Visitor’s Guide to the Twin Cities Area
Minnesota is known for fluctuating weather, but it’s always 72 degrees in the eight miles of climate-controlled skyways downtown, which makes it possible to get where you want to go one level above the street. When you visit Nicollet Mall, however, you will want to walk outside to experience its lively atmosphere. Take a picture with the Mary Tyler Moore statue, read a book at the César Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library, or stop in the two-level Target. When the weather is nice, eat on a rooftop patio. Shop at one of the major department stores, be entertained with a show on one of the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s stages, laugh at the Brave New Workshop, or listen to live music at the Dakota Jazz Club or First Avenue.
150 Things to Do in Minneapolis
- Mall of America
- Minneapolis Institute of Art
- State Capitol
- Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America
- Minnesota Zoo
- Valley Fair
- Xcel Energy Center – home of NHL Minnesota Wild
- Minnesota Orchestra
- Walker Art Center
- Canterbury Downs Race Track
Area Tour Services
Let those in the know show you around town
- Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Gray Line
- +1 800 530 9686
- St. Anthony Main
- Mobile Entertainment, LLC
- +1 800 749 5584
- Stillwater, MN
- Stillwater Trolley Company
- +1 651 430 0352
- Historic Cave Tours
- Wabasha Street Caves
- +1 651 292 1220
- Minneapolis/St. Paul
- MetroConnections, Inc
- +1 800 747 8687
Family & Children’s Activities
- Science Museum of Minnesota 8.9 miles
- Phone: +1-651-221-9444
- Exhibits cover biology, physics and history in “hands-on,” interactive displays
- Historic Fort Snelling 7.4 miles
- Phone: +1-612-726-1171
- An 1820s military outpost featuring demonstrations on military, civilian and Native American life.
- Minnesota Zoo 15 miles
- Phone: +1-800-366-7811
- A 500-acre facility that’s home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 400 species!
The Chain of Lakes, Minnehaha Falls, and The Mississippi River trails
There is a reason Minnesota is called the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Chain of Lakes is located along the shorelines of Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet. It also includes trails that link them together and with Lyndale Park. The entire trail is about 15 miles. In addition, there is Minnehaha Falls, located not far from the Minnehaha Park stop on the Blue Line Metro, is part of a larger trail system that stretches from the Mississippi River, around Lake Nokomis and to the southern end of the Chain of Lakes. Speaking of the Mississippi River, you can bike or walk along the shoreline from downtown Minneapolis to Minnehaha Falls, about 9 miles. A map of Minneapolis Park Trails System can be found at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@health/documents/maps/convert_254080.pdf
Minnesota has been home to many musicians over the years. If you are interested in learning more about Prince and his legacy in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis Happening is maintaining a listing of Prince-related events, http://minneapolis.happeningmag.com/where-when-how-to-celebrate-prince/. There are live music venues throughout the metro area specializing in Jazz, Dance Music, Metal, Country, and so much more. A listing of current concerts can be found on the City Pages website: http://www.citypages.com/concerts.
There are many restaurants to try throughout the metro area. There is a district called Eat Street with restaurants featuring foods from around the world (http://www.vita.mn/food-drink/171394001.html). The Twin Cities is home to one of the largest Hmong communities in the US and you can find Hmong food, clothing and other things at Hmong Village in St. Paul (http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/finding-great-hmong-food-and-restaurants-st-paul/). The Twin Cities also has a large North African population and several restaurants featuring Ethiopian and other North African flavors (https://www.zomato.com/twin-cities/restaurants/african). If you like Scandinavian food and want to spend more than you would at IKEA’s lunch counter, try FIKA, the cafe at the American Swedish Institute (http://www.asimn.org/visit/fika-cafe). Finally, if you are in love with Midwestern cuisine, you will want to try Haute Dish, a restaurant mixing it up and putting a modern spin on the old fashioned hot dish, Minnesota speak for casserole (http://haute-dish.com/).
