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7 Day Ultimate Minneapolis Itinerary

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Minneapolis is a great Midwestern city surrounded by lakes.  The people are friendly, very active (some of the healthiest in the US), up for adventure even in adverse conditions (what choice do you have when subzero temps are not a rare occurrence?) and pros at hygge (heavily influenced by the Scandinavian that settled here). It’s also starting to make its way on to many travel lists! Read on for the ultimate Minneapolis itinerary!

Getting Around:

Minneapolis has a light rail system that runs from the airport to St. Paul and Minneapolis.  From there, you can take buses out to the most populous parts of the city.  That being said, I’d recommend renting a car or taking a car service (Uber, Lyft, taxis, etc.) as the easiest, most comfortable and quickest options. 

Where to stay:

Two spots on my list for a staycation are Hotel Ivy and the Hewing Hotel.  The Hewing Hotel is the perfect combination of modern and Minnesotan – even complete with a rooftop sauna and hot tub, which has great views of the city. Hotel Ivy is a classic luxury hotel experience with the beautiful Anda Spa to include in your Minneapolis itinerary.

Read here for 5 reasons to book a staycation at Hotel Ivy!

Minneapolis itinerary Snapshot by Day:

One:Downtown Minneapolis/North Loop/Northeast
Two:South Minneapolis
Three:Uptown
Four:St. Paul
Five:Lake Minnetonka
Six:Day Trip to Taylor’s Falls + Stillwater
Seven:Active Minneapolis

Day One: Downtown Minneapolis

Note: “Downtown” is actually split into the North Loop (trendy area with lots going on), Downtown (more the business district) and Northeast (more hipster area with tons of breweries and cideries). This Minneapolis itinerary tries to work you through all of these areas today.

Morning

Start your morning with brunch at Parallel, Rise Bagel or Fairgrounds.  If you’re looking for a classic brunch spot, it’s hard to beat Keys at the Foshay.  If you go to Keys, visit the Observation Deck following brunch for a 360 view of the city.

From here, head to Mill City Museum to learn about the history of the city and enjoy great views of the Mississippi River.  After your tour, you can walk around the scenic Stone Arch Bridge. 

Afternoon

For lunch, check out Smack Shack or Brasa Premium Rotisserie (delicious southern food).  Pizza Luce or Punch Pizza are also great options. 

After lunch, head to one of the great breweries, cideries or distilleries nearby.  You are spoiled for choice: Fulton, Dangerous Man, Indeed, 56 Brewing, Pyres, Surly, Modist, and Lakes & Legends (these are just a sampling), Cidery: Sociable Ciderwerks, Distilleries (Tattersall and Norseman; a little further out are Du Nord and Lawless).

An alternative activity would be heading just west of downtown to check out the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery. You could also walk around Theodore Wirth Park afterwards.

Evening

This evening, see if there are any shows on at the Guthrie Theatre, First Ave or the Orpheum or a sporting event at Target Field or Target Center. Either before or after your show/sports event, you have many great dinner choices. Some of my favorites are Spoon and Stable, Young Joni, Bar la Grassa and 112 Eatery. Graze is a great informal food hall with lots of great choices too (the poke bowls are delicious). Soul Bowl is supposed to be another great option at Graze. If you are still up for another drink today, check out Parlour or Marvel bar after dinner.

The Hewing Hotel is a great option either to stay or to get a day pass for the rooftop hot tub with amazing views of Minneapolis. Stokeyard does sauna nights there too if interested!

Great gym options near or in downtown: Alchemy, The Firm, ALTR, Flyfeet, ME&I Fitness

Day Two: South Minneapolis

Morning

There are so many great coffee shops and brunch locations tucked around the lakes in Southern Minneapolis. I recommend starting with Tilia or Penny’s Coffee near Lake Harriet. Jinx Tea is an awesome little tea shop in the area too.

Head to the Linden Hills Farmers Market (held on Saturdays) before you drive around Lake Harriet for beautiful views. Next, check out local shops: The Foundry Homegoods, Shop Mille and Patina are some of my favorites.  If you’re in the mood for a local organic spa treatment, visit Tula Spa.  I treated my Mom to a massage here for her birthday and she declared it one of the best massages she’s ever received. 

