Beginning your new chapter in Minneapolis, MN is an exciting moment in your life filled with new experiences and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Creating a bucket list is not just a checklist; it’s an invitation to find out what makes the Twin Cities a great place to live.
From iconic landmarks to local delights, this Redfin article will guide new residents on the must-add items to their own Minneapolis bucket list, discovering everything there is to love about Minneapolis. Whether you’re thinking about buying a home in Minneapolis, MN or renting an apartment in the city, join us on a journey through the landmarks, events, and flavors that define the Twin Cities and are also local favorites.
1. Find a co-working community
“Beyond visiting one of the four local The Coven locations, I would highly recommend the creator vibes of the new Mercury Mosaics Cady Shop and then follow it up with a visit to Public Functionary Studios and Cafe,” suggests Erinn Farell, co-founder and principal of The Coven, a female-centric co-working and community space in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood. “The Twin Cities is brimming with extraordinary artists and makers, so with any visit to MPLS or STP you’re always close to a gallery, studio, or hands-on experience.”
2. Get your coffee fix
“A must visit in Minneapolis for new residents is The Get Down Coffee Company located at 1500 N. 44th Ave., in the newly branded Camdentown neighborhood of Minneapolis,” explains Babycake’s Book Stack, a mobile bookstore delivering diverse books to young people. “This deep vibe coffee company features its own specialty coffee in a retro atmosphere. With earthy, fresh roasted brews and teas, baked pastries, good for your soul music, tiny vinyl record drink coasters, and an attached barber shop, The Get Down Coffee Company is sure to become your feel good hangout spot.
Nestled in the heart of the Northeast Minneapolis arts district is La Boulangerie Marguerite. Any weekday excursion to the area would not be complete with a stop here for a latte and croissant. This corner cafe and Boulangerie is a neighborhood favorite for lingering and savoring a spinach feta walnut croissant or indulging in their smoked salmon on a toasted croissant with caper mayo. Afterwards, see a matinee show at the Theater Latte Da, presenting original and re-imagined musical theater.”
3. Check out the restaurant scene
For a timeless breakfast experience, head to Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis. With its unchanged charm since 1950, this hole-in-the-wall with 14 counter seats serves up homemade breakfast fare, filling your belly while the ambiance feeds your soul.
Or, on the other side of the Minneapolis River, you have Nicollet Diner, a 24/7 spot on Nicollet Mall, specializing in scratch-made breakfast, fresh hamburgers, and handspun milkshakes. Their diverse menu is available for take-out or delivery, ensuring you can savor their offerings anytime, day or night.
Hands down, Handsome Hog in Lowertown St. Paul is a contemporary Southern gem. Indulge in classic Southern dishes like Brisket, Fried Chicken, Gumbo, Chicken N Waffles, and Ribs, all complemented by an extensive craft bar and bourbon selection.
Dinner and a show
Get ready for a glamorous experience at Roxy’s Cabaret, where Minneapolis’s finest drag queens star in immersive entertainment. Enjoy drag shows, dinner theater, and live performances by renowned artists while sipping on exquisite cocktails and indulging in the best food downtown has to offer.
Mother Clucker’s Pizza, a neighborhood favorite, is perfect for happy hour, sports watching, or feeding a crowd. Known for great drinks, homemade pizza, broasted chicken, jumbo wings, and subs, it’s your go-to place for a casual night out.
“We think anyone who visits Minneapolis should put Stepchld at the top of their list,” says Sahr Brima, co-founder and CEO of Love You Cookie, a Minneapolis cookie company using quality ingredients to make large, puffy, delicious cookies. “This gorgeous restaurant is the ‘brainchild’ of acclaimed food startup-prodigy, Kamal Mohamed, and does not disappoint. The instagram-worthy menu features mouthwatering dishes infused with international flavors and paired with the best wine in the Midwest. Perfect for an elevated date-night or a night out with friends.”
As a sustainable private dining and catering chef supportive of local producers, quality is essential when choosing where to eat on a night out,” explains Chef Helen, Roots for the Soul. “For me, it’s almost always an easy pick: Sushi by Baaska at Cobble Social House, a cocktail bar. Chef Baaska is not only a great human, he executes the best sushi in town with a rotating menu showcasing only the highest quality of ingredients, sourcing fish 2-3 times per week directly from Japan. On top of the mouth watering food, the vibes and libations at Cobble are reasons to visit on their own, my personal favorite: El Escorpion.”
