No matter your interests, downtown Mpls has options for everyone who visits the area. Here are 10 ideas for exploring our downtown. Whether it’s taking in a sports game or theater performance, jogging near the Mississippi or viewing our historic architecture, there’s something for everyone in our city’s core.
catch a game
Don’t miss out on seeing the beautiful sports facilities that downtown Mpls has to offer. Enjoy the terrific sight lines, skyline view and Major League Baseball at the Twins’ home, Target Field. Target Center, home to the NBA’s Timberwolves and WNBA’s Lynx, is right next door and undergoing a $130 million renovation project. In East Town, U.S. Bank Stadium is home to the NFL’s Vikings plus major events like Super Bowl LII in 2018 and the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.
mary tyler moore
If you’re a television aficionado, the Mary Tyler Moore statue is a must-see. Located at 7th & Nicollet outside The Dayton’s Project, the statue depicts Mary tossing her hat in the air as she did at the end of the opening credits during The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show itself ran from 1970-77 and was based in Mpls. It left an important imprint on popular culture, so much so that it was named No. 7 on TV Guide’s 60 Best Series of All Time in 2013. Swing by, take a photo and toss your hat next to Mary. Plus, if you have the time, enjoy great shopping experiences on Nicollet.
theater and culture
The Downtown Mpls Cultural District is filled with opportunities to see Broadway musicals, comedy shows and much more throughout the year. Located on Hennepin Avenue, the State, Orpheum and Pantages theatres offer a variety of shows and performances. The theatres are conveniently nestled into an area of the city known as WeDo, filled with bars, restaurants and hotel choices. In East Town, you’ll find the Guthrie Theater located along the Mississippi near the Stone Arch Bridge. The Guthrie is home to plays, concerts and events of all types throughout the calendar year.
stone arch bridge
The Stone Arch Bridge is beautiful piece of 19th century architecture that is a running and sightseeing focal point in downtown Mpls. The bridge was originally constructed by James J. Hill in 1882-83 as a way for his railroad empire to cross the Mississippi River. It served in that capacity until the mid-20th century, and it has since turned into a gorgeous pedestrian bridge that houses runners, bikers and sight-seers daily. It overlooks St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi and gives great sight lines of the Mpls skyline, the Mill District and the West Bank. The bridge is 2,100 feet long by 28 feet wide, consists of 23 arches and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the most beautiful and historic pieces of downtown Mpls.
The Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Mpls Sculpture Garden is a staple of Minnesota-based postcards, posters and live sports scenic shots. It is an iconic piece of downtown Mpls. While you’re there, check out the exhibits at the Walker Art Center. The Walker sits just across the street from the Sculpture Garden and is a great place to spend a week night or weekend afternoon. And just across I-94 you’ll find Loring Park, a beautiful green area that also sits at the foot of the Mpls skyline. Enjoy a peaceful walk in the park and some of the ponds, flowers and sights as you make your way toward the downtown Mpls area. The Loring Park Art Festival takes place at Loring Park in late-July, and Holidazzle is there in November and December.
Like the Stone Arch Bridge, the Foshay Tower is a must-see piece of downtown Mpls’ history. It was the first skyscraper in Mpls, and when it was built in 1929 it was the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast, according to an August 2014 MinnPost.com article. Wilbur B. Foshay built the landmark building with hopes of it being the headquarters to his company. Foshay’s last name sits at the top of the building in 10-foot lettering. Today, the building is home to the W Mpls – The Foshay Hotel. You can also have a drink at the Prohibition Bar on the 28th floor or take a look at Mpls from the observation deck on the 30th floor. But whether you’re inside at the top or simply walking by, the Foshay Tower is a sight to behold and an incredible link to downtown Mpls’ history.
Located in the heart of downtown Mpls, Nicollet is a location for everyone to enjoy. It is home to excellent restaurants and bars, great shopping opportunities, patios and rooftops, incredible views and some of the state’s top companies. Nicollet stretches 11 blocks and is an excellent way for pedestrians to get across the city while enjoying shopping and dining. Some of the city’s most iconic buildings touch Nicollet, including the IDS Center. It is also home to Peavey Plaza (11th & Nicollet). Nicollet’s street level is an excellent place to frequent during the summer, and Nicollet buildings and stores are conveniently connected via Skyway for easy access during the winter months. Nicollet just underwent a renovation completed in 2017. Learn about the new design, amenities, programming and events at onnicollet.com.
All you need to do is look at First Avenue’s exterior to understand its history. The venue, located on First Avenue and Seventh Street North, opened in 1970 and has since been a hub for some of the current day’s best music. The exterior of First Avenue showcased stars with artists’ names painted on them, which proudly displays all the top groups and individuals who have played there over the past four decades. It is where local artists like Prince became well-known acts, and it has drawn performers from all over the world. The history is noteworthy and fantastic, but it is not fully written. New artists continue to come through First Avenue with hopes of continuing to climb to the top. Who will be the next group to make it big that played at First Avenue? Don’t miss your chance to be part of the history.
a culinary leader
Don’t miss your chance to take in all the top restaurants and bars that downtown Mpls has to offer. They’re located throughout the city, with many being located on Nicollet Mall, North Loop, East Town and in the Hennepin Avenue/First Avenue corridor. All are conveniently located and can be accessed within a 15-20 minute walk from any area of downtown. If you’re in the mood for shopping, visit Nicollet Mall or the North Loop. And if all that shopping and dining wear you out, don’t miss your opportunity to stay at one of downtown Mpls’ hotels. There are options all across the area, and each will provide a comfortable and accommodating stay.
run the riverfront
There are more than 50 miles of scenic trails for walking, running or biking in Mpls connected as part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. That stretch includes 1.2 miles along the Mississippi Riverfront in downtown Mpls. Enjoy a scenic walk or run on this stretch along the river and enjoy the sights of the downtown skyline, the Mississippi River, the Stone Arch Bridge, East Town and Boom Island. Along the way, you’ll find plaques that tell the story of Mpls’ history as a world milling leader and how the native area was transformed into the metropolitan setting today. You’ll also run by the Mill City Museum, which is an excellent spot to learn about Mpls’ history on the Mississippi.