Minneapolis: guide to the city of lakes in Minnesota

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Joel Fulleda
@joelfulleda
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Despite the location a little off the main tourist routes Minneapolis has a lot to offer to those who decide to organize an itinerary in the American mid west. In this city, which develops along the course of the Mississippi River, nature is the host with its numerous lakes (after all, it is not surprisingly nicknamed the City of Lakes) and the modern and functional buildings that house museums, theaters and shopping centers.

It is frequently cited in combination with St.Paul (state capital) less than twenty kilometers to the east. These two realities together become the "twin cities", a name given to two urban centers that are very close and develop towards each other over time (see also Dallas-Ft.Worth in Texas and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina to name a couple).



Despite the harsh winter climate, the city center is always very active thanks to the eighteen kilometers of covered and elevated pedestrian connections (Skyway System) that lead inside the buildings where there are various types of activities and shops. Among other things, this system, in addition to limiting the inconvenience deriving from certain weather conditions, significantly reduces pedestrian traffic from the streets of the city.

What to see in Minneapolis

Coming from Chicago, along the I-94, we begin to see the skyline already in the distance with the most varied forms of buildings: circular, parallelepiped, stepped. As we are about to enter downtown, the brick building of the Foshay Tower (821 Marquette Ave.), although not among the tallest, it stands alone and is recognizable as its name is engraved in large characters on the facade. It's on our must see list so we decide this is our first stop.

Today the tower belongs to a hotel chain that has converted it into a luxury hotel. The ticket for theobservation balcony it is purchased at the reception on the ground floor in a very pleasant environment that has not affected the original charm. You go up to the 30th floor with the art deco elevator. At the top you can go around the tower and in the corners of the balcony there are telescopes to look into the distance.



The photos from above are always suggestive and even if there is no New York skyline here, it is worth going up because the view is still pleasant and the building we are in is mirrored in the one opposite. (Adults $ 10, Children 4-14 years $ 6). At night, suggestive rays of light emanate from the top of the building.

The Downtown

Il downtown it is divided into two areas: downtown west with skyscrapers, Nicollet Mall, department stores and Downtown East which includes the historic district of the mills, US Bank Stadium plus a mix of residential and commercial buildings. The official downtown division runs along Portland Avenue, Fifth Street South, and Fifth Avenue.

After a decline due to the decentralization of shopping centers in the suburbs, the city has regained altitude with the construction of the aforementioned Skyway System (connecting 80 blocks). Then the closure to traffic of a part of Nicollet Avenue (a commercial area in downtown Minneapolis since the beginning of the twentieth century) gave rise to a "promenade" accessible only to buses, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians. This project then became Nicollet Mall (between Washington Ave. and 13th St.S.), the beating heart of the city with a wide choice of shops and restaurants, many of which also have tables and chairs outside.

This part of Minneapolis is definitely worth visiting. The sparkling IDS Center Tower (80 S. 8th St.) with reflective glass windows, it is currently the tallest building in the city at 241 meters. A great way to get off to a good start in exploring the area is by going to the Visitor Information (505 Nicollet Mall Suite 100), right in front of the subway (blue line). The information center is open from May to October from Monday from 9 to 16, Saturday from 9 to 17 and Sunday from 9 to 15. From November to April from Monday to Friday from 9 to 16, Saturday from 9 to 17 and closed on Sunday .



The imposing City Hall (350 S. 5th St.) is a beautiful historic building. Outside are striking the clock tower and green roofs that bring to mind buildings in eastern Canada, in Ottawa and Quebec City for example. The interior is equally fascinating: in the atrium the marble staircase is majestic, the ceilings are charming and the stained glass windows have enchanting colors. We admire the huge statue called “Father of the Waters” carved with Carrara marble and dedicated to the Mississippi River. Definitely worth a visit during its opening hours from 8 to 16:30.

