Minneapolis: Things To Do

1. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

This federally managed nature preserve offers sanctuary for a range of migrating birds and waterfowl. The refuge features an excellent interpretive center offering programs and exhibits dedicated to the natural history of the Minnesota River area. As part of the Minnesota Valley Recreation Area, which is itself part of the Minnesota State Parks system, the refuge features cross-country skiing, hiking, and biking on trails that feature bird-watching sites and picnic grounds. www.fws.gov


2. Skyways in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Twin Cities Skyways let pedestrians travel through enclosed walkways high above the streets in order to access a variety of buildings. Skyways have played an important role in maintaining the vitality of the downtown area through the years, and office buildings, hotels, and shops are all accessible through them. Aside from these destinations, small delis, bakeries, shops, and restaurants line the aboveground walkways. www.mnhs.org


3. Guthrie Theater

Birthplace of the professional American Regional theater movement, the Guthrie bridges the gap between community theater and commercial Broadway productions. The Guthrie’s resident acting company presents classic works and promises high professional standards. In its sleek, Jean Nouveau-designed space on the river, the Guthrie boasts three distinct stages, including a thrust, a proscenium, and a black box-inspired studio space. A full-service restaurant and a gift shop are also on the premises. www.guthrietheater.org


4. Stone Arch Bridge at St. Anthony’s Falls

The Stone Arch Bridge was built by James Hill to establish railroad passage across the Mississippi River. Originally dubbed a folly, the structure eventually vindicated Hill. In 1982, the bridge was closed to rail traffic and was purchased by the state as a pedestrian/bicycle bridge. It’s the second-oldest bridge on the Mississippi and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us


5. Walker Art Center

What began in 1927 as a humble public gallery has become a world-renowned arts center that attracts well over a million visitors annually. With its Herzog and de Meuron design, the center is an ideal space in which to exhibit works by modern artists like Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Roy Lichtenstein and Pablo Picasso. Interspersed among the galleries are cozy spots for pausing and reflecting or chatting with fellow visitors; the building also houses a restaurant and the McGuire Theater, which offers a complete schedule of film, drama, dance and music. www.walkerart.org


6. Minneapolis Institute of Arts

This internationally renowned museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 80,000 items representing prehistoric to modern eras. Highlights include a 2000-year-old mummy and an exquisite collection of Chinese jade. The Institute also houses an excellent collection of Impressionist works. Period rooms feature original objects and furnishings from upper-class European homes and from America’s early decades. Films, concerts, lectures, tours, and special events are offered throughout the year. www.artsmia.org


7. Minnesota Sculpture Garden

Located next to Walker Art Center, this facility is the country’s largest urban sculpture garden. More than 40 examples of modern, three-dimensional art are spread across 11 acres, and the best-known is arguably a 52-foot spoon holding a 9½-foot cherry titled “Spoonbridge and Cherry” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. www.artsmia.org


8. Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

Home seasonally to Minnesota Vikings football team, this stadium is a prominent destination for sports fans. The Vikings have had their share of notable players – Fran Tarkenton, Ed Marinaro, Chuck Foreman, Ahmad Rashad, Carl Eller and Alan Page. One-hour tours of the facility are available (612-335-3309).


9. Bell Museum of Natural History

Dedicated to Minnesota’s past, especially in regard to landscape and wildlife, this museum features dioramas that simulate actual forests, fields, streams, and swamps. The Touch and See Room provides real animal fur and bones that children love to handle, and rainforest exhibits and botanical artwork also please visitors. In addition, the museum store is rich in hard-to-find books and resources on natural history, including a great selection of children’s books. www.bellmuseum.org


10. Minnehaha Park and Falls

Minnehaha Creek drops 53 feet to form beautiful Minnehaha Falls, an impressive sight year-round. Minnehaha Park, with its 193 acres, is a favorite spot for family get-togethers and company picnics. Plenty of tables and shelters, a tennis court, a recreation building, and horseshoe pits are available. Sculptures also dot the terrain, and formal gardens and hiking trails are musts for nature enthusiasts. www.minneapolisparks.org