The Twin Cities are made up of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota and are one of my favorite places in the entire country! But I didn’t think that before I lived here. Before I moved to Minnesota I always thought it was one of those cold, boring midwest states. Amirite?
If you’re like me and think the same way, I’m here to show you a little taste of what the Twin Cities has to offer!
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Written by: Stephanie
Minneapolis sculpture garden
725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis / 612-375-7600
The Minneapolis sculpture garden is one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities! Before I moved to Minnesota I came to visit my family a couple times and somehow always found myself here. If you’re up visiting the area and wanting to find some free things to do in Minneapolis, this is a great start.
A classic Minnesota icon was always the spoon and cherry sculpture called the Spoonbridge and Cherry which was the very first sculpture in the garden back in 1988. It is a collaboration piece between Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen. The bowl of the spoon is thought to resemble a Viking ship because…skol!
However, the garden recently underwent a HUGE renovation and now there is a
large enormous blue rooster that is rising in ranks as a Minneapolis icon. This 25-foot rooster is the work of Katharina Fritsch and it. is. awesome.
Related: The best donuts in the Twin Cities!
Other fun sculptures include-
This cool tornado face sculpture. It’s really called the Level Head, but I like tornado face better. If you walk all around this sculpture you can see various facial profiles, which is pretty cool.
Or this really cool gigantic bronze man that is called Hephaestus who portrays the Greek god of fire.
I think this windchime tree is my very favorite art installation in the entire park. Since the garden has reopened I’ve been in both the summer and winter time and you can only view this in the summer. Which makes sense, I guess, but how cool would it be to see the frozen white tundra that is Minnesota 7 months out of the year and hear the windchimes?
When the wind really gets to whipping you can hear this from pretty far away and it’s so pretty. I’ve already let Pete know that this will be happening when we have a yard. Maybe not 672 windchimes, but definitely like five or seventeen.
The garden sits on a huge piece of land, has more than 40 works of art, and is located next to the Walker Art Center. There is some street parking around, but it’s a lot of fun if you take your bike and ride around the area. Obviously, you can’t ride your bike in the garden, but the Walker is super close to Loring Park, which is a nice ride. And, if you’re like me and love to gawk at the super expensive homes then be prepared to feast your eyes on streets upon streets of them.
The sculpture garden is free admission and is open from 6 am to midnight, every day of the year. If you’re down in this area and looking for other things to do, the very pretty St Mary’s Basilica is nearby.
Great food options near the sculpture garden include-
1610 Harmon Place / 612-904-1163
If you’re looking for cool restaurants in Minneapolis definitely check out 4 Bells. Dubbed as Minnesota’s award-winning seafood house, 4 Bells is a great place to have dinner after exploring the Walker and Loring Park. When Pete and I were first dating we went on a dinner date here and were totally blown away by the food. He’d been before as he lived just right down the street, but I never had and he couldn’t wait to order a bunch of stuff for me to try.
The menu includes all sorts of things from oysters, lobster, shrimp, snapper ceviche, crab, calamari, octopus, and a super fun shellfish tower to name a few things! Also, if you’re not a fan of seafood (I’m sorry) don’t count 4 Bells out! Their menu includes a farm section with ribeye, pork, chicken, and lamb.
This was also the very first place I ever had tartare! They do an amazinggggg steak tartare that includes pickled Thai chili, smoked olives, egg, and a baguette. If you’ve never had tartare before I highly recommend trying it here. You’ll be hooked fo life.
4 Bells is open early for Sunday brunch from 10 am – 2 pm, reopening for dinner at 4. The rest of the week they are open from 4 pm to 10 pm, except Friday and Saturday when they close up at 11 pm. They are located about 0.5 miles away from the sculpture garden. If you choose to drive over, there is valet parking as well as ample street parking and a ramp at the MCTC college, both of which are free on the weekends.
1007 W Franklin Ave / 612-870-0065
Once you’ve had your fill of seafood, head over to one of our other favorite places – Sebastian Joe’s ice cream shop. Sebastian Joe’s is about a mile from 4 Bells. They’re open nice and early at 7 am daily, closing at 11 pm during the week and midnight on the weekends.
Some of the flavors are seasonal, but you can usually always find oreo, salted caramel, vanilla, raspberry chocolate chip (my favorite!), grapefruit, pina colada, and chocolate – plus tons more!
