A visitor's guide to Minneapolis: NCAA Women's Final Four edition
From the Mississippi to music to museums to markets, Minneapolis has something for everyone.
Whether you're visiting Minneapolis for the NCAA Women's Final Four, or you're a local looking to shake up your routine, we put together a list — with help from KARE 11 viewers — of events, activities and experiences to serve as a jumping-off point for exploration in the City of Lakes.
Read on for our list of recommendations.
If Minneapolis got one thing right, it's the city's sprawling parks system.
Minneapolis is home to almost 200 parks, with both regional and neighborhood networks. You can find the perfect park for just about any activity or interest, including off-leash dog parks, gardens, bird sanctuaries, recreation centers and more. If you can't decide on just one, check out the Grand Rounds Scene Byway — a 51-mile trail that provides links to several of them.
While not technically within Minneapolis city limits, the local favorite sits just a few minutes west of downtown in Golden Valley. Some of the park's many features include gardens, bike trails, a golf club and more.
If you want to barely leave the confines of the city, but need a dose of fresh air, head south to the Minnehaha neighborhood to Minnehaha Regional Park. There, you'll find a 53-foot waterfall, limestone bluffs, Mississippi River outlooks and walking paths through a maze of oak, elm, maple, basswood and cottonwood trees. Have pup in tow? Grab her favorite tennis ball and watch her run off-leash along the banks of the river.
Walk, run, bike, blade — whatever your mode of transportation, grab the whole family and head south of downtown to hit the trails and enjoy access to five(!) of the city's most popular lakes: Bde Maka Ska, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet, Brownie Lake and Cedar Lake. Each stop along the lakes offers the perfect environment for the active among us, while also catering to those more interested in picnics and people-watching.
Honorable mention: Boom Island Park, Mill Ruins Park
What some out-of-towners might not expect is that Minneapolis is home to a lively music scene where you can see a show just about every night of the week. Of course, stadium tours frequent the Target Center and Target Field, but the real heart of the city's musical character lays within its smaller, more intimate venues, that focus on giving a platform to local and national independent artists.
First made ultra-famous by Minneapolis-native Prince, First Avenue & 7th St. Entry continues to draw thousands of music lovers each year. The longest-running, independently owned and operated club also has several other venues operating under its umbrella, including the Fine Line — located right down the street — in addition to St. Paul's Turf Club, and the Fitzgerald and Palace theaters.
First Avenue is considered legendary to most melomaniacs, who credit the space for casting multiple local acts into international stardom, including Prince, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Lizzo — to name a few.
When we say you can catch a show almost any night of the week, that's only partially true — the recently reopened Dakota Jazz Club prides itself on hosting live music every night of the week.
The downtown mainstay is famous for giving fans a world-class music experience, spanning just about every genre. During the weekend of the Women's Final Four, you can grab tickets to see Grammy Award-nominated French vocalist Cyrille Aimée, or choose between (or go to both!) nights of performances by five-time Grammy-nominee and proclaimed "Ambassador of the Great American Songbook," Michael Feinstein.
To see all of the Dakota's upcoming events, click here.
Located in a former south Minneapolis firehouse, The Hook & Ladder has become a popular venue for performing artists and local audiences alike, ever since opening its doors in 2016.
The theater showcases three unique indoor stages, while also featuring a seasonal stage outside. If you don't mind taking a 10-minute Uber ride to Minneapolis' Longfellow neighborhood, you can catch Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound on Friday; Stage Fright: A Tribute to Bob Dylan on Saturday; or Revolution Circus on Sunday.
Honorable mention: Fine Line, Minnesota Orchestra, The Cedar Cultural Center, Bunkers Music Bar & Grill
Along with a flourishing music scene, Minneapolis boasts more than 50 museums, spanning from art, to history, to science. There really is an exhibit for everyone. You can also visit the other side of the river and check out the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Minnesota Children's Museum or the Bell Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art stands a couple of minutes south of downtown, making it a quick and easy addition to itineraries of any length. General admission to the museum is free, but you can also grab tickets to see special events and exhibits. During Final Four weekend, check out the museum's ongoing free exhibitions, or guarantee your viewing of "Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art."
Twin Cities first-timer? Want to learn more about Minneapolis' origin story? Downtown's Mill City Museum sits within the ruins of the old Washburn Crosby Co. Mill (known today as General Mills) on the banks of the Mississippi River. The museum gives a unique look inside the history of the former "flour milling capital of the world," once powered by the Mighty Mississippi herself.
Honorable mention: Weisman Art Center, Bakken Museum, American Swedish Institute, Walker Art Center (more on this one later)
Minneapolis is home to many award-winning eateries — Young Joni, Spoon and Stable, 112 Eatery — the list goes on and on. However, in this index, we're going to open the minds of visitors to some of Minnesota's arguably most exquisite cuisine: the Jucy (a.k.a. Juicy) Lucy, fresh walleye, and of course, hotdish.
Side note: If you actually want to get an authentic taste of Minnesota, check out Owamni by the Sioux Chef. James Beard Award-honored chef and member of the Oglala Lakota tribe Sean Sherman prioritizes ingredients from Indigenous food producers to bring the "true flavors of North America" in his dishes alive.
