18 Free Things to Do in Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Buckle up because we're about to embark on a journey through the free things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota!

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Walter Whalen, Myron Brookshire, Mary Bassett, Mary Burgess, Alonzo Jeffrey, Eduardo Wells and Steven Sewell.

Start a Morning Routine at Saint Anthony Falls

Daytime view of Saint Anthony Falls
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There's something extraordinary about starting my day with a run along the heritage trail loop at Saint Anthony Falls.

It's not just the exercise that wakes me, but the stunning views of the historic urban waterfall.

These falls also carry immense historical significance, thanks to their hydroelectric dam and lock system.

As the sun rises, casting its golden hues over the falls and the surrounding areas, it feels like the city of Minneapolis wakes up with me.

The sight of the falls, the sound of rushing water, and the quiet hum of the city coming to life.

It's more than enough motivation to get me out of bed every morning.

Rushing waters of Saint Anthony Falls
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I often find myself thinking about the history of this place during my runs.

At one point, six natural islands were near the falls, and it used to be a natural waterfall.

It's awe-inspiring to think about the Native Americans who lived here before us and the rich history of this place.

I highly recommend visiting Saint Anthony Falls if you are ever in Minneapolis.

It's a slice of history, a piece of nature, and a wht of beauty all rolled into one.

Cross the Historic Stone Arch Bridge

Aerial view of the Historic Stone Arch Bridge
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An ordinary day in my city is incomplete without a walk on the historic Stone Arch Bridge.

The first rays of the sun painting the Minneapolis skyline are a sight to behold from the bridge.

Likewise, the bridge, a former railroad marvel, has become a pedestrian's paradise, offering panoramic views of the St. Anthony Falls.

The charm of the Stone Arch Bridge doesn't just lie in its grandeur but also its surroundings.

As I stroll down the bridge, the park on its trail is a delightful sight, with locals either jogging or enjoying a leisurely walk.

And then there are the cute cafes on the other side, perfect for grabbing a quick bite or a hot cup of coffee.

Crossing the Mississippi River on this bridge is a unique experience, strikingly contrasting new and old buildings lining the river.

Night lights of the Historic Stone Arch Bridge
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There's a sense of community here, with people of all ages coming together.

Tourists often capture the bridge's beauty through their cameras while young folks dance, record videos, and have fun.

The Stone Arch Bridge is a window to the past, a path connecting the city's modern charm with its rich history.

But it is even more special because it doesn't cost a penny.

The Stone Arch Bridge always offers something regardless of the day's theme.

But if you ask me, there's nothing like watching the sunset from the bridge.

As evening falls, the bridge is bathed in a warm, golden glow, creating a magical spectacle; if you're in the city, catch this ethereal view.

People along the Historic Stone Arch Bridge
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Enter an Artistic Haven at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Exterior of the Minneapolis Institute of Art
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If you are ever in Minneapolis, you might want to dedicate your day to a cultural journey spanning 5,000 years at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Let me tell you; it's a treasure trove of creativity, a history lesson, and a global journey.

I repeatedly return to its halls each visit, unveiling a new perspective.

Imagine walking through time, from the mystery of an Egyptian mummy to the vivid strokes of European masters, all under one roof.

As a fan of Asian art, I was especially intrigued by the extensive collection housed in the Asian exhibition hall.

Even after having seen it countless times, I find it amazing how I could still spend half a day admiring the Chinese collection alone without feeling too much fatigue.

And did I mention that the museum is free? Even though it’s free, I always donate, as it is worth more than a paid entry.

Eros sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
Jeff Bukowski / Shutterstock.com

The vastness of the museum, spanning three floors filled with pieces from all over the world, is impressive.

It’s big enough to take you at least half a day to appreciate the extensive collection fully.

The museum also offers a good selection of paintings.

While the variety of modern art might feel limited, there’s certainly no shortage of masterpieces to stir your imagination.

You can check out their collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

My trips to the museum add a dash of color to my life, and I can confidently say that it's a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

If you haven't been there yet, I recommend you visit soon.

You won't regret it.

Exhibit in the Minneapolis Institute of Art
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Listen to the Echoes of History at Mill Ruins Park

Signage of Mill Ruins Park
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The city wakes up around me, its heartbeat echoing through the morning haze.

That’s when I lace up my shoes and go to Mill Ruins Park, an oasis of tranquility amidst the urban bustle.

As the sun peeks over the Mississippi River, it bathes the remnants of the old Mill in a warm glow, whispering tales of a bygone era.

