While anyone who has met a Minnesotan knows about their love for the outdoors, folks unfamiliar with the region may assume they spend winter cooped up with nothing to do. Locals know there’s plenty to do year-round, especially if you’re looking for things to do in Minneapolis on the weekend.
Minneapolis offers opportunities for recreation and relaxation, whether you’d rather curl up in a coffee shop with a good book or check out the nightlife partying at a rooftop bar.
The Twin Cities region leaves tourists and residents spoiled for choice regarding weekend activities. For many, deciding what to do becomes the challenge!
Here, you’ll find everything you want to know about the best things to do in Minneapolis during the weekend. You’ll also find some background information about the different communities that make up the vibrant city.
Different Parts of Minneapolis Minnesota
The city of Minneapolis divides its area into 11 communities, each containing several neighborhoods. The area of the city includes several lakes and the mighty Mississippi River.
You’ll find Downtown Minneapolis in the Central community right along the riverfront. The University community sits on the opposite side of the Mississippi and is one of the most frequented areas by students at the University of Minnesota.
Communities on the city’s far west side offer proximity to other waterways, like Lake Harriet and Bde Maka Ska. These areas are perfect for travelers or future residents who love outdoor activities, with rentals for kayaking available in many of the city’s parks.
When considered on its own, Minneapolis ranks as a mid-sized city. However, when Saint Paul and the surrounding areas are taken into account, the Minneapolis metropolitan area is the third largest in the Midwest region. These factors mean the city offers all the amenities of a large city while being spread out, resulting in less congestion.
Homebuyers choose Minneapolis because of the lower cost of living in MN, making the city an affordable option compared to places like Chicago. The city serves as the seat of Hennepin County, named for the explorer Father Louis Hennepin.
COVID-19 Restrictions in Minneapolis
As of March 2023, COVID-19 restrictions in Minneapolis are not in place. You do not have to wear a mask to visit the city.
However, it’s important to note that individual businesses and events may use different requirements. For current information about COVID-19 restrictions in Minneapolis, click here.
Things To Do in Minneapolis
With so many things to do in Minnesota, it can take time to zero in on the must-see attractions. If you’re unsure where to start, check out some of the most popular options in the city. You can even see the city through a curated scavenger hunt that will take you to some of the most exciting places and lesser-known spots!
Many out-of-town visitors worry about winter trips because of the cold conditions. Luckily, you can take the Minneapolis skyway system to avoid the weather! You can try cross-country skiing in nearby parks if you love winter sports!
American Swedish Institute
Many Minnesotans share a Scandinavian background. At this museum, you can learn more about the immigrants that helped shape Minneapolis. One of the highlights of the institute is the historic Turnblad Mansion on the property.
Bde Maka Ska
Part of the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park, Bde Maka Ska offers a lovely place for recreation lakeside. Recently, the city transitioned to using the Native American name instead of Lake Calhoun, the name used by European settlers.
Fans of the performing arts should head to the Guthrie Theater. The theater just has been in operation for over 60 years! During a typical season, the Guthrie presents everything from classic Christmas plays to new shows written by local playwrights.
Part of the Chain of Lakes, Lake Harriet offers swimming beaches, boating, fishing, and many other lakeside activities. The park hosts free concerts and movies at their band shell.
The Mill City Museum
Learn about one of Minneapolis’ first thriving industries at this museum at the ruins of the world’s largest flour mill. The museum sits on the Mississippi River, which was once used to power the mill when it was still in operation.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
This sculpture garden features towering structures across 11 acres, the most famous of which is Spoonbridge and Cherry!
You’ll find these falls in Minnehaha Park. The Minnehaha Falls, situated among the bluffs, drops over 50 feet. The park offers sculptures and historical spots to explore too.
The Stone Arch Bridge
This stunningly constructed stone bridge spans the Mississippi, offering riverfront views along the dual bike and walking path.
Target Field is home to the Minnesota Twins, named for Twin Cities, Minneapolis, and St. Paul. Catch a game here to watch baseball with a city skyline in the background! Fans of the Timberwolves should visit Target Center, a separate arena where the team plays basketball.
Walker Art Center
The Walker Art Center offers views of contemporary art of all kinds. They also offer guided tours through the museum for a curated experience.
Narrowing down the top attractions in Minneapolis is challenging! These are a few more points of interest worth noting.
The Weisman Art Museum, designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry, is another excellent example of an art museum in the city. The Minneapolis Institute of Art is another must-visit for lovers of the arts.
There are even more fun things to do when you expand your search to the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. Some of the best places to explore are around the riverfront, including the spectacular St. Anthony Falls.
Bike paths around the city are one of the most popular ways to explore the city, whether you plan on pedaling around the Chain of Lakes or near the river bluffs.
Shopping in Minneapolis
No one talks about shopping in the Twin Cities region without mentioning the Mall of America in nearby Bloomington. Plus the mall has more to do than just shopping! Children love going to the mall, where they can ride roller coasters and check out sea life.
In addition to being one of North America’s largest malls, the Mall of America houses Nickelodeon Universe and the Sea Life Aquarium, bringing in tourists from around the midwest.
Though there are hundreds of shops at the mall, there’s plenty of excellent shopping available in the city proper, too.
From upscale options you’d find in major cities to unique shops offering one-of-a-kind goods, Minneapolis has excellent spots to shop. The city hosts farmers’ markets and holiday markets if you’re looking for homemade options crafted by locals!
Partying in Minneapolis
When it comes to nightlife, Minneapolis offers a little bit of everything. Many of the most popular spots follow the life of the famous recording artist Prince. The former bus station, First Avenue, provided the music venue for Prince’s early concerts. Today, the venue is still one of the city’s most popular places to listen to live music.
You’ll find The Dakota, another venue, a short distance from First Avenue. The smaller club showcases local artists and another Minneapolis hotspot frequented by Prince before his death in 2016.
Different neighborhoods in the city provide unique nightlife options. Check out Downtown for a plethora of choices, ranging from swanky bars to Top 40 nightclubs. The North Loop neighborhood offers trendy bars and restaurants in a former warehouse district.
Northeast Minneapolis houses bars and breweries with river views and lots of character. Uptown contains many of the hotspots made famous by Prince. You can head to the Whittier neighborhood for internationally-inspired food and drink.
Coffee Shops in Minneapolis
Before heading out into the city to explore, you’ll want to caffeinate. Since Minneapolis experiences cold weather several months out of the year, there are plenty of excellent places to warm up.
- Backstory Coffee Roasters
- Cafe Ceres
- Corner Coffee
- Dogwood Coffee
- Dunn Bros.
- Fairground Coffee and Tea
- Five Watt Coffee
- FRGMNT Coffee
- Honour Coffee & Raw Juices
- Isles, Buns and Coffee
- Sainaa Cafe
- Sisters’ Sludge Coffee Cafe and Wine Bar
- The Get Down Coffee Co.
- Uncommon Grounds
- Wesley Andrews
- Wildflyer Coffee
Best Lunchtime Spots in Minneapolis
Take a break from experiencing the best things to do in Minneapolis to grab a bite. These lunch spots offer excellent spots for a break to refuel before you continue exploring the city. Many of these eateries also provide brunch options!
- Lake and Bryant Cafe
- Trieste Cafe
- George & The Dragon
- Tipsy Steer
- Young Joni
Minneapolis provides numerous options for activities, whether you’re heading to the city for a quick lunch or spending the weekend.
Check out riverside eateries or visit one of Minneapolis’ art museums. Head to a lake or the river to spend time on the water. There are activities to suit any taste in Minnesota’s most populous city.
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