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Austin (Texas)

James from Austin (Texas) asked

Best way to explore Minneapolis like a local?

Going to be in Minneapolis and I'll have a lot of free time to see the city. What's your favorite thing to do as a local? How can I experience the city as if I lived there? I'm an adventurous person and love the outdoors, but open to all suggestions. 

Minneapolis (Minnesota)

4 Answers
top answer by
Gina from Minneapolis

Hi James, and welcome! 

Here's the theme for experiencing Minneapolis like a local: blend nature and culture. Let that be your guiding principle and I know you'll have a great time. 

So, how to accomplish that? Here are some suggestions:


* The lakes. It's all but a legal obligation for you to spend some time on a lake in Minnesota, and we have some great ones right in the heart of the city.

  Lake Calhoun is probably the best-known and most popular lake. It's an easy walk around it, but you can also rent paddleboards, canoes, kayaks here at Wheel Fun RentalTin Fishis also right there in case you have a need for fish tacos. I'd advocate for a canoe or kayak so that you can get paddling and head right over to: 

Lake Of The Isles, which is connected by a channel. It's a more meandering lake, and, like Calhoun, it is lined by some of the city's most impressive homes. Another channel off LOTI will lead you to

Cedar Lake which is much quieter and not a bad spot to do some fishing (though you can also have a decent shot at catching something in Calhoun, too—the state record muskie was pulled outta there). 

  Lake Harriet is another great option for strolling and gawping at impressive houses, and there is also a nice little concessionaire, Bread & Pickle and the Lake Harriet Band Shell, which hosts free concerts and entertainment throughout the summer. It's adjacent to the little business enclave of Linden Hills Neighborhood.

  Lake Nokomis is a little bit different from those lakes, as it's not located in the Uptown/Kenwood neighborhoods, which are some of the most expensive and trendiest in the city. Nokomis is more low-key and modest, which to me feels a bit more like Minneapolis' real personality. Sandcastle is Nokomis' concessionaire, and it's the brainchild of one of the city's best chefs, Doug Flicker.

* Biking! We take it pretty seriously and I feel like we're constantly chasing that "Best Biking City in America" tag, which we actually have won at least a couple times. Our bikeshare program, Nice Ride, has stations all over the place, so it's convenient to hop on and hit the trails. You can bike all around the aforementioned lakes, along the Mississippi on West River Pkwy S and there's also the Midtown Greenway which is a great biking and pedestrian trail that goes right through the heart of the city. One of my favorite rides is along Minnehaha Creek; there's a stretch from Lake Harriet all the way over to:

Minnehaha Park, one of the biggest, most beautiful and best-loved parks in a city that is rabid about its parks. Here you'll find the legendary Minnehaha Falls as well as some pretty (and non-strenuous) hiking trails that go all the way down to the Mississippi. Sea Salt Eatery, located in the park, is a Minneapolis institution. You are virtually guaranteed to wait in line, but they move people through pretty quickly and the food (virtually all seafood) warrants the wait. 


* Food. Well, wouldn't you know it, Saveur just called Minneapolis the next great food city in the U.S.! The last couple of years have seen a boom of restaurant openings and high-profile chefs doing amazing things. In addition to those more high-flying dining options, we have a ton of great hole-in-the-wall, ultramodest places that showcase the incredible talents of our vibrant immigrant communities. Some suggestions:

Spoon and Stable if you can get in. Hottest ticket in town right now.

Tilia is another of the best-loved places in Minneapolis. Small and charming, with a menu I'd like to eat my way through, from start to finish.

The Bachelor Farmer still going strong as a national attention-getter. Focus is on new Scandinavian food, and if you're into that, I might actually point you to Fika, which I like better than TBF, but is more casual (located inside the American-Swedish Institute). 

Heyday was one of my favorite fine dining experiences in recent memory. The blue mussels dish is unmissable.

Hola Arepa is sort of shorthand for how our best food trucks have become white-hot brick and mortar restaurants. They have an amazing cocktail menu and the food is outstanding (if you're cheapskating it, their late-night deals are hard to beat). Brunch here is the new hotness, as well—their chilaquiles just graced the cover of Bon Apetit. 

The Rabbit Hole is kind of what happens when East LA meets Minneapolis. Amazing Korean-inspired food and great drinks in a darkly fun and playful space. It's located inside Midtown Global Market which also has a bunch of good quick service counters including Hot Indian Foods (another food truck evolution), La Loma Tamales LLCTaqueria Los Ocampo and Salty Tart bakery among others.

