lake harriet minneapolis
Jul 09, 2014 • By

5 things to do in Minneapolis/St. Paul

America’s favorite pastime puts all eyes on the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul for baseball’s summer game, hosted at Target Field in Minneapolis – home of the Minnesota Twins – on July 15.

As the national spotlight shines on the area that General Mills calls home, I thought this would be a great time to go all un-Minnesotan and brag about all the fantastic things you can do, if you’re visiting or even if you live in the Twin Cities.

Mill City Museum Minneapolis

Below are a few of my favorite things about my adopted hometown.

No matter the season, the top thing on my list to share with visitors is our incredible outdoor spaces. There is a reason the Twin Cities Marathon course has earned the title “Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America” – we have an astounding array of natural beauty tucked throughout Minnesota’s two largest cities.

We Minnesotans are a hearty people and take full advantage of all Mother Nature has to offer. In fact, we are often recognized as one of healthiest places in the country to live.

minneapolis lake harriet

1. Arguably the crown jewel of all urban parks and trails, the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes – a number of parks and lakes that encircle the city – and Minnehaha Falls are a must-see. You can walk, run and even rent a Nice Ride bike to tour the spectacular scenery and be among the active people who frequent more than 50 miles of city trails. Rent a canoe, paddleboat, stand-up paddleboard, kayak and/or bike at one of the lakes to get the full water and land experience.

2. The mighty Mississippi River runs through both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul and should not be missed. Just blocks from Target Field, the Mississippi is a vital part of both cities (and where we trace our company’s roots). Stroll, bike or even Segway along the river and across the Stone Arch Bridge for spectacular natural views and plenty of great people watching. St. Paul also offers great views, both from downtown and walking trails along the riverfront.

3. Some of the best museums and theaters in the country. Just steps from the Stone Arch Bridge is the Mill City Museum, part of our original flour milling complex and once the world’s largest flour mill – it helped us put Minneapolis on the map as the largest flour-producing city in the nation. The ruins are now the Mill City Museum where you can learn more about the river, the flour industry and the city of Minneapolis.

gold medal flour

In addition to being the historical link to the beginnings of the city, portions of the old General Mills property have also been converted into stylish condos and it is home of the foodie locavore’s haven: The Mill City Farmer’s Market.

Once you’ve soaked up the history, you can walk next door to the world-renowned Guthrie Theater, or head across town to the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

minneapolis sculpture garden

Other renowned cultural hotspots are the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In St. Paul, check out the Fitzgerald and Ordway Theaters, and the Science Museum of Minnesota.

4. Our local restaurant scene has burst onto the national stage over the past decade. In the last year alone, four local chefs were nominated for the James Beard award – the Oscars of the restaurant world. With an incredible dedication to sustainable and local sourcing (and a more hospitable growing environment), there is a farm-to-table dining scene that rivals some of this country’s largest cities.

My favorite neighborhood for dining out is the Minneapolis North Loop. Nestled between Target Field and the Mississippi River, there truly is something for everyone looking for a great meal. Great patio dining can be found at The Freehouse, Smack Shack and Borough. Some of the finest dining in town can be found at The Bachelor Farmer (and if you like cocktails, do not miss the adjacent Marvel Bar), Bar La Grassa , 112 Eatery and Haute Dish. Origami has outstanding sushi and Runyon’s has a decades-long reputation for some of the best buffalo wings in town.

5. If shopping is your thing, you’ll find just about everything you could want here. Downtown Minneapolis is home to Target’s headquarters and the largest two-story Target store in the country, as well as virtually every other national chain store. Stroll through northeast Minneapolis or Uptown Minneapolis. Visit Grand Avenue in St. Paul and Edina’s 50th and France neighborhood for great boutique shopping.

The Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis is the largest indoor public market with more than 40 businesses – restaurants, groceries, gift stores, jewelry, clothing and accessories – from many countries around the world.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that the busiest indoor shopping mall in the world is in Bloomington. If you are a hard core shopper and are staying in downtown Minneapolis, then you must take the light rail for your pilgrimage to Mall of America.

If you’re from Minneapolis or St. Paul, what other “can’t miss” items would you recommend to visitors?

If you’re visiting our area, what do you plan on seeing?

Let us know in the comments below and we can’t wait to see you soon in the Twin Cities.