Mar 12, 2023 - Things to Do

How to play winter tourist in the Twin Cities

Bryan Erickson clears snow in front of First Avenue nightclub Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 in downtown Minneapolis, Minn.

First Avenue nightclub downtown. Photo: Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Sick of the snow? Why not spend a weekend (or weeknight) playing tourist in your own city?

Driving the news: We asked Axios Twin Cities readers to share their go-to spots for showing off our great metro to visitors. Hundreds of you responded!

Why it matters: Now is about the time of year when many Minnesotans start wondering why they live here at all.

  • While many of the recommendations might seem obvious β€” or be places you've been many times before β€” these tried-and-true activities and attractions are worth another look.

The bottom line: Whether you're hosting friends, new to the area or just looking to see your city through fresh eyes, we're here to help you get through the rest of winter.

πŸ›οΈ Mall of America

Nine out of 10 of your out-of-town guests will probably request a tour of the mother of all Minnesota tourist attractions, complete with a ride at Nickelodeon Universe (RIP Camp Snoopy!).

Yes, but: The shopping and entertainment complex's 5.6 million square feet of stores, restaurants and entertainment means there's almost always something new to see.

Pro tip: Swing by before the stores open for a walking tour to avoid crowds.

πŸ•ΊπŸΏ Paisley Park

We know you know that you can tour Prince's Chanhassen estate-turned-museum/shrine. But did you know you can pay $160 to record in the studio?

  • For an even more local (and probably less expensive) Prince experience, hit up a show at the Dakota, one of the late artist's go-to haunts, or snap a selfie outside the "Purple Rain" house (3420 Snelling Ave.).

Speaking of Prince, a show at First Avenue is never a bad idea (80s vs. 90s party anyone?).

🍜 Fill up at a food hall:

Bored with beer crawls? Eat your way through the Twin Cities instead by spending an afternoon touring one of our many food halls.

Plus: The new Asia Mall in Eden Prairie is one of a number of great international grocery stores in the metro area worthy of a stop.

🎨 Get your fine-art fix

Minneapolis Institute of Art recently debuted a new full-sensory, immersive exhibition from Oscar-winning art director Tim Yip. The Walker, Cafesjian Art Trust Museum in Shoreview and Bell Museum are also good bets.

More ideas

πŸ•ΉοΈ Can Can Wonderland offers mini golf, pinball, arcade games and more. Grab a beer at BlackStack Brewing before or after.

🍯 The Mill City Farmers Market, located inside the Mill City Museum during the winter months, has a few upcoming dates for your artisanal goods needs. The Twin Cities team picked up delicious pastries on a recent visit.

πŸ”­ After you shop, take a stroll to the Guthrie's Endless Bridge. The observation area runs 178 feet and is 55 feet above the parkway. It's open to the public starting at 11am Tuesday through Sunday β€” no show ticket required!

πŸŽ₯ "Scream it Off Screen" at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis is always a good time. Audiences for the short film competition decide which entrant gets a cash prize. It takes place the first Friday of every month.

🏈 Treat your favorite Vikings fan to a behind-the-scenes tour of U.S. Bank Stadium. We're pretty sure they won't let you blow the Gjallarhorn, but it's worth an ask!

🌸 Pretend you've escaped to somewhere warm at Como Zoo and Conservatory. If you're willing to bundle back up, winter's a great time to see polar bears and Arctic foxes romp in the snow. Staying indoors? Keep an eye out for Chloe the sloth in the Tropical Encounters room.

πŸ› And for parents or those with young guests, there are plenty of indoor playgrounds and kid-friendly indoor activities around, too. Here's our guide.


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