Once a relatively quiet Midwestern city, Minneapolis balances historic charm with cutting-edge arts, beautiful parks with can’t-miss restaurants, and fascinating museums with craft breweries. The larger of the two Twin Cities, Minneapolis will amaze and entice travelers with all kinds of interests and budgets. Check out this awesome one-day Minneapolis itinerary, find out how to navigate local airports, and get the low-down on where to stay in the Twin Cities below.

Your Minneapolis Itinerary

Late spring through fall is the best time to visit the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and you’ll find a seemingly endless list of festivals and events happening when the weather warms up. No matter when you visit, though, you’ll want to plan your ideal Minneapolis trip around this itinerary to make sure you don’t miss any highlights.

Dawn: Dig Into a Hearty Breakfast

If you want to make the most of your time in Minneapolis, kick things off early with a breakfast to remember. Wise Acre Eatery is known for its bacon, and you’re definitely going to want a slice or two with your omelet or frittata. This spot sources many of its ingredients from its own farm, so you know everything here is fresh and delicious. As a bonus, this spot isn’t far from the airport, so it’s a great place to start your stay in Minneapolis.

If you’re feeling more like pancakes or waffles, make a beeline for the Birchwood Café, which has some of the best savory waffles in town. To satisfy your sweet tooth, head over to Glam Doll Donuts for Minneapolis’s most punk rock balls of fried dough. Here you’ll find donuts topped with cookie dough, drizzled with beer icing, and filled with blackberry jam.

Feeling like something a bit lighter? Check out Common Roots Café, which has some of the best bagels in town. Top yours with gravlax, a Scandinavian specialty, and enjoy it with a hot cup of coffee.

sculpture garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Morning: Tour the City’s Best Museums

Minneapolis has no shortage of amazing museums, so you can let your personal preferences guide you to the perfect spot. First, get to know Minneapolis with a trip to the Mill City Museum, located in the ruins of what was once the biggest flour mill in the world. Here you can learn a bit about the city’s history as a flour hub, wander through some truly amazing industrial ruins, and see a stunning view of Minneapolis from the ninth-floor observation deck.

Looking for a mix of science and history? You’ll love the Bakken Museum, which explores the history of electricity and how it enhances human life. This quirky attraction is home to exhibits like Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party and Frankenstein’s Laboratory, as well as changing displays in the Cabinet of Curiosity. The museum also hosts fun evening events geared toward visitors 21 and over, so you have every reason to return later on.

Want to immerse yourself in gorgeous artwork? Head to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which has a collection that spans a whopping 20,000 years. You can explore everything from the art of Africa and the Americas to Southeast Asian art and contemporary art and new media. Get there right at 10 a.m. when the museum opens to be first in line for exhibitions covering trade in 18th-century New England, contemporary Somali artists from the Twin Cities, or artist-led installations of the museum’s permanent collection.

What about cutting-edge contemporary art? Get yourself to the Walker Art Center, which specializes in modern and contemporary art and is home to the awesome Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. With both indoor and outdoor art options, this is a museum for all seasons. The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, housed in a metallic Frank Gehry-designed building, is another popular destination for contemporary art. It may not have a sculpture garden, but it’s on the University of Minnesota campus, so there’s plenty of space to stretch your legs right outside.

Noon: Grab a Bite

Before you risk experiencing museum fatigue, give your brain a break and treat your taste buds to one of the best lunch options in town. If you’re traveling with a crew who has pretty diverse tastes, hail an Uber to the Midtown Global Market, where you’ll find tons of options for every palate. The Rabbit Hole, a sort of Korean gastropub, serves up inventive combos like brisket kimchi fried rice, buttermilk fried chicken with gochu butter, and the irresistible Harold & Kumar Poutine.

Also at the Midtown Global Market, grab a bowl of pho or a savory banh mi sandwich from Pham’s Rice Bowl, or go for classic American eats like burgers and malts at Andy’s Garage. If you’re in a taco mood, dig in at Salsa a la Salsa or Taquería Los Ocampo. If you saved room for dessert, grab a slice of tres leches cake or some chocoflan from Samantha’s — or treat yourself to one of the most beautiful cupcakes you’ve ever seen from the Salty Tart.

como zoo sunken garden
The Sunken Gardens at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in Minneapolis.

Afternoon: Take a Hike

You’ve probably heard that Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but did you know that you can experience a bunch of them right in Minneapolis? Visiting the Chain of Lakes is a must, especially in the summer, and you’ll want to set aside time to visit all five lakes. Jog or rent a boat at Lake Calhoun, smell the roses along Lake Harriet, or take a leisurely stroll along the Lake of the Isles.

Perched on the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Park is the ideal spot to get away from busy Minneapolis. Be sure to check out the impressive Minnehaha Falls, see the Song of Hiawatha Garden, and tour the Longfellow House.

Don’t miss your chance to frolic among flowers and butterflies at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, either. The Sunken Garden and the Palm Dome are perfect for Instagram shots, and the Blooming Butterflies exhibit is a great place to chill and soak in the gorgeous colors. If you have time, take a spin through the zoo, which houses seahorses, orangutans, flamingos, and much more.

walker center
The Walker Art Center.

Happy Hour: Sip a Local Craft Brew

Minneapolis is home to a burgeoning craft beer scene and approximately a billion taprooms. Settle into the one that meshes with your beer preferences or Uber around and try