Indulge in the world’s best cheesecakes at Cheesecake Funk, even loved by Prince. Preorder and pick up at their Minneapolis Marriott Southwest hotel location for a taste of these made-from-scratch delights.
4. Get to know the Minneapolis neighborhoods
Exploring the diverse neighborhoods is an essential Minneapolis bucket list item. Whether it’s the historic charm of Lowertown, the artistic vibes of Northeast Minneapolis, or the trendy energy of Uptown, every neighborhood offers a different flavor to savor. From the cultural diversity of Whittier to the bustling streets of Downtown, each neighborhood offers something different to the city. Stroll through the historic charm of St. Anthony Main, embrace the lakeside tranquility of Linden Hills, or delve into the eclectic energy of Dinkytown—every neighborhood is a treasure trove waiting to be explored, making a journey through Minneapolis’s various districts an indispensable part of making this city home.
MN Black Box, a monthly curated box featuring products from Black businesses, offers recommendations as you plan to explore the city. “Stop by HEAL Mpls for some delicious soup, to warm you up from the inside out. Next, head down the street and grab some coffee from The Get Down Coffee Company. While sipping on your drink of choice, research where the SoulFlower band is playing for some entertaining local, live music. Afterwards, head to ZaRah Wellness Center, holistic wellness complex, located at 1200 West Broadway. If your body is yearning for relaxation after a bustling day, treat yourself to a therapeutic massage at the Wellness Paradigm on 44th Nicolett. And if it happens to be the 2nd Saturday of the month, don’t miss The Black Market—an engaging series of events in the Twin Cities that showcase and support Black-owned businesses.”
5. Visit the Minnehaha waterfall
“One of my favorite can’t miss activities in Minneapolis is visiting the Minnehaha waterfall,” shares Matisse Johnson, the owner of #FACE Day Spa. “I grew up just a couple blocks away from the Minnehaha falls and loved taking a bike ride to go watch the waterfall. It’s even a great site to see in the winter time as the water is frozen. Enjoy the outdoors in Minneapolis, they’re truly beautiful.”
6. Check out the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Founded in 1927, the Walker Art Center stands as the inaugural public art gallery in the upper Midwest. Now situated in a larger center inaugurated in 2005, it has evolved into a premier global destination for experiencing contemporary art and media. Adjacent to the center lies the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, among the largest urban sculpture parks in the nation, recently reopened in the summer of 2017 following a comprehensive renovation.
7. Take a trip to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Explore the tropics and immersive seasonal flower displays at the conservatory, followed by encounters with giraffes, a captivating sea lion show, gorillas, and a majestic polar bear at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. This century-old attraction has been a magnet for generations of visitors. While technically free, a thoughtful donation of $2 to $3 is appreciated.
8. Spend an afternoon at the Guthrie Theatre
Established in 1963 by the renowned English director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the Guthrie Theater has significantly influenced the Twin Cities theater scene. Initially founded in Minneapolis, the theater, now situated along the Mississippi River, thrives after six decades. Presenting a mix of classic and contemporary plays, the Guthrie enhances the experience with four restaurants and various tours, including backstage, architectural, and self-guided options.
9. Stroll along Grand Avenue and Summit Avenue
Explore the parallel streets of Saint Paul, where you can admire majestic mansions, enjoy a meal at one of the locally owned restaurants, browse boutiques, or treat yourself to spa experiences. Stretching across 30 blocks, Grand Avenue exudes charm with its beautiful old homes and the campuses of Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas. Notable attractions for visitors include the James J. Hill House, a 36,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion on Summit Avenue open for tours, and Cafe Latte, a cafeteria-style deli celebrated for its three-layer chocolate turtle cake.
