Traditional foods associated with Minnesota, including hotdish (casserole) and lutefisk (a Norwegian fish delicacy) are rarely found in restaurants. However, one uniquely Minneapolitan item that can be easily located is the Juicy Lucy (sometimes spelled Jucy Lucy), a cheeseburger variation in which the cheese is cooked inside two molded-together meat patties rather than on top. The cheese inside the burger is gooey and piping hot. While the origin, and spelling, of the Juicy Lucy is disputed, popular places to order a Juicy Lucy include Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club in South Minneapolis, and a short distance across the river in Saint Paul at the Nook, among others.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
Minneapolis has one of the most vibrant and independent music scenes in the country. The city is probably most famous for its purple pop wonder, Prince, but also has bands such as Soul Asylum, The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Atmosphere and Hüsker Dü. Several clubs in town play host to shows by local bands and your chances of finding a good one are better than average.
- Downtown is home to the internationally renowned First Avenue. First Avenue is famous as setting for the film Purple Rain and for the silver stars that cover the outside of the building. The venue is split into three: the Mainroom which hosts national and international touring bands (usually of the punk, indie, and hip-hop variety), the smaller 7th Street Entry which hosts local and less-known touring bands, and the Record Room a small dance lounge primarily used for DJ's and smaller dance nights. Also in the area are the Fine Line Music Cafe, the Dakota Jazz Club, Grumpy's, Lee's Liquor Lounge, and Bunkers.
- The West Bank contains the Cabooze, a biker bar featuring mostly classic rock-type music. Other venues include the Nomad, the Red Sea, and in the nearby Seward neighborhood, the Hexagon Bar.
- Northeast has some venues scattered around like the Terminal Bar and the 331 Club. In nearby Dinkytown, don't miss the elegantly decorated Varsity Theater and college band favorite, the Kitty Cat Klub.
The nightlife in general can be vibrant in several areas. The Warehouse District is great for clubbers, Dinkytown is good for college party-goers, Uptown is good for those with a bit more money, and Northeast is great for dive bar aficionados. Minneapolis is not the 24-hour city that New York is, but bars close at 2 AM so that is still plenty of time, especially if you find a party to go to afterwards.
Minneapolis certainly accommodates those seeking a good drink, a tendency which certainly complements the alcohol culture endemic to the Upper Midwest. There are over a dozen Irish, German, or British pubs, such as The Local, Black Forest Inn, Brit's Pub, Gastoff's, O'Donovan's or Kieran's. Local dining, clubs, pubs, and bars tend to compete for the best Happy Hour specials. It's a good idea to do an internet search to find the best deals.
Coffee and tea
The Scandinavian and north African influence can be seen quite clearly in the ubiquitous access to coffee shops in Minneapolis. This is a place where important things are discussed over a cup of coffee. Caribou is a locally-based national chain that actually outnumbers Starbucks in Minnesota and has a similar feel and quality in the drinks, except the shots are 1.5 oz compared to Starbucks 1.0 ounce, and they usually offer free WiFi. Dunn Brothers is also locally-based and is third in chains for a number of locations, and their coffee is fresh-ground daily in the shop but somewhat stronger than most places in town. Their fantastic brewed coffee is a little more impressive than the espresso, but their shots are at least a mighty 3.0 oz. Dunn Brothers also excels at offering free WiFi access and (often) free Internet terminals. If you're looking for something a little less corporate, you can rest assured that there will be a coffee shop nearby in most parts of town, as Minneapolis' independent spirit has yielded good cups of coffee in so many places that one can hardly throw a rock without it landing in a latte. The number of independent coffee shops per block reaches critical mass near Uptown and Lyn-Lake and around the University of Minnesota neighborhoods. The density of coffee shops isn't quite as great in South and Northeast Minneapolis, but there will still be enough options to keep you satisfied. Comparatively speaking, North Minneapolis is somewhat of a coffee desert, but there will still be a couple of options to which locals are fiercely loyal. There is also a growing specialty coffee shop movement in Minneapolis if you're willing to pay an extra dollar (or three) for a better cup.
See the Districts articles for more listings.
There is a good variety of hotels. Downtown hosts many independent and international hotel chains from the mid-range to the high-end. The University of Minnesota campus, not too far from downtown, has many mid-range options. South Minneapolis has limited options but they are also close to downtown. The Twin Cities' only backpackers hostel is near Eat Street and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Travelers getting by without a car will want to avoid staying in a hotel outside the city.
Smoking is prohibited by Minnesota state law at all restaurants, bars, nightclubs, workplaces, and public buildings. Violating the ban can result in a misdemeanor charge and a $300 fine.
Dial 911 for emergencies and 311 for non-emergencies.
