I recently spent a week in Minneapolis, Minnesota and decided to create the ultimate travel guide. Of course, nothing I had planned worked out as I hoped and most of the random, last minute adventures were my favorite. PS none of this post is sponsored!
One of my friends lives in Bloomingdale so after talking to her and figuring out her work schedule I decided to spend 1/2 of the trip in a hotel downtown and the other half at her place. Of all the places I’ve solo-traveled, and yes I know this will upset some people, I can say that Minneapolis is not my favorite. If you are a solo-traveler I would recommend the West Coast, Seattle, Portland, even San Francisco. I will admit that my tastes have significantly changed but after an extensive search I found the things to do in Minneapolis limited. Food was expensive, transportation a little confusing (I could have rented a car, I know). Although not my favorite trip, I found myself very bored on my solo days (again I am not in the best mindset right now anyways). However, I did manage to hit A LOT of the major sites which I will share with you below.
Where: Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: October 2018
Stayed: AC Hotel (HERE)
I stayed at the AC Hotel (Marriott) downtown and I loved it. The rooms were clean, there was a mini fridge, and a giant TV. I am a HUGE bed snob so I was surprised at how great the beds were. Usually, after a trip, I am sore after a few days away from my bed but after 3 nights I didn’t have a complaint. The staff was very friendly and they had a super cute bar/seating area. The bar had drinks, of course, and appetizers. I didn’t actually go to the bar because it was usually pretty busy and I was kind of feeling anti-social, well maybe not anti-social as much as I hate having the same conversation over and over “Where are you from?”, “What do you do"?”, etc. There is also a general store in the lobby with snacks and drinks. I went to Whole Foods down the way for my snacking needs. The two complaints I had about the hotel was loud guests and my ability to hear them walking up and down the hall, and the breakfast, which was $16 per day. The hotel was located in a great spot for walking and seeing the city though. I didn’t end up getting brave enough to venture through the Sky Way System which apparently connect all of downtown. Oh and I forgot, I asked for 1 king bed and a couch but I ended up with two queens - not the end of the world but still! Overall, if I came back to Minneapolis, I would stay here again given the location, price, and niceness of the hotel.
One of my favorite things in Minneapolis, if you can’t tell given the amount of pictures I took in this spot, was Mill Ruins Park. An old mill used to stand here but as you can see time got the best of it. You can read more about the history here. The Park is located along the Mississippi River and there are plenty of walking trails/bridges surrounding it. Nature has grown on and around the ruins making it very beautiful. We were lucky enough to go when there were still fall colors. I loved walking along the river and through the Ruins. It was a little sad to see trash in the water but there was still a bunch of wildlife including ducks. The first picture on this post was taken Wednesday when it was sunny and the picture below was taken the next day. It’s crazy how much of a difference one day makes.
As I eluded to above there are a lot walking trails all over downtown Minneapolis. I walked along the river, through Mill Ruins Park, and over one bridge to the college. I ended up walking about 5 miles that day but it was really nice. I would highly recommend you get outside and walk some of the trails if you visit Minneapolis! PS you can rent bikes and scooters to ride around too!
The Art Museum is part of the campus so it’s free, which is really nice! I did leave a donate though. I love going to art museums every time I visit a city. There is something refreshing and relaxing about them. I don’t know what else to say about the museum, because the exhibits will likely be different when you go, but I would recommend it!
My friend took me to The Guthrie Theater which has some amazing city views. The Theater is located near the River Walk so go there when you visit Mill Ruins Park. I would highly recommend you see a show there (we didn’t) and, if not, at least walk through the building. The building boast some pretty awesome architecture including an “Endless Bridge”.
University of Minnesota
After I left the Art Museum, which is located on campus, I decided to walk around The University of Minnesota some. I love the architecture of the brick buildings that make up most campuses. The fall colors were absolutely stunning. One of the things I realized after walking around the campus a bit is the feeling campuses hold for me. Each time I am teleported back to the 18 year old me, standing there on campus for the first time, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, with an endless amount of possibilities. Campuses to me feel safe, they feel like intelligence and opportunity; they feel like life starting, really starting for the first time, and it gives me so much energy. I think whenever I am feeling down or uninspired, I need to go sit on the campus and take it all in. If you want to read more I wrote more of my feelings about campuses here on my Instagram.
Unfortunately I was pretty tired from my 4 am alarm when we went to Minnehaha Falls so I didn’t get the best of pictures but I would highly recommend you go to this park and walk around. There are a lot of beautiful trails, trees, and of course these beautiful waterfalls. And there are some beautiful stone bridges along the trail. My friend said that if you want long enough you can reach the Mississippi. Apparently the park is full of people lying in the grass and enjoying the simpler things in life! There is a cute little restaurant in the park too but it was closed for the season when we went.
I have mixed feelings about the Zoo. I’ve always loved zoos. But this Zoo was super depressing. It was free which was great but all of the indoor, and even outdoor, exhibits stunk. Like hold your breath is stinks so bad. And a few of the larger animals were in some pretty small cages. My friend and I both admitted how much we loved zoos as kids but just found this one depressing. I know it’s off season, and there were doing some remodeling, but I was not impressed and I wouldn’t recommend it
That being said I LOVED the Conservatory. Seriously loved it. When I was looking at things to do in Minneapolis I found two places I really wanted to go. One was Mill Ruins Park (above) and the other this Conservatory. Lately I’ve really like plants, nature - in a world of destruction it’s nice to see healthy things growing on this Earth. I would absolutely recommend you visit the Conservatory!
