From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Whether you have a day of downtime or you’re taking a week off, you’ll find plenty to do in Minneapolis. The city is a cultural hub with public exhibits and performances in world-class theaters, museums, and galleries. There are plenty of beautiful state parks in and around the city. Multicultural menus, unique attractions, and affordable activities make Minneapolis a great staycation destination.
Ready to explore one half of the Twin Cities? Let's get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Some of the state’s best-reviewed public parks can be found in and around the city of Minneapolis. Whether your idea of adventure is camping under the stars, canoeing through a canopy of trees, or catching your dinner from a crystal clear lake, you can do all that and much more at these local state parks.
It’s hard to believe this peaceful property is just an hour’s drive outside of Minneapolis. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is the perfect place for a quiet walk along shaded paths, a solitary snowshoeing session, or a romantic picnic for two among the trees.
Stop by the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center at Fort Snelling State Park to learn about the significance of this historic landmark and the role it played in the development of Minneapolis. You can hike up to the fort itself or enjoy some of the park’s other activities and amenities like the fishing pier on Snelling Lake, the mountain bike trails, or the picnic and playground areas.
Mother Nature blessed Afton State Park with extraordinary beauty! Massive oak trees tower over multi-use trails that wind through open expanses of prairie land. Delicate flowers decorate the rolling hills and brighten the bluffs overlooking the scenic St. Croix River. Fishing, swimming, boating, and geocaching are popular activities at Afton. Three picnic areas equipped with tables, fire pits, and charcoal grills are perfect for family reunions or other group gatherings.
This wooded state park is just over 45 miles from Minneapolis. A favorite spot for outdoor adventurers, Lake Maria State Park has log cabins where backpackers can spend the night in bunk beds, benches for naturalists who need to take a break, and miles of well-marked trails for cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hikers.
If you love being out on the water, head to William O’ Brien State Park where you can go swimming, boating, or fishing in Lake Alice or the St. Croix River. On land, the park has a range of recreation facilities that include a wheelchair accessible picnic area, a volleyball court, and horseshoe pit, and even a golf course. Equipment for geocaching, fishing, and water sports can be picked up at the park office.
An easy 1.8-mile loop through the Minnehaha Creek preserve in St. Louis Park, this trail is a local family favorite. Alternating between paved paths and boardwalks, the trail begins in Creekside Park and follows the curves of the creek through wildlife habitats and restored wetlands.
A mix of natural surface and paved paths, the 5.4-mile Hyland and Bush Lakes Loop at Hyland-Bush-Anderson Lakes Park is rated as a moderate-level hiking trail. The southern part of the trail loops around Hyland Lake before heading back north and then west to the trailhead. Hikers share the trail with bikers, trail runners, and even cross-country skiers when there’s snow on the ground.
Your four-legged friend is welcome on this 1.7-mile loop that’s more of a self-guided tour of this historic area than a true hike. You’ll start at the trailhead in Mill Ruins Park, cross the Mighty Mississippi on the Stone Arch Bridge, and pass through several city parks before looping back to the bridge. Be sure to take the path that leads out to the falls. The view of this landmark attraction set against the city skyline is not to be missed!
If you’re looking for a lengthier hike, check out Winchell Trail. This partially paved out-and-back trail follows the western bank of Mississippi River between Franklin Avenue and 44th Street and has dirt side trails you can take if you want to extend your hike. Dogs can join their owners on the trail as long as they are kept on-leash.
Hikers, bikers, and runners wanting a challenge can attempt to complete the 48.4-mile loop known as the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Despite its length, the trail itself is fairly easy to traverse and travels through many public parks where you can rest and take a bathroom break before continuing on. If you need to break up the hike, there are multiple entries and exits points along the way.
This contemporary restaurant in the North Loop neighborhood is open for dinner only Wednesday through Sunday. Part of the Soigné Hospitality Group, Demi’s menu and decor reflects the meaning of the group’s name: elegantly maintained, thoughtfully cared for. The space is decorated with work from area artists and the menu features an ever-evolving selection of dishes crafted with quality local ingredients and enhanced with flavors from around the world. Reservations are highly recommended.