We begin our moveable feast with a dish that's origins have divided Minnesotans for decades: the Jucy Lucy (or Juicy Lucy, depending on who you ask.) The core of a good Lucy — literally the burger's molten stuffed core — is piping hot with cheese that threatens to scorch your mouth and run down your chin like lava if you aren't careful with your first bite. But where can you find the best one, you ask? Well, we've decided we're able to coexist by agreeing to disagree. Two long-standing establishments in south Minneapolis claim to be the "Home of the Ju(i)cy Lucy" — the 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar. Seems like the only way to settle the score is to try one for yourself.
Minnesota's official state fish doubles as some of locals' favorite fodder. The flaky freshwater fillet is loved for its subtle sweetness, and luckily for the Land of 10,000 Lakes, can be found in about 1,800 bodies of water throughout the state. Walleye is a popular feature for many places in the city, but we recommend you check out Glueck's, Mac's Fish & Chips and St. Paul's Tavern on Grand to start.
You've heard of casserole, but here in the Midwest, we're hot for hotdish. Like walleye, this Minnesota delicacy can also be found on menus all around the state, but it's Darby's Pub & Grill and Stray Dog that earn our admiration for this list. Pro tip: Nine of out 10 times, this dish is best served from the heart of a church's basement, or from the comfort of a Midwestern mother's home.
Need something to wash it all down? Click here for a list of the city's craft breweries. May we recommend: Fulton, Indeed Brewing Company, Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Utepils Brewing
If you have a few hours and dollars to burn — or calories from your lunch of tater tot hotdish — indulge the spending spree within and check out the city's best areas for shopping. Clothes, art, books, antiques — Minneapolis has it all.
True, the Mall of America dwells outside the confines of the city of Minneapolis, but this famous mall has it all — and we'd be remiss not to mention it. More than 40 million people from around the world visit the country's largest shopping center each year, enjoying a collection of stores, restaurants and attractions.
Secondhand and vintage lovers rejoice, for Minneapolis has a shopping district for you. The Minnehaha Mile is a stretch of locally owned shops that operate in the city's Longfellow neighborhood, each offering one-of-a-kind gifts and goods.
A bona fide municipal gem, Uptown's Midtown Global Market melds together some of the city's most exceptional food, art and goods, while celebrating Minneapolis' culturally vibrant and diverse community. While you're here, peruse the market's more than 45 businesses inspired by customs and lifestyles across the world.
Ask a Minnesotan (believe me, I asked them all) what their favorite landmark in Minneapolis is, and you'll find the answer amounts to a mixed bag. By no means have we put together an exhaustive list (looking at you, tweeters), but rather, a jumping-off point for historically and culturally significant destinations existing within easy access of downtown.
This 19th-century, limestone and granite bridge spans 2,100 feet over the Mississippi River, connecting downtown to the city's northeast district. The former railroad-turned-pedestrian bridge offers a panoramic view of Minneapolis, and is the only bridge of its kind to stand above the great river.
Learn more about its history here.
With each glance and every little movement, Mary Tyler Moore helped immortalize Minneapolis through her namesake 70s sitcom. As a way to honor the legendary actor's impact on the Twin Cities, a statue was erected on Nicollet Avenue and 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis, encapsulating the iconic moment on Nicollet Mall when she threw her hat in the air.
MTM really did help Minneapolis make it after all.
The quaint area of St. Anthony Main is a blast from the past, established as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Minneapolis. The cobblestone street plays host to several places to eat and drink, while offering incredible views of the river and city skyline. You can also strap on your helmet and take a guided Segway tour to learn more about the historic district and beyond.
: Most Instagrammable
If you've read this far (hi, Mom), you'll see that we've saved the best category for last: the most Instagrammable places in the city. From selfies to landscapes to art, you can let the photos speak for themselves.
No, Minneapolitans, I didn't forget. I really did save the best for last.
The Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden appears to make nearly every local's list of must-see and -do things for visitors to the city. Its reputation precedes itself as one of the best contemporary art museums in the country, while also making space for live entertainment, as well as a place for visitors to break bread.
Perhaps the most well-known feature of the Walker is the sculpture garden, which sits right outside the art center's doors. You haven't been to Minneapolis if you haven't taken a photo in front of the renowned Spoonbridge and Cherry.
Walk across the street from the Target Center and snag a picture next to your favorite artist's star outside the legendary club.
Walk a little further down the street, and you'll happen upon "The Times They Are A-Changin,'" a colorful ode to Nobel Prize-winning, singer-songwriter and Minnesota native, Bob Dylan. The three-part mural went up on 5th Street and Hennepin Avenue in 2015, and remains one of the city's most popular places to snap a pic.
Whether you're staying at this downtown hotel or not, you can access the Hewing's rooftop all-season bar and lounge for a whole new perspective on the city's skyline. Staying as a guest? Take it all in from the hotel's spa pool and sauna.
Foshay Observation Deck (downtown, 8th Street & Marquette Avenue)
Schmitt Music mural (10th Street & Marquette Avenue)
Grain Belt Beer sign (Nicollet Island)
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