My daily walk through the park takes me past weathered ruins, their stoic presence a testament to the resilience of human endeavor.

Interpretive signs scattered across the park unfold a rich tapestry of history, allowing the old Mill to share its stories with curious visitors.

It’s not just history lovers who would be charmed, though.

Nature enthusiasts would find the lush greenery and the tranquil river equally captivating.

Daytime view of Mill Ruins Park
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In the heart of the city, Mill Ruins Park is not just about serene escapism.

It's dotted with elements of urban life.

On warm days, the familiar jingle of the ice cream truck rings out, a delightful contrast to the silent ruins.

Moreover, the park features well-maintained walking and biking paths that lead me across bridges with stunning city skyline views.

When family visits, Mill Ruins Park is always on the itinerary.

With easy parking and the promise of a history lesson wrapped in natural beauty, it's a piece of Minneapolis I love sharing with others.

Aerial view of Mill Ruins Park
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Visit Minnehaha Falls

Scenic view of Minnehaha Falls
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Losing yourself in the enchanting beauty of the cascading Minnehaha Falls is an experience that never gets old.

As I meander along the walking paths, the iconic roar of the falls fills the air, reminding me of the strength and beauty of nature.

Minnehaha Falls, holds a special place in my heart.

Whether it's the thrill of a bike ride along the park's trails or a stroll amidst the whispering trees, every visit is an escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

The seasonal wading pools become a welcoming oasis in the hot summer, offering a refreshing respite to local families and weary travelers alike.

Likewise, the park has plenty of amenities to make your visit comfortable.

The waters of Minnehaha Falls
Chris LaBasco / Shutterstock.com

If you find your appetite piqued by the fresh air, the nearby restaurant offers a variety of tasty options and craft beers.

Don't worry about hydration; several water-fill stations are also dotted around the park.

Visiting the falls is an adventure – a short hike down the terrain.

But be prepared, as the sight of the water tumbling down from a height is breathtaking. It's a spectacle that becomes even more mesmerizing in the spring with the increased water flow.

As a passionate local, I believe it's up to us to preserve and respect this natural wonder.

After all, Minnehaha Falls is a piece of Minnesota we are proud of.

Enjoy Leisure Time at Water Works Park

Every day feels like a mini vacation whenever I visit the Water Works Park.

I adore the spectacular views of the river that it offers.

Just one glance and you're transfixed by the river's graceful flow against the city's backdrop.

The park's tranquility is simply captivating.

Water Works Park is also a hub for summer events.

I've spent countless weekends here, enjoying the board games and cornhole the park sets out during the warm months.

There's no shortage of tables and chairs to relax while soaking in the atmosphere.

As far as eateries go, Owami is my personal favorite.

There's something special about enjoying a meal by the river.

And for the kids, there's a park across the field that they have. Grabbing ice cream by the bridge is a must.

The perfect day after Works Park makes for an ideal day out, whether you're looking for relaxation, fun, or simply a touch of nature in the city's heart.

Take a Stroll Around Gold Medal Park

Signage of Gold Medal Park
melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Whenever I need a breath of fresh air, I find myself drawn to the lush greenery of Gold Medal Park.

Nestled amidst the urban jungle of Minneapolis, this 7.5-acre landscape offers a slice of serenity that's hard to find in the bustling city.

The park features a unique mound with a spiral walkway - a perfect spot for an invigorating morning jog or a leisurely evening stroll.

Panoramic water views unfold as I ascend, revealing the picturesque Stone Arch Bridge.

Sprinkled throughout the park are comfortable chairs - my favorite spots to sit back, relax, and watch life go by.

If you're an animal lover like me, you'll also appreciate how much dogs enjoy this park.

You'll see them prancing around, chasing squirrels, and enjoying their time in the sun.

The grounds of Gold Medal Park
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While the park is enjoyable year-round, it truly comes alive during winter.

When the snow piles up, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, perfect for a thrilling snow tube ride down the mound.

Even in the chill of winter, the park draws in a vibrant crowd of joggers, dog walkers, and families looking for a fun day out.

Just a stone's throw away from the park, you'll find the iconic Guthrie Theater, Rivergate, Churchill apartments, and downtown Minneapolis.

These cultural hotspots make a day spent at Gold Medal Park more enjoyable.

So, whether you're looking for a peaceful escape or a vibrant community atmosphere, Gold Medal Park has it all.

Spend an Afternoon at Lake of the Isles

The waters of Lake of the Isles
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There's nothing quite like a sunny Sunday spent at Lake of the Isles.

