Category: Minnesota
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Published

How Do I Spend a Day In Minneapolis? [2024]

The best guide on what to see and what isn't worth seeing for a day trip in Minneapolis!
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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Only have one day to spend in Minneapolis?

You came to the right place on how to best spend your limited time in Minneapolis, aka the 'Mill City'! There is plenty to do and, luckily, all of the best attractions are close to one another!

I'm going to make the assumption you are flying into Minneapolis early and can quickly drop off your belongings wherever you are staying.

Even though Minneapolis has a great public transportation system, to use your time most efficiently, I would suggest renting a car through Enterprise at the airport or using rideshare services like Uber or Lyft.

The best days of the week to visit Minneapolis are Thursday through Sunday, as everything mentioned in this article will be open. I put "**" next to the items that are closed on other days of the week.

I would do this itinerary in order as I list it, as it also takes into account opening and closing times. Directly below is the itinerary:

THE ITINERARY...
SAVE FOR A LONGER TRIP...

In 2024, here is how to best spend a day in Minneapolis...

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

A blue rooster statue inside the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, MN.
The statue's name? 'Cock'.

Even if you visit in the colder months of the year, bundle up! Get out the thick winter coats, ski bands, gloves, and scarves, and start your morning off by visiting the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden!

This attraction is open 24/7, is free, and is very popular, so it's best to arrive early to beat the crowds and get the pictures you want.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is #1 on the list of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the U.S. This public space spans 11 acres and contains 50+ really artistic sculptures.

The most famous sculpture in the park is hard to miss. It is of a giant spoon holding a cherry. The official name of the sculpture is 'Spoonbridge and Cherry'. Here is the sculpture pictured below:

The Spoonbridge and Cherry statue in the center of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, MN
The park's most famous sculpture.

Here are some other interesting sculptures you can see throughout the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden:

A sculpture inside the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, MN
We were looking at... something!
A sculpture inside the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, MN
What a friendly sculpture!

Of all the spots in this article, I took the most pictures of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

On a final note, this public park is owned by the Walker Art Center. This art museum is on the same spread of land as the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which brings us to the next item on our itinerary...

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

Walker Art Center

The outside of the Walker Art Center next to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, MN
The Walker Art Center is the first of two art museums for your itinerary.

If you are visiting Minneapolis Wednesday through Sunday, then the Walker Art Center will be open. This museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

For your day trip to Minneapolis, there are two art museums I'd suggest visiting-- the first being the Walker Art Center. It is conveniently located on the same campus as the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Most of the art inside the Walker Art Center is modern and contemporary. Below are some examples:

A Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comic frame inside the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN
A comic frame featuring two classic Disney characters.
A modern sculpture with lettering surrounding it inside the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN
A modern sculpture inside the Walker Art Center.

Being that the museum features artwork from the 20th and 21st centuries, there is a bit of photography inside the Walker Art Center as well.

Admission for an adult ticket is $18.

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

Minneapolis Institute of Art

A sculpture stands outside the colorful entrance to the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, MN
Between the Walker Art Center and MIA, I preferred MIA.

This is the second of the two art museums I recommend visiting for your day trip to Minneapolis.

Some people prefer more modern art, and that is totally fine, but between the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), I preferred MIA.

I'm very fond of art museums when I travel.

MIA is more so a 'traditional' art museum, in that in features a far wider spectrum of artwork. The art inside MIA spans over thousands of years and all across the globe.

Below is a sign inside the museum listing all the categories of art and on which floor they're on:

A sign inside the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, MN showing the varieties of art inside the museum and which floor they're located on.
A helpful sign inside MIA.

Below are some pictures of art I appreciated inside MIA:

A painting inside the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, MN
Some quirky reenvisioning of The Last Supper.
An exhibit on the third floor of the Minneapolis Institute of Art entitled 'Music in the Grand Salon'.
An exhibit on the third floor entitled 'Music in the Grand Salon'.
An exhibit on the third floor of the Minneapolis Institute of Art entitled 'Music in the Grand Salon'.
Buddhist shrines on the second floor in MIA.

I also share my enthusiasm for this museum in a different article.

Unlike the Walker Art Center, admission to MIA is free!

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

Mill City Museum

The lobby of the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, MN
Giant Bisquick box inside the Mill City Museum.

Come to the Mill City Museum and you'll see what earned Minneapolis one of its nicknames-- the Mill City.

Hopefully, you're in town Thursday through Sunday, as the Mill City Museum is closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays.

The Mill City Museum was once a fully operational flour mill that has been converted into a recreational museum.

For about half of the twentieth century, Minneapolis was the world's leading producer of flour. Flour is an essential ingredient in so many baked goods we enjoy!

Eighth floor of the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, MN
Some cool remnants of the flour mill you can see on the 8th floor.

When you arrive at the Mill City Museum, you pay an admission fee ($12 for an adult ticket) and then schedule a time for the tour.

The tour is half guided and the other half self guided.

For the guided portion, everyone assembles in a freight elevator where a guide provides you some backstory about Minneapolis's role in the flour industry and then you watch some videos illustrating this further.

Once the videos conclude, you are then permitted access to the 8th and 9th floors, where you can see more of the mill. On the 9th floor, you can get some really good views of the Stone Arch Bridge, the Mississippi River, and downtown.

Last, when you exit the Mill City Museum on S 2nd Street, you can look over to your left and see the cool architecture of the Guthrie Theater, as the theater is only a minute walk from the museum. Address: 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Hours: Th, F 10am - 4pm, S, Su 10am - 5pm, closed M-W

Murals, street art, and skyscrapers in downtown

A segment of the Minneapolis Skyway in downtown Minneapolis with the Capella Tower in the background in Minneapolis, MN
I love downtown Minneapolis! Here is some of the skyway and Capella Tower in the background.

