With a wealth of cultural activities, as well as great natural beauty due to its proximity to the Mississippi River and many lakes, Minneapolis, Minnesota is a picturesque destination. If you’ve already visited the popular tourist attractions, check out the city’s numerous hidden gems. Situated nearby most Minneapolis vacation rentals are unique museums, awe-inspiring artwork, and breathtakingly beautiful parks and gardens. Check out the top secret spots in the city of Minneapolis.
1. Minnehaha Park
Minnehaha Park lies along the western bank of the Mississippi River in southeastern Minneapolis. The park is the home of majestic Minnehaha Falls, which became famous upon publication of The Song of Hiawatha, with its female Native American character of the same name, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1855. The park has several lovely gardens with names based on the iconic poem, including the Song of Hiawatha Garden, Longfellow Garden, and Minnehaha Falls Pergola Garden. Miles of trails through the landscaped upper section and natural lower section are ideal for hiking and cycling. During warm weather the waterfall maintains a vigorous flow, but in the winter it freezes, creating a spectacular effect.
2. Weisman Art Museum
Located on the east bank of the Mississippi River on the University of Minnesota campus, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, has a striking stainless steel facade composed of various geometric shapes. Inside, the collection has over 25,000 pieces, including modern American artwork, ceramics, Native American Mimbres pottery, and unique Korean furniture. Explore the museum on a self-guided tour, or join a group tour led by an expert docent.
3. Stone Arch Bridge
Formerly a railroad crossing of the Mississippi River, the stately Stone Arch Bridge now forms part of the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, which goes 1.8 miles from Father Hennepin Bluff Park on the east bank to First Bridge Park on the west bank. You can walk or cycle across this long 23-arch bridge, and be sure to stop along the way to admire the magnificent view of the Minneapolis skyline.
4. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is spread out through an 11-acre park near vacation rentals in downtown Minneapolis. The garden has over 40 permanent works and a number of temporary works in a landscaped setting of emerald-green lawns and shady trees. One of the most popular pieces is the unique Spoonbridge and Cherry, which depicts an enormous spoon with a giant cherry resting on its tip. The sculpture sits over a pond, and the tip of the cherry’s stem emits a fountain of water. Stroll along pleasant walkways while you admire the works of art.
5. Minnesota Streetcar Museum
The Minnesota Streetcar Museum runs a working heritage streetcar line called the Como-Harriet Line in southwestern Minneapolis. The streetcars are originals from the early 20th century that have been restored to working order. The line runs from the Linden Hills Station at Lake Harriet to a platform at Lake Calhoun. The Linden Hills Station has displays focusing on the history of the Twin Cities streetcar lines and a gift shop with souvenirs. At the lakes along the streetcar lines are opportunities for walking, cycling, canoeing, and picnicking.
6. Fort Snelling State Park
Fort Snelling State Park lies at the southeastern edge of Minneapolis at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. The park features a visitor center with interpretive exhibits highlighting the history and ecology of the area, miles of hiking and cycling trails, and great opportunities for fishing off piers or from boats. Along the trails, watch for deer, wild turkeys, bald eagles, and many other species of birds. Don’t miss a visit to historic Fort Snelling, which was constructed in the early 1800s as a frontier outpost and was later used as a training base during the Civil War and World War II.
7. Twin City Model Railroad Museum
The Twin City Model Railroad Museum sits between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul near the Minnesota Commercial Railway yard. Founded in 1934 as a club, the museum expanded to include 10,000 square feet of interactive railway layouts. The renowned and massive historic O-Scale exhibit focuses on the train lines in the St. Anthony Falls Milling District. Special events such as Circus Trains and Night Trains often occur. The museum also hosts annual hobby shows with vendor displays in the spring and fall.
8. Garden of Pure Water
The Garden of Pure Water is a breathtakingly beautiful Japanese garden that lies within the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum just southwest of Minneapolis. This elegantly landscaped hidden haven features traditional entry gates, a garden house, a lovely pond, precisely placed stones, and over 50 types of plants arranged to create a harmonious atmosphere. It is an ideal place for a tranquil and relaxing stroll. While you’re at the arboretum, be sure to enjoy the many miles of walking trails through the other eclectic garden areas.
9. North Mississippi Regional Park
Located on the northern edge of Minneapolis along the Mississippi River, the North Mississippi Regional Park offers a combination of education, playtime, and natural beauty. The Carl W. Kroening Interpretive Center provides fascinating displays on the ecology and history of the Mississippi River. Kids love the playground, wading pool, and picnic areas. Walking trails through the park’s lush beauty give you opportunities to observe deer, foxes, badgers, great blue herons, and other wildlife.
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