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Minneapolis Itinerary: Top Attractions for a Long Weekend in the Twin Cities

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Minneapolis, an energetic city in the heart of the Midwest, offers many attractions and activities to fill a weekend itinerary. From modern art museums to serene nature trails, this bustling metropolis caters to visitors with a wide array of interests. With so much to explore in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities area, it’s essential to plan your visit strategically to make the most of your time.

As a starting point, why not consider immersing yourself in the art and culture scene by checking out the Walker Art Center, one of the country’s most visited modern art museums? Afterward, you could stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and appreciate its contemporary sculptures.

It’s also a great hub for exploring more of Minnesota. For a unique shopping experience, take a day trip to Stillwater or head to Minnehaha Park for fresh air.

Remember, your Minneapolis adventure can be tailored to your preferences, ensuring this exciting city leaves a lasting impression. So, whether art, nature, or food is your passion, Minneapolis can help you!

Weekend in Minneapolis: Day 1

Looking to build your own Minneapolis itinerary? Here are a few ideas and attractions you can build a trip around. You’ll want to get to know the city for your first day in Minneapolis.

Grab a Coffee at Spyhouse Coffee Roasters

Spyhouse Coffee Roasters in Downtown Minneapolis
Spyhouse Coffee Roasters / Spyhouse Coffee Roasters

Fuelling up is important, so start your day with a delicious cup of coffee at Spyhouse Coffee Roasters, one of my favorite local coffee houses. They have a few locations in the Twin Cities, so keep an eye out.

With its welcoming atmosphere, cool decor, and an excellent selection of tantalizing single-origin coffees, Spyhouse is the perfect place to put some pep in your step before embarking on a day of exploration in Minneapolis.

Visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Cherry and the Spoon - Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Your next stop is the iconic Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, a beautiful outdoor space showcasing intriguing sculptures from local and international artists. Revered as one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country, this must-see attraction is also home to the famous “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture – don’t forget to snap some selfies with it.

You can easily spend an hour or two meandering through the garden. It’s also a lovely spot for picnics on sunny days.

Peruse the Walker Art Center

Front of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Situated right next to the sculpture garden is the Walker Art Center. The Walker Art Center is an awesome contemporary art museum that houses a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art.

Take your time to explore the galleries, admiring works by renowned artists and discovering emerging talents. Don’t forget to check out their unique gift shop and their top-notch film program, making your visit to the Walker Art Center a truly enriching experience.

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota to Visit

Enjoy Dinner in Minneapolis

Black Sheep Pizza interior in Minnesota
Black Sheep Pizza / Facebook

After a busy day of art and culture, treat yourself to a delicious dinner made with local ingredients at one of downtown Minneapolis’ restaurants. Whatever you’re craving can be found here, as Minneapolis is a real culinary melting pot when it comes to cuisine.

You’ll find a meal that suits your taste buds with an array of dining options, from trendy new eateries serving fusion to beloved local favorites and their cheese curds. If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to stray out of downtown Minneapolis and check out the “Eat Street Corridor.” Along this lengthy stretch, you’ll find one of the most eclectic mixes of cuisines, restaurants, and eateries in the entire country.

See Related: Best Lake Street Restaurants in Minneapolis to Try

Watch the Sunset Over the Stone Arch Bridge

Pedestrian Walking Path of Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Conclude your day with a visit to the historic Stone Arch Bridge. The 1880s railroad bridge is now a pedestrian and bike path offering stunning views of Mill Ruins Park, the Minneapolis skyline, and the Mississippi River.

It’s super romantic at sunset or after dark. As the sun sinks below the horizon and the city lights begin to twinkle, take in city views and the peaceful ambiance of this picturesque spot.

Weekend in Minneapolis: Day 2

Day two begins with a quick jaunt to South Minneapolis, one of the most beautiful parks in the Twin Cities.

Take a Morning Walk at Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Begin your day with a refreshing stroll at Minnehaha Falls. This is one of the most popular green spaces in the metro area, and from one glance at these waterfalls, you’ll get it.

