When this city isn’t white, it’s green. Minneapolis—a place with long, snowy winters that can last from October until the end of April—thaws out each spring to reveal plentiful bike lanes, scenic river walks, and gorgeous public parks. Minneapolis has 22 natural bodies of water within the city limits (hence its nickname, “The City of Lakes”). A 10-minute drive from downtown brings you to the picturesque Chain of Lakes, a scenic byway surrounded by 12 miles of walking and biking paths.
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: 11 acres of green space dotted with whimsical sculptures, the most famous being Claes Oldenburg's Spoonbridge and Cherry (which is exactly what it sounds like)
- Minnehaha Park: Walk the park’s trails to get a view of Minnehaha Falls and the Mississippi River, or take the kids to the Wabun Wading Pool.
- Lake Calhoun: Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle around this beautiful lake in the middle of the city, or walk the 3.2-mile trail around Lake Calhoun and finish with a swim at the beach. Possibly the best people-watching in town.
- Lyndale Park Rose Garden: The second-oldest public rose garden in the United States, located on Lake Harriet and replete with a patio and fountain. A popular spot for weddings in the summer.
- Vali-Hi Drive-In: A classic drive-in movie theater just outside Minneapolis that features first-run movies on a giant outdoor screen. Bring the kids in their pajamas and park for three movies in a row, ending with the scariest. (Arrive early—Vali-Hi is hugely popular.)
- Walker Art Center: Adjacent to the curious Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Walker displays a solid collection of contemporary art as well as live stage performances and films.
- Mill City Museum: Local art and history find a common home in these flour-mill ruins along the Mississippi River. Take the freight elevator up to the ninth-floor observation deck to get a first-rate view of the city.
- First Avenue: Arguably the best spot in town for live music and hipster-spotting. Hometown hero Prince filmed many scenes for Purple Rain here.
- Blue Moon Coffee Cafe: Stop by Blue Moon for a dose of caffeine (we recommend the maple latte) before dropping in at the neighboring Hymie’s Vintage Records for a shot of nostalgia.
- Mall of America: The largest mall in America, with more than 400 stores and a massive indoor amusement park. Take the Minneapolis light rail directly there to save yourself the trouble of parking.
Dining in Minneapolis
- The Modern Cafe: Start the day with a plate of pot-roast hash, scallion biscuits and gravy, or chilaquiles while admiring local artwork that adorns the walls at this popular spot. (Be prepared for a line if you come after 10 a.m.)
- Gigi’s Café: A quaint cafe in the Uptown neighborhood serving sustainably farmed lunch and dinner fare, as well as massive, fresh-baked cupcakes and ice cream.
- The Bachelor Farmer: This restaurant’s simple dishes are designed to spotlight locally grown Nordic ingredients. Grilled lamb legs, warm popovers with honey butter, poached chicken, and fresh cheese make it a favorite with foodies.
Where to Stay
- The Hotel Minneapolis: This swank downtown hotel is connected to the indoor tunnel network known as the Minneapolis Skyway System, and is within walking distance of popular shopping area Nicollet Mall. The hotel is housed in a historic bank, which explains the vault in the lobby.
- Le Méridien Chambers Minneapolis: More than 200 works of original art decorate the guest rooms and lobby of this contemporary hotel. Each room also contains an Unlock Art pass, which grants guests free admission to the Walker Art Center.
- W Minneapolis – The Foshay: Sip cocktails at the Prohibition Bar on the 27th floor of this ultra-modern hotel.