Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Downtown Minneapolis, MN

  • Published 2022/12/01

In the heart of Minneapolis, the Downtown district is a place that combines architectural excellence with historical importance.

Flanked by the Mississippi River, this dynamic and unique community offers its thirty million annual visitors plenty of activities to enjoy within six different neighborhoods.

Downtown Minneapolis is home to an array of breathtaking architecture, an eclectic mix of museums, performance spaces, and first-class dining.

Whatever type of vibe you’re looking for, Downtown Minneapolis will have something to offer you in satisfying your cravings.

So if you book a hotel in this developing neighborhood, consider this list of best things to do in Downtown Minneapolis as your guide.

Wander through Minneapolis Skyway

One of the Minneapolis Skyway during the night

Sam Wagner /

The Minneapolis Skyway System is unique to the world in that it allows you to walk from one building, or one street block, to another without really going outside.

The Skyway is a collection of enclosed bridges in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with 9.5 miles worth of pathways that connect 80 city blocks.

Minneapolis Skyway made of glass

Joe Ferrer /

The system connects more than 80 buildings, parks, and cultural amenities that otherwise would be slices of skyway pie without some sort of connection between them.

Minneapolis Skyway has expanded as downtown Minneapolis continues to grow into a larger urban area attracting more people with its shops, restaurants, and theaters.

This architectural wonder is a very practical system for walking around the city, especially in the wintertime when it’s cold and snowy and cold.

People walking on one of the Minneapolis Skyway

Sam Wagner /

Delve into the Past at the Mill City Museum

Exterior of the Mill City Museum

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Nestled on the Mississippi River in the limestone ruins of what used to be the biggest flour mill in the world, Mill City Museum tells fascinating stories from Minnesota’s history.

It was here where the National Historic Landmark known as Washburn A Mill once stood.

At this architectural beauty, you’ll see several types of exhibits that tell how Minneapolis became the “Breadbasket of America” and vice versa during the late-19th century.

Artfully interwoven into Mill City Museum and its exhibitions are unique works created by regional and local artists.

Exterior of Mill City Museum

quaziefoto from Ann Arbor, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The exhibits you’ll find here include JoAnn Verburg’s “Between Now and Then, Minnesota,” a 14’x25′ collage made of photographs, glass, cement, and steel.

Peruse the Oddities of the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Exterior of the Minneapolis Institute of Art

EQRoy /

The arts museum conveniently sitting in 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, which gets over a half-million annual visitors, is known as Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia).

One of America’s largest art museums, Mia showcases 5,000 years of world history through its 90,000 pieces of artwork.

Sculpture of a head at Minneapolis Institute of Art

Jeff Bukowski /

Mia has the greatest collection of some of the world’s most highly celebrated artistic masterpieces in the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area.

The museum’s art is presented through 20,000 years of artistic achievement, which spans six continents across the world.

With seven curatorial areas, Mia features an extensive collection of around 80,000 historic objects from paintings, prints & drawings, photographs, architecture, decorative arts, and textiles.

Lights on the Minneapolis Institute of Art exterior

Sam Wagner /

Grab a Pint and Savor Top-Notch Pub Food in Downtown Minneapolis

If you’re looking for a pint of quality craft beer and top-notch pub food, then look no further than O’Donovan’s Irish Pub in Downtown Minneapolis.

O’Donovan’s offers the best of both worlds—comfort food favorites such as potato soup, Shepard’s Pie, and Black & Tan Drafts on tap.

At South 6th St, Minneapolis, there’s also another cool spot to stop by for good food and awesome drinks.

The Lyon’s Pub is a cozy pub that offers a wide selection of freshly brewed Minnesota-made beer, including the delicious Summit and Surly taps.

The food menu includes artery-clogging dishes such as their infamous hearty burgers, deep-fried chicken breast marinated in teriyaki sauce, and their seasoned char-broiled prime rib served on a toasted kaiser bun.

Lyon’s also features a wide range of sporting events from which you can choose on their massive TV screens.

Other bars worth checking out in Downtown Minneapolis include Brit’s Pub, Prohibition Bar, Kieran’s Irish Pub, and The Pourhouse.

Cycle or Walk across Stone Arch Bridge

Far view of the Stone Arch Bridge

CK Foto /

Built by the Great Northern Railroad of James J. Hill in 1883, Stone Arch Bridge has become a landmark in downtown Minneapolis and remains a National Civil Engineering Landmark in its own right.

Maintained by both the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the park board, Stone Arch Bridge offers a serene view of St Anthony Falls.