Sonora Grill has a location inside MGM, but their standalone place further down East Lake Street is really the place to go. Get their Obregon margarita—you won't regret it. 

OK, I'm going nuts here, I'm sorry. I just like to eat. I'll try to wrap it up (SO HARD): 

Hit Nicollet Ave S, known as "Eat Street" for tons of options, including some great Vietnamese. Marla's Caribbean Cuisine is my neighborhood fave—takes a long time, but it's so good and I will warn you they are NOT effing around with the warnings about spiciness. Matt's Bar is the place to get a Jucy Lucy; anyone who tells you differently is a neophyte and a heretic. Anchor Fish & Chips in Northeast is homey and great (the fish, obviously, but their burger, ordered rare or medium rare, is transcendent). The corner of 38th St and Nicolette Ave is hopping right now too—BlackbirdNighthawksKyatchi and Five Watt Coffee are all hot properties. Just north from there is Revival which is getting huge buzz for its fried chicken and Southern sides. 

* Art and Entertainment. I hope you'll be here in the summer, because Minneapolitans make the most of the season, and you will feel the energy in the air. We have to stock up on good weather because, well ... we know what comes after fall. Some things to do:

Mill City Farmers MarketMinneapolis Farmers MarketMidtown Farmers Market and on and on. We love our markets. There are usually some great vendors selling prepared food and drinks, too. Best atmosphere is at Mill City, thanks to its location, sandwiched between the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater, just above Mill Ruins Park and Stone Arch Bridge, which you should walk across to get to St. Anthony, the birthplace of the city. 

Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute Of Arts are the big kahuna museums, both worth your time. Do the MIA on a rainy day, but the Walker's sculpture garden can be enjoyed while the sun's shining. During the summer, there's artist-designed mini golf. A smaller museum for a rainy day is The Museum of Russian Art, which is pocket-sized and well curated. 

If you like theater, there's a fricking ton of it. It's not at all my thing, but this is a good resource if you want to see a show:

I wrote way too much about shopping in Minneapolis here:

* Beer & Spirits. Should this go under food? Maybe, but it's also kind of its own thing. Here's my post on tap rooms: Nord Craft Spirits is also worth checking out if you want something other than beer!

If you have any more specific questions, just ask—I'm happy to help! I love guiding people around my city. Enjoy!

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lake Calhoun (attraction)
  2. Wheel Fun Rental (attraction)
  3. Tin Fish (restaurant)
  4. Lake Of The Isles (attraction)
  5. Cedar Lake (attraction)
  6. Lake Harriet (attraction)
  7. Bread & Pickle (restaurant)
  8. Lake Harriet Band Shell (attraction)
  9. Linden Hills Neighborhood (attraction)
  10. Lake Nokomis (attraction)
  11. Sandcastle (restaurant)
  12. West River Pkwy S (attraction)
  13. Midtown Greenway (attraction)
  14. Minnehaha Creek (attraction)
  15. Minnehaha Park (attraction)
  16. Minnehaha Falls (attraction)
  17. Sea Salt Eatery (restaurant)
  18. Spoon and Stable (restaurant)
  19. Tilia (restaurant)
  20. The Bachelor Farmer (restaurant)
  21. Fika (restaurant)
  22. Heyday (restaurant)
  23. Hola Arepa (restaurant)
  24. The Rabbit Hole (restaurant)
  25. Midtown Global Market (restaurant)
  26. Hot Indian Foods (restaurant)
  27. La Loma Tamales LLC (restaurant)
  28. Taqueria Los Ocampo (restaurant)
  29. Salty Tart (restaurant)
  30. Sonora Grill (restaurant)
  31. Nicollet Ave S (attraction)
  32. Marla's Caribbean Cuisine (restaurant)
  33. Matt's Bar (restaurant)
  34. Anchor Fish & Chips (restaurant)
  35. Blackbird (restaurant)
  36. Nighthawks (restaurant)
  37. Kyatchi (restaurant)
  38. Five Watt Coffee (restaurant)
  39. Revival (restaurant)
  40. Mill City Farmers Market (attraction)
  41. Minneapolis Farmers Market (attraction)
  42. Midtown Farmers Market (restaurant)
  43. Mill City Museum (attraction)
  44. Guthrie Theater (attraction)
  45. Mill Ruins Park (attraction)
  46. Stone Arch Bridge (attraction)
  47. Walker Art Center (attraction)
  48. Minneapolis Institute Of Arts (attraction)
  49. The Museum of Russian Art (attraction)
  50. Du Nord Craft Spirits (restaurant)
likes (4) thanks
answered by
Johnny from Las Vegas

Well, as a major metropolitan area, there's something for everyone.  It depends on your likes and how much actual time you have.  BUT, there are some very unique things about Minneapolis(and Saint Paul (Minnesota)) that you can take the time to explore.