Bring your camera and marvel at the 53-foot waterfall in between snaps. Then, take some time to explore the picturesque walking trails of the surrounding Minnehaha Regional Park. Whether it’s summer or winter, this park is equally breathtaking.

See Related: Best Waterfalls in Minnesota to Visit

Shop at the Mall of America

Exterior of the entrance of Mall of America, a major tourist destination in Minnesota.
Jeff Bukowski / Shutterstock.com

While in the area, you’d be remiss to not hit up the Mall of America, a must-see Minnesota attraction in Bloomington. Keep track of time, as it’s easy to lose a day exploring the country’s largest mall.

This shopping behemoth features over 500 stores and stalls, from name brands to boutiques and everything else in between. With no sales tax on clothes, “The Mall” is a great place for fashionistas to engage in some retail therapy.

There’s a vast food court, and two on-site hotels, each with its on-site restaurant. For fun, check out several arcades, a movie theater, a SEA LIFE aquarium, and the nation’s largest indoor amusement park in the form of Nickelodeon Universe (aka the amusement park formerly known as Camp Snoopy).

Visit the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market

Buyer and sellers in Minneapolis Farmers' Market
Minneapolis Farmers’ Market / Facebook

Not gonna lie; “The Mall” can be pretty intense for many first-timers. So, how about a more relaxed retail scene?

Head to the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market to sample fresh, locally sourced produce. Enjoy the groovy atmosphere as you discover new flavors from numerous vendors. It’s the perfect spot to purchase a mid-morning snack or a hearty lunch.

See the Mill City Museum

Gold Medal Flour Sign at Mill City Museum, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Dive into Minneapolis’ rich history with a visit to the Mill City Museum in Mill Ruins Park. Housed in the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, the museum offers interactive exhibits exploring Minnesota’s milling history.

The panoramic views of the Mississippi River here are nothing short of spectacular, either. If you missed it on day one, don’t miss the chance to walk nearby Stone Arch Bridge for a striking view of the old mill ruins!

Visit St. Anthony Falls

St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Melissa Woolf / Adobe Stock

We started the day with falls, so why not end on them too? Round off your day with a visit to St. Anthony Falls, a once-crucial power source for local flour mills along the Mississippi River.

The sight of torrents of water cascading over limestone ledges amid the serene surroundings is undeniably captivating. Its blend of natural beauty and historical significance makes it an unforgettable way to conclude a weekend in Minneapolis.

Long Weekend in Minneapolis: Day 3

If you’ve got a long weekend at your disposal, it’s time to go further afield and check out Minneapolis’ kooky cousin and her bookish twin sister.

Take a Day Trip to Stillwater

Fall Colors of Stillwater, Minnesota in Autumn
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

On your third day in Minneapolis, take a day trip to the charming town of Stillwater, located just 30 minutes east of the Twin Cities. This picturesque old town on the St. Croix River is perfect for a relaxing day filled with boutique shopping, perusing antique stores, and relaxing riverfront strolls with beautiful views.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a scenic cruise on the river or explore some of the best parks in Minneapolis for outdoor enthusiasts. You might even consider staying the night in Stillwater. The Old Town has some fab hotels and is particularly romantic at night.

Stop for Lunch in Saint Paul

Summit Avenue in St. Paul at Sunrise
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’re not staying the night, return to the Twin Cities for lunch in Saint Paul, Minnesota’s capital, and the other “Twin.” Whereas Minneapolis is the life of the party and the heart of the action, St. Paul is a lot more laid back – but it’s a real hidden gem when it comes to amazing eateries, not to mention fantastic breweries.

For top-flight American fare, check out W.A. Frost. Tori has some of the most delicious and innovative ramen dishes in the city. Carnivores will get a kick out of Hamburguesas el Gordo, while the leaf eaters will love J. Selby’s.

Explore Historic Summit Avenue

Aerial View of Summit Avenue at Sunrise
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

After lunch, take a leisurely walk along Summit Avenue, one of St. Paul’s most historic and beautiful thoroughfares, home to the longest stretch of Victorian homes and mansions in the country. It’s also where you’ll find the Governor’s Residence.

