15 Best Things to Do in the Twin Cities, MN

Twin Cities, MN
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The state of Minnesota is proud of its Twin Cities, Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

They are also the state’s largest cities, located around three river connections: the Mississippi River, the Minnesota River, and the St. Croix River.

The Minneapolis area lies mainly on the Mississippi River’s west side, while Saint Paul lies on the river’s eastern part.

The Twin Cities are Minnesota’s central political, cultural, and economic district.

You'll find thriving businesses, shopping and dining locations, and historical attractions in their downtown areas.

Both cities also enjoy the embrace of woods, hills, lakes, and creeks.

Here are the best things to do in the Twin Cities, MN:

Spark Your Love for Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Exterior of Minneapolis Institute of Art
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The Minneapolis Institute of Art, commonly called Mia, is one of the country’s biggest art museums and hosts the most prominent art educators.

The museum holds over 90,000 artwork collections that represent different continents and subjects.

See examples of Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture, Paintings, Photography and New Media, Prints and Drawings.

Likewise, check out the Arts of Africa & the Americas and Asian Art.

The eros sculpture on the grounds of Minneapolis Institute of Art
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You can enter the institute for free, and you can do self-guided or virtual tours.

Kids can also enjoy the Art Adventure program.

They also have a monthly Family Day where you can play and get creative with your kids at their in-studio programs and Family Center.

The museum also holds talks, screen films, art classes, and sketching sessions at the galleries.

They also present music, drinks, and capers every third Thursday.

Entrance doors of Minneapolis Institute of Art
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Learn Fun Science Facts at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Exterior of Science Museum of Minnesota
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Founded in 1907, the Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul focuses on natural history, physical science, technology, and math education.

Drop by the Collector’s Corner, where kids and adults can bring and trade objects they find and discover outdoors.

They can trade all sorts of things, from remarkable rocks to leaves or petals, for points.

Meet the five-story Giant Astronaut floating in the Science Museum atrium and imagine yourself floating in space.

A giant astronaut suit inside the Science Museum of Minnesota
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Experience live science action at the Science Live Theatre with featured shows to wow you.

See dinosaur fossils like the Allosaurus and Diplodocus at the Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery.

Try being a scientist at the Experiment Gallery, and discover the parts and functions of the body at the Human Body Gallery.

Enjoy other fun permanent exhibits like the Light Gallery, Math Moves, Sportsology, Wonder Years, and more.

Dinosaur skeleton exhibit in Science Museum of Minnesota
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See the Outdoor Sculptures at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Spoonbridge and cherry sculpture at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
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The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is an 11-acre park near the Walker Center.

It's one of the largest urban sculpture parks in the United States.

This art space opened in 1988 and has hosted more than 40 contemporary outdoor sculptures from artists from ten different countries and different generations.

It’s open to the public daily.

Rooster sculpture at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
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Visitors can view the artworks and the garden’s natural scenic landscape, making it one of Minnesota’s most frequently visited attractions.

See the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry, one of the iconic pieces in the garden, along with other structures where you can pose and take photos.

These artworks include Okciyapi by Twin Cities artist Angela Two Stars and Adam and Eve by Simone Fattal.

Hare on a bell sculpture at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
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Learn Local History at the Mill City Museum and Mill Ruins Park

Exterior of Mill City Museum
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The Mill City Museum opened in 2003.

It highlights Minnesota’s historical developments, particularly the flour milling and various industries dependent on Saint Anthony Falls’ hydropower.

The National Register of Historic Places added the abandoned Washburn A Mill Complex to its record.

Built in the 1870s, the mill was the flagship of Washburn-Crosby Co.

A dam under Mill Ruins Park's bridge
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Back then, the facility was the largest and most advanced flour mill in the world, revolutionizing the milling process and making wheat available to the public.

This booming industry made Minneapolis the world’s flour milling capital until the 1930s.

Nearby is the Mill Ruins Park, where you can view the waterworks, take a relaxing stroll on the walking path, or enjoy a bike ride.

Aerial view of the flour milling industry ruins at Mill Ruins Park
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Listen to Live Music at First Avenue

Exterior of First Avenue
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Cap off the evening with great music from featured artists and talented performers at First Avenue.