La Basilica of Saint Mary (88 17th N. St.) is the first designated basilica in the United States. For its beautiful architecture this is a must in downtown Minneapolis. It is worth visiting for the painted ceilings, stained glass windows, marble, statues, canopy and altar. You can enjoy an organ concert and listen to the choir of 90 voices performing during Sunday mass at 9.30am and on holidays such as Christmas and Easter. It is open from Monday to Friday 6.30am - 17pm, Saturday 8am - 18.30pm and Sunday 6.30am - 19.30pm.

The Riverfront area

Further west, towards the Mississippi, appreciate the area of ​​the Riverfront from Stone Arch Bridge (117 Portland Ave.) is definitely a good idea. The location is ideal and from there you can walk on both banks of the river, which leads to appreciate green areas, the river and the Mill District with many points of interest also in the immediate surroundings: museums, churches, shops. , restaurants and the St.Anthony Falls north of downtown.


Not far away, the Mill City Museum (704 S. 2nd St.) is particular for its structure and because it is historically linked to the flour industry, which was very important in the first years of the city's life. Of the many mills once active along the banks of the river many are now just remains that we can see at Mill Ruins Park (from which the Stone Arch Bridge starts), others have been converted, for example, into homes or, as in this case, into a museum.


We notice an old railway wagon used for the transport of flour, then we enter a room where a pleasant twenty-minute film is projected that tells the history of the city. The courtyard is the area where high-level concerts and shows are organized, then, in the museum itself, the history of the mill is presented and there are machinery, models, films and advertising signs.

In one corner there is also the baking lab where the bread is prepared and tasted. But the most interesting thing is the “Flour Tower Multimedia Show” which works like this: you sit in a large elevator that goes up to the roof stopping at each floor and the story of the mill is told through the 8 levels. On the top floor you can see up close the huge machinery used for the production of flour and the impressive silos for storing grain (even better visible from the river).

This part can be visited only with a museum guide who also accompanies the rooftop deck, the roof from which you have a beautiful view of the Mississippi, the Stone Arch Bridge, the waterfall and the courtyard below, where shortly after you return with a panoramic lift. . In summer on Wednesday afternoons the visit costs half and the opening is from 16 to 21 for the shows inside the courtyard and it is very nice to be here at sunset. The museum is open from 10 to 17, except on Mondays but on show days the opening can be extended. Adults $ 12, ages 65 and over, $ 12 and 5-17 $ 6.

The bottom of the road, the visual impact with the Guthrie Theater (818 S. 2nd St.) is remarkable, The particular architecture of the large building attracts visitors and is a prelude to some surprises; in fact it is so because the panoramic terrace that juts out over 50 meters (Endless Bridge) offers a wonderful view of the Mississippi River and the city. The shows and musicals that are offered throughout the year in the three halls have very different genres and are therefore of interest to everyone.

Since there is no free parking, you need to look for a space in the garage across the street at a cost of about $ 9 (100 Portland Ave.) while at 1118 S. 8th St. (just over 10 minutes on foot) it is currently free . From our point of view, one of the nice things about this theater is to attend the post play discussion, an in-depth discussion with the protagonists after the evening.  

The parks of the city

Il Minnehaha Park (4801 S. Minnehaha Dr.) is a park that hosts the homonymous waterfalls and part of the course of the stream also with the same name. Surely one of the most beautiful city parks that we reach from the center with the Blue Line subway. On foot we reach the main attraction, the Minnehaha Falls waterfall undoubtedly endowed with charm in its sixteen meters of fall, a quality that in winter is appreciated in another form when the water solidifies and becomes ice.

They also tell us that over the years the fall has shifted, and not by a few meters. The water flows into the Minnehaha Creek, a stream that then reaches the Mississippi River. The park is home to picnic areas, a pavilion for musical moments, a restaurant, a bike rental point and the “Hiawatha and Minnehaha” statue depicting two Native Americans in memory of the Native Americans who lived in the area.

