Category: Minnesota
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Updated

11 Memorable Things To Do For the Best Weekend in Minneapolis [2024]

Trivia: do you know who the actress in the photo below is?
Author standing aside the Mary Tyler Moore Statue in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is one the best things to do for a great weekend in Minneapolis!

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I have a dad joke to tell you:

I know where the Big Apple is, but I don't know where the Minneapolis.

I know you enjoyed that little chuckle and I know you're also going to enjoy my list of the coolest things to do if you only have a weekend to spend in Minneapolis!

Minneapolis is one of the "Twin Cities"-- the other 'twin' being St. Paul. Since I did not have time to visit St. Paul, I am not going to feign expertise by listing things to do there. This guide only covers Minneapolis. That being said, locals will often refer to visiting Minneapolis and/or St. Paul as the "Twin Cities" area.

From a sculpture honoring a beloved television star to an epic mall to a lovely waterfall (that rhymed!), there is a lot of amazing things to do and see in Minneapolis! It's really an underrated city and one I rarely hear people in the U.S talk about much!

Follow my list here to have the best 2-3 day weekend in Minneapolis in 2024!

IN THIS ARTICLE...
MISC...

In 2024, here are the 11 best things to do for your weekend in Minneapolis...

01 // Mall of America

Inside the Mall of America with a 'Mall of America' sign above. Visiting the Mall of America is a must-do for an amazing weekend in Minneapolis!
Inside one of the Twin Cities area's most famous attractions: the Mall of America!

This is no ordinary mall. This is the MALL. OF AMERICA! It is the largest mall in the United States and the 11th largest mall in the world, as of October 2023, when I last updated this article.

One word I feel non-Americans associate with the United States is "abundance"-- and the innards of Mall of America are nothing but abundant!

Let me start with the food court. In most malls, you'd expect to find fast food and smaller chains like Sbarro, Cinnabon, and Orange Julius. Mall of America not only has any small chain you can think of but also full-scale restaurants, like Benihana, Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, and Rainforest Cafe.

While on the topic of food, you must visit the M&M store. Ever see black M&M's? How about silver M&M's? Or how about ones with your picture on them?? Head up to the second floor to customize your own M&M's and see variations of the classic candy you've never been able to purchase elsewhere!

The escalator up to the second floor is really colorful! Dangling from the ceiling are M&M-shaped lights which quickly change color. It's a fun photo opportunity but a tricky one too-- as you'll have to snap the picture really fast to get the colors in the background you want!

Even if you don't step inside the LEGO® Store, you'll know where it is and you won't be able to not feel awe at the four-story-tall LEGO® structures in the mall. They're fun and there's plenty of photo ops!

Do the Amazing Mirror Maze!! Wow, this was a lot of fun! The mirrors are so clean that it's really hard to tell which pathways are walkable and which ones are mirrors! The lights add a fun vibrant aesthetic to the maze too. It's only like $10 or $11 as well.

For a mall of its size, it's surprisingly easy to navigate, as it is essentially a giant square. Though, no worries if you are directionally challenged-- you can use Google Maps on your phone to navigate the mall!

On a personal note-- I was really thankful the Mall of America's Instagram page liked my photos of me inside the mall! That was really cool of them.

Technically, the Mall of America is not in Minneapolis but is in the neighboring town of Bloomington. The mall is less than 20 minutes away from downtown Minneapolis.

There is no way your trip to Minneapolis can't include a visit here.

Address: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00 a.m - 9:00 p.m, Sun 11:00 a.m - 7:00 p.m.

02 // Nickelodeon Universe

View of Nickelodeon Universe from the second story of the Mall of America. Visiting the Nickelodeon Universe theme park is one of the best things to do for a great weekend in Minneapolis!
Mall of America is so large it has its own amusement park inside!

I debated with myself whether or not to make Nickelodeon Universe a separate item on this list. Since you do have to pay admission to enter Nickelodeon Universe and an amusement park experience is different from a mall, I feel it makes sense to separate the two.

This amusement park is not solely for kids. There are frickin' rollercoasters here! I don't tend to include attractions in my articles just for children so if I had fun here, other adults certainly will too!

As you can tell from the name, Nickelodeon Universe is an amusement park with rides paying homage to well-known Nickelodeon cartoons, such as Spongebob Squarepants and The Fairly Oddparents.