This music house venue derived its name from the building’s location at the corner of First Avenue and 7th Street.

Over the years, it has opened its doors to various musical talents and music lovers of different genres.

Wall of musician stars near the entrance of First Avenue
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It became a launching pad for many bands and artists like Prince, Soul Asylum, and Lizzo, to name a few.

So book your tickets at their website and enjoy a night of music.

You can also take your pictures of the “stars” backdrop, which lists the names of bands and artists who've performed at First Avenue.

Buy some cool and awesome merchandise at their online store.

A band performing in First Avenue
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Shop, Dine, and Have Fun at the Nicollet

Street of the Nicollet mall
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Formerly called the Nicollet Mall, the Nicollet has become downtown Minneapolis’ “Main Street” for over a century.

It's also the first transit mall in the country.

Nicollet is the city’s central shopping, dining, and entertainment district.

It also doubles as a pedestrian skyway, connecting people to 80 different blocks in the city.

Enjoy outdoor dining and try the Brit’s Pub for an English meal and some beer.

If you crave some Latin American tacos, tapas, and a margarita, you can try these at Barrio.

Buildings at the Nicollet mall street
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Visit the English Garden Park on the rooftop.

Otherwise, watch a soccer or rugby game on the 10,000-square-foot green lawn, or enjoy a bit of the sun.

You can drop by the Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center.

Buy handcrafted works of local artists through Minnesota Makers.

Find all your shopping needs at the two-level Target Store.

Check the Downtown Farmers and Makers Market every Thursday for farm-fresh produce and locally-made goods.

Station of the Nicollet mall
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Bring Your Family to Lake Harriet Park

The bandshell of Lake Harriet Park
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Lake Harriet Park is one of the picturesque public parks in Minneapolis, and also a summer favorite.

You can enjoy lakeside activities at the North and Southeast Beach with your family and catch free concerts and movies at the fabulous band shells.

Enjoy the lake waters with a canoe, kayak, boat, or paddleboard you can rent at Wheel Fun.

Boats on the water of Lake Harriet Park
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You can also catch fish at the pier and boat docks.

Likewise, enjoy a family picnic at the designated areas, with a playground and tot lot for small kids.

Take a stroll on Harriet Park’s garden and walking path and have a peaceful nature escape.

You can also have a good meal at Bread & Pickle at the Pavilion.

People dining at the bandshell and pavilion area of Lake Harriet Park
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See the Minnesota Orchestra at the Orchestra Hall

Exterior of the Orchestra Hall
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The Orchestra Hall is one of the significant landmarks in downtown Minneapolis.

The auditorium is home to the Minnesota Orchestra and hosts various events.

Interior of the Orchestra Hall
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The venue presents state-of-the-art facilities and equipment with a 2,089 seating capacity comprising balconies above and on the sides of the main floor.

See the Grammy Award-winning orchestra under Music Director Osmo Osmo Vänskä.

Enjoy classical music through featured concerts.

Building sign of the Orchestra Hall
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Play Golf at the Como Park Golf Course

The Como Park Golf Course offers a par 70 sporty course suited to the average golfer.

The 18-hole golf course has more rolling well-bunkered greens and practice green to help you improve your golf swings.

The Como Golf Course boasts excellent customer service, helping you enjoy hassle-free tee time with friends and family.

Stop by the Cozy Club after your tee time to grab a hearty lunch, dinner, and happy hour specials.

Explore the Scenic Minnehaha Regional Park

Beautiful minnehaha falls at Minnehaha Regional Park
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Minnehaha Regional Park is one of Minneapolis’ oldest city parks and among the most visited.

In 1883, the landscape architect Horace W.S. Cleveland designed the park.

It was part of the famous steamboat “Fashionable Tour” along the Upper Mississippi River during the 1800s.

People riding bikes along Minnehaha Regional Park
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The park also has historic sites that feature early transportation and classic architectural styles.

For example, check out the Minnehaha Princess Station, a quaint 1870 train depot, the 1849 John H. Stevens House, and the Longfellow House.

Marvel at the staggering 53-foot Minnehaha Falls and the impressive views of limestone bluffs and river overlook.

