No matter what you enjoy doing in your free time, Downtown Minneapolis has options for everyone who visits the area. Take a look at these 10 ideas for ways to enjoy your free time here. 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 Downtown Minneapolis.
Don’t miss out on seeing some of the beautiful sports facilities that downtown Minneapolis has to offer ranging from the Warehouse District to East Town. 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 opened in July 2016 and is home to the NFL’s Vikings plus major upcoming events like Super Bowl LII in 2018 and the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.
If you’re a television aficionado, the Mary Tyler Moore statue is a must-see in Downtown Minneapolis. Located at Minneapolis Visitor Information Center at 5th Street & Nicollet, 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 Minneapolis. 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 and toss your hat next to Mary, and if you have the time enjoy great shopping experiences on the Nicollet Mall.
The Downtown Minneapolis 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, Pantages and New Century 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. And over in the Mill District, located along the Mississippi near the Stone Arch Bridge, you’ll find the new Guthrie Theater. The Guthrie is home to plays, concerts and events of all types throughout the calendar year. Enjoy great sightlines and incredible performances at all of Downtown Minneapolis’ theater locations.
The Stone Arch Bridge is beautiful piece of 19th century architecture that has become a focal point of running and sightseeing in Downtown Minneapolis. 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 been turned into a gorgeous pedestrian bridge that houses runners, bikers and sight-seers daily. It overlooks the Falls of St. Anthony portion of the Mississippi and also gives great sight lines of the Minneapolis 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 Minneapolis.
The Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a staple of Minnesota-based postcards, posters and live sports scenic shots. It is an iconic piece of Downtown Minneapolis, and the sculpture not only is a beautiful display on its own but it also sits at the foot of the Minneapolis skyline. 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 Minneapolis skyline. Enjoy a peaceful walk in the park and some of the ponds, flowers and sights as you make your way toward the Downtown Minneapolis 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 Minneapolis’ history. It was the first skyscraper in Minneapolis, 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. The 447-foot complex was built with the Washington Monument as its inspiration, and Foshay’s last name was put at the top of the building in 10-foot lettering. Today, the building is home to the W Minneapolis – The Foshay Hotel. You can also have a drink at the Prohibition Bar on the 28th floor or take a look at Minneapolis 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 Minneapolis’ history.
Located in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis, Nicollet Mall 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. Built in the 1960s, Nicollet Mall stretches 11 blocks and is an excellent location for pedestrians to get across the city while enjoying shopping and dining. Some of the city’s most iconic buildings touch Nicollet Mall, including the IDS Center and the Wells Fargo Center. It is also home to Peavey Plaza (11th & Nicollet). The Nicollet Mall street level is an excellent place to frequent during the summer, and the Nicollet Mall buildings and stores are conveniently connected via Skyway for easy access during the winter months. Nicollet Mall is currently undergoing a redesign, which will be substantially complete in November 2017.
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 been a hub for some of the current day’s best music ever since. The exterior of First Avenue showcased white 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 incredible acts from all over the world since. 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.
Don’t miss your opportunity to take in all the top restaurants and bars that Downtown Minneapolis has to offer. They’re located throughout the city, with many being located on Nicollet Mall 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 the Nicollet Mall and check out some of the retail outlets that are here in the downtown area. And if all that shopping and dining wear you out, don’t miss your opportunity to stay at one of Downtown Minneapolis’ hotels. There are options all across the area, and each will provide a comfortable and accommodating stay.
There are more than 50 miles of scenic trails for walking, running or biking in Minneapolis connected as part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. That stretch includes 1.2 miles along the Mississippi Riverfront in Downtown Minneapolis. 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, the Mill District and Nicollet and Boom islands. Along the way, you’ll find plaques that tell the story of Minneapolis’ history as a world milling leader and how the native area was transformed into the metropolitan setting we enjoy today. You’ll also run by the Mill City Museum, which is an excellent spot to learn about Minneapolis’ history on the Mississippi. And if you’re hoping to get a longer exercise in, this stretch along the river will connect you to the Chain of Lakes (Cedar, Isles, Calhoun, Harriet), the Mississippi River byway district, Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minnehaha byway and much more.