The Mississippi River flows silently through the city. On its way, it comes across a variety of creeks, wetlands and waterfalls. A group of people get off their bicycles to take a picture of the scenery. With 13 lakes surrounding the area, Minneapolis is extremely rich in water. Together, Minneapolis and St Paul make up the Twin Cities, and are the second-largest economic center after Chicago in the U.S. Midwest. With a population of 410,939, Minneapolis is the largest city in Minnesota. Aside from being one of the bike-friendliest cities, Minneapolis is also known for having a remarkably large LGBTQ population and a very strong performing arts scene.
Start your journey by renting a bicycle and go to the Minnehaha Park. It is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and is home to the Minnehaha Falls. The park was a popular destination already back in the 1800s, with steamboats offering tours on the river. Today, the main attraction of the park is the waterfall. The latter can be found at the Minnehaha Creek, which also includes a trail and open areas to sit, rest and enjoy the view.
When you are done, pick up your bicycle and bike around Lake Calhoun. There are 13 lakes you can choose from (5 that are close to each other), but this one has an abundant selection of attractions. This lake offers canoe, paddleboard and rowboat rentals, public beaches, a yacht club, restaurants, sailboat lessons, jogging trails, biking trails and volleyball nets. The other four main lakes in the area (which make up the ‘Chain of Lakes’) are equally as enjoyable and also offer a variety of activities. If you prefer a quieter environment, go to Cedar Lake, Brownie Lake or Lake of the Isles. For a more natural environment, go to Lake Harriet, which offers rose gardens, a bird sanctuary and more beaches.
Time to drop your bike and head to the internationally renowned Guthrie Theater, located on 818 South 2nd Street. This architectural jewel was designed by Jean Nouvel, an award-winning architect. The design includes the famous ‘endless bridge’, a 178 foot bridge looking out over the river. In addition to the bridge, the theater has three individual stages, a café, a cocktail lounge, and a restaurant. Afterwards, head to the Midtown Global Market. This market is located on 920 East Lake Street, and is open until 8:00pm (6:00pm on Sundays). Here, over 50 vendors sell all kinds of foods and beverages, ranging from fresh local produce to Middle Eastern pastries and olives.
There are five professional sports teams based in Minneapolis: the Minnesota Vikings (NFL), the Minnesota Lynx (WNBA Basketball), the Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA basketball) and the Minnesota Twins (baseball). All teams play in stadiums that are located downtown, so catch a game of your favorite sports, or go merely for the experience!
Hungry after such a long day? Head to Matt’s Bar to try the Minneapolis’ famous ‘Juicy Lucy’. This is a unique type of cheeseburger because they mold together two meat patties and cook the cheese inside of them (instead of having the cheese on top).
Thirsty after all that biking? Stop at one of the many breweries that Minneapolis has to offer. Dangerous Man Brewing Company, 612 Brew and Indeed Brewing Company are all located in Northeastern Milwaukee. The first one has been a favorite for locals since it opened its doors back in 2013. It is very crowded in the weekends, so make sure to visit that one during the week. This brewery is also located next to many restaurants. The Indeed Brewing Company is located in the Arts District, and also very popular amongst locals. On Saturdays, it offers free tours (with online registration).
When to go:
Planning a trip? Winters in Minneapolis can be extremely harsh, especially for those not used to very cold temperatures. The best time to visit is therefore between May and October, when it’s nice and hot outside. Patios open up, street performances increase in numbers and it is the perfect time for a walk around the lakes and parks.
Plane: Minneapolis and Saint Paul have one airport, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, which has two terminals.
Train: The Amtrak offers a daily service to St Paul Union Station. This station is located in downtown St Paul, and the Green Line will take you there from Minneapolis. The Empire Builder stops in the Twin Cities in its line between Chicago and Seattle/Portland.
Bus: The Twin Cities are accessible with the Jefferson bus line, the Megabus, the Badger Coaches and the Greyhound. The first and the latter are located in downtown Minneapolis (950 Hawthorne Ave). The Badger Coaches have a service to Milwaukee and Madison and the Megabus brings an additional service to Chicago.
I-35: from north and south
I-94: from east and west
I-494/694: goes around the Twin Cities
As I mentioned above, Minneapolis is an extremely bike-friendly city. There are many places around the city where you can rent bicycles, and the city offers a variety of bike trails. Locals love their bicycles, and aside from their “bicycle boulevards” as they call them, there are also a couple of off-road bike trails. In some areas of the city, you might see more bicycles than cars.
But if riding a bike is not your thing, the city has two light rail options (the Blue Line in downtown Minneapolis and the Green Line connecting Minneapolis to Saint Paul. Furthermore, there are two main busses that have routes in Minneapolis (5 and 55).
Finally, walk on the Skyway. This is an array of public pedestrian spaces that are connected by bridges between buildings. They are located on the 2nd floor of buildings downtown, making it possible to walk through the city without even having to go outside (practical when it’s raining or too cold). The scope of the Skyway is approximately 12 blocks north to south and 8 blocks east to west.
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