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What Is Minneapolis Known For and Famous For?

If you’re a hodophile with a thing for picturesque cities, then you probably have heard of Minneapolis, or even better, it’s among the destinations on your travel list. This contemporary city in Minnesota (MN), United States, has a lot to offer the newcomers. So, what is Minneapolis known for?

Minneapolis is known for countless stunning blue lakes, towering skyscrapers, thriving art scenes, and high-end entertainment and cuisine joints. Additionally, Minneapolis is home to the mighty Mississippi, the prestigious Mall of America, and the breathtaking and popular St. Anthony falls.

If you want to explore Minneapolis, then this article is just the thing for you, as we’ve compiled a comprehensive list detailing some of the things this touristy city is best known for and famous for. Let’s dive right in!

Stunning Blue Lakes

Minneapolis, known as the ‘City of Lakes,’ is one of Minnesota’s cities with a rich lake culture. With about 22 lakes spread within its boundaries, each of these lakes retains its unique personality offering a wide range of attractions and activities for tourists and residents.

What is the most popular lake? The Chain of Lakes, which are strategically positioned at the southwest of downtown Minneapolis, and consists of five scenic lakes: 

  • Lake of the Isles 
  • Lake Harriet 
  • Cedar Lake 
  • Brownie Lake 
  • Bde Maka Ska

This eye-catching chain of lakes boasts beautiful and clean paved trails running along the lake shores, circling each water body to allow for biking, running, and walking, among other shore-related activities.

During the warmer months of the year, many tourists flock to this scenic area to enjoy canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and surfing in the warm waters. 

Surprisingly, these lakes still bustle with fun even during the winter by providing cold weather water activities such as skiing, ice hockey, and ice skiing, among others. 

Though the average highs in January sit around 20℉ (-6℃), much of the winter high temps hover between -10℉ to 0℉ (-23℃ to -17℃). These temperatures make the lake ice solid enough for ice fishing, which many Midwesterners love doing in the winter. (If you visit Minneapolis in the winter, be sure to bring plenty of warm winter clothing.)

Generally, Minneapolis finds pride in its stunning blue lakes, such as the famous Chain of Lakes, which forms the face of the City of Lakes.

Exciting Art Galleries and Museums

Minneapolis is known for its exciting and amazing art galleries, museums, and theaters. From internationally recognized art centers such as the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) to upcoming art venues like Rogue Buddha Gallery, Minneapolis is a vibrant art city ideal for art enthusiasts and other explorers.

The city’s rich art culture comes as a perfect blend of modern and ancient art, attracting many art enthusiasts worldwide. 

For example, the Walker Art Centre houses an impressive collection of contemporary art pieces and unique design exhibitions, and it also connects to the famous and breathtaking outdoor Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which adds to its scenic view. One piece of particular interest is the large spoon with the cherry, which Minneapolis is famous for.

Additionally, if you’re interested in a wide range of ancient and modern artifact masterpieces, you’ll love the famous Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which is home to over 80,000 outstanding works of photography, drawing, sculptures, paintings, and prints. 

Besides the visual arts, Minneapolis also finds pride in its rich theatre and performing arts department. 

The Guthrie Theater is the most renowned theatre in the city, occupying a three-stage complex, and it forms the highlight for performing art lovers who enjoy going out for shows, as it’s the heart of entertainment lovers. 

Its major highlight is a cantilever bridge that overlooks the mighty Mississippi River. What’s more, the theatre’s architecture and the view of the beautiful city and the Mississippi River from inside the building are worth a visit.

 

The Mall of America

The Mall of America (MOA) is a famous mall for visitors in Minneapolis and a larger part of Minnesota. It boasts over 500 well-stocked stores, 60 restaurants serving mouth-watering cuisines, and dozens of attractions and indoor amusement sites.

Since 1992, this mall has secured its place as one of the largest shopping malls in America, where you can shop for a wide variety of apparel and accessories without paying a single dollar for sales tax on clothing items, which is the reason behind the influx of tourists in this mall. Minnesota does not charge sales tax.

Besides the unmatched shopping experience, this is the only mall in the US where you can ride a rollercoaster, eat different cuisines, watch sharks swim, and enjoy an uninterrupted view of beautiful butterflies in a butterfly garden without setting foot outdoors. 

MOA is an ideal place for the whole family. 

Kids can’t get enough of the Nickelodeon Universe, the four-story Lego store, and the Underwater Adventures Aquarium. On the other hand, adults enjoy browsing through the various stores, trying out different foods and drinks in the dozens of restaurants, or watching movies in the movie theatre.

Given that this spot is a major tourist attraction, it’s likely to get crowded, but don’t worry, it’s large enough to accommodate the massive crowds. MOA is more than just a mere mall; it’s a destination. 

Inventive Architecture and Skyscrapers

Among the many highlights of Minneapolis are the towering skyscrapers that create scenic views in this magnificent city. Over the years, Minneapolis has undergone many changes to give it a new face dominated by towering buildings with cutting-edge architectural designs.

From the Walker Art Center’s eye-catching metal and glass expansion to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ Target Wing, these are just some of the notable inventive architecture within the Minneapolis skyline.

Additionally, you don’t want to overlook the newly opened Minneapolis Public Library, Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and the Mall of America, proudly displaying their inventive designs.

No doubt, the big names in the architectural design field aimed at delivering their best, which include Herzog & de Meuron, who worked on the Walker Art Center; designer Michael Graves, who gave MIA a new look; and Cesar Pelli, who designed the new public library. Their creative architectural skills produced unique masterpieces that changed the face of Minneapolis.