Night lights of Stone Arch Bridge

Pete Hoffman /

The bridge itself has been renovated for the enjoyment of walkers, bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Stone Arch Bridge makes for a particularly wondrous sight when it’s lit up at night.

The rich history and intricate construction are truly fascinating, while the babbling of the water below and the swaying of the plants as they catch it are truly hypnotic.

The trail of Stone Arch Bridge /

Take a Bite of Minneapolis’ Juicy Lucy

Exterior of Matt's bar where they make the Juicy Lucy burger

Sam Wagner /

The Juicy Lucy is Minneapolis’ signature interactive and mouth-watering burger, oozing cheese from the inside of the patty.

This delicious, gooey burger is more than just an ordinary dinner option, and it’s no wonder why these crazy creations are in such high demand.

Famous minneapolis burger called Juicy Lucy

Kim, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Juicy Lucy comes with a hidden cheese center inside the ground beef patty, which will make you question your life choices if you think that adding cheese on top would have made any difference.

Once you take a bite, it’s mind-blowing how much better this seemingly simple change makes for the perfect dinner combination.

If you want to get your hands on the best Juicy Lucy burgers in Minneapolis, simply pay Matt’s Bar, Crooked Pint, 5-8 Club, Ray J’s, Hell’s Kitchen, or Blue Door Pub a visit.

Famous minneapolis burger called Juicy Lucy

Jonathunder, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Devour the Unordinary at Hell’s Kitchen

Name sign of Hell’s Kitchen

Ken Wolter /

For starters, this Hell’s Kitchen doesn’t have anything to do with Gordon Ramsay.

But if you’re a lover of the odd and non-ordinary, you shouldn’t be disappointed by that.

Upon entering the restaurant, it’s easy to see why this space is aptly named.

Impossible burger at Hell’s Kitchen

Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The food served here, from their amazing lemon ricotta hotcakes to their version of mouthwatering Juicy Lucy, is practically sinfully good!

This red hot little place has a smoky palette that complements its fiery theme for an astounding dining experience.

During their brunch every 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, you get to see live performances on their stage by some fantastic local musicians.

Take a Narrated Sightseeing Cruise with Minneapolis Queen River Cruise

The Minneapolis Queen and Paradise Charter Cruises offer nearly two decades of experience when it comes to the scenic beauty of Minnesota’s historic waterways.

This cruise line company has grown to four gorgeous award-winning ships with the help of two special venues.

The Minneapolis Queen offers unforgettable seasonal excursions to more than 50,000 passengers every year on America’s most popular waterways.

They offer a great narrated riverboat tour on their historic Minneapolis Queen Paddleboat— a modern-day reproduction of the grand, Mississippi River-cruising boats.

Once onboard, you’ll enjoy the incredible sights and sounds of the majestic Mississippi River, the spectacular Lake Minnetonka area, and the incredible Minneapolis Skyline.

Tour the Twin Cities’ Most Famous Breweries

Fire outside the Surly Brewing Company to keep the customers warm

Jeff Bukowski /

When it comes to perfect summertime fun in beautiful downtown Minneapolis, you can’t go wrong with spending a day touring the Twin Cities’ most famous breweries.

Surly Brewing Company is a neighborhood tavern that serves up top-notch local beer, tavern grub, and a pizza joint with paired-down decor and an old-school feel.

Meanwhile, the Fulton Brewing Taproom serves up incredible house beers in its microbrewery industrial warehouse setting with communal seating.

Name sign of Surly Brewing Company

Jeff Bukowski /

Fulton has been one of the early Twin Cities taprooms and has added an onsite kitchen and expanded its indoor and patio capacity after their recent remodel.

There’s also Modist that opened its doors to beer lovers in 2016 in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood area.

Modist’s innovative spirit shines through their unique variety of beer and cider, including their flagship brews.

For those interested in lowering their gluten intake, they have their so-called “Dreamyard,” a hazy IPA brewed from wheat sans barley and oats, the hazily golden pale ale brewed from oats called “False Pattern,” and the blonde lager named “First Call.”

Beer barrel of Surly Brewing Company

Jeff Bukowski /

Cheer for the Vikings at the US Bank Stadium

Aerial view of the US Bank Stadium during sunset

Gian Lorenzo Ferretti /

In downtown Minneapolis, there also lies the phenomenal U.S. Bank Stadium, an indoor stadium resting on where the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome used to be.

Minnesota’s own U.S. Bank Stadium is home to two professional sports teams: the Vikings and the Golden Gophers.