The lake's shimmering waters and lush scenery transform the heart of Minneapolis into an urban oasis.

From the moment you see the picturesque setting, the hustle and bustle of the city fade away, replaced by the tranquility of nature.

I often start my day by strapping on my ice skates and heading to the lake's rink.

The ice is always well-maintained, offering a smooth glide perfect for beginners and seasoned skaters.

As I skate, the thrill of the cold air against my cheeks is an experience I look forward to all week.

After skating, it's time to unwind by strolling the lake.

The paved jogging paths are as inviting to casual walkers as they are to serious runners.

I've lost count of the times I've walked around it, each time discovering something new - a blossoming flower, a unique bird call, or the changing hues of the water at sunset.

A hammock near the waters of Lake of the Isles
Roger Siljander / Shutterstock.com

Then, I find a quiet spot on the fishing pier when I want some solitude.

The calm waters make it an excellent place for fishing and a peaceful way to spend an afternoon.

And trust me, there's something uniquely satisfying about catching your meal for the day.

And if you're a dog owner like me, you'll love the dog park.

It's an excellent place for our furry friends to play, socialize, and burn off energy.

Plus, seeing all those wagging tails makes any day better!

Whether ice-skating, jogging, fishing, or simply enjoying the stunning scenery, Lake of the Isles is worth exploring in the city's heart.

No matter what time of year or how many times you've been, there's always something special to your visit.

Kayaking during sunset at Lake of the Isles
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Discover Art in Nature: The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Spoonbridge and cherry sculpture at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
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The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is my go-to spot whenever I need a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city.

This 11-acre sanctuary in the heart of Minneapolis combines my two favorite things: art and nature.

From the moment you step into the garden, you are greeted with various modern art pieces scattered amidst the lush greenery.

And with over 40 sculptures on display from renowned artists, no less, there's no shortage of things to admire.

What I love most about the garden is the gentle walking paths that weave around the sculptures.

Blue rooster sculpture at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Debra Anderson / Shutterstock.com

It allows you to slow down, wander, and genuinely appreciate each piece of art.

Some are interactive and child-friendly, making it the perfect place for families to enjoy.

The garden is also home to a well-kept conservatory and an arbor, which add to the serene environment.

And if you're there on a good day, you might even find some food trucks parked nearby - a perfect way to cap off an afternoon of art appreciation.

So whether you're an art enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking to spend a leisurely afternoon, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a must-visit.

Aerial view of Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
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Make a Lakeside Escape to Bde Maka Ska

Scenic view of Bde Maka Ska
Steve Skjold / Shutterstock.com

Have you ever had one of those days where you need to escape the city madness and immerse yourself in nature?

That's when I turn to the tranquil waters of Bde Maka Ska.

It's as if Mother Nature took a paintbrush to the landscape.

Interestingly, named Bde Maka Ska, the lake is my go-to spot for summer activities.

On sunny days, you can usually find me paddling my kayak across the clear waters or reeling in a fresh catch.

The lake has many fish species, making it a paradise for fishing enthusiasts.

Did I mention the walking trails that trace the lake's shoreline?

Scenic view of Bde Maka Ska

They are my haven for morning jogs.

The courses provide an ever-changing scenery, with birds chirping, leaves rustling, and occasional squirrels darting across.

Benches are dotted along the tracks so you can rest and soak in the surroundings.

The lake, crystal-clear waters, and well-maintained trails provide a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

It's my patch of paradise amidst the urban jungle.

So, if you're in the area, stop by Bde Maka Ska. It won't disappoint.

Scenic view of Bde Maka Ska
Nikolay Donev / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy the Day at the Walker Art Center

Exterior of the Walker Art Center
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Have you ever heard of the saying, "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life?"

Well, this couldn't be more accurate regarding the Walker Art Center.

This acclaimed venue is more than just a museum or gallery.

It celebrates contemporary art that goes beyond the confines of a building and spills over into a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden.

Once I stepped into the Walker Art Center, I was taken aback by the variety of exhibits.

It was just like stepping into a different world.

The museum was excellent, clean, and comfortable, with many works from big-name artists.

Side view of the Walker Art Center
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However, it was the outdoor sculpture garden that had me hooked.

The park was full of interactive modern art, and strolling through it felt like part of an artwork.

Likewise, the surrounding flowers in full bloom, the shade of the arbors, and the creative mini-golf course added a touch of joy and playfulness to the whole experience.

Of course, no day out would be complete without some good food.

The Walker Art Center has a restaurant that serves some delicious and beautifully presented hummus with pita bread.