Marvel at the impressive Victorian mansions and learn about the history behind them. As you stroll along the tree-lined avenue, you’ll witness some stunning architecture and well-preserved homes from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The magnificent James J. Hill House is a favorite spot for segway, bike, and walking tours, and it’s open for tourists.

Fancy a cheeky coffee or a bit of shopping? You’re just one street over from historic Grand Avenue, which features some excellent cafes, bars, and restaurants and a number of name-brand and boutique stores.

Check Out the Craft Beer Scene in Northeast Minneapolis

Inbound BrewCo interior and customers
Inbound BrewCo / Facebook

Finish your long weekend in Minneapolis by diving into the city’s thriving craft beer scene and raising a glass to the Twin Cities. Head to Northeast Minneapolis, home to a concentration of fantastic breweries like Indeed and Surly.

You can sample a near-endless variety of beer styles and flavors from the numerous breweries and independent taprooms while enjoying the unique atmospheres and local artwork these breweries offer.

Spending More Than a Weekend in Minneapolis?

Feel like spending a few more days in Minneapolis? Don’t blame you! There are many more fun things in town to consider, and even more, should you want to use Minneapolis as your base camp to explore further afield.

Spend an Afternoon Exploring the Local Lakes

Lake Minnetonka at Sunset
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Minneapolis, known as the City of Lakes, offers numerous opportunities to explore its dazzling bodies of water. With plenty of the best lakes in Minnesota located right in the city limits, you are never short of options for a leisurely walk, cycle, or kayak around the many lakes here.

For instance, Lake Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet are popular destinations for locals and tourists, perfect for an active afternoon at the beach in the city’s heart.

If you have more time, consider taking a day trip to the gorgeous Lake Minnetonka, where you can explore the many charming lakeside towns such as Wayzata and Excelsior. The Lake Minnetonka area has been a summer haven for Minnesotans for decades, but it’s also the perfect place for ice fishing in winter!

See a Show at First Avenue

First Avenue Venue Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Minneapolis is the epicenter of Minnesota’s thriving live music scene. In the evenings, head to First Avenue, the iconic music venue known for hosting legendary artists such as Lizzo, REM, B.B. King, U2, The Ramones, Run DMC, and local boy Prince.

A piece of Minnesotan and popular music history, First Avenue remains one of the hottest live music venues in the Midwest. Catch a live performance and be there when the next big thing makes its First Ave debut.

Ski or Snowboard at Afton Alps

Afton Alps ski field in Minnesota
kiravolkov / Adobe Stock

If you don’t like winter, you won’t like Minnesota. That said, if you do like it, Minnesota is a winter wonderland for a good chunk of the year!

Winter sports lovers will want to make a visit to Afton Alps. Located less than an hour from downtown Minneapolis, it offers skiing and snowboarding for all skill levels. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the picturesque views!

See a Professional Sports Game

Aerial of Cars on Busy Highway 94 with Minneapolis Skyline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Twin Cities are home to major league sports teams and pretty awesome stadiums. Head to the Target Field to catch a Minnesota Twins baseball game, or visit the U.S. Bank Stadium to watch the Minnesota Vikings play football. If basketball is more your thing, check out the Target Center, home to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

And for those psyched about being in the “State of Hockey,” head over the border to St. Paul and catch a Wild game at the Xcel Energy Center. For fans of the “other” football, you can get tickets to a Loons match at Allianz Field.

Visit Minnesota’s State Parks

Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota
Tammi Mild / Adobe Stock

Minnesota is home to swathes of relatively untouched wilderness as well as lovingly maintained public areas that are to be explored, allowing you to get closer to nature. Visiting some of the best state parks in Minnesota is a top priority if you love the great outdoors.

My personal favorites include Tettegouche State Park, Grand Portage State Park, and Gooseberry Falls State Park near Duluth (which might also be every Minnesotan’s favorite state park).