Il Uptown neighborhood, southwest of the heart of Minneapolis, is centered around the Chain of Lakes with its scenic network of walking and cycling paths. It is a very popular destination that develops along the coasts of Brownie, Cedar, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska (also known as Lake Calhoun) and Harriet lakes. Along the path that runs alongside parks and green areas, you can play sports, have picnics, use services and play areas.

If you have time available, it is really worth it and the parking areas open early in the morning, generally at 6 and close late (between 22 and 24 depending on the location). And if there is no time for a full tour of the Chain of Lakes, the Lake of the Isles (2500 Lake of the Isles Parkway E.) is still a great destination: fishing pier, trails for walking, canoeing and ice skating in winter.

The museums of the city

Il Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (333 E. River Pkwy) hosts works of contemporary art, mainly paintings but also large objects that we certainly cannot define as knick-knacks. The thing that strikes beyond the appreciation of the works is the bright color of the works on the walls. The fact that it is a museum of modern art is evident from the outside which speaks for itself, probably the most avant-garde thing in the complex and one wonders what the architect had in mind when he designed it.

The exhibition is not very large but it is certainly of interest to those who appreciate the contemporary genre. Admission is free but parking under the garage costs $ 3 per hour, for a maximum of $ 12, but after 17pm it costs only $ 1 per hour, so you can consider visiting on a Wednesday. Open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10-17, Wednesday 10-20, Saturday and Sunday 11-17.

Al Minneapolis Institute of Art – MIA (2400 3rd Ave. S.) you could spend hours as this impressive building is huge and houses more than 80.000 works. It is advisable to go at 10 in the morning as soon as it opens as it gets crowded quickly. Among the various collections we point out Greek and Roman sculptures, Italian and Dutch Renaissance painting, Asian art, but also works by American artists.

A gallery is dedicated to furniture from the Prairie School for which we needed the explanation of an expert. They tell us that it is an architectural style typical mainly of the mid-west developed between the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 10th century characterized by sober elements with horizontal lines and solid materials. Admission to the museum is free but donations are accepted. The only cost would be to rent the headset for $ 17 if you want to take advantage of the audio support. It is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday 10-21, Thursday, Friday 11-17, Sunday XNUMX-XNUMX.)

Visit The Museum of Russian Art (5500 Stevens Ave.) was a very pleasant experience. The museum is housed in a former church with a very pleasant exterior which hosts periodic exhibitions of Russian art. The works inserted in the various niches of the walls find a suggestive location, the ceilings are with wooden beams and the context is harmonious. It is the only museum entirely of Russian art in North America. There is also a gift shop which may be worth visiting. It is open from Monday to Friday 10-17, Saturday 10-16 and Sunday 13-17. Adults $ 10, over 65 $ 8, over 13 $ 5.

Il Walker Art Center (725 Vineland Pl.) Is a 360 ° center that deals with a wide range of American and European twentieth century art forms, educational activities related to creativity and design: permanent and rotating exhibitions, visual arts, theater and media are protagonists in this center, as well as dance and music performances.

In reality the visit starts from the outside Sculpture Garden, a walk in the green among modern and unique works of art, real works of fantasy, starting with Spoonbridge and Cherry, a giant tea spoon with an equally large cherry. Just to give an idea, the total dimensions are 15.5 meters x 8.8 x 4. Undoubtedly spectacular and despite everything, cute. Besides, who doesn't want to see a big blue cock? Honestly, for those who are not a fan of modern art, the sculpture garden is at least a fun experience.

Inside the Walker we range between the various galleries and here too the inspiration flows at the highest levels and in many forms: paintings, sculptures and rooms with entire very particular settings. There is something for everyone and, of its kind, it deserves to be seen. It is open Tuesday and Wednesday 10-17, Thursday 11-21, Friday and Saturday 11-18, Sunday 11-17; the first Saturday of the month the galleries are free. Adults $ 15, $ 13 from 62, students from 19 $ 10.

