The Highs and Lows of Visiting Minneapolis

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.

Downtown Minneapolis

Mall of America

The Mall of America is massive

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.

Amusement park inside the Mall of America
My favorite part of the mall was the enormous LEGO sculptures at the LEGO store

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

Parks along the Mississippi River
Mill City Museum

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.

The Guthrie Theater, with its observation deck extending to the right
View from the Guthrie Theater
Believe it or not, this wasn’t edited! The mirrors in the Guthrie Theater make some interesting views

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.

Weisman Art Museum

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

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.

Stream below Multnomah Falls

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.

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