818 S 2nd Street / 612-377-2224
The Guthrie Theater is another classic stop on the newbies tour and if you’re looking for one of the top things to do in Minneapolis, this is definitely it. The shows are always wonderful so if you have time, you should catch one – but if not, the other draw to the theater is the endless bridge and the amber room.
Once you arrive at the Guthrie, take the insanely long escalator up to the endless bridge. It is located about 50 feet in the air and extends nearly 200 feet off the side of the building! :-O Though, as you can imagine, being out there gives an incredible panoramic view of the city. As you make your way out, stop and peek out the mirror-lined windows showcasing various Minneapolis signs and buildings.
After you’ve ogled all the views, head back inside and take the elevators up to the 9th floor to see the amber room. The first few times I went to the Guthrie I missed this, but one of our friends recently told us about it. The creator of the amber room wanted to have a space that gave Minnesotans a year-round optimistic view of the city. Winters can be really tough and drag on for all of eternity so that’s a really neat concept.
The Guthrie is located right on the banks of the Mississippi River. There is ample parking in the area and if you prefer a garage the Riverfront ramp is right across the street from the Guthrie. Otherwise, find a street spot, just be absolutely sure you read the meters and pay appropriately if not there is a 100% chance you’ll be ticketed.
Great food options around the Guthrie include-
Spoon and Stable
211 N 1st St / 612-224-9850
If you’re at the Guthrie for a show and want a real fancy dinner, head to Spoon & Stable for the perfect way to end a date night or other celebratory evening. I took Pete here for his birthday last year and it was phenomenal.
Spoon & Stable is open from 5 pm – 10 pm on Monday – Thursday, and 5 pm – 10:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. The bar is open from 4 pm-midnight during the week, and 1 am on the weekends. Or you can hit them up for Sunday brunch from 10 am – 2 pm, dinner from 5 pm – 10 pm, or the bar from 5 pm until midnight.
If you plan on going to Spoon & Stable on the weekends you definitely need a reservation, I’m not sure how fast mid-week books up though. Or how busy the bar gets.
719 S 2nd Street / 612-465-8303
Kindee is one of my favorite Thai restaurants in town and it’s basically right around the corner from the Guthrie.
You’ll find traditional Thai food with a modern and inventive take. Some of my favorite things include the fried and fresh spring rolls, cranberry cream cheese wontons, pork spareribs, Tom Kha soup, pineapple fried rice, stir-fry, and chicken pad thai. Seriously though, you can’t go wrong – everything I’ve ever had has been amazing.
Kindee’s hours are a bit varied – Monday – Thursday they are open from 11 am – 9 pm, Friday from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Saturday from 11 am – 10:30 pm, and Sunday from 3 pm – 9 pm. Also, like the Guthrie, you’ll find lots of street parking around the area.
1100 S 2nd Street / 612-206-3356
And for dessert, you’ll be super close to Izzy’s ice cream shop which is another Minneapolis favorite! The most adorable thing about Izzy’s is what is known as the “Izzy scoop” which is a baby size scoop of another ice cream on your main flavor of ice cream.
Flavors include the typical things and other fun stuff like passion fruit sorbet, Summit oatmeal stout (Summit is a brewery here in St Paul), candy, peppermint oreo, raspberry little Italy, mystery, and strawberry cheesecake to name a few. You can also get ice cream lollipops, sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, malts, and ice cream cakes for all your sweet tooth needs.
Izzy’s is open Sunday – Thursday from 1 pm – 10 pm, and Friday – Saturday from 1 pm – 10:30 pm.
Stone arch bridge
100 Portland Ave
The stone arch bridge is a classic Minnesota icon and is easy to hit up while you’re near the Guthrie. This bridge is super cool because it is a former railroad bridge and is the only stone bridge on the entire length of the Mississippi River. It crosses the river at St Anthony Falls which are viewable from the bridge. There are two large bicycle lanes flanked by large pedestrian-only lanes and you’ll see people wandering around out here year round. If you’re visiting in the winter do keep in mind the water makes it a super chilly walk.
If you’re doing both the Guthrie and the bridge you can stay parked near the Guthrie and walk over. Or park near the bridge and walk to the Guthrie – it’s all very close. If it is cold, I would maybe move the car with you. There is a paid parking lot for like a dollar an hour.
No visit to the Twin Cities or anywhere in Minnesota would be complete without spending at least some time on or at one of our lakes. Afterall, we’re known to be the land of 10,000 lakes!