Enjoy other amenities at the park, including a wading pool, disc golf course, volleyball court, garden, picnic area, walking path, biking path, and playground for children.

Tour the Minnesota State Capitol

Exterior of Minnesota State Capitol
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Learn more about Minnesota by visiting the State Capitol, the state's seat of government.

The building houses the state's Senate, House of Representatives, the Attorney General's office, the Governor’s office, and a chamber of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Marvel at the grand design of the Rotunda and a mural by Edward Simmons, “Civilization of the Northwest.”

Beautiful ceiling of Minnesota State Capitol
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Peek inside the Governor’s Reception Room, and marvel at the ornate decors, paintings, and furnishings.

Explore the state government chambers where the Senate and House meet and observe the excellent designs of each room.

Visit the Rathskeller cafeteria, a space open for public dining designed like a German dining hall, reflecting the historic 1905 setting.

Grand interior of Minnesota State Capitol
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Master Baseball at the City of Baseball Museum

If you’re a solid Saints fan or interested in some baseball history, you better not miss the City of Baseball Museum.

Take a trip down memory lane at the St. Paul Sandlot, which shows how people played baseball there in the early 1900s.

Learn about the Black Pioneers, early African American baseball players who suffered discrimination as they entered the major league.

See the St. Paul exhibit featuring the city’s ballparks, homes of baseball legends like Joe Mauer, Charles Schultz, Jack Morris, Toni Stone, and more.

Check out Monty Sheldon's fantastic baseball drawings, Graig Kreindler’s exceptional paintings, and Al Papas’ nostalgic sports cartoons collections.

Meet the Animals at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Exterior of Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
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Kids will love Como Park Zoo & Conservatory because they'll meet various animals, from polar bears to giraffes.

Explore the wild safari featuring the cougar, lion, tiger, and zebra.

Discover unique creatures like the emperor tamarin, the Galapagos tortoise, green anaconda, saki monkey, etc.

Visit the wonderful landscaped gardens like the Centennial Garden and Sunken Garden.

Beautiful flowers inside the Como Park Conservatory
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See the vibrant colors of blooms at the Orchid House and tranquil Ordway Gardens.

You can also check out the sculptures and installations at the Conservatory.

You can also visit the historic Cafesjian’s Carousel and the Leonard Wilkening Children’s Gallery, where they can learn hands-on about plants and animals.

Bring your kids to the Ribbit Zibit, an excellent frog conservation exhibit.

Sleeping lions at Como Park Zoo
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Discover Art at Western Sculpture Park

The two-acre Western Sculpture Park is west of the State Capitol.

In 1998, the Fuller-Aurora Neighborhood Association, Public Art Saint Paul, and the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department worked together to refurbish the deteriorating park.

Today, this amusing green space houses 17 sculptures placed around the plazas, with pines and deciduous trees filling the landscapes.

Take a peek at the works of Minnesota-based artists, national artisans, and international artists.

See the park’s centerpiece, “Grace á Toi,” created by famed artist Mark di Suvero.

Appreciate the works of Alexander Liberman with “Above, Above,” Roger Cummings' “Writer’s Block,”  and architect Souliyahn Keobounpheng's “Aardvark Shed.”

You can also catch some activities and cultural events hosted by PASP and community organizations.

Let Your Kids Have Fun at Minnesota Children’s Museum

Exterior of Minnesota Children’s Museum
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The Minnesota Children’s Museum promises to give your kids a delightfully informative time.

The kid’s museum offers ten interactive permanent exhibits and programs.

These activities let them experience and explore different activities to build creativity, enhance problem-solving skills, communication, and more.

Kids can dive into the Shipwreck Adventure, exploring Lake Superior and navigating the pilot house and the 20-foot-long ship hull.

They can play at Best Buy Gallery's pretend-town and take on roles, make friends, or act out some scenes.

The Target Gallery is where they can express their creativity and practice their art skills.

The Scramble is one of the highlights at the museum, where your kids can climb, jump and test their courage on the 40-foot catwalk.

Final Thoughts

The Twin Cities offer numerous exciting attractions for everyone.

This busy metropolitan district hosts exciting art and specialized museums to satisfy the imagination.

It also offers an endless list of recreation and entertainment spots.

Book your trip to the Twin Cities today!