I also tried the fried chicken pita entree, which was a flavorful experience.

So, whether you're an art enthusiast, a foodie, or simply looking for a day out in the city, the Walker Art Center has something for you.

Unleash Creativity in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District

You wouldn't believe the riot of color that greets you as you enter the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.

It's like stepping into a gigantic kaleidoscope filled with artists' studios, galleries, and performance spaces.

The first time I visited, I could hardly believe I was still in the same city; it felt like being transported into an entirely different world.

Every corner in the district seems to be bursting with creativity.

Strolling down the streets, you'll likely run into a pop-up art show, an impromptu performance, or even a poetry reading.

The vibrant murals on almost every building whisper stories of the local culture, history, and the artists who call this area home.

One of my favorite spots is the Northrup King Building.

It houses over 300 artists and small businesses, each unique and exciting.

The building is like a maze, each turn leading to a discovery.

I've spent countless hours wandering its halls, getting lost in the diverse range of artwork.

Every year, the district hosts Art-A-Whirl, an open studio tour that's the largest of its kind in the country.

It's an incredible event where artists open their studios to the public, showcasing their work, processes, and passions.

Indeed, it's a joyous celebration of the arts that brings together community members and tourists.

If you appreciate the arts and vibrant communities, the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District is a must-visit.

The district's energy and creativity are contagious, and it's an experience that will leave you feeling inspired and invigorated.

Take a Stroll Down the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway

Trail of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway
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There's a magic in the Minneapolis air that paints a vivid picture of life in our city, and nowhere is this more visible than on the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.

This extraordinary pathway is more than just a trail - it's a journey that encapsulates the soul of our city.

Every morning, I get up early, lace up my walking shoes, and step outside to embrace the day.

The moment I set foot on the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, I can feel the city's rhythm.

Breathing in the fresh air, I watch the community come alive with the chatter of children on their way to school and the buzz of cyclists zipping past.

The Byway stretches out in a majestic loop, winding its way around lakes and along riverbanks.

Each turn holds a new surprise - a hidden gem of a coffee shop, an art installation that catches the morning light, or a group of musicians adding a melodic soundtrack to my journey.

With each step, I fall in love with Minneapolis all over again.

The beauty of the Byway is its ability to make you feel at home with nature, even in the city's heart.

As I walk, I am accompanied by the rustle of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the tranquil hum of the city waking up.

And yet, the Minneapolis skyline is never out of sight, offering a truly breathtaking panoramic view.

It's where we come to walk, run, bike, and feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.

The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway isn't just a pathway - it's a testament to the vibrant life, love, and energy that make Minneapolis such a remarkable city.

Explore Artistic Brilliance at Weisman Art Museum

Exterior of the Weisman Art Museum
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

There's nothing quite like the thrill of discovery that comes from a visit to the Weisman Art Museum.

Its modern stainless steel and brick structure is a sight to behold, standing out dramatically against the Minneapolis skyline.

A stroll through the museum's courtyard offers stunning city views, while the patio is a perfect place to pause and soak in the atmosphere.

The museum houses an impressive collection of American and contemporary paintings.

Moreover, the exhibits are ever-changing, keeping local visitors like me coming back time and again to see the latest artistic treasures on display.

The museum may not be the largest, but the quality of the artwork truly impresses me.

Various styles and themes cater to all tastes, from renowned artists to emerging talents.

Structure of the Weisman Art Museum
Sophie James / Shutterstock.com

They also have a stunning ceramic collection, leaving you in awe.

And, if you are a fan of unique architecture, you will be pleasantly surprised as the building's distinctive design truly piques your interest.

One of my favorite pieces has to be the giant glass fish sculpture, previously located near the Walker Art Center.

It's now found a new home at the Weisman and is a sight to behold.

Free admission is the cherry on top, although donations are encouraged and well-deserving for this cultural gem.

Nestled in the heart of the University of Minneapolis, the Weisman Art Museum serves as a refreshing oasis of artistic beauty amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.

Feel the Serenity of Lake Harriet

Sailing on Lake Harriet
Geoffrey Kuchera / Shutterstock.com

Something enchanting about Lake Harriet draws me to its calming shores repeatedly.

Located in the heart of our city, it's a sanctuary that brings together nature, recreation, and community.

One of my favorite things is the music and movie events at the Bandshell.

There's something utterly magical about grabbing a delicious meal from Bread & Pickle and settling down on the grass to enjoy a good film or a soothing melody under the sparkling night sky.

An adventurous soul? Then, make a beeline for the watercraft rental and experience the lake from a new perspective.

