Minneapolis is one of those cities that didn’t blow me out of the water, but certainly has some positive attributes. Some cities are downright pretty to wander around. I didn’t find Minneapolis to be one of these. Minneapolis is more like a quirky house that people say “it has character” when they can’t find anything nicer to say. But, unlike that hypothetical house, it actually does have character.
Mall of America
Because I arrived in late afternoon, my first activity was the obligatory stop at the Mall of America. The mall is minutes away from the airport, so I could go there to kill time until rush hour was over and avoid some of the city’s atrocious traffic. To be honest, I had low expectations for this attraction. I’ve never been a big shopper, and I imagined the Mall of America to be a tourist trap based on shopping – a combination of two things I dislike.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by the mall. The sheer scope of it is impressive. Though I had heard it has a roller coaster inside, I didn’t realize that it contains an entire amusement park. Even for non-shoppers like me, it was a fun place to wander around, much like I would wander around an area of shops in other cities. The main difference was that it is entirely indoors, so it can be done year-round regardless of the harsh Minnesota winters.
Downtown/Mississippi River Area
The following day, I started my exploration of the rest of the city by parking downtown and exploring on foot. Ultimately, I made one large circle starting and ending near the Guthrie Theater. I crossed the Mississippi River on the Stone Arch Bridge, made my way north, and took a different bridge back across the river. Many small parks filled my route. I enjoyed walking through these to get different views of the river and of the city, but was disappointed in the amount of graffiti I found. Even when I took a small bridges to an island in the river, I could never quite escape the feeling that this was an industrial city.
After I arrived back at the theater, I went up to its observation deck, which provides visitors with a wonderful view of the river area at no cost. Finally, just a little farther down the river is the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Though the museum isn’t especially large, admiring the quality exhibits was a great way to spend a little time. Even if you choose not to visit the inside of the museum, stop by the building to see this unique piece of architecture.
I am a fan of parks and waterfalls, so I was especially looking forward to visiting Multnomah Falls, which frequently ranks highly on lists of things to do in Minneapolis. While the park surrounding the falls is pleasant for a stroll, I found the falls area to be overcrowded, especially considering that the falls were not as impressive as many others I have seen. Overall, I would recommend skipping it if your time in Minneapolis is limited.
Though my thoughts on Minneapolis are mixed, I am glad I had a chance to experience this intriguing city. The rest of Minnesota, however, impressed me much more. Minnesota’s state parks were my favorite parts of the trip, and the , off the coast of Wisconsin, are certainly worth a visit as well.