Unlike most amusement parks, who charge a flat fee for the day, the price you pay at Nickelodeon Universe will vary on how many credits you purchase. Some rides cost more credits than others. We bought 18 credits, which was about three rollercoaster rides.

Back in the day, my favorite cartoon on Nickelodeon was The Fairly Oddparents so it was serendipitous that my favorite ride there was the Fairly Odd Coaster. It's a full-blown rollercoaster with drops and sharp turns-- and on top of that, the cart you sit in spins both clockwise and counterclockwise the entire time.

The lines for the rides at Nickelodeon Universe can be long at times-- just like any other amusement park. I think for the Fairly Odd Coaster, we waited close to one hour.

Worst case-- if you get sick from the rides, like I did, there's a Walgreens in the mall area not too far from the park. Or, if you've read my article on things you should never travel without, you'll already be well-equipped!

Address: 5000 Center Ct, Bloomington, MN 55425
Hours: Mon-Thurs, Sat 10:00 a.m - 9:00 p.m, Fri 10:00 a.m - 6:30 p.m, Sun 11:00 a.m - 7:00 p.m.

03 // Minnehaha Falls

Only a few feet away from Minnehaha Falls. The falls flow into the Mississippi River. Seeing Minnehaha Falls is one of the best things to do for a great weekend in Minneapolis!
You weren't expecting to see something gorgeous like this in Minneapolis, right? Well, it's there!

When traveling in the midwest, hiking and outdoor opportunities aren't the first things that come to mind. This is why it's such a welcomed surprise that Minneapolis not only has a city park with easily walkable trails but also a breathtaking waterfall!

Minnehaha Falls is 53-feet tall. You can snap terrific photos of this majestic waterfall from the side of the top of the falls or climb down a staircase and walk on a trail of rocks to get up close. I took amazing pictures from both perspectives and I had a difficult time choosing which photo to use for this article!

The Mississippi River flows through Minneapolis and Minnehaha Falls flows into that river.

The waterfall belongs to the much larger Minnehaha Regional Park. There is a lot you can do here-- the park has an area designated for disc golf, a volleyball court, and a playground for little kids, for instance.

After being in awe of the waterfall, we walked along the nature trails-- which the park deems its 'undeveloped areas'.

It is free to see the waterfall and to walk the nature trails. It is hands down one of the most fun things you can do during your weekend to Minneapolis without having to pay anything!

Albeit this public park having some public art to admire, it doesn't compare to the next item on this list...

Address: 4801 S Minnehaha Dr, Minneapolis, MN 55417
Hours: 6:00 a.m - 10:00 p.m.

04 // Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

In front of Minneapolis Sculpture Garden's arguably most famous sculpture-- 'Spoonbridge and Cherry'. The Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens is #1 amongst the largest urban sculpture gardens.
In front of the park's arguably most famous sculpture-- 'Spoonbridge and Cherry'.

Of the country's largest urban sculpture gardens, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the largest! The whole park spans 11 acres showcasing over 50+ public art pieces.

The park is managed by the Walker Art Center, which is conveniently on the same campus. More on the Walker Art Center later...

If any space in the Twin Cities area is going to fill up your camera roll, it'll be the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden! This park is a wonderful spot for a date or an afternoon with the family.

The sculpture featured in the photo for this list item is named 'Spoonbridge and Cherry'. Since the sculpture rests on a small pond in the heart of the park, it naturally gets a lot of attention and is arguably the park's most famous sculpture.

But I assure you, albeit 'Spoonbridge and Cherry' being the most well-known, I'd hardly say it's the most eye-catching one. One of our favorites was a display of metallic-painted boulders. Another was 'X With Columns'. One more is a fully blue rooster statue-- named 'Cock'. Get your giggles out now.

By happenstance, my friend and I arrived at the park on a Sunday morning before 9:00 a.m. By 11:00 a.m, far more people had arrived and sometimes, you'd have to wait for others to take pictures before you could take yours. So, I suggest showing up early to beat the crowd!

Remember how I mentioned the Walker Art Center? Well, the next thing you should do is...

Address: 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Hours: 6:00 a.m - 12:00 a.m.