Afternoon

If you want a lighter lunch, try Whole Sum Kitchen – they have delicious acai bowls and veggie bowls. If up for something heavier, Convention Grill is a legit 50’s diner with the best burgers and milkshakes. The staff have been there forever and it has a real family feel.

To work off our lunch, either walk around Lake Calhoun (it’s 5k around) or (if it’s summertime) rent a kayak from Wheel Fun and paddle around Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. 

For a post-kayak treat, check out Sebastian Joe’s for some delicious ice cream!

Evening

Minneapolis has many affordable tasting menus and tonight I’d recommend Tenant. If you’re not up for a full-on tasting menu, check out Colita (you’ll need a booking) or Hola Arepa (walk-ins accepted). If choosing Hola Arepa, don’t forget to order yucca fries! Revival, Boludo and Sunstreet Breads (they do pizza nights only in Thursday’s) are more great choices!

Day Three: Uptown

Morning

Start day three of your Minneapolis itinerary with breakfast at the Lynhall, Common Roots Café or French Meadow Bakery – all great places for a slow café start to your day. Or, if you’re up for a sugar jolt, stop by Glam Doll Donuts for arguably some of the most fun donuts in town. Sencha Tea Bar is my favorite spot for delicious tea lattes.

From there, head to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The entrance is free but there are usually some great exhibits that are worthwhile to pay for.  We’ve previously attended an exhibit on Terracotta warriors and Egypt’s sunken treasures– great inspiration for future trips!

Afternoon

Check out FIKA for lunch at the American Swedish Institute.  Rated as one of the best places for Nordic fare in the cities, you can dine on some open-faced sandwiches and meatballs.   If you need to walk off some energy after lunch, check out the museum. 

Alternatively, explore the Midtown Global Market.  Minneapolis has a lot of diversity and you’ll be able to shop vendors and food stalls from around the world here. Mesob Ethiopian is another great choice. If you’re vegan, check out Trio Plant Based.

Evening

If the weather is good, stroll around Lake of the Isles before heading to your dinner reservation.  If it’s a Thursday, walk around the Walker Art Museum until 9PM and enjoy some thought-provoking art displays.  While normally $15 for adults, Target sponsors a free evening for everyone on Thursdays.  On other nights, the museum is open until 5 or 6 – check their website for exact closing times.

For dinner, I’d recommend World Street Kitchen (fast casual), Nico’s Taco Bar, Pimento (Jamaican), Seed Cafe (Vegan), The Kenwood (laid back but nicer), Burch Steak (nicer), or Travail (so much fun and an innovative tasting menu).

Great gym options: Modo Yoga, Up Yoga, Alchemy

Day Four: St. Paul

Morning

Start day four of your Minneapolis itinerary with a drive by of the Minnesota State Capital en-route to a hearty brunch at COOK, The Buttered Tin or Saint Dinette.  The French Hen is another great choice and is next to the beautiful Fleur de Lis flower shop for post-brunch musings.  Selby Ave has many great shops that it’s worth the stroll after brunch no matter your choice.  If you want a delicious sugar jolt, check out Mojo Monkey Donuts.

If you’re interested in history, a tour of the James J. Hill house will highlight the glitz and glamor of the 1800’s.  After the tour, drive around the neighborhood to see more of the beautiful mansions still standing from that era.  Another fun history tour option is the Wabasha Street Caves – they housed gangsters and a prohibition-era speakeasy.  Of course, the Minnesota State Capitol is an option to tour as well.

Afternoon

Lunch at Cosettas will always be one of my favorite things to do in St. Paul.  It is good, inexpensive Italian food served cafeteria style.  Another Italian option is Mucci’s.  Otherwise, enjoy an Afternoon Tea at the St. Paul hotel.  The hotel was built in 1910 and is a very classic location for tea.  If a classic pub is more your style, check out the Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery; it was built in the 1800’s by German immigrants and restored recently. 

Following lunch, check out the new Keg and Case market.  This is not on the same level as famous global markets but is a fun way to spend an hour.  I’d recommend trying the Halva and Sweet Science Ice Cream. 

To work off the desserts, park near the river and take a stroll along the Mississippi River.

Evening

The Xcel Energy Center is home to the Minnesota Wild if hockey is your thing.  The St. Paul RiverCentre hosts many events so check their calendar.  Otherwise, some spectacular dinner options include: Meritage (oysters), WA Frost (fancier), Hyacinth, Tori Ramen, Octo Fishbar, or a very casual but authentic option – Bymore Taqueria.

