Cover photo full
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrIn between the banks of the Mississippi River lies the city of Minneapolis. In addition, it is also the Twin City of St. Paul and is home to over 400,000 residents. Minnesota is the “Land of 1,000 Lakes”, and Minneapolis is the crown jewel of the entire state. Here, you will find a great mix of culture, history, sports, and shopping with some of the most unique and iconic sites in the Midwest. Minneapolis has a very deep history that started with the Native Americans for thousands of years. In the late 1600s, French explorers found the area and in the early 1800s, it was the home of Fort Snelling for the United States military. This caused many to move into the area and help it grow into the city that Americans know today.
Minneapolis is a large city, but it has one of the least diverse populations for a city of its size. In terms of ethnic backgrounds, Minneapolis is 70.2% White, 17.4% African American, and 4.9% Asian. You will see much of the Nordic background that founded Minneapolis when you visit.
HistoryThe city of Minneapolis largely owes its creation and historic importance to the existence of the Mississippi River which flows through it. Long before it was a part of the United States, Minneapolis was the land of the Dakota Sioux. In the late 1600s, it finally caught the attention of Europeans due to a French expedition that came across Saint Anthony Falls. After decades of treaties and purchases of the land that is now Minneapolis by the Dakota, the French, and the Spanish, the entire area eventually became part of the United States in the 1800s.
Minneapolis was officially founded in 1867, and quickly grew in importance due to Saint Anthony Falls, since the waterfall was used to power all kinds of industry, particularly sawmills and flour mills. At its peak, Minneapolis was said to be one of the finest water-powered cities in the world, and at one point even milled nearly 15 percent of the grain used in the United States. Eventually the flour milling industry declined, but the city's economy has always remained strong. Today, the Twin Cities are home to the second largest economy in the Midwest after Chicago, primarily focused on the commerce, finance, transportation, and healthcare industries.
SightseeingThere are dozens of exciting things to see and do in Minneapolis, a thriving city that is home to numerous cultural institutions, historical sites, and performing arts venues that attract visitors from all over the Midwest.
Basilica of Saint MaryThe Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis is considered to be one of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in the United States, and was the first Catholic basilica in North America. However, the Twin Cities are actually home to two stunning Roman Catholic churches that share the title of cathedral, the other being the Cathedral of Saint Paul. In addition to being one of the largest and tallest churches in the United States, it is also one of the most visually distinctive due to its famous copper dome.
Guthrie TheaterThe historic Guthrie Theater is one of the most popular evening attractions in Minneapolis since it frequently features live theater performances. If you can't afford to take in a show one night, you can still see its beautiful performance spaces by taking one of the several tours offered every day, including a unique tour of one of the country's largest collections of theatrical collections.
Minnesota State CapitolOne of the most important architectural landmarks in the Twin Cities is the Minnesota State Capitol. Built in Saint Paul in 1905, this awe-inspiring Renaissance building was designed to resemble St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It is known for its magnificent dome, which is the second largest unsupported marble dome in the world, as well as the spectacular views of the city that can be enjoyed from atop its steps.
Museums and Exhibits
Mill City MuseumMany visitors to Minneapolis are surprised to learn that the city was once the world's flour milling capital. You can learn all about the importance of the milling industry throughout the city's history by visiting the fascinating Mill City Museum. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River inside the ruins of Washburn A Mill, once the largest flour mill in the entire world, this museum run by the Minnesota Historical Society showcases all kinds of interactive exhibits and demonstrations related to the city's formerly thriving flour industry. It also has an observation deck that offers some of the city's best views of the Mississippi River and Saint Anthony Falls.
Walker Art CenterOne of the most popular attractions in Minneapolis is the Walker Art Center, a contemporary art museum which was the region's first public art gallery. It is known for its diverse collection of modern artwork, including pieces by famous artists like Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and Chuck Close.
Across the road from the museum, visitors can also explore the beautiful Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which contains a few dozen outdoor sculptures and art installations. The highlight of the garden is Spoonbridge and Cherry, a sculptural fountain depicting a giant spoon with an equally large cherry sitting atop it, which was created by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Visitors frequently stop by this beautiful sculpture to take photos with it and the downtown skyline in the distance.
Bell Museum of Natural HistoryIf you're interested in learning more about the plants and wildlife that inhabit the many habitats found throughout Minnesota, you'll want to visit the Bell Museum of Natural History. It is know for its amazing dioramas of natural habitats as well as its hands-on exhibits.
Minneapolis Institute of ArtsArt lovers will definitely want to stop by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a free art museum that was founded by local citizens in the early 1900s. In addition to its diverse collection of prints, sculptures, paintings, drawings, textiles, decorative arts, and photography from around the world, it is also know for its beautiful Beaux-Arts neoclassical building. A few of the most famous artists represented in its extensive collection include El Greco, Matisse, and Manet.
Weisman Art MuseumAnother wonderful and free art museum is the Weisman Art Museum, which is located on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. While art aficionados will be drawn in by the unique collections dedicated to Native American pottery by the Mimbres culture, ceramics, traditional Korean furniture, and American Modernism, those interested in architecture are likely to be far more fascinated by the building that contains all of the artwork. The unique building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, who designed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, is considered to be one of the city's most famous architectural landmarks.
The Bakken MuseumThe Bakken Museum is a unique museum near beautiful Lake Calhoun that is dedicated to electricity. Its fascinating exhibits focus on the mysteries of electricity, including an immersive experience that allows visitors to step inside of Frankenstein's laboratory, which is fun for both children and adults.
NatureThere's far more to Minneapolis than just museums, theaters, and churches. It's also home to one of the finest park systems in the United States, which features dozens of picturesque lakes and trails for visitors to explore.
Saint Anthony FallsThe most famous natural attraction in Minneapolis is undoubtedly Saint Anthony Falls, which was the only major natural waterfall on the Upper Mississippi River until the late 1800s. While it has featured a man-made spillway for decades, it is still a beautiful sight to behold. All you need to do is venture into the heart of downtown Minneapolis and find one of the many parks and bridges along the Mississippi River to enjoy views of this natural wonder.
Minnehaha ParkIf you like waterfalls, another great nature site to visit in Minneapolis is historic Minnehaha Park. Its most famous feature is Minnehaha Falls, a gorgeous 53-foot waterfall formed by Minnehaha Creek before it flows into the nearby Mississippi River. Its picturesque trails that lead past historical sites and public artwork are the perfect attraction to visit on a sunny day.
Como Park Zoo and ConservatoryThe Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in nearby Saint Paul also provides visitors with tons of fun things to see and do outdoors. Its most popular attraction is undoubtedly the Como Zoo, which is home to animals like penguins, flamingos, seals, monkeys, and giraffes. It also contains the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, which is known for its impressive orchid collection and beautiful gardens. Other park attractions include the small seasonal amusement park known as Como Town, a miniature golf course, a pool, public artwork, and gorgeous Lake Como, which is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or go fishing.
Chain of LakesSince Minneapolis is known as the "City of Lakes", it should come as no surprise that some of its finest nature areas are lakes. Some of the most famous lakes make up the popular Chain of Lakes, which are connected by multi-purpose trails that are part of the city's popular Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, a series of linked parks that encircle part of the city. The Chain of Lakes include Lake Harriet, Lyndale Park, Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake, Lyndale Farmstead Park, and Lake of the Isles, seven lakes that provide beautiful areas to go for a leisurely stroll or enjoy activities such as swimming, fishing, boating and ice skating depending on the season.
Fort Snelling State ParkAnother popular outdoor attraction is Fort Snelling State Park, which is best known as the site of Fort Snelling, a historic military fortification that was built in the early 1800s. The state park also has numerous hiking, cycling, and cross-country skiing trails, and provides facilities for lake and river fishing, boating on the Minnesota River, and swimming at Snelling Lake.
Mississippi National River and Recreation AreaThe Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is a unique national park that was created in 1988 in order to protect and preserve 72 miles of land along the Mississippi River, including the stretch of the river which winds its way through both Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It consists of dozens of individual parks and nature attractions that are maintained by various organizations that showcase the beauty of the Mississippi River.
Some of its most popular areas include the St. Anthony Falls Historic District which contains Mill City Museum and the historic Stone Arch Bridge across the Mississippi River, as well as Fort Snelling State Park and Minnehaha Park. If you're interested in learning more about the "Mighty Mississippi", the visitor center is a great place to visit.
FoodMinneapolis has a very distinct palette that people from outside of Minnesota might not find too appealing, but give it a try and you might be impressed. The top food that is unique in the United States to Minnesota is Lutefisk, and although it looks odd, is very tasty. Lefse is another Norwegian food that came to Minnesota, and it's a flat bread with butter and cinnamon or jam. Walleye fish is also very popular in this part of the state as it is the "Land of 1000 Lakes".
Now if you want to try the fair food that is favored by most people in Minneapolis, then check out the Deep Fried Cheese Curds. It's a very greasy and fattening dish, so make sure not to get addicted!
HotelsThe most notable hotels in all of Minneapolis are The Marquette Hotel, Graves 601 Hotel, and Le Meridien Chambers. The Marquette Hotel is located in the center of downtown and offers everything that a traveler or business person would need. There is an executive lounge, a wedding venue, and more. The rooms are very large and comfortable and the structure looks brand new. The Graves 601 (now known as the Loews Minneapolis Hotel) is a very chic setting with over 250 rooms available. The day spa is one of a kind and there are multiple restaurants and bars inside of the hotel. It's a very sophisticated establishment that caters to business travelers.
Le Meridien Chambers is considered to be an art hotel, and can be very expensive but it is one of the classiest hotels you can find. There are only 60 rooms and the building is only five storeys, but it is worth the wait. The food is tremendous and the customer service is top of the line. If you want to see good art and eat good food, stay at the Le Meridien.
ShoppingThere are many different great places to shop in Minneapolis (such as Albertville Premium Outlets, Candyland, FinnStyle, and Gaviidae Common), but how could you possibly discuss shopping in the Minneapolis area without talking about the Mall of America?
There are over 500 stores within the Mall of America, including over 50 restaurants and so much more. Did you know there is even a theme park located inside of the Mall of America? It is by far the country's largest retail center/mall and brings in visitors from around the globe (more than 40 million each year). There is well over 5 million square feet within the Mall of America and is divided into two separate wings. The East and South wings have four different shopping floors while the North and West wings have three floors each. No matter what you are shopping for, the Mall of America will have it.
SportsIf you want to find some of the most passionate fans in all of sports, then make sure to check out a Minnesota Vikings game (National Football League). While their new stadium is being built, they will be playing their home games at TCF Bank Stadium , the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. The baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, also have a new stadium called Target Field that hosted the 2014 MLB All-Star game. The Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association play in the Target Center while the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League play at the Xcel Energy Center.
SafetyWhile the state of Minnesota has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, Minneapolis has one that's a bit higher, but that's to be expected in major cities. There are 9.93 violent crimes and 50.96 property crimes per 1,000 residents in Minneapolis. The safest parts of the city are to the East and South, with the safest neighborhoods being 49th Street, 46th Street, Portland Ave, and 54th Street.
TransportationThere is one major airport that serves the Minneapolis area and it's a bit of a travel by car to get into the downtown area, but there is a fast train (Blue Line) that can get you there for only $ 2.00 USD . Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is that airport and there are two large terminals that are fairly far away from each other. If coming in by train, the Amtrak goes through Minneapolis on its way from Chicago to Portland.
There are two main freeways in which you can get into Minneapolis. I-35 West is the major one that runs North and South while I-94 runs East and West (and extends all the way to Detroit). There are also many bus stations that travel into Minneapolis from most major cities, including Milwaukee.
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: koreydbeckett. Last updated: Jun 30, 2015