05 // Walker Art Center

The inside of the Walker Art Center, in a room called Idea House 3.
A cool room inside the museum called Idea House 3.

The Walker Art Center is the first of the three museums I will mention in this article.

Located right next to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the Walker Art Center. This art museum houses more so modern and contemporary art. There is a significant amount of photography in the innards of this museum.

Most of the art is on two floors. There are additional floors in the museum but I think they're more so for special events. I recall only exploring two floors when I went.

Unlike the sculpture garden, there is an admission fee to enter the Walker Art Center. It costs $18 for an adult ticket.

The second art museum I'm about to mention is the museum I'm honestly a little more fond of...

Address: 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Hours: W, Fr-Su 10am - 5pm, Th 10am - 9m, closed M-T

06 // Minneapolis Institute of Art

The entrance to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
I like the cool sculpture at the entrance!

The Minneapolis Institute of Art, or MIA for short, is the second of the two art museums you should visit.

Personally, I preferred MIA, because there is a much wider diversity of art, the museum is larger, and there is no admission fee!

While MIA has three floors, most of the art is on the second and third floors.

I wrote more in-depth about this amazing museum in my article on whether Minneapolis is worth visiting-- which, yes, it totally is!

Address: 2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Hours: 10am - 5pm except Th. Th 10am - 9pm

07 // Mill City Museum

The back entrance to the Mill City Museum, formerly the world's largest flour mill, in the Mill District in downtown Minneapolis. The entrance is close to the Stone Arch Bridge overlooking the Mississippi River.
One of the city's most important museums is the Mill City Museum.

Located in the Mill District, one of the city's most popular neighborhoods, The Mill City Museum is one of the most historically significant museums in Minneapolis.

Just like how Detroit is the Motor City or Portland is the Rose City, one of Minneapolis's nicknames is the 'Mill City'. The city earned this nickname by housing the world's largest flour mill.

Today, this former flour mill has now been converted into a recreational museum.

The Mill City Museum is partially guided. You have to purchase tickets for a specific time. Guests then meet in a room called the Flour Tower, where you then proceed into a freight elevator. Inside the elevator, you watch some video on Minneapolis's history in the flour industry.

I promise, the videos are more entertaining than I previously made it sound! It was interesting seeing the working conditions, for instance, of the workers in the mill.

After the videos, you are then permitted access to the 8th and 9th floors, where on the 8th floor, you can see more of the factory. On the 9th floor, you can get some spacious birdseye views of the Stone Arch Bridge, the Mississippi River, and downtown Minneapolis.

The Mill City Museum has an on site restaurant called Bushel & Peck, which serves burgers, sandwiches, salads, beverages, and snacks.

The Mill City Museum was an attraction I overlooked on my first weekend visit. On my second visit, I was very glad I went, and thus, I felt compelled to include it in this article! It's something I highly recommend for a weekend visit!

Address: 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Hours: Th, F 10am - 4pm, S, Su 10am - 5pm, closed M-W

08 // Take a picture next to the Mary Tyler Moore statue

The statue of famous actress, Mary Tyler Moore, in downtown Minneapolis, throwing her hat up in the air as she does in the opening of her eponymous sitcom.
The statue of actress Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat up in the air. You can find this in downtown Minneapolis.

If you're not aware who Mary Tyler Moore is and/or her significance to the city of Minneapolis, I'd endulge you with a brief history!

Mary Tyler Moore (1936-2017) was an American actress who is most remembered for starring in her own eponymous sitcom entitled The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Debuting in 1970, The Mary Tyler Moore Show defied expectations of a female protagonist by writing Mary Tyler Moore's character as a single woman in her 30's with a full-time office job. Still sounds quite relevant today, doesn't it?

And where was the setting of the show? Minneapolis. Though, nearly all the show's indoor shots, like in Mary's apartment or her job at the news station, were filmed in a studio in Los Angeles!

In the last frame of the title sequence to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, you see Mary Tyler Moore smile and toss her hat into the air. The statue in downtown Minneapolis commemorates this iconic gesture.

Being a big fan of the show, I was dying to take this picture! As of the time of this writing, it is my most-liked picture on Instagram. Follow me there if you haven't yet!

Address: 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Hours: 24/7

09 // Murals of Bob Dylan and Prince

Mural of famous Purple Rain musician and actor Prince in downtown.
This is one of two murals featuring the Purple Rain singer.

