20 Things to Do in the Twin Cities

2022 Riverfront Sunset in Minneapolis
Photo: Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis/Lane Pelovsky

The Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area strikes a great balance between city-cool and eco-friendly, and between history and hip. Discover the Twin Cities through attractions like the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Minnesota History Center, Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

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Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Spoonbridge and Cherry, Walker Art Center and a Minneapolis Park
Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis and Krivit Photography

The Walker Art Center was the first public art gallery in the upper Midwest when it was established in 1927. Today, housed in a larger center that opened in 2005, it's a world-class destination for viewing contemporary art and media. Next to the center is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, one of the largest urban sculpture parks in the country, which reopened in summer 2017 after a complete renovation.

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Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum
Jennifer Coleman

The world's largest mill—the Washburn A. Mill—ground enough flour in a day to make 12 million loaves of bread. The Minneapolis building now houses the Mill City Museum, which re-creates old-school flour production days with period equipment, railroad cars and a floor-by-floor tour in a giant freight elevator. The glass elevator rises from the rubble of Mill Ruins Park, with the iconic Gold Medal flour sign overhead.

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Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory_1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN

Take a trip through the tropics and seasonal flower shows at the conservatory, then see the giraffes, a sea lion show, gorillas and a polar bear at the zoo. This century-old attraction has drawn generations of visitors. It's technically free, but a $2 to $3 donation is appreciated.

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Twin Cities Fun

2022 Riverfront Sunset in Minneapolis
Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis/Lane Pelovsky

More than 18 million visitors find their way to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul every year, drawn by a place that touts outdoor fun as much as culture and cuisine. The area, once known for its flour mills and Mississippi River ports, has a knack for welcoming the novel, while also preserving the best of the past.

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Guthrie Theatre

Exterior of Guthrie Theater
Courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism

The Twin Cities theater scene owes much to the internationally acclaimed Guthrie Theater, founded in 1963. World-famous English director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, searching for a Midwest city in which to establish a professional theater, chose Minneapolis.

Sixty years later, the Guthrie is more successful than ever. Now in a home on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Guthrie offers classic works and a dash of contemporary plays. Four restaurants offer a variety of dining choices, and a variety of tours—including backstage, architectural and self-guided—round out the Guthrie experience.

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Minnehaha Falls Park

Minnehaha Falls Park
David Nevala

With 193 acres, limestone bluffs and river overlooks, this park—halfway between the two downtowns—ranks as one of the most popular local attractions. See a summer concert in the Minnehaha Falls Park bandstand, pack a picnic to enjoy while watching the falls, or take a relaxing walk or bike ride on the bike/pedestrian trail.

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Grand Avenue and Summit Avenue

Summit Avenue mansions
Summit Avenue. Courtesy of Visit Saint Paul

You can spend an afternoon along these parallel Saint Paul streets, gawking at mansions, grabbing lunch at one of the locally owned restaurants, shopping at boutiques or getting spa treatments. Grand Avenue runs for 30 blocks, with beautiful old homes and the campuses of Macalester College and University of St. Thomas adding to its charm. Favorite visitor destinations include the James J. Hill House, a 36,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion on Summit Avenue open for tours; and Cafe Latte, a cafeteria-style deli known for its three-layer chocolate turtle cake.

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State Capitol

Minnesota State Capitol Building exterior
Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

The architect of the U.S. Supreme Court, Cass Gilbert, designed this 1905 stunner in St. Paul. Among the State Capitol's impressive features: the quadriga, or golden horses, on the exterior of the building. Designed by Daniel Chester French (sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial) and Edward Potter, the figures are made of copper and covered with gold leaf. The interior recently reopened for guided or self-guided tours after a three-year, $310 million renovation.

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Sports Venues

Target Field. Photo courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

Families pack the downtown Minneapolis Target Field to cheer on the Minnesota Twins while savoring local fare like polish sausages from Kramarczuk's. Kids 14 and under get a thrill from running the bases after Sunday games. Meanwhile, the Vikings' U.S. Bank Stadium hums even on nongame days; catch a concert or take a behind-the-scenes tour. Hockey fans head to St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, where a foghorn blares each time the Minnesota Wild score a goal.

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Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art
Kevin J. Miyazaki

A stunning recent expansion showcases highlights of an enormous collection, with nearly 80,000 works that span over 5,000 years of human history. The renowned Asian art collection is a must-see, as well as the European exhibit and the Modern and Contemporary galleries. Pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, or join a public tour. Admission is free.

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Mall of America

Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America
Courtesy of Nickelodeon Universe, Mall of America

More than 40 million people visit the Mall of America, 10 miles south of Minneapolis, each year. The nation's biggest mall has more than 500 stores, dozens of restaurants, an indoor amusement park, an aquarium and a butterfly garden. A little planning before your outing will ensure you're not overwhelmed. Go to the mall's website for information on store locations, hours, parking, events and promotions—and a handy coupon book. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, and leave your coat in the car (the mall is 70 degrees year-round).

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Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota
Courtesy of Science Museum of Minnesota

On the St. Paul riverfront, engaging permanent exhibits mix with top traveling shows and breathtaking Omnitheater movies at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

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A statue of the television character Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kevin J. Miyazaki

An 11-block pedestrian thoroughfare in downtown Minneapolis balances big-city feel with hole-in-the-wall discoveries. Highlights of Nicollet (formerly known as Nicollet Mall) include The News Room restaurant, Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant and a seasonal farmer's market. The Mary Tyler Moore statue stands at the corner of Nicollet and 7th Street.

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Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway

Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway
David Nevala

Minneapolis has more parkland acres per capita than any other major city in the United States. Take a green tour on the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. This 50-mile route loops through tree-lined neighborhoods and past rivers, lakes, woods and waterfalls. Explore destinations such as the Chain of Lakes Park along the way.

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Weisman Art Museum

The Green Line light rail moves past the Weisman Art Museum on the East Bank on the University of Minnesota campus.
Kevin J. Miyazaki

Frank Gehry's gleaming silver building houses the University of Minnesota's collection of more than 20,000 objects, including numerous pieces of American modernism. Free admission.

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Minnesota State Fair

The Mighty Midway at the Minnesota State Fair
Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

Billed as "The Great Minnesota Get-Together," the Midwest's most popular fair draws more than 1.7 million people over 12 days in late August and early September. Fair foods like mac and cheese cupcakes, maple bacon funnel cakes and stuffed Italian meat loaf on a stick mean that it'll take a lot of walking among the livestock barns and carnival rides to burn off the calories!

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Minnesota History Center

Minnesota History Center St. Paul
Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

At this playful, kid-friendly museum, visitors can grab a hard hat and walk through a re-created Iron Range mine with loud hands-on drill simulators—or crank up a Model T, pretend to ride a streetcar, pull or push a pioneer's hand plow and sit in a tipi to hear a Native American artist talk about his culture. And those experiences are just in the Then Now Wow exhibit. Other permanent and temporary exhibits offer guests more hands-on fun and history.

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Minnesota Children's Museum

Kids in net playing at Minnesota Children’s Museum
Courtesy of Minnesota Children’s Museum

A $30 million expansion and renovation added 10 new exhibits—including The Scramble, a four-story climbing adventure—to the Minnesota Children's Museum. Water play and toddler-size ramps and stairs draw the littlest ones to the Sprouts area, while older kids build air-powered ping-pong ball launchers in Forces at Play.

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Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Ordway Center for Performing Arts
Courtesy of Visit Saint Paul

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Opera perform at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, which also presents touring Broadway productions.

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