Hey The Abroad Blog readers! This post is coming at you live from the Twin Cities! I’m currently in Minneapolis, Minnesota wrapping up a week-long road trip across the Midwest. I’ve been to 6 states this week (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and now Minnesota) and am on state 33 of my 50 state challenge! I’ve been staying at Hilton’s Canopy Hotel in the Mill District of Minneapolis the past two nights and am thrilled to share that they are sponsoring today’s post. I’ll be sharing more about the hotel later, but for now, let’s hop into some info about the Twin Cities and an itinerary covering things to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul!
Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by the Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District. Canopy was kind enough to host me in exchange for a feature on my blog and on my Instagram, @nicole.rosania. I had the most wonderful stay and am so excited to share more about Canopy later on in this post. If you plan on visiting the Twin Cities, I highly recommend booking a room here. As always, all opinions are my own!
Background On The Twin Cities
Commonly referred to as the “Twin Cities”, Minneapolis and St. Paul sit only 8 miles apart from one another. Their downtowns are a 15 minute drive from each other, or a short public transportation ride away. Minneapolis is one of the biggest cities in the Midwest, but it’s a misconception to think this is Minnesota’s capital. The capital city is actually St. Paul. Aside from the two cities, this area is also home to the Minnesota Twins, the Mall of America, and the Minnesota State Fair, which takes place every year at the end of August.
How To Get To Minneapolis and St. Paul
Before I jump into what to do in the Twin Cities, it’s important to know how to get here! The MSP (Minneapolis-St.Paul) airport is one of the largest in the Midwest, making this one of the easiest ways to access the city. You could also take an Amtrak right into Union Station downtown. Many people also opt to drive, but fair warning – Minnesota is quite rural. I drove into Minneapolis from the Madison, WI area and spent about 3 hours driving through nothing but farmland!
Where To Stay In Minneapolis and St. Paul
Looking for a place to stay in the Twin Cities? Look no further than the Canopy by Hilton! The Canopy was kind enough to host me for two nights in Minneapolis in exchange for a feature on my blog and Instagram. I actually just ran a giveaway with them over on my Instagram and gave one lucky winner a free night’s stay here! As I’m sure you can already tell, I couldn’t recommend this place enough.
First, the Canopy is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis in the Mill District. This neighborhood is a part of the larger East neighborhood in the city and sits alongside the Mississippi River. This area is super industrial, but also lively, as most of the warehouses and factories located here have been converted into cafes, apartment buildings, and hotels. The Canopy has kept alive the essence of the area throughout its loft-style suites, tall ceilings, and modern decor.
I felt immediately welcomed at the Canopy and was even treated with a welcome candy (you will be too!). The space was clean and it was clear that the hotel has been taking all the proper COVID precautions. My room was extremely clean and comforting, and was surprising quiet for being located right downtown.
Lastly, I recommend staying at the Canopy because they have on-site parking for their guests in a covered garage, along with a delicious on-site restaurant called Umbra. I ate here during my second night and had the best chicken marsala of my life! I really couldn’t recommend a stay here more!
Things To Do In Minneapolis
As outlined above, Minneapolis and St. Paul are two entirely separate cities (that happen to be right next to each other), so I’m splitting this post into things to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Since St. Paul is the capital of Minnesota, there are more attractions there, but Minneapolis is still a wonderful city to explore!
The Mill District
Whether you’re staying in the Mill District or not (you should), definitely set aside some time to explore this area! It’s packed with quaint coffee shops, breweries, and eclectic lofts.
Stone Arch Bridge
Located adjacent to the Mill District, walking across this bridge is one of the top things to do in Minneapolis! It’s a National Civil Engineering landmark and offers great views of the downtown from the parks on either side.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
If you look up things to do in Minneapolis, this is going to be a top suggestion. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is an 11-acre park in Minneapolis. It’s free, requires no ticket for admission, and is open from 6 am to midnight every single day. Basically, you can’t miss it!
Located about a 10 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis is Minnehaha Falls! You absolutely must add this to your list of things to do in Minneapolis! I wasn’t expecting to see an impressive waterfall 1) in the state of Minnesota and 2) definitely not right near downtown, but this place is amazing. I recommend strolling through the park and visiting the oldest home in the city before hiking down the stairs to the base of the falls. The water itself isn’t accessible, but you can get pretty close to the rushing rapids!
Things To Do In St. Paul
The Capitol Building
As mentioned previously, Saint Paul is the capital of Minnesota, so there’s quite a bit to see here including the Minnesota State Capitol Building! In pre-COVID times you could actually tour the inside of this building (for free), but I just enjoyed the outside. It’s a stunning building so it’s definitely worth seeing, whether politics are your thing or not.
St. Paul Cathedral
From the steps of the Capitol building you can actually see the nearby St. Paul Cathedral. This building is also open to the public, and can be visited free of entry. It’s beautiful so be sure to pay it a visit!
Pro-tip: Driving around the city? There’s free, 2 hour parking on the street parallel to the cathedral. The best part? This street has one of the best views of downtown St. Paul!
Como Conservatory & Zoo
I had to save the best for last! Add a visit to the Como Conservatory and Zoo to the very top of your list of things to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul. This attraction is entirely free of charge, which shocked me. I mean… have you ever been to a free zoo? Just make an appointment online to register for an entry time and show up! Arrows will guide you through various animal habitats in the zoo first before dumping you at the entrance of the conservatory. My entire visit took about an hour, but maybe set aside two if you’re visiting with small children.
This zoo was full of surprises! They had the usual lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!), but also a seal show, a polar bear exhibit, and baby gorillas! The Conservatory was even better. If you’re not familiar with the term conservatory (I wasn’t), it’s basically a room with glass walls and a roof that’s used as a greenhouse. It was full of plants and flora from all around the world, and even had an outdoor Japanese garden.
Other Things To Do In The Area
Mall of America
What would a visit to MSP be without the Mall of America! The Mall of America is technically located in Bloomington, Minnesota. It’s about 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul and is conveniently located right next to the airport.
This mall needs no explantation. Coming in at a whopping 5,600,000 square feet, it’s the largest retail center in the United States. It’s so large there’s even an amusement park inside! Despite its overwhelming size, the set-up of the mall is actually quite simple. Basically the Nickelodeon Universe sits in the center of the mall with its multiple rollercoasters and swings, and the stores surround it in one giant circle. There’s 4 floors, although the top one is just a few restaurants. Each “corner” of the circle is either a food court or a superstore like Macy’s and Nordstrom. I’m proud to say I walked the entire circle of every floor aka did the entire mall in about 5 hours. This included a pitstop food court lunch and rides on the swings and rollercoaster. Yes I did this alone.
Fun Fact: This mall is so large there’s actually multiple locations of the same store. For example, I walked by at least two American Eagles and three Bath and Body Works.
Aside from shops and restaurants, there’s also a movie theater here, multiple hotels, mini golf, Crayola world, and more. So basically, there’s something for everyone!
Pro-tip: Parking is completely free in the garages. Just remember where you left your car!
That’s all for my Twin Cities guide! I hope you all added a few more things to do in Minneapolis to your bucket list and consider booking a trip here soon! Thank you again to the Canopy for sponsoring this post. Until next time!
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