Just like how Mary Tyler Moore is relevant to Minneapolis because of her self-titled sitcom being set there, musicians Bob Dylan and Prince are of importance to Minneapolis due to both of them being born in Minnesota. Prince was actually born in the city of Minneapolis whereas Dylan was born in Duluth.

To celebrate the impact both musicians have had on the world, murals were painted in honor of both of them in downtown Minneapolis.

Bob Dylan's mural-- featuring the title of one of his songs, The Times They Are A-Changin'. is next to a parking lot. I've noticed that many murals in cities tend to be by parking lots!

Prince has two murals in the city! The first one, off N 9th St, is vertically oriented and rather tall! It features the "Purple Rain" singer in three poses-- two of which feature him with an electric guitar. There is a second one at 2601 Hennepin Ave of just his face.

These aren't the only murals in downtown Minneapolis either! For instance-- "The Music Wall" honors Minneapolis' rich musical history. It is a large painting of a song written in conventional music notation.

For spotting murals-- especially in downtown areas-- I've mentioned in other articles before a great app you can use to find murals called CANVS Street Art. However, at the time of this writing, the app is only available for iPhone.

Searching for the other murals is a great way to also explore downtown, which is a great segue into the next item on the list...

Address: 1, S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Hours: 24/7

10 // Downtown

Somewhere in downtown Minneapolis
Downtown Minneapolis is actually quite radiant!

One of my favorite things to do when I visit the downtown of any major U.S metropolis is very simple: walk around and explore.

Walking around the Mall of America, seeing the glorious Minnehaha Falls, and sauntering through the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens are all free activies. Exploring downtown Minneapolis, searching for its murals, and locating the Mary Tyler Moore statue are three additional free activities you can add to the list.

See how travel doesn't have to be that expensive?

I did not expect Minneapolis' downtown to have so many skyscrapers-- let alone-- really exquisite skyscrapers too! Most of the architecture of Minneapolis's skyscrapers, like the Capella Tower, Campbell Mithun building, and the US Bank Plaza, is modern.

On a Saturday night, I did not feel the streets were too congested with people. There was enough activity to be exciting but not so much that it could be overwhelming for some.

Is it too cold to explore Minneapolis outdoors when you visit? Or maybe it's raining outside? Lucky for you, this concern serves as a lovely transition into the final item on this list, that being...

11 // Minneapolis Skyway System

The Skywalk connecting two buildings in downtown Minneapolis.
The Skywalk connecting two buildings in downtown Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Skyway System warrants its own placement on this list.

Aside from the Mill City, another nickname for Minneapolis is the Land of 10,000 Lakes. This means winters in Minneapolis can be exceptionally cold! I come from Michigan, where the state is surrounded by three large lakes, so I know how harsh midwestern winters can be!

If you decide to visit Minneapolis in the winter, or if it's raining outside in another season, and you still want to explore the city, the Minneapolis Skyway System is the solution to the problem!

You can explore 80 city blocks in this climate-controlled pedestrian walkway system. The walkways connect various edifaces throughout the city. It is very possible for you to experience downtown Minneapolis without ever having to step outside! Well, actually... about the going outdoors thing...

Good news, bad news: the good news is... it's free!! Bad news... the Skyway closes a bit early-- at 6:00 p.m.

What about the Stone Arch Bridge?

On the Stone Arch Bridge with the city of Minneapolis in the background. The Stone Arch Bridge overlooks the Mississippi River and Saint Anthony Falls.
The Stone Arch Bridge will be closed off starting April 2024!

When I first published this article a year ago, I had the Stone Arch Bridge as one of the recommended things to do.

The Stone Arch Bridge is amazing! The best part is that there are no cars allowed on the bridge! It is a pedestrian only bridge standing above the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis.

You can also get some amazing photographs of Saint Anthony Falls as you walk on the bridge. Saint Anthony Falls is the only natural waterfall on the Mississippi River.

However, when I was going through my blog to do updates for 2024, I learned that the Stone Arch Bridge will be closed starting April 2024, and lasting approximately up to two years! The city is renovating the bridge by replacing the stones and mortar.

