Along with its “Twin City” St Paul on the opposite bank of the Mississippi, Minnesota’s state capital has a thriving urban scene, says Olivia Hultgren.
1 - Stone Arch Bridge
Begin your urban exploration at one of Minneapolis’ most photographed landmarks: Stone Arch Bridge. Suspended over the great Mississippi River, this former railway bridge was built in the 1800s and converted into a pedestrian and cycle path in 1994. Stroll across it for the best ground-level view of the city skyline and the man-made St Anthony Falls.
On the west side of Stone Arch lies the Mill City Museum, built within the ruins of what was the world’s largest flour mill before it was destroyed by a fire in 1991. The museum’s designers reinforced the building’s charred walls with steel and added large panes of glass, creating a beautiful contrast of old and new. Get a handle on what the mill was like in operation inside or head up to the observation deck for a panoramic view. mnhs.org/millcity
2 - Tullibee in the North Loop
Head north on West River Parkway and you’ll enter the North Loop, also known as the Warehouse District, where 19th- and 20th-century industrial buildings have been revamped into hipster restaurants and art-centric startups. In the heart of the North Loop, is Tullibee, a Scandinavian-inspired restaurant on the ground floor of Hewing Hotel.
With the largest ethnically Norwegian population in the US, a state forest named after Finland and an accent often mistaken for Swedish, Minnesota retains its Scandinavian influence. Tullibee’s simple, rustic interior and cuisine makes it a great place to sample Minnesota’s backwoods flavours and experience its Nordic heritage. Plus, it’s open from 6.30am to midnight. hewinghotel.com/tullibee-restaurant
3 - Foshay Tower
Walk south towards Downtown Minneapolis and turn right on Nicollet Avenue, along a stretch known as Nicollet Mall, the unofficial shopping capital of the city. You’ll pass hanging flowerpots, locals enjoying upscale food on outdoor patios and numerous skyway crossings (enclosed raised pedestrian walkways); Minneapolis is home to the largest system of enclosed skyways in the world.
Down 8th Street, on the left, you’ll see the Foshay, a light brown 32-storey former office building, its design inspired by the Washington Monument in Washington DC. Now it is a W Hotel, but you can take the lift to the top and enjoy the expansive view of Minneapolis and St Paul from the observation deck, for an admission fee of US$10. wminneapolishotel.com
4 - Walker Art Centre and Sculpture Garden
Continue south on Nicollet Avenue and turn right near the Hyatt Regency, weaving through the inner city greenery of Loring Park. Cross the highway and you’ll see the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, which is just as it sounds: a giant spoon with a red cherry on its rim. Enter the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, an outdoor park housing more than 40 works of art, including Hahn/Cock, a huge blue rooster, which debuted in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2013.
Next to the gardens is Walker Art Centre, a magnificent metallic and glass structure and one of the most visited museums in the country. Within its crisp silver and white walls, you’ll find a vast array of contemporary art, from simple paintings to moving image collections. walkerart.org
5 - Bde Maka Ska
Minnesota licence plates read “10,000 Lakes”, though in reality the state contains even more. Just a ten-minute taxi ride from the Walker Art Centre is Lake Calhoun, recently renamed Bde Maka Ska to preserve Minnesota’s Native American culture. Among paddleboard rentals and long lines of sailing boats, the lake’s eastern shore boasts a quaint boardwalk.
If you have time and fancy a craft beer, head down West Lake Street to Lynlake Brewery, where the Uptown folk gather amid bare-brick walls and bicycle wheels that hang from the ceiling. Take note when ordering a drink that in the US a pint is 473ml; a UK pint is 568ml. Alternatively, stick around Bde Maka Ska for the sunset, and witness the Minneapolis skyline reflected in the lake’s waters at twilight. lynlakebrewery.com