THEAmerican Swedish Institute (2600 Park Ave.) was created to keep alive the memory of the contribution that Americans of Swedish descent have made to the history and culture of Minnesota. In a historic mansion, a splendid mansion from 1907, you will learn about Swedish objects such as stoves, textiles, sculptures and other things brought here by immigrants. Really nice. You can dine very well in the adjoining cafeteria while also trying Swedish specialties. It is open Tuesday and Thursday to Saturday 10 am-17pm, Wednesday 10 am-20pm, Sunday 12-17pm. Adults $ 10, ages 62 and $ 7, ages 6 to 18 $ 5. 

We conclude with the Wells Fargo History Museum (90 S. 7th St. Skyway Level), a small museum inside a real operational bank branch. It deals with the history of this historic institution, the Wells Fargo, and when you are here it is automatic to think of the transport of values ​​in the times of the Far West and of the carriages of the same name, above all because there is one in the hall. The building itself is interesting for its art deco design. It is open for free from Monday to Friday 10 am-17pm.

The sport in Minneapolis

The city of Minneapolis is home to three teams competing in the country's major professional leagues. As for the NFL, the city hosts the games of Minnesota Vikings, the team supported by the character of Marshall Eriksen in the popular series How I Met Your Mother, for which Prince wrote the anthem "Purple and Gold". They play their games in the recently built futuristic facility US Bank Stadium. THE Minnesota Timberwolves they are the NBA franchise of the city that from 1995 to 2007 they had in Kevin Garnett one of the brightest stars to tread the parquet of the Target Center of Minneapolis. We conclude with a mention for the Minnesota Twins, the local baseball team that plays the games at Target Field.

Find tickets for Vikings, Timberwolves and Twins

Shopping tips

Stroll along Nicolett Mall, accessing the commercial areas via the Skyways and shopping in that context is a great experience Shopping but we do not limit ourselves to this as there is to visit the largest indoor center in all of the United States, the Mall of America which is located a little further south in the city of Bloomington (60 E. Broadway) 16 miles from Minneapolis.

The complex hosts more than 500 shops, boutiques and commercial activities, 400 events a year, many entertainment areas for everyone including a spectacular mirror maze, golf and mini-golf, an amusement park, an aquarium and a multiplex cinema. It is open from Monday to Friday 10-21.30, Saturday 9.30-21.30 and Sunday 11-19.

 Minneapolis events

There are several taking place in the city Events, some of which are noteworthy. The Stone Arch Festival of the Arts takes place for free on Father's Day weekend, with art, music, cars and entertainment in the Riverfront neighborhood. Also The city of Lakes Tri-Loppet takes place at the end of June when athletes compete in three disciplines: kayaking, running and biking around Minneapolis, the summer answer to the race, cross-country cross-country ski race that takes place in February.

La Twin Cities Marathon takes place on the first Sunday in October: more than 10.000 marathoners follow the route from the Metrodome stadium (900 S. 5th St.) in downtown Minneapolis to the State Capitol (75 Martin Luthern King Jr. Blvd.) in downtown St. Paul, with half a million spectators cheering them on. There Holidazzle Parade at Loring Park (1382 Willow St.) begins Thanksgiving weekend (November) and continues until before Christmas, again on weekends. The annual parade with millions of illuminated floats and the presence of artists in downtown Minneapolis is a favorite moment. It is a free event.

Where to eat

On the characteristic SE Main Street with bars and outdoor tables, we point out the quiet at number 125 Aster Coffee overlooking the Mississippi River and overlooking the city. The venue offers good food at medium prices and a delicious happy hour from Monday to Friday in a softly lit environment. Try the gnocchi with vegetables and pecorino cheese, the salmon with eggs and vegetables, the sandwich with chicken, tomato, lettuce, onions and sauces. Finish the meal with a delicious vanilla ice cream or other tasty desserts. It is also possible to eat on the patio of the restaurant. On weekends, brunch is accompanied by good jazz music.