Vikings fans going in US Bank Stadium

Ben Harding /

The design for U.S. Bank Stadium has a similar appearance to Christ Cathedral, as it was designed by well-known architect and designer Philip Johnson.

Exterior of the US Bank Stadium

Mark Herreid /

The stadium seats around 66,000 people most times (a bit more than the Metrodome) and is fitted with a retractable roof that can be opened or closed depending on the weather.

Its full capacity of 73,000 is required for major events like special events, soccer matches, music concerts, and at times in the recent past, an important event called “the Super Bowl.”

View of the US Bank Stadium during night time

Mark Herreid /

See What’s Going on at The Commons

Stairs and open space of The Commons

Photo Image /

Opened in July 2016, the Commons Park is a relaxing 1.7-ha (4.2 acres) public park located near U.S. Bank Stadium and the nearby Metro Transit station in Downtown East, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Although the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board owns the park, it is the city of Minneapolis that operates it while it’s leased to it.

Barricades of The Commons Park

Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can access the park via a shared entrance between two major streets in Downtown Minneapolis: one is Samatar Crossing, and the other is Hiawatha LRT Trail.

During lunchtime, nearby businesses like food trucks on 4th Street provide a delicious, diverse range of cuisines.

There are usually some climbing apparatuses, interesting art exhibits, sometimes yoga, a mini petting zoo, a little beer festival, and sometimes it could get insane with a celebrity concert at this wonderful Downtown Minneapolis green space.

Hear the Fifteen Bells Chime of the City Halls’ Clock Tower

Front view of the minneapolis City Hall

Sam Wagner /

Constructed in 1887-1906, the magnificent Minneapolis City Hall boasts an elegance unique from modern buildings, sporting multiple interior design styles in its Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.

A jewel amongst downtown skyscrapers, the City Hall features a multi-turreted roof made of beautiful copper.

It has an over 300-feet-tall clock tower with faces even larger than the clocktower in London by eighteen inches, adding to its worthiness of being the Crown of Downtown.

Top part of the minneapolis city hall

Xackery Irving /

The clock tower bell’s chimes will ring 15 times at midday, and it’s one of Minneapolis’ most iconic sounds, yet it offers a time-honored tradition that continues to this day.

If you’re interested in touring this beautiful and masterfully-crafted building, you can go on guided tours that they offer at noon on the third Wednesday of each month.

The tours will meet in the rotunda’s “Father of Waters” statue, or you can just reserve it in advance.

Closer view of the City Halls' Clock Tower

Brian Kenney /

Find the Best Entertainment at Target Center

Exterior of Target Center

Sam Wagner /

Nestled right at the heart of the flourishing sports and entertainment district of downtown Minneapolis, Target Center is one of the world’s top multi-purpose arenas serving more than a million guests per year.

This cozy treasure is home to Minnesota Lynx (four-time Women’s National Basketball Association world champion) and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.

Name sign of Target Center

Ken Wolter /

Target Center has played host to not just one but 35 music legends like Bob Dylan and Prince, who’ve gone on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular was an amazing production in 2008 and the largest one in Target Center’s history.

It was a festive event that featured the Rockettes and included 13 buses and 31 trucks.

View inside the Target Center stadium

Bobak Ha’Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get a Good Laugh at Orpheum Theatre

View from below Orpheum Theatre's name sign

Debra Anderson /

Located in Downtown Minneapolis, Orpheum Theatre originally went by the name Hennepin Theater when it first opened back on October 16, 1921.

It is one of four theaters that you can find on Hennepin Avenue, along with the State Theatre, the Cowles Center (formerly known as the Shubert Theatre), and the Pantages Theatre.

Orpheum Theatre originally featured two structures: an auditorium that paralleled Hawthorne Avenue and a long, finger-like lobby extending from a narrow façade along Hennepin Avenue.

Vertical name sign of Orpheum Theatre

EQRoy /

The lobby of the newly restored theater is bright and welcoming, with six colorful terra cotta sculptures.

Its auditorium features intricately painted walls and decorations with an intricate ceiling design that features about 30,000 tiny aluminum leaf squares and plenty of art-deco influences.

Orpheum Theatre offers comedy shows and fantastic musicals like The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, and The Lion King.

Neon lights of the Orpheum Theatre name sign

Sam Wagner /

Take a Selfie with Mary Tyler Moore

The bronze statue of Mary Tyler Moore

James Kirkikis /

An iconic statue of the glamour and grit of the Upper Midwest, the Mary Tyler Moore statue is now standing at Nicollet Mall, between 7th Street and 8th Street, in downtown Minneapolis.