In the summer you’ll find people walking, running, cycling, pushing strollers, playing volleyball, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating – you name it. Our warm days are so limited that we spend nearly all of them at the lakes. But, if you’re visiting in the winter, don’t count out the lakes. The winter brings ice skating, ice fishing, snowmobiling etc.
If you head up north, you may even get lucky enough to spot a loon!
One of my favorite lakes is located in the Uptown neighborhood and is actually the largest lake in Minneapolis. It was previously known as Lake Calhoun but its name has recently been changed to Bde Maka Ska. We’ve said we are bringing all of our visitors here to have them pronounce the name.
But shhhh….I’ll let you in on it –
Bde = bidet
Maka = macaw – make the w a bit silent though or say “my car” with a Boston accent
Ska = sssska
With that, you’ll have a leg up on most Minnesotans, too.
Lake Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska is part of what is known as the chain of lakes so if you’re on a bike or kayaking you can head through little tunnels and pathways to get out on some of the other lakes, like Cedar Lake. Another pretty lake nearby is Lake Harriet, which is fun because they have a bandshell so check out the performances here and try to catch one – they’re pretty neat!
Places to eat around the chain of lakes-
Lake and Irving
1513 West Lake St / 612-354-2453
Lake and Irving is like the classic, all around American bar sort of food, but has this really delicious twist! Pete and I went here for after dinner drinks on our second date, so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
The drink list is enormous and the food options are huge – ahi bombs, calamari, Brussel sprouts, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, salads etc. Pete’s favorite is the buttermilk chicken sandwich which includes bacon, pepper jack, sriracha aioli, and comes on a sourdough bun. I like the luxe burger which has truffle and foie gras butter. The saffron salmon salad is really good too.
They are open Monday – Friday from 11 am to close and the weekends from 9 am to close. I don’t know what “close” means, but we’ve gone for late dinners and drinks, maybe around 10 – 11 pm? The kitchen closes about an hour before the bar though.
2112 Hennepin Avenue / 612-341-2112
If you’re in the mood for breakfast/brunch, which, who is ever NOT in the mood for brunch? The Lowry is a great hangout spot.
Breakfast specialties include eggs benedict, hash, chilaquiles, biscuits and gravy, avocado crab toast, waffles, pancakes, french toast etc. They also serve lunch and dinner foods, but I’ve never been for those meals. Their gimmick is “burgers, whiskey, oysters, and eggs” and I’m totally fine with that.
The Lowry is open daily from 6:30 am – 2 am.
Donuts or doughnuts?
If you’re looking to bake a food baby and you should be. Minneapolis and St Paul have such great food and are home to oodles of phenomenal bakeries.
I recently made it my mission to try several (seven!) doughnut shops in town. Some of my favorites include Glam Doll, Cardigan, and Angel Food, but you can read the whole comprehensive guide here!
No joke, one of my favorite things about living in Minneapolis is access to all the distilleries and breweries! The two biggest distilleries are my beloved Tattersall and Norseman. There are several others like – Twin Spirits, Du Nord, Copperwing etc.
Tattersall is located in an old industrial building in the uber-hip area known as Northeast. Picture wood, metal, glass, comfy leather couches, a circular bar, and a large family style high top table. There are often food trucks outside and we’ve had everything from pizza, sandwiches, bbq, fried chicken, and Jamaican.
My absolute favorite drink is the tea time, but everything I’ve ever had from there has been amazing.
Tattersall is located at 1620 Central Ave NE Suite 150 in Minneapolis. Tattersall is open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm, Friday from 4 pm to midnight, Saturday from 12 pm to midnight, and Sunday from 2 pm to 9 pm. You must be 21 to enter after 5 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.
In the same vein as distilleries, the Twin Cities has some incredible breweries, too! Our favorite breweries are Dangerous Man, Indeed, and Insight. Fun fact: Pete and I’s first date was at Dangerous Man 🙂
Dangerous Man is a microbrewery located in the cool neighborhood of Northeast. Several beers are always on tap – some of our favorites are the peanut butter porter, chocolate milk stout, and the cream ale. We’ve had a coconut one before that was just phenomenal. Pete also says that he’s heard of people mixing the peanut butter porter and chocolate milk stout, kind of 50/50 to create a makeshift peanut butter cup.
DM also had food trucks that rotate through, but we’ve never eaten anything from them.