Al Wilde Coffee & Spiritsgood pizzas, sandwiches, omelettes and dishes such as sirloin steak with roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts are served in a beautiful Victorian room. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays. A curiosity: they told us that the name of the place refers to the writer Oscar Wilde even if we have not investigated the motivation.

For a memorable meal The Bachelor Farmer (50 N 2nd Ave.) is a smart-casual option to try. The restaurant is in a historic brick and wood warehouse in the North Loop area where the Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District is located. The menu features fresh, simple foods that hark back to the traditions of Minnesota and the surrounding northern regions. The products are bought locally by the farmers and this is a pleasure.

The Old Spaghetti Factory (233 Park Ave.) is a great choice to enjoy good dishes for lunch and dinner, especially pasta. Some evenings, dinner is attempted to solve a mysterious crime, all for $ 60. We recommend visiting the site for show schedules. Inside the restaurant you can also eat inside a tram set up as a restaurant.

Il Betty Danger’s Country Hills (2501 Marshall St. NE) is a location that mirrors the dream of the foundress who was mocked in her childhood in an aristocratic club because of her simple clothes. Following the bitterness for that episode, Betty firmly decided to create a country club for everyone and to do this she chose a particular place with a lake, a river, and it is not just a restaurant but also a park entertainment. The food is excellent with imaginative dishes of meat, fish, vegetables and also many proposals of Mexican cuisine; this tex-mex restaurant is a must try. It is located in the Village of Palm Springsland, northeast of the city in the Arts District.

Also worth trying Izzy‘s ice Cream (1100 S. 2nd St.), an institution in the city. This family-run ice cream parlor passionately makes artisan ice creams and for this it uses eggs, milk and butter from local farms. A branch is also located in nearby St. Paul (2034 Marshall Ave.).

Where to sleep in Minneapolis

The Normandy Inn & Suites

Many hotels they are located in the central area of ​​downtown where there are several points of interest but it is quite difficult to find hotels in this location that do not charge (even enough) for parking.

For those who like to stay in the center we recommend theHampton Inn & Suites Downtown (19 N. 8th St.) connected via skyway (elevated pedestrian bridge) to major city attractions. In its vicinity we point out, for example, the Nicolett Mall, some universities and the art and business district. The hotel offers breakfast, has a business center, meeting room, fitness room, laundry service, and a $ 20 parking fee. Pets are not allowed in the structure. The classic-style rooms and spacious suites have free wi-fi and some have city views.

Always from the same chain, Hampton Inn & Suites Minnealpos University Area (2812 University Ave.) is located in an excellent position east of the Mississippi River, it is not in the center but the first points of interest are a few kilometers away, for example the American Swedish Institute is just over 4 kilometers away. Buffet breakfast and parking are included in the rate. The comfortable and clean rooms and suites offer free wi-fi. Pets are allowed with a $ 25 deposit.

Best Western Plus The Normandy Inn & Suites (405 South 8th St.) is a refined hotel, with well-kept details but affordable, it is located in the downtown and has the advantage of charging only $ 10 for parking. The spacious rooms are equipped with a sitting area and coffee maker; the property has an indoor swimming pool, a fitness center and a sauna area.

Centrally located, within walking distance of St. Mary's Basilica, the Walker Art Center and the Convention Center you will find the 300 Clifton B&B (300 Clifton Ave.) which combines the Victorian Queen Anne style with the Georgian revival style. Many furnishings date back to 1906 and each room has its own furniture. In the structure there is a patio and a lush garden, parking and wi-fi are free.

Search for accommodation in Minneapolis

The city can be reached from some European cities such as Paris and Amsterdam via theairport Minneapolis-St. Paul International, terminal T1 Lindbergh (4300 Glumack Dr. St.Paul) o Terminal 2 Humphrey (7150 Humphrey Dr. Minneapolis) oppure dall’Chicago International Airport (about 6 hours from the destination - 10000 W O'Hare Ave.) with direct flights from Europe. If you are looking for a cheap flight you can read our guide on low cost flights to the USA.

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