A rich cultural scene combined with easy access to spectacular nature and a friendly welcome from unpretentious locals make Minneapolis a destination that warms the cockles of many a visitor’s heart, whatever the weather.
Winter in Minneapolis can be as cold as Alaska, with temperatures dipping below minus-20 degrees. The adventurous get out and enjoy some snow sports. Alternatively, make the most of the great indoors and get into the theatre, food and live music the city has to offer.
In stunning contrast, summers are hot and humid, and the thousands of lakes in the state of Minnesota come into their own.
Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, and Minneapolis means “City of Lakes”, with 22 of them in the metropolitan area. Cedar Lake, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet are among the most popular spots on hot summer days, offering activities such as cycling, canoeing, swimming from lakeside beaches, or just lying around eating ice-cream.
Arts highlights include the Minneapolis Institute of Art, with works dating back 5000 years, and the Walker Art Center, one of the US’s leading modern art venues. There’s also the four-hectare Minneapolis sculpture garden, and if you’re a theatre fan you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis and neighbouring St Paul) have the most live theatre per capita in the US behind New York.
Eat and Drink
Eat Street would seem like a good place to sample Minneapolis cuisine, and sure enough, this section of Downtown Nicollet Mall has 40 or 50 diverse restaurants within a few blocks, including lots of Asian cuisine. For something more upmarket, you might dine on Hennepin Avenue before a night at the theatre.
In season, you’ll find lots of local produce in Minneapolis, and the city has 17 farmers’ markets to choose from. Coffee shops are everywhere, and beer is big: a recent revival has led to dozens of new breweries opening up, and if you join a craft brewery tour you can explore them without worrying about who’s going to be designated driver. The city also has an awesome live music scene, with venues including First Avenue, where Minneapolis resident Prince set his movie, Purple Rain.
Where to Stay
Whether you want a high-rise room overlooking the Mississippi River, a boutique residence near the theatre, or a hotel close to your favourite mall, Minneapolis has a wide selection of accommodation. Plenty of mid and upper-range hotels, from independent operators to the well-known chains, can be found among the city’s Downtown skyscrapers.
Theatre and live music fans may prefer to stay in the nearby Warehouse District, which includes the historic venues of the Hennepin Theatre District. Uptown may appeal if you prefer more upmarket bars, while shoppers might base themselves in Bloomington, home of the Mall of America.
America is the birthplace of the shopping mall, and Minneapolis is where you’ll find its ultimate incarnation. With more than 500 stores and 40 million visitors a year, the Mall of America, in the Bloomington district, is the biggest mall in the US. As well as all those shops, it has an indoor theme park, an aquarium and an exhibition space. Downtown, Nicollet Mall offers 12 blocks of stores big and small, and a free bus to take you up and down when the shopping bags get heavy. Just to the north of Downtown, you’ll find a fashionable selection of boutiques in the historic neighbourhood of North Loop.
Minneapolis Like a Local
Winter in Minneapolis may seem a little daunting, but don’t let it put you off. Do like the locals do and make use of the Skyway, a 13-kilometre network of above-ground, enclosed footbridges that enable you to walk around Downtown without freezing.
Sports fans can check out the Timberwolves (basketball), Vikings (American football) or Wild (ice hockey) teams. Get rugged up and take a winter walk in beautiful Minnehaha Park, or head to Theodore Wirth Park to try some snowboarding, cross-country skiing or sledding.
The locals respect the cold in Minneapolis, but they don’t let it stop them having fun.