As with any major American city, keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Crime is relatively low in most parts of Minneapolis that you're likely to visit, but is not unknown.
Be wary of the Near North, Camden, and Phillips communities, particularly at night. Violent crimes have occurred in all parts of the city.
As in all other cities, these crimes receive a disproportionate amount of attention from local media. These tragic events are typically not random so they will probably not impact your visit. You are more likely to be a victim of crimes of opportunity.
When traveling, do not leave any items that can be quickly converted to cash in plain view in cars or unattended at restaurants and other public areas. These crimes can and do occur in all areas.
When you take in the great park system or travel to the unique urban shopping destinations ensure that all valuables remain with you or are secured out-of-view in your vehicle.
Also if you are going to secure your valuables in a vehicle, make sure you store them prior to arriving at your destination.
Minneapolis, along with the airport, the suburbs of Richfield and St. Anthony, and the entire University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus is in the 612 area code. From 612, it is not necessary to dial a 1 before the area code when calling numbers in the 651 (Saint Paul and east suburbs), 763 (northwest suburbs), or 952 (southwest suburbs) area codes.
Internet cafes are nonexistent in Minneapolis. Many coffee shops offer free wifi, but very few will have computer terminals.
The Hennepin County Library has computer workstations with internet access at all of their locations. Access to a computer is on a first-come, first-served basis, and reservations can only be made in person. Out-of-town visitors will need to obtain a temporary internet pass from a librarian. The library also offers unlimited wireless internet access (no pass needed). See district articles for specific locations.
The city of Minneapolis maintains a number of free wifi hotspots throughout the city.
- Star Tribune. Minneapolis' daily newspaper. $1 daily, $2 Sunday.
- Pioneer Press. Daily newspaper based across the river in Saint Paul, but still available in Minneapolis and around the Twin Cities. $0.50 daily, $1 Sunday.
- Lavender. Free biweekly LGBT magazine.
- 1 Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), 7th St between Park and Chicago. Occupies five city blocks on the east end of Downtown, near U.S. Bank Stadium. Has a Level I trauma center.
- 2 Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Chicago Ave between 26th and 28th Sts.
- Canada, 701 4th Ave S, Suite 901, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Ecuador, ☏ .
- Ethiopia, ☏ .
- Mexico, 797 E 7th St, Saint Paul, ☏ , fax: .
- Finland (Honorary), 2429 Girard Ave S, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Germany (Honorary), 60 S 6th St, Suite 2800, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Netherlands (Honorary), 33 S 6th St, Suite 4200, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Norway (Honorary), 11100 Bren Rd W, Minnetonka, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-F 8AM-4PM.
- Sweden, American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave, ☏ , [email protected]. Serves Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
- Switzerland (Honorary), 18250 39th Ave N, Plymouth, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- United Kingdom (Honorary), 800 Nicollet Mall, Suite 2600, ☏ , fax: .
There are several day or overnight destinations near the city.
In the Twin Cities metro
- Mall of America in nearby Bloomington. Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing.
- Valleyfair is an amusement park that's within an hour's drive in nearby Shakopee.
- Minnesota Zoo is in nearby Apple Valley.
- Stillwater is a beautiful, historic town about an hour away.
- Chaska is home to the Minnesota Arboretum. There are events and nature explorations year round. The third Monday of the month is free. Other days admission is $15 for anyone over the age of 15. Free for ages 15 and under.
- Lutsen has what may be the best skiing in the state (or a few states, given the otherwise flat geography) with cheap ski/stay packages. At 5 hours from Minneapolis, this is not exactly a day trip but worth the drive if you are a gravity addict!
- Lake Mille Lacs offers good fishing, boat rentals and fishing guides.
- New Ulm is famous for its German beer, German festivals, and amateur baseball tradition.
- Pine City is north, nice and close, just an hour's drive from downtown. It's a great glimpse of small-town Minnesota life.
- State Parks. The state has many well-kept state parks for those who like to camp and fish.
- Duluth, the gateway to the North Shore, is 155 miles north on I-35, and is great for an overnight trip.
|Routes through Minneapolis|
|Duluth ← Roseville ←||N S||→ Richfield → Des Moines|
|Fargo ← Brooklyn Park ←||W E||→ Saint Paul → to Madison|
|Minnetonka ← St. Louis Park ←||W E||→ END|
|Aberdeen ← St. Louis Park ← Follow west ←||W E||→ Follow east → Saint Paul → Eau Claire|
|Paynesville ← Plymouth ←||W E||→ Eagan → Hastings|
|Minnetonka/Eden Prairie ← Richfield ←||W E||→ Mendota Heights → Inver Grove Heights|
|END ←||N S||→ Richfield → Apple Valley|
|Big Lake ← Fridley ←||NW SE||→ END|