Many architect enthusiasts find pleasure in exploring these magnificent buildings, while tourists are fascinated and view these buildings as ideal photo sites. 

The Minneapolis Skyway System

You can’t discuss Minneapolis without talking about its famous skyway system. The Minneapolis Skyway System is the world’s largest continuous skyway, which has attracted many tourists into the city over the years.

This skyway is a collection of multiple enclosed pedestrian footbridges extending to about 11 mi (18 km), which connects different buildings within various blocks in the city. Tourists and workers alike can walk to: 

  • Office towers
  • Government offices 
  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals 
  • Banks
  • Retail stores 
  • Some high-end apartments

Initially, this skyway was designed to reduce the congestion in the city streets, but today, it does more than just that. Given that Minneapolis experiences very cold winters and warm summers, the skyway acts as a protective shield for people to walk in climate-controlled pathways.

The skyways allow people to comfortably go about their daily tasks without worrying about the freezing winter or the hot sun during summer. Additionally, the glass-enclosed thoroughfare skyways give you a breathtaking view of the city beneath.

 

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the heart of Minneapolis, located close to the Walker Art Center, which runs its operations in coordination with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

This park ranks among the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country. It is home to over 40 permanent modern and temporary art installations and many other temporary pieces that are changed periodically.

Its rich sense of art and culture perfectly blends two of Minneapolis’s most cherished resources, which include cultural life and amusement parks.

Since its launch over three decades ago, this sculpture park has welcomed millions of tourists thanks to its extensive art collection and the most iconic highlight, the Spoonbridge, and cherry. It is one of the most popular spots where tourists create memories through photography, as it’s an epic photoshoot spot.

 

The Mighty Mississippi River

Another highlight for Minneapolis is the mighty Mississippi River, the longest in North America, which passes through various states within North America, including Minnesota, Minneapolis’ mother state. 

The Mississippi River is divided into three major parts, the upper, middle, and lower Mississippi. Out of these three divisions, the upper Mississippi winds its way through Minneapolis, opening up and emptying its waters into the famous St. Anthony Falls.

Minneapolis owes much of its growth to this river which played a significant role in powering the city’s prosperous flour mills through a hydroelectric power plant set up at St. Anthony Falls.

Minneapolis thrived in flour milling during its heydays, which opened doors for other related industrial establishments such as industrial equipment firms and packaging industries. These establishments sprouted the growth of Minneapolis into being one of the most industrialized cities in the region.

While flour milling has since faded in this city, this mighty natural water source still serves as a defining part of Minneapolis’ geography. It offers a serene green environment at its shores, where tourists flock for fun and exercise.

The banks of the Mississippi River have many benefits in store for everyone. Tourists can’t get enough of Minnehaha Regional Park, one of the city’s oldest parks and home to a majestic and therapeutic 53-foot (16-meter) Minnehaha waterfall, breathtaking river overlooks, and limestone bluffs.

As you go along the banks, you’ll find multiple restaurants serving fresh and delicious river food such as lobsters, oysters, scallops, and walleye (a popular local white fish). 

There’s also a Stone Arch Bridge crossing the river at St. Anthony falls to give you a panoramic view of this natural mighty water body. If you want a place to take heart-worthy Instagram shots, the banks of the Mississippi River are your ideal destination.

 

St. Anthony Falls

St. Anthony Falls, a major highlight of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, has attracted many tourists due to its religious significance, scenic beauty, and economic power. Historically, the waterfalls had a religious significance among Native American tribes such as the Dakotas, who believed its waters had healing powers.

When Minneapolis engaged in large-scale flour milling during the early days, these waterfalls were used as a source of hydroelectric power to power the mills, which gave them economic significance. As a result, multiple dams were erected along the waterfalls to harness water and boost hydropower production.

However, due to the overuse of these poorly constructed man-made dams, a part of the St. Anthony waterfalls collapsed in 1869. It was then replaced by a concrete overflow spillway which today stands to replace the natural falls.

Although the natural falls were replaced by artificial construction, they still uphold their scenic beauty and continue to attract flocks of tourists each year.

The Stone Arch Bridge that passes through these waterfalls captures the attention of many people who enjoy an uninterrupted view of the falls. It also offers an ideal spot for memorable photoshoots.

The St. Anthony waterfalls stand among Minneapolis’s top national natural heritage sites.

Unique and Delicious Food

Minneapolis is also known for its wide range of amazing mouth-watering dishes, which come from different cultures and ethnicities. Most dishes are made of fresh home-grown ingredients, so their flavor is never compromised. Additionally, the cooks use special and creative culinary skills, so boring food doesn’t have a place at Minneapolis’s tables.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the rich network of restaurants within the city and by the lake shores serving freshly prepared cuisines. In Minneapolis, you can also find any cocktail and foreign drinks you fancy. The most popular cocktails here are Bloody Mary and Cosmopolitan, among others.

Some of the famous foods Minneapolis is known for include:

  • Walleye
  • Juicy Lucy, which is a cheese-stuffed burger
  • The Tater Tot hotdish
  • Scandinavian dishes, including Swedish meatballs, pickled herring, and Lefse
  • Wild rice, which is a staple grain of Minnesota and its cities.
  • Pho

Minneapolis’s cuisines attract many tourists who are thrilled by the taste of the mouth-watering dishes. 

Conclusion

If you are thinking about visiting this city, the food, mighty Mississippi, Chain of Lakes, Mall America, and the numerous art centers should give you more reasons to do so.

Don’t worry about getting around the various destinations, because the transport system is well established. The famous Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport serves this city, which allows direct flights to and from major cities.

Additionally, it’s easy to get around by car, and there are also well-established bike lanes if you want to cycle around the city.

 

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