The statue was built to celebrate the character Mary Richards who stretched her wings against that backdrop on the 1970s hit series, The Mary Tyler Moore show.

Mary Richards enjoyed a long list of career successes before winning the role that defined her – as Mary Tyler Moore in The Mary Tyler Moore show.

Side view of the Mary Tyler Moore statue

Robert Mullan /

She starred in 15 films and over 50 TV shows, winning a Tony Award, an Academy Award nomination, and six Emmys.

Tourists and locals alike have been visiting the statue of Mary Richards holding a hat aloft ever since it made it to Nicollet in 2001.

However, the statue doesn’t just capture Mary in her role as a TV news anchor; it also captures her brash, quirky character, which endeared herself to fans across Minneapolis and beyond during the 1970s.

The top half of Mary Tyler Moore's statue

Frank Romeo /

Drop by and Explore the Guthrie Theater

Exterior of the Guthrie Theater

Jeff Bukowski /

The Guthrie Theater explores classic and modern plays with outstanding theater performers, fostering connections inside and outside the community they serve.

The Theatre, established in 1963, is committed to creating the greatest dramatic works, fostering the careers of modern writers, and training future generations of theater professionals.

It is an all-seasons public venue with three cutting-edge stages, production plants, schools, complete-service restaurants, and stunning public lobby areas.

Building sign of the Guthrie Theater

Ken Wolter /

Guthrie’s public areas are a tool for the general public and are currently available.

Browse their ever-changing selection of presents, souvenirs from shows, Guthrie-branded apparel, and unique creations from a wide assortment of artisans.

Yellow room in the Guthrie Theater

Craig Hinton /

Fill Your Stomach with Delicious Cuisine from 112 Eatery

Visit 112 Eatery if you’re looking for a restaurant in Downtown Minneapolis!

It is among the well-liked restaurants that serve delectable dinner meals and is open from Tuesday through Saturday.

For seated events, their central upper-level exclusive dining space can accommodate up to 34 people, and for cocktail receptions, up to 48 people.

Upstairs, there is a separate, premium dining area called The Wine Room.

For seated occasions, it can serve guests of up to 16 people.

Exclusive reservations may be made at 112 Eatery for particularly big parties.

Stock up on Food Supplies at Mill City Farmers Market

Minneapolis’ Mill City Farmers Market is a go-to destination for wholesome, regional, and organic foods that foster a sense of community.

The all-year Saturday Market is situated in Minneapolis’ Downtown East area, near the Guthrie Theater and Chicago Avenue, and is open outdoors from May through October.

With the help of more than 100 local farmers, food producers, and artists, they work to create an organic, locally-grown food economy inside a thriving, educative marketplace.

To get ideas for your market food shopping, browse their healthy business recipes by seasonality, ingredient, dietary requirement, and more.

In addition to serving up delectable local cuisine, they take great pride in providing free cooking courses taught by accomplished chefs, fun activities for kids, live entertainment, outdoor yoga, and much more.

Admire the View at The Living Room and Prohibition

To experience life in the 1920s, take a turn back in time and go up to The Living Room and Prohibition.

This speakeasy in the sky, formerly Wilbur Foshay’s exclusive, full-floor getaway, entices guests with excellent drinks, 360-degree vistas, and stunning art deco architecture.

Experience and celebrate a special event in a unique location atop the city.

Don’t just surprise your visitors with a reception for your event or a gathering in your living room.

Surprise them with the most upscale cuisine and drink options in the Twin Cities, indulge them with quality service, and pamper them in luxury.

Spend the Afternoon Shopping at Nicollet Mall

Aerial view of Nicollet Mall street /

Since more than a century ago, Nicollet Mall has served as Minneapolis’ main municipal thoroughfare.

It is a 12-block section of Nicollet Avenue that runs through the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Visitors come to Nicollet all year round for business, dining, and recreation, whether for luncheon on one of the famous patios or shopping at the Downtown Farmers Market.

Shops at Nicollet Mall

Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Orchestra Hall, the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Walker Art Center, and other downtown sites are accessible from Nicollet, which also houses the major light rail station and several bus lines.

Explore Nicollet Mall, the city’s main dining and retail area, and a pedestrian mall and transportation hub.

Final Thoughts

The bustling Downtown Minneapolis offers a treasure trove of entertainment for you and your friends and family.

Its illustrious commercial center will provide a bustling town to explore, vibrant events to attend, entertainment facilities that will delight you, and restaurants that will capture your appetite.

When planning your itinerary, use this list so you may not miss out on the top best things to do in Downtown Minneapolis!

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