Minneapolis was our one stop in Minnesota on our Midwest road trip (don’t worry, I’ll be back to Minnesota to see more sights!), and we covered a lot of ground! We were there for one day and we saw most of the city, so I don’t think you need more than a few days in the city itself. If you’re planning a trip there, these are 11 things to do in one day in Minneapolis!
11 Things to Do in One Day in Minneapolis
So one thing you should be aware of that we didn’t know is that most museums and tourist sites are only open Thursday-Sunday when most people would be visiting Minneapolis over the weekend. And of course, we were there on a Tuesday! So we didn’t get to visit any museums, and we were honestly running out of things to do in the main part of the city so we went off-the-beaten-path a bit (with recommendations from a friend who lives there). I do have museum and other sight recommendations at the end of the post if you enjoy visiting museums.
If you can visit Minneapolis closer to the weekend, I would recommend it so you can take full advantage of all the sights. But as you can see, even if you go in the middle of the week, there are still some great things to do in one day!
Visit Minnehaha Falls
Did you know that the Mississippi River goes through Minneapolis? And Minnehaha Falls flows right into the river! It’s a pretty waterfall in a park right off the road, so you don’t need to hike miles to see it. For being a main attraction in Minneapolis, there weren’t many people in the park when we went, so it doesn’t seem to be too crowded of a place to visit. Even if you have just one day in Minneapolis, you need to make sure you visit Minnehaha Falls.
Go shopping at the Mall of America
The Mall of America is the largest mall in the US with over 500 stores, 50 restaurants, and an indoor theme park! I will say, I don’t really enjoy malls and shopping, so I wasn’t super impressed with the Mall of America. It just seemed like a large mall and there wasn’t anything too special.
I’ve also lived near the King of Prussia Mall (the third largest mall in the US) for years now and I haven’t been, so it could just be that malls aren’t my thing. But if you enjoy shopping, you might enjoy the Mall of America more than I did!
Grab some coffee
There are so many great independent coffee shops to choose from in Minneapolis! We went to the Dogwood Coffee Co. and the coffee was great. The coffee shop had a lot of seating and colorful décor, and it seemed like a great spot to hang out or work. They also have a few different locations in the city, so you have some options to choose from.
Walk along the Mississippi River
There are some great parks along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, and you can walk along the river towards the Stone Arch Bridge. The leaves were beautiful this time of the year, and you can get some great views of the downtown area!
Visit the Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is free to visit and a beautiful area to walk around! And you can get some great views of the Basilica of St. Mary. Two of the most famous sculptures in the park are Hahn/Cock (the blue rooster) Spoonbridge and Cherry (a cherry on a spoon) that are pictured below. They’re adding new sculptures to the garden, so you might see some of the latest additions!
Visit George Floyd Square
George Floyd Square is the intersection at 38th St. E and Chicago St. S where George Floyd was murdered in 2020, and there has been a memorial set up in his memory. It was established to be a living memorial to bring the community together, and it’s a very moving place to visit.
Take a stroll through Nicollet Island
Nicollet Island is an island on the Mississippi River with some beautiful views! There are some quaint Victorian houses, pretty trees (especially in autumn), and historic railroad bridges. There’s a walking trail around the island to take in the views, and there weren’t too many people around so it was a nice, quiet area to explore right in the heart of Minneapolis.
Take in views of St. Paul
Minneapolis and St. Paul are called the Twin Cities because they’re large cities that border each other, so it’s easy to visit both! There are places you can explore in St. Paul, but since we just had a day, we drove around the city to see some of the prettiest sights. If you visit in fall like we did, you definitely need to check out the beautiful trees along the river!
Excelsior is a small town outside of Minneapolis on one of the many lakes in Minnesota. If you want to visit some places outside of the big cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Excelsior is worth the visit! It’s a quaint town with lots of shops and beautiful houses. And you can relax along the lake and take in the views.
Sunset over Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis
Minneapolis also has some lakes, and the Lake of the Isles is the perfect place to watch sunset! We had a picnic in the park as the sun went down, and it was a pretty popular place for people to hang out. It was the busiest spot we visited the whole day in Minneapolis, and I can see why! Visiting the lakes and watching the sunset might be my top recommendation if you just have one day in Minneapolis.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, we didn’t get to visit any museums because so many were closed! I was especially sad that the American Swedish Institute was closed while we were there. So plan your trip better than we did. Lonely Planet has a great list of museums that you can visit in the area, just make sure you check what days and times they’re open before you go.
Even if you go during the week when a lot of the museums are closed, there’s still a lot you can do in one day in Minneapolis! And I’ll be sure to plan my next trip there a little better 🙂