Enjoy a Show at the Guthrie or Orpheum

Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

After New York and Chicago, Minneapolis is the biggest theater town in the country. Many top Broadway productions tour through Minneapolis, and the city is a frequent test site for the latest and greatest in theatre and musicals.

Book some tickets and enrich your Minneapolis experience with some world-class performances. The Guthrie and Orpheum theaters offer diverse, dynamic performances throughout the year. From Broadway shows to cutting-edge local productions, you’ll find something that suits your artistic taste and deepens your appreciation of theater.

Best Time to Visit Minneapolis

Minneapolis Minnesota
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Minneapolis is known for its diverse seasons and offers a unique visitor experience throughout the year. The summer months, particularly from June to August, are favorable.

The famously frosty city can get pretty spicy at the height of summer. During these months, the city boasts daily highs surpassing 80 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing you to explore outdoor attractions and engage in lake activities confidently.

Although winter in Minneapolis can be challenging due to the frigid temperatures and cold winters, it also brings a captivating charm. A wintertime visit can be enchanting if you aren’t deterred by the cold and snow.

The city glitters with holiday lights and hosts festive events like the Holidazzle. Remember, there’s a chance for extremely cold weather, so pack proper winter gear.

Weisman Museum Art, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

For those who prefer fewer crowds and milder, yet still comfortable, temperatures, the shoulder season from September to December is an excellent choice. This time of year, you’ll find a breathtaking display of fall colors and a more peaceful visitor experience.

Additionally, you can still partake in various outdoor activities and witness the city’s transition from autumn to winter. Even late springtime is a splendid time of year to visit, with new life emerging from melting snow, perfect temperatures around the clock, and sunny days punctuated with pleasant, brisk showers.

In conclusion, the best time to visit Minneapolis depends on your preferences and what you hope to achieve during your trip. Each season offers something different, so select the time frame that resonates with you the most and plan your next trip and a memorable Minneapolis itinerary accordingly.

Getting Around Minneapolis

Minneapolis Skyline Night view
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Getting around Minneapolis and the Twin Cities metro area is a piece of cake, and it’s easy to get around without relying on a car. The cities are well connected and served by an ever-expanding light rail system and bus services. Not only that, but you can also rely on a series of e-scooter and public bike rental services.

If you are visiting in winter, I would recommend renting a car, especially if you’re not used to being out in the cold. Waiting for the bus or train in the evening during a Minnesota winter isn’t for the faint of heart!

Where to Stay in Minneapolis

When planning your Minneapolis itinerary, it’s important to choose the right accommodation to suit your needs. Two of our favorite hotels worth considering are The Hewing Hotel and The Ivy Hotel Minneapolis.

The Hewing Hotel

Hewing Hotel room interior
Hewing Hotel / Booking.com

Located in the heart of the downtown area, the trendy North Loop neighborhood, The Hewing Hotel is an excellent choice for those looking to experience Minneapolis’ vibrant food and arts scene. The hotel offers modern amenities and historic charm, with exposed brick and timber throughout the building.

Popular attractions in the downtown Minneapolis area are just a short walk or car rental ride away. The North Loop offers a wide range of diverse dining options for food enthusiasts. One such gem is the Hen House Eatery, known for its delectable breakfast offerings.

The Hewing Hotel is also near the Mississippi River, perfect for those seeking scenic walks or bike rides along the waterfront. Read my full review of The Hewing Hotel from my stay at this boutique hotel.

The Ivy Hotel Minneapolis

Hotel Room with Flat Screen TV
Hotel Ivy, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Minneapolis / Booking.com

If you prefer a more luxurious stay, The Ivy Hotel Minneapolis is another fantastic option. This boutique hotel is located in downtown Minneapolis, conveniently close to many of the city’s most popular attractions, like the Guthrie.

The Ivy Hotel Minneapolis caters to guests seeking a chic and sophisticated experience with its elegant design, upscale amenities, and complimentary WiFi. I also highly recommend the on-site restaurant.

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