The brewery is located at 1300 2nd St NE, Minneapolis. DM is open on Tuesday – Thursday from 4 pm – 10 pm, Friday from 3 pm to midnight, Saturday 12 – midnight, Sunday 12 – 8 pm, they are closed on Monday. Attached to the taproom is a small growler and apparel shop that is open from Thursday – Sunday. Just as an FYI, their taproom is pretty small so don’t try to bring in super large groups – they don’t really like that.
If you aren’t feeling the food truck, great food options in the area include-
165 13th Ave NE / 612-345-5719
Literally right around the corner from DM is the glorious Young Joni. We were in the dark until very recently about this place and that makes me so sad for my pizza eating previous self. Young Joni is more than just a pizza shop though. They have this cool, modern, but traditional feel to the space and the menu.
You’ll find everything is pretty much cooked by wood fire and is meant to be shared and passed around the table. And maybe a bit unexpectedly for a “pizza shop,” you’ll find many dishes inspired by other cultures – we had these Thai sausage lettuce wraps that Pete swears taste just like they do in Thailand.
They have a great cocktail, wine, and beer list, too. For cocktails, I’ve tried the fresh fruit caipirinha which is made from cachaca, fruit, and limes. The cachaca is made from fermented sugar cane juice. The drink isn’t overly sweet though, the lime helps balance the flavors. This drink is SO good!
For pizzas, we have tried the La Parisienne, Basque, Amatriciana, and the Pepe. The La Parisienne has prosciutto, gruyere, ricotta, brown butter, caramelized onion, arugula, and mustard seed. The Basque includes Spanish chorizo, mozzarella, goat cheese, piquillo pepper, red onion, olives, and lemon.
Amatriciana has Italian red sauce, guanciale and pancetta, pecorino, cream, garlic, red onion, chili flakes, and black pepper. And the pepe was the most shockingly delicious pizza. Guess what it has on it? CLAMS! Say whattttt? The pepe has fresh clams, Parmigiano Reggiano, mozzarella, creme fraiche, garlic, shallot, parsley, chili flakes, and lemon.
This is the Amatriciana and
The first time we went we sat up at the bar, which was REALLY cool. It’s sort of like a free chef’s table as the bar is right in front of the ovens. Watch them prep side dishes, shove things in the oven, light stuff on fire etc. I would honestly just keep sitting at the bar if I had the choice.
1 Twins Way
No summer visit is complete without visiting the beautiful Target Field. It is home to the Minnesota Twins and seems like there are always baseball games going on. But even if you don’t like baseball a lot of summer concerts and other stuff happens out here.
I haven’t been to many baseball fields in the country so my judgment is limited, but I think Target field is really nice. It opened up a few years ago and has a very open, but intimate feel to it. You’ll find tons of seats on different levels, the cozy comfortable seats near the field, the big expensive box seats, lots of restaurants, and bars. Actually, you’ll find several of the places I listed earlier have stalls at the field. Some of my favorites include 4 Bells, Izzy’s, Red Cow, Pizza Luca…even Andrew Zimmerman has a stall out there!
So if you’re in town during the summer do come by and support the Twins, they usually need all the help they can get, haha.
4801 S Minnehaha Drive
Minnehaha Falls are part of Minnehaha Park which is a great place to hang out on the weekends or during the evenings! The park is located right in Minneapolis and features a 53-foot waterfall! There are a lot of nice walking trails and bike paths to explore the area. Also, Sea salt. Sea salt is a great little seafood shop that is open during the summer – they serve sandwiches, fish baskets, appetizers, good beer etc.
Minnehaha Park is open from 6 am to midnight.
Can Can Wonderland
755 Prior Ave N, St Paul / 651-925-2261
Prices for mini golf are very reasonable at $14 for ages 12 and up and $10 for kids age 12 and under, or those over 62 or all military.
Can Can Wonderland’s hours are a bit varied depending on the day of the week. They are closed Monday – Wednesday and reopen Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm. Friday hours are 11 am – 1 am, Saturday from 10 am – 1 am, and Sunday from 10 am – 8 pm. It is 21+ after 9 pm, so keep that in mind if your kids are going.
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Founder of MN explorer in September 2018. Minnesota is one of the best states in the United States, but I didn’t discover that until moving here. We have so much to do and I wanted a way to provide much-needed inspiration and information on the areas to visit, things to do, places to eat, etc for those who wish to visit.