If its winter time, you can rent skates at Rice Park for a little evening ice skating under the lights. Consider spending the evening at the St. Paul Hotel if you’re looking to stay in a historic hotel, or one of the cute B&B’s in a restored mansion (Historic District B&B, Corban Manor Inn and The New Victorian Mansion B&B are a few to on my radar to check out)

Day Five: Minnetonka

Morning

Not too far from Downtown and Uptown is the giant Lake Minnetonka. A very Minnesotan way to spend your day is on the lake. Below you’ll see a full day from your overall Minneapolis itinerary dedicated to activities around this famous lake. lots of activities.

Start your day with brunch at Coalition or 318 Café in Excelsior. Excelsior is a really fun quaint town to walk around and explore the shops. If you’d like to be on the north side of the lake in Wayzata, try Wuollet Bakery or Grocer’s Table for brunch.

From here, grab a kayak rental from Tommy’s Tonka Trolley (if in Excelsior) or Wai Nani Surf & Paddle (if in Wayzata) and head out for some fun on Lake Minnetonka. Alternatively, cruise with Al & Alma’s (from Excelsior) or rent your own boat.

If it’s wintertime, no worries – there are plenty of winter activities on the lake too.  Check out Dynamik Kiteboarding for some winter kiteboarding lessons or one of many vendors who does ice fishing excursions.  In the winter, there are Ice Castles displays which are really beautiful to see.

Evening

Enjoy an ice cream from Licks Unlimited for a sweet treat before dinner.  For some fun dinner options, check out: Bellecour (if didn’t go for brunch), Lago Tacos and COV Wayzata. Great gym option:  Flyfeet Running

Six: Day Trip to Taylor’s Falls and Stillwater

Today, take a little road trip outside of the cities to Taylor’s Falls and Stillwater. 

Morning

Grab some bagels to go on your way out of town from Rise Bagel Co. or perhaps yogurt/granola and donuts from Cardigan Donuts.  Set your GPS to Taylor’s Falls – the Wisconsin side and settle in for an hour-long drive.  Taylor’s Falls is a beautiful place to hike around and see how a glacier long ago impacted the structure of the land.  I’d recommend spending a few hours here.

Afternoon

A classic spot for lunch is The Drive In back on the Minnesota side; their root beer is delicious.  Another spot 15-minutes away on the Wisconsin side is The Watershed Café which prides itself on locally sourced food products. 

After you’re feeling full and content, head to Stillwater. Stillwater is a quaint town with local shops along the river that are fun to peruse.  Perhaps have a malt from Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop. 

Before heading back, stop at Aamodt’s Apple Farm for some delicious apples and the next-door Saint Croix Vineyards for some locally produced wine.

Evening

For dinner, check out a place back in Minneapolis you haven’t been to yet.

Seven: Active Minneapolis

Day seven of your Minneapolis itinerary will be an active one! Minneapolis and St. Paul are well connected with bike paths that you can spend the entire day biking around.  Here’s a great path for such a day.

Morning

Start your day with a light breakfast/juice/smoothie from Truce Juice or Agra Culture near Lake Calhoun for a lighter breakfast before hitting the Greenway bike trail.  If you need to park your car, there is lots of street parking around Lake Calhoun.  If you need to rent a bike, check out Wheel Fun on the NE corner of Lake Calhoun.  After breakfast, hop on your bike and start heading east on the Green Way with your destination being Minnehaha Falls. Along the way, you’ll be surrounded be lush greens before coming up to the Mississippi River which you’ll bike along for a bit before arriving to Minnehaha Falls.

Afternoon

Lock up your bikes and explore the waterfall/park area before grabbing lunch at Sea Salt Eatery.  The fish tacos are my favorite!

Once you’re ready to ride again, hop on your bike and head west along the Minnehaha Parkway.  A fun pitstop is at Pumphouse Creamery for some ice cream.  Ultimately, you’ll bike to Lake Harriet and then North back to Lake Calhoun and back to your car.  A 15-mile ride exploring the cities!

Evening

Following an active day biking, you’ll likely be very hungry for a good dinner.  Check out Quang for a delicious and comforting meal.

I hope you’re ready to plan your Minneapolis itinerary now!

Read more Minnesota guides here!

Happy Planning!

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