10. Visit the Minnesota State Capitol
Designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect of the U.S. Supreme Court, this stunning structure in St. Paul dates back to 1905. The State Capitol boasts remarkable features, including the quadriga—an ensemble of golden horses—gracing its exterior. Crafted by Daniel Chester French (the sculptor behind the Lincoln Memorial) and Edward Potter, these copper figures adorned with gold leaf add to the grandeur. Following a comprehensive three-year, $310 million renovation, the interior has recently reopened for both guided and self-guided tours.
11. Embark on scientific marvels at the Science Museum of Minnesota
On the St. Paul riverfront, the Science Museum of Minnesota offers a dynamic experience with engaging permanent exhibits, captivating traveling shows, and breathtaking Omnitheater movies. From interactive displays exploring physics and biology to top-tier films on a vast dome screen, the museum provides an immersive and enriching journey into the wonders of science for visitors of all ages.
12. Enjoy the outdoors along the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway
Boasting more parkland acres per capita than any other major US city, Minneapolis invites you to embark on a verdant adventure along the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. This 50-mile route meanders through tree-lined neighborhoods, offering picturesque views of rivers, lakes, woods, and waterfalls. Dive into the natural beauty and discover gems like the Chain of Lakes Park as you traverse this scenic loop.
13. Attend a sports game
Whether you’re cheering for the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center, celebrating touchdowns with the Minnesota Vikings in the U.S. Bank Stadium, or witnessing the crack of the bat with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, the city’s vibrant sports scene provides an unforgettable atmosphere. The collective energy of passionate fans, state-of-the-art venues, and the thrill of live competition come together to create an immersive and exhilarating experience that truly captures the heart of Minneapolis. Attending a sports game in this dynamic city is not just a spectator event; it’s an opportunity to become part of the spirited tapestry that defines Minneapolis sports culture.
14. Discover Minneapolis Institute of Art
Featuring a striking recent expansion, the Minneapolis Institute of Art proudly displays an extensive collection, boasting nearly 80,000 works that traverse 5,000 years of human history. Noteworthy exhibits include the renowned Asian art collection, the European exhibit, and the engaging Modern and Contemporary galleries. Visitors can enhance their experience by grabbing a brochure for a self-guided tour or opting to join a public tour. Admission to the museum is one of the many free things to do in Minneapolis, inviting art enthusiasts to explore and immerse themselves in the rich cultural tapestry on display.
15. Go to the Minnesota State Fair
Known as “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” this highly anticipated Minnesota State Fair attracts a massive crowd of over 1.7 million visitors during its 12-day celebration in late August and early September. Beyond the thrill of carnival rides and the charm of livestock barns, the fair is a culinary haven with a diverse array of offerings. Delight in unique fair foods, from the savory mac and cheese cupcakes to the sweet indulgence of maple bacon funnel cakes. As you navigate the bustling fairgrounds, enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, exhilarating rides, and the fascinating livestock exhibits that collectively contribute to making this event an unforgettable Minnesota experience.
16. Embark on a history lesson at the Minnesota History Center
Guests are invited to grab a hard hat and explore a meticulously recreated Iron Range mine, complete with interactive drill simulators that add a touch of excitement. Additionally, visitors can immerse themselves in the Then Now Wow exhibit, where they can rev up a Model T, experience a simulated streetcar ride, engage with a pioneer’s hand plow through hands-on activities, and sit in a tipi while hearing a Native American artist share insights into their culture. Beyond this exhibit, the Minnesota History Center offers a range of permanent and temporary displays that promise even more hands-on fun and an immersive journey through history.
17. Engage and play at the Minnesota Children’s Museum
The Minnesota Children’s Museum underwent a $30 million expansion and renovation, introducing 10 new exhibits, notably The Scramble, a thrilling four-story climbing adventure. Catering to the youngest visitors, the Sprouts area features engaging water play and toddler-friendly ramps and stairs. Meanwhile, older kids can unleash their creativity in Forces at Play, constructing air-powered ping-pong ball launchers for a hands-on exploration of physics and fun.
Minneapolis, MN bucket list: Final thoughts
From the iconic landmarks and other beautiful places in the city, to culinary delights and outdoor adventures, each bucket list item in this article offers a sense of what it’s like living in Minneapolis, MN. So, dive in, explore the wonders, and make the most of every moment as you check off the items on your Minneapolis bucket list.