Address: 100 Portland Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Hours: 24/7 (until April 2024)

Orfield Labs Quiet Room

Inside the Orfield Anechoic Chamber in the Twin Cities area.
How long can you stay in the world's quietest room? Photo is not my own. Source.

When I first published this article, I listed the Orfield Labs Quiet Room as a recommendation, as well.

The reason I am not including it amongst the 11 items in this list as of 2024 is because I honestly would not deem this an essential thing to do. One big reason being the price: it costs $200 a person to enter the room.

Since I myself work a 9-5 job and don't have a ton of disposable income, I do my best to recommend things I think most average travelers can afford. And, of course, I strive to look out for my budget travelers too, hence why I get excited when a city's big attraction is free!

However, if you do have the means to splurge on this attraction, it truly will be one of the most unique and unnerving experiences of your life!

The Orfield Anechoic Chamber has the Guiness World Record for the quietest place on Earth.

If you've ever been inside a sensory deprivation tank, this place takes that experience to the next level!

You'll hear your breathing clearer than ever. You'll hear the loud 'click' on your eyelids and eyelashes as you blink. You'll hear the eerie percussive rhythm of your heart beating. You may even hear blood flowing in your veins.

Address: 2709 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Hours: call (612) 721-2455 for the hours

How do I spend a day in Minneapolis?

If you have only one day to spend in Minneapolis, I'd personally skip going to Nickelodeon Universe. As I wrote earlier, the lines for the rides can be long-- potentially over an hour-- and since time is especially of the essence for you, cut out the amusement park.

Seriously-- you can visit the Mall of America, see Minnehaha Falls, visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, see all the public art of downtown Minneapolis, check out the Minneapolis Skyway System, and walk the Stone Arch Bridge in one day if you start early.

Be sure you see the Minneapolis Skyway System before 6:00 p.m., since it closes rather early.

The best part of all these attractions is they're all quite close from one another! None of our Lyft rides were longer than 20 minutes.

What is the coolest thing in Minnesota?

'Cool' is subjective. Nonetheless, I will still take a stab at answering this question!

Before I went on my trip to Minnesota, the only attraction I knew of was the Mall of America. It's no ordinary mall. How many other malls in the U.S do you know of that have an amusement park inside it?

That fact alone makes the Mall of America very cool!

Even if you pass up on the amusement park, the Mall of America has far, far more stores, restaurants, and activities in its interior than any other mall in the country. The mall is a physical manifestation of American abundance and variety.

It's even in a wonderful location, as the mall is located about 20 minutes away from central Minneapolis.

What is the number 1 attraction in Minnesota?

The Mall of America.

It draws in over 40,000,000 visitors a year. The mall is a physical manifestation of American abundance and variety-- offering a plethora of dining options (including full service restaurants like Benihana and Buffalo Wild Wings), 500+ stores for all ages, a LEGO® Land, and a Nickelodeon-themed amusement park called Nickelodeon Universe.

What is Minneapolis popular for?

Minneapolis is most popular for its art and music scene.

Minneapolis was formerly well known for being the world's largest producer of flour, hence its nickname the 'Mill City'.

The Stone Arch Bridge, which overlooks the Mississippi River, has the only natural waterfall on the river called Saint Anthony Falls.

In downtown, you can spot murals of legendary musicians Bob Dylan and Prince. In fact, the latter has two separate murals in the city.

Is Minnesota the friendliest state?

I generally do not find states in the midwest to be as friendly as states in the south. Like many dimensions, I find the midwest-- and Minnesota included-- is somewhere in the middle when it comes to friendliness. Not especially inviting or kind but not rude and unfriendly either.

Conclusion

I think next to Detroit, Minneapolis is my second favorite city in the midwest!

When I traveled to Minneapolis the first time in summer 2022, I honestly did not expect I would like the city that much. In the discourse of U.S cities, I just don't hear Minneapolis come up all that much in conversation, so I figured the city wouldn't be anything special.

Today-- I'd argue otherwise!

What's particularly advantageous is that everything in this article is in close proximity to each other! The most recent time I visited, I rented a car, and the Mall of America was the furthest attraction, being only about 20 minutes away.

If you fly into Minneapolis, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is one of the finer airports in the U.S.

Plan a weekend trip to Minneapolis in 2024. I hope you've enjoyed my list of 11 fun things to do for a weekend in Minneapolis!


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