Located in a former horse stable on First Street, Spoon and Stable is helmed by James Beard-award winning chef Gavin Kaysen, a Minneapolis native. Inventive entrées and creative cocktails are created using only the finest ingredients. Sides of creamy spinach with cheese curds and Hasselback potatoes with tomato aioli complement the main dishes. Dessert selections currently include honey and cream cake, lemon mousse, milk chocolate flan, and chocolate custard torte.
Open for dinner six days a week and brunch on the weekends, this restaurant in South Minneapolis serves snacks, small plates, arepas, and sweet treats inspired by Latin American street food. A kids menu introduces tiny taste buds to cultural cuisine. Even the drink menu is filled with south-of-the-border selections like rum, mezcal, pisco, and tequila.
Argentinian-born chef Daniel del Prado has brought the flavors of his home country to the Midwest. Located in the Linden Hills neighborhood, Martina’s menu serves dinner daily and is open for weekend brunch is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner options include cold and hot appetizers, small plates, grilled entrées, side servings of vegetables, and select desserts.
For contemporary cuisine cooked by an award-winning chef and her culinary team, book a table at Young Joni. Korean dishes share the menu with Mediterranean pizza, Mexican Coke, and wine from around the world. Behind the restaurant is a hidden bar serving hand-crafted cocktails and small bites.
Tap into the power of play at the Minnesota Children’s Museum. With engaging activities, interactive exhibits, and special events, this Minneapolis museum is fun for the entire family. Current exhibits include water tables, a laser maze, a climbing wall, and a maker space. The museum has quiet rooms for anyone who needs to take a break from the energetic atmosphere.
Unless you’re from the Twin Cities, you probably wouldn’t think to go to the mall for indoor entertainment. But Mall of America is no ordinary mall! It’s home to amazing attractions for kids and adults, including Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor amusement park. The park has pint-sized rides, meet-and-greets with characters from your favorite Nickelodeon shows, two 18-hole mini golf courses, and an adventure course with the longest indoor zip line in North America!
A visit to the Crayola Experience at Mall of America is every creative kid’s dream! This 60,000 square foot facility houses twenty-five creative spaces where families can do craft projects, watch entertaining presentations, shoot silly selfies, customize a coloring page, participate in special events, and so much more!
This is virtually one of the coolest places in Minneapolis! The REM5 Virtual Reality Laboratory is housed in an industrial warehouse in St. Louis Park. Reserve time in one of their pods and get access to their library of virtual experiences or face off against other players in the arena. When you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a snack or a slice of pizza and wash it down with some local craft beer, cider, and soda.
You’ll laugh until you cry as you watch improv teams compete for your reaction at CSz Twin Cities. ComedySportz matches are inspired by audience suggestions which results in hilarious situations that no one could have predicted. In addition to live shows, you can hire the ComedySportz teams for private events or take improv classes yourself. Who knows? Maybe one day it will be you up there!
The instructors at this locally owned paint and sip franchise will guide you through the process of creating your own masterpiece. Classes are generally held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings and registration is restricted to teens and adults. An assortment of snacks, appetizers, small plates, and sweets are available from the bar menu and well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The studio is also available for private events and parties.
Both the St. Paul Saints and the Hamline University Pipers call CHS Field home. This 7,210-seat ballpark is location in Minneapolis’s twin city, St. Paul. Fans can choose from a rotating selection of local craft brews at Craft Beer Corner or catch a bag of peanuts thrown from the press box during the 7th-inning stretch. This family-friendly ballpark has a play zone for kids with a climbing wall, a life-size version of the Candyland board game, and a bouncy house.
Thousands of sea creatures swimming through a mall? Sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, doesn’t it? But it’s reality at Mall of America where the SEA LIFE attraction houses aquatic animals from sharks to sea turtles in towering tanks. Upgrade your experience with tickets for behind-the-scenes tours, animal interactions, and special events. Full-price tickets are available at the entrance, but you can get a discount if you buy your tickets online before you arrive.