My favorite thing is to walk the "Skyways" in Downtown Minneapolis.  There are miles of them connecting the second floors of most of the buildings downtown.  They were built to help people working downtown to get around without having to go out in the cold winter weather.  It's quite a culture.


Minneapolis is called the "City of Lakes" so exploring the lakes it's best known for is a "local" thing to do.  The largest are Lake Of The IslesLake CalhounLake Harriet and Lake Nokomis.  If you're going to be there in the summer, you might want to rent a bike somewhere in Uptown and bike the miles of trails that connect all of them.  Minneapolis is working towards being the "bike capital of the world". There are self-serve bike rental stations all over downtown as well.

Mississippi River

It's one of the longest rivers in the world.  It starts in northern Minnesota and flows through the entire country, ending in New Orleans.  Along the river throughout both cities are miles of trails, parks and preserves that will allow you really enjoy one of nature's true marvels.

The Mall of America

It's the largest enclosed mall in the U.S.  If you're in Downtown Minneapolis, you can take the light rail all the way to the mall for only $2 each way.

"Grain or Warehouse District"

Minneapolis, once nicknamed "Mill City", was the world's leader in flour production at one time and along the river in downtown on both sides are some of the old storage elevators and warehouses which are now being converted to offices/apartments/lofts, etc.  It's now a hip place to explore.

The University of Minnesota is one of the largest college campuses in the U.S.  Its main campus is just across the river from downtown Minneapolis near an area called Dinkytown.  Walking the campus and enjoying the 100+ year old buildings (and some cool newer ones like the The Frederick R Weisman Art Museum is also nice.  You can take the light rail from downtown straight to the campus.  Walking over to Dinkytown gives you a taste of the life of the students there.  My favorite place is Vescio's Italian Restaurant which has been there for almost 50 years now.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Minneapolis (city)
  2. Saint Paul (Minnesota) (city)
  3. Downtown Minneapolis (attraction)
  4. Lake Of The Isles (attraction)
  5. Lake Calhoun (attraction)
  6. Lake Harriet (attraction)
  7. Lake Nokomis (attraction)
  8. Uptown (neighborhood)
  9. Mississippi River (attraction)
  10. Minnesota (attraction)
  11. New Orleans (city)
  12. Mall of America (attraction)
  13. University of Minnesota (attraction)
  14. Dinkytown (attraction)
  15. The Frederick R Weisman Art Museum (attraction)
  16. Vescio's Italian Restaurant (restaurant)
likes (2) thanks
answered by
Stanley from Butte

I grew up in Minneapolis and these are some local favorites: Minnehaha Falls is a must-see. Make sure you eat at Sea Salt Eatery after. They have delicious oysters. Lake Calhoun is a great place to spend the day if you’re a nature lover or at least like the water. Try a restaurant called Barbette near there. If you happen to be an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan, you gotta take an F. Scott Fitzgerald tour (he was born in Minnesota). Here’s the link for tickets: Fika has good lunch, which is the restaurant at the American Swedish Institute. They make the best meatballs I’ve ever had in my life. 

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Minnehaha Falls (attraction)
  2. Sea Salt Eatery (restaurant)
  3. Lake Calhoun (attraction)
  4. Barbette (restaurant)
  5. Fika (restaurant)
  6. American Swedish Institute (attraction)
likes (1) thanks
answered by
Gina from Minneapolis

I don’t know what summer would be without Lake Harriet Park. You can rent little pedal boats and canoes and for not very much money have a really, really lovely day. The other place I can’t live without in town is the Walker Art Center where there is always something innovative and unusual showing. Try to catch a show at the Orpheum Theatre. Even if the show is horrible the theater is so beautiful it’ll be worth it. The Minneapolis Farmers Market is another favorite thing of mine. Love chatting with all the vendors and picking up fresh veggies and honey here.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lake Harriet Park (attraction)
  2. Walker Art Center (attraction)
  3. Orpheum Theatre (attraction)
  4. Minneapolis Farmers Market (attraction)
likes (1) thanks

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