Paddling out on the water is a rare treat, whether it's a leisurely kayak or a challenging paddleboard.

For families, nothing beats a sunny afternoon at one of Lake Harriet's two large beaches.

Pack a picnic, bring a ball, and let the kids loose while you soak up the sun.

And for the little ones, the playground is a dream come true.

Even without these amenities, Lake Harriet would still be a gem. The trails that skirt the lake are perfect for peaceful walks and vigorous jogs.

The surrounding parks are a burst of greenery, alive with the chatter of birds and the hum of insects. In short, it's a nature lover's paradise.

So, whether it's a summer evening or a crisp winter day, Lake Harriet never disappoints.

It is a treasure in our city, and I couldn't imagine a better place to call home.

Explore Nicollet Mall

Night scene at Nicollet Mall
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There's something undeniably special about a place that can turn an ordinary walk into an extravagant journey.

Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis is one of those places.

No two visits here ever feel the same, from its bustling eateries to the high-end boutiques.

Nestled in the heart of downtown, this lively thoroughfare is the perfect blend of modern urban life and old-world charm.

You might find me grabbing a quick lunch from one of the many chain eateries, relishing the variety of cuisines available just around the corner.

Some days, you'd see me browsing through the latest collections in the fashion boutiques.

Trust me, the shopping scene there gives even the biggest shopping malls a run for their money.

The skyway system overhead is another marvel that never fails to impress.

It's like a city above a city, a maze of footbridges connecting the high-rises.

It lets you traverse the city on chilly winter days without stepping foot in the snow.

When the sun sets, everything around starts to glow - the sky, the buildings, and even the people.

That's when I sit on one of the many benches, sip my coffee, and watch the world go by.

There's something magical about watching the lights from the skyway reflecting off the building glass and creating a quiet, serene ambiance amidst the city's hustle and bustle.

Whether you are a shopaholic, a foodie, or someone who loves watching the world go by, Nicollet Mall has something to offer everyone.

Nicollet Mall is a gem destination.

Grab Fresh Finds at the Minneapolis Farmers Market

Fresh produce at Minneapolis Farmers Market
Jessica Brouillette / Shutterstock.com

Every weekend, I go to one of the city's hidden gems, the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

This century-old establishment has become a vital part of my routine, an absolute treasure trove of fresh dairy produce, vibrant plants, and beautiful flowers hailing from nearby farms.

My mornings at the market are filled with the hustle and bustle of vendors selling various goods.

This market has a little bit of everything from vegetables, flowers, food, clothing, and more.

I've even had the chance to enjoy live music performances that added a dash of joy to the shopping experience.

What truly sets the Minneapolis Farmers Market apart for me is the sheer quality of the products.

The produce is not only comparable in price to what you'd find in grocery stores but often cheaper and of far superior quality.

Weekends at the market are particularly electrifying, with even more vendors showcasing their goods.

My weekends would be incomplete without a trip to the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

It's a community of local farmers and artisans that deserve our support.

Discover the Joys of Bethune Park

Scenic sunset over Bethune Park
Nature's Charm / Shutterstock.com

One beautiful day, I stumbled upon a gem hidden in the city's heart. It was none other than Bethune Park.

My discovery was purely accidental, yet it was one of the best things that happened to me.

The first time I took my kids to Bethune Park's massive playing field was when they were enrolled in The Sanneh Foundation soccer camp.

The sheer size of it left them in absolute awe.

A delightful sight to behold, the park was bustling with children having the time of their lives engaged in old-fashioned outdoor fun.

The laughter and innocent revelry in the air were infectious.

It was heartwarming to see them all, including my own, relishing the simple joys of life away from the screens.

The park also has a kid-sized pool, perfect for the little swimmers.

It provides a safe environment for children to enjoy.

The park's playground is a haven for the older children, but I think the toddlers' section could do with a few more exciting upgrades.

But even then, there is no denying the thrill that lights up the young ones' faces as they climb, swing, and slide.

The highlight of our park visits was the exhilarating Juneteenth event that was held there.

It was a fantastic experience, a testament to community spirit, and fun for the entire family.

Bethune Park has become our go-to spot for outdoor fun.

Its friendly atmosphere, ample space, and engaging activities provide the perfect setting for family outings.

Final Thoughts

Minneapolis is a treasure trove of free activities that cater to all ages and interests.

I highly recommend taking advantage of these free activities, as they genuinely offer a chance to immerse yourself in Minneapolis's culture and beauty.

What are you waiting for? Visit us today!

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