Explore America from the air in this unique 4D flight experience at Mall of America. The adventure begins as you’re suspended in the air in front of a massive movie screen. The spherical shape of the screen and the special sensory effects will make it feel like you’re soaring from coast to coast over cities and wide-open countryside. Tickets are available online and at the gate.
The Minneapolis Museum of Art has a world-class collection of pieces from all over the globe. In addition to their permanent collection, they host traveling exhibits and hold classes, programs, tours, and talks to education the community about the art and artists represented in the museum. Best of all, admission to the museum is free and so are many of the events and activities.
Maybe you want to check out some of the great Minneapolis art while also being outside. Here is a perfect option for you! There's nothing better on a bright, sunny day than to walk the grounds of the Sculpture Garden. It's open 365 days a year and is totally free!
Open 365 days a year, the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory has free educational exhibits, animal encounters, specialty gardens, art installations, and family-friendly attractions. Donations are welcome and will go to support the facility and continue its mission to offer high quality experiences for all its guests. The zoo is home to seals, big cats, aquatic animals, safari animals, primates, birds, and polar bears. The conservatory has indoor and outdoor gardens planted with native and exotic plants.
Designed by Jen Lewin, this award-winning art installation can be played by running your hand under the sensors to create music. At night, the LED lights change color as well creating a striking visual display. You can find the Sidewalk Harp in front of the headquarters of the Be the Match bone marrow registry.
Relax and rejuvenate at these locally owned day spas and boutiques:
You’ll feel the positive energy flowing through this day spa in Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood. Get your chi balanced or choose from a variety of other specialty treatments like a caviar facial, an ion cleansing footpath, infrared sauna therapy, or an Ayurvedic head massage.
In Sanskrit, the word “tula” means “balanced,” and that’s how you’ll feel after you experience this Tangletown spa’s mindful massages, natural skin care treatments, reiki therapy, and yoni steaming sessions.
Practice self-care at the Sabai Body Temple, where you can get a deep tissue massage, indulge in a cleansing ritual, become more physically aware with somatic experiencing, and even try a happiness coaching session.
Feel fit and fabulous when you work out at these Minneapolis area gyms and yoga studios:
The Firm has state-of-the-art cardio and weight training equipment, a full range of fitness and wellness services, and classes in everything from aerobics to yoga. Personal and small group training sessions are available by appointment and are held in a dedicated space so you can focus on your fitness.
If you prefer a personalized experience that you just can’t get a gym, book a session at Holly J Fitness. Holly is a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor who will tailor your workouts to help you meet your fitness goals. She trains her clients in two North Loop studios and holds bootcamps in parks around the city.
Minneapolis Yoga offers Bikram yoga classes in a studio heated to 105 degrees. The 90-minute sessions work every part of the body in a series of 26 postures. In addition to morning, afternoon, and evening Bikram yoga sessions, qualified instructors offer classes in meditation and yin yoga. On Saturday nights, the sessions are set to music and lit with candlelight. If possible, bring your own yoga mat, towel, and water bottle.
When you want to explore the rest of the region, head out of town for a day trip to these nearby locations:
Just over an hour up I-94 is St. Cloud, Minnesota’s tenth largest city and a great place to visit for its natural beauty, historic attractions, and recreational opportunities. Cool down at the Quarry Park and Nature Reserve, smell the flowers at Munsinger Gardens, or learn about the history of central Minnesota at the Stearns History Museum.
Rochester is home to more than 100 parks where residents and visitors can enjoy a day of outdoor adventure. Hiking trails, sports fields, playgrounds, accessible waterways, skate parks, fishing piers, and picnic areas are just some of the many amenities you can take advantage of during your time in Rochester.
Take a road trip a couple hours north to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. Duluth is a beautiful lakeside town that makes for a great weekend getaway. The area is full of great fishing, boating, breweries, shopping, and more!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Minneapolis that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Minneapolis? Send them our way [email protected] by tagging us on Instagram @rvshareand using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.