The Mill City Museum is in the Mill District, which is very close to downtown. Since you're nearby, take a gander throughout my personal favorite part of Minneapolis: its downtown sector!

I think what captivated me about downtown Minneapolis is how tall some of the skyscrapers are! It reminded me of larger US cities like Chicago or New York!

Nearly all of Minneapolis's most notable skyscrapers are in very close proximity to one another. My three personal favorite skyscrapers are the Capella Tower, AT&T Tower, and the Two22 (I think formerly the Campbell Mithun Tower).

If weather is unpleasant the day you visit, you can still see much of downtown through its skyway system! The skyway is climate controlled and allows you to see over 80 blocks of downtown from the comfort of the indoors!

A segment of the Minneapolis Skyway in downtown Minneapolis with the Capella Tower in the background in Minneapolis, MN
Up close shot on the Capella Tower in downtown.

For street art, at the very least, you must see the murals dedicated to Bob Dylan and Prince! For Prince, there are actually two murals of him in downtown. Pictured below is one of the Prince murals and the mural of Bob Dylan:

A portion of the Bob Dylan mural in downtown Minneapolis, MN
Part of the Bob Dylan mural in downtown.
One of the two Prince murals located in downtown Minneapolis, MN
One of the two Prince murals in downtown.

Last, be sure to find the sculpture of Mary Tyler Moore! This sculpture was used as the lead image for this article. But to save you the time from scrolling up, here is a picture of the Mary Tyler Moore statue below:

Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown Minneapolis, MN
The Mary Tyler Moore statue in downtown.

Minnehaha Falls

Higher view of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, MN
Higher view of Minnehaha Falls.

After meandering through downtown, drive up to Minnehaha Falls to see a waterfall in action! If you come here in the wintertime, you may be able to see the waterfall completely frozen!

Pictured above is Minnehaha Falls in the summer.

The Mississippi River runs through Minneapolis and Minnehaha Falls pours into the Mississippi River.

To see the waterfall, you can take pictures of it from above or walk much closer up to it. The path to get closer to the waterfall is a bit rocky and uneven, which may not be advised for those who are older or not in the best of shape.

Aside from the waterfall, there is also a hiking trail. It's easy to walk, regardless of age or physical condition.

Stone bridge in the hiking trail near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, MN
A stone bridge you'll see further down the hiking trail.

And now, we come to the final and most famous attraction in Minneapolis, which is...

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

Mall of America

Third floor of the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN
Giant LEGO® figure in the Mall of America.

While the Mall of America is actually in Bloomington, the mall is only about a 20 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis.

The Mall of America is undeniably the most famous attraction in Minneapolis and it's one you can't miss on your one day to the city!

The Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the U.S. Chances are, it'll be substantially larger than any shopping mall you've ever visited, especially considering that in 2024, many shopping malls around the country are shadows of their former selves or outright shutting down.

Just like I did for the Minneapolis Institute of Art, I've written more in-depth about the Mall of America in other articles.

Even if you hate shopping, you should still check out Mall of America. It's simply unlike any other mall you've ever been to in the US, in that there is just so much more to do and see!

My personal favorite place inside the Mall of America has to be the M&M Store. You can custom-make your own M&M's with your own picture and taste colors and flavors of the classic candy you've never seen sold elsewhere.

Black and silver M&Ms in the M&M Store in the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN
Ever see black or silver M&Ms?

The Mall of America is the last item on the itinerary because it is open later than the other attractions-- closing at 9pm everyday except for Sunday, when it closes instead at 7pm.

SAVE FOR A LONGER TRIP...

Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater is a recommendation I always see pop up when people Google search for things to do in Minneapolis.

The Guthrie Theater is located on the same street as the Mill City Museum and the two buildings are only a minute walk from each other.

Unless you're in Minneapolis to see a show at the Guthrie Theater, there is little point to see the theater by itself, other than to just admire the deep saturated blue exterior and its modern architectural style.

Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe is one of the attractions inside the Mall of America that makes the mall such an iconic attraction.

What other mall do you know has an amusement park in the center?

And these aren't rinky-dink carnival rides either. There are rollercoasters, with steep drops, loops, and sharp turns in this amusement park.

Nickelodeon Universe has a separate cost of admission. Instead of paying a flat fee, like you would at most other amusement parks, you pay based on what how many rides you want to go on.

Granted, you can walk around the theme park without paying any fees to enter, which is pretty cool! If you have only a day in Minneapolis, I would recommend just coming back here when you have more time to enjoy the park!

Nicolett Island

Nicolett Island reminds a bit of Belle Isle in Detroit.

Located on the Mississippi River and north of Saint Anthony Falls, Nicolett Island is a charming little island that actually has a little over 100 residents living on it!

The historic homes, the Nicolett Island Inn, and the giant Grain Belt Beer sign make for an enchanting visit-- one perhaps better saved for a longer trip!

Target Field

Another recommendation I see commonly popping up when people Google search for things to do in Minneapolis.

Target Field is where the MLB team, the Minneapolis Twins, play.

Unless you're avid baseball fan, I don't personally think Target Field is something to go out of your way to see.

Conclusion

Minneapolis, a.k.a the Mill City, is one of the top cities in the midwestern U.S!

From a gorgeous downtown with an expansive climate controlled skyway system, a large public sculpture garden, terrific museums, a waterfall, and the nation's largest shopping mall, Minneapolis has plenty of excellent things to do if you're only in town for one day.

If you are visiting Minneapolis for two or three days, then check out my article on things to do for a weekend in Minneapolis!


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