Outside of the Conservatory was a Japanese garden. As much as I loved the lush jungle of the inside of the Conservatory, the Japanese garden was extremely inviting and peaceful. I loved the little waterfall and the rock paths around the garden which looped not once but twice across the little stream. PS if you are wondering, yes I did cut bangs! I LOVE them and I need to share some photos with you guys soon.
Okay, I lied. Add the Sculpture Garden to the list of things I wanted to see. There were 3 things I found on Pinterest before I went that I wanted to see! The Gardens were absolutely beautiful. As I read the descriptions for the pieces of art I realized I know nothing about art but that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy it. I think the pictures speak for themselves but the Garden is beautiful. There is a neat little cherry on top of a spoon that normally shoots out water. The leaves were falling making a perfect tree lined path. As you wander around you can find a bunch of sculptures with descriptions from the artists. Across the bridge is another park and the Basilica of Saint Mary. I will say the one nice thing about Minneapolis is being able to walk. Most of the places pictured here were grouped, not all of them together, but at least 3 or 4. So you could drive to one, park, and see a few others. Each day I went to a different “spot” and explored the 3 or 4 things in that area.
The Basilica is a beautiful church that I believe is quite busy! There were two weddings the day we went so I wasn’t able to take many photos without people but you can tour the Church on your own and there is a lot to see! I would recommend you visit, especially if you go to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and The Walker Art Center (above).
Below are some pictures from the park located near the Basilica. My friend and I walked around the park a bit and found this man and his daughter feeding the squirrels. I think this is something they must do a lot because the squirrels ran up to us thinking we had food. We, of course, did not have any food but they were super fun to play with. We saw both black and white squirrels, which I had never seen before.
Because it was fall we decided to find some fun fall activities. We drove to a couple orchard’s and had a blast exploring. The one pictured here was great for kids and the one below had more activities for the whole family.
Mall of America
Of course, when you go to Minneapolis, you have to visit the mall of America. I wasn’t really excited about going to the mall, to be honest. I actually wasn’t sure I was going to go but the day I was supposed to leave my friend and I decided to head over the go. I didn’t shop but instead we spent most of our time riding the roller coasters. I was nervous I wasn’t going to like them or get sick before I was supposed to fly home but the time spent there at the mall was one of my favorites. We also went to the aquarium and ate lunch. I was surprised how much fun I had at the mall considering I don’t like shopping and I would recommend it!
Right when I got off the plane my friend and I went to Hell’s Kitchen. I had their famous Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with a mimosa and coffee (it was that kind of morning!). I can’t remember what my friend had but we both loved our meals. The prices weren’t bad either so I would recommend trying Hell’s Kitchen - PS no it has no relation to the Hell’s Kitchen were Gordon Ramsey yells - at least I didn’t hear any yelling ;)
My friend really wanted to go to this place called Pyscho Suzi’s for dinner and drinks. It was a super strange place but the food was great and the drinks were toxic! I guess I would recommend it - Google it before you go so you can get a gist of the vibe first!
I always love doing brewery tours because I love beer! We went downtown, parking by a few breweries, then walked around to each and sampled beers. One of favorites was the First Draft Taproom and Kitchen. They have been and wine on tap. You load a cart, get a glass, and are able to pour yourself as much or as little as you want. I’ve been to a few places like this and I really enjoy them. It’s nice to be able to sample a bunch of drinks!
Okay you might laugh, I’m okay with it, but after spending ~$100 the first day eating all 3 meals out and about I decided to cut back on my spending. So I walked to Whole Food Market and bought food. It still cost me ~$50 for 2 days (seriously I don’t know how people afford to live here! I spend about $45 per week at home on food) but it was definitely cheaper than going out. Being extremely cheap, hotel and flight paid for, I was lucky to walk away from this 7 days trip $500 lighter… It would have been a grand if I would have paid for my flight and hotel. I know I am a lot cheaper these days but, after a quick Google search, I found the average person spends ~$1200 per year on a week long vacation. I usually go on 2 or 3 week long vacations per year and I don’t remember them costing this much. It’s just mind blowing to me. I have no idea how people take a family for 4 on vacation! Maybe that’s the benefit of living in a beautiful state like Montana; every day is a vacation for free!
I would highly recommend Hazelwood. First off the staff is amazing! The waiter was extremely chatty and very interested in who we were and what we were up to. We told him about the Halloween party we went to the night before and he showed us pictures of he and his girlfriend dressed up. It was great to have such an attentive waiter. The drinks were amazing, I had a bloody Mary, and the food was just as good. I would definitely go back.
I would also recommend Eat Street Social! We were going to another restaurant down the street for breakfast. The line was around the door with an hour wait. I decided to look up another restaurant nearby so we wouldn’t have to re-park and we found Eat Street Social. It wasn’t packed, which was great. They have a full bar and bottomless mimosas! I was so surprised because they kept filling up our glasses. They even topped us off as we were leaving. Usually, I’ve found people are stingy with bottomless drinks, but here they were great. The food was delicious and our waiter was super sweet! I would definitely go back!