The Twin Cities has a vibrant theater scene with a multitude of venues. A listing of current shows can be found at https://www.minneapolis-theater.com/. The Guthrie Theater is worth checking out even if you don’t see a show. The cantilevered wing that leans out over the Mississippi offers great views of the river, park and the city (https://www.guthrietheater.org/).
There are some world renowned art museums in Minneapolis including:
Walker Art Center
Contemporary visual arts & sculpture garden
Weisman Art Museum
Museum of the University of Minnesota, rotating exhibits
Minneapolis Art Institute
Arts of Africa & the Americas, contemporary art, decorative arts, textiles & sculpture, Asian art, paintings, photography & new media, prints & drawings
There are several museums of science, culture and natural history:
American Swedish Institute
Documenting the lives of Swedes in the Twin Cities and the US
The Museum of Russian Art
Historical and contemporary Russian visual arts
Bell Museum of Natural History
History and contemporary experience of the natural world in the Midwest
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Gardens and natural habitats of the region
Museum of electricity
Science Museum of Minnesota
Showcase the role of science in our lives
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Tactile museum for children to explore
Pavek Museum of Broadcasting
A collection of broadcasting equipment to preserve and document the history of broadcasting
And many museums focused on the history of the Twin Cities and Minnesota
Minnesota Streetcar Museum
History of streetcars in the Twin Cities and trolley rides
Mill City Museum
History of the people and industries that built Minneapolis
Minnesota History Center
History & Library of the people of Minnesota
Hennepin History Museum
History of the people of Hennepin County
Historic Fort Snelling
Frontier and Military history in the Twin Cities area
St. Paul Museum
Train and transportation history in the Twin Cities
Beyond the WWII Memorial on the mall is the Reflecting Pool, at the end of which is the Lincoln Memorial. Flanking the Reflecting Pool are the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the north and the Korean War Veterans Memorial to the south.
Museums on the Mall: The Mall is also home to a number of Smithsonian museums, which are free to the public. The most popular of the Smithsonian museums are the Air and Space Museum, American Indian Museum, American History Museum, National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshorn Museum (modern art). Both art museums also host sculpture gardens on the Mall.
Museums off the Mall: Just a short walk up 7th Street NW from the Mall, at the Gallery Place Metro Stop (red line), are the National Portrait Gallery (free), and the International Spy Museum, which offers visitors the chance to attend spy school and learn the truth behind spy shows like The Americans (admission fee). Across Pennsylvania Avenue from the National Gallery of Art sits the modern Newseum, where visitors are immersed in the past and present of news media and can see an authentic piece of the Berlin Wall (admission fee).
National Zoo: Also part of the Smithsonian is the impressive National Zoo, where its most famous residents are the Giant Pandas, Washington, D.C.’s unofficial mascots. The zoo is free and accessible on the Metro red line. The eclectic Cleveland Park neighborhood north of the zoo offers a number of unique dining options, while a short trip south zoo takes you to Adams Morgan, a center of night life for the city’s young and young-at-heart.
Georgetown: This upscale and famous—yet quaint—D.C. neighborhood is not directly accessible by Metro rail but is worth the short walk from Foggy Bottom (Metro orange line) or reachable by Circulator bus. The hustle and bustle of upscale shops and restaurants abounds on M Street and Wisconsin Ave in the heart of Georgetown but a more relaxed feel greets visitors who walk, dine and take in views of Arlington and the Kennedy Center along the Potomac River, the southern border of the neighborhood.
Leaf peeping: Fall foliage in the Washington area typically hits peak color in late October and early November. Rock Creek Park (an expansive greenway that cuts through center of the city, with numerous paved trails), the National Mall, and the Tidal Basin all offer walkable opportunities to take in gorgeous autumn colors inside the city.
Exploring close to Bethesda: Bethesda and the area around the hotel are most known for shopping and dining. Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema is an art house theater showing indie, foreign, and mainstream films and the Roundhouse Theater hosts professional live productions. Other interesting landmarks located within several miles of the conference hotel include the striking Gothic-style Washington National Cathedral, protected by its many gargoyles, on Wisconsin Ave (admission fee for sightseeing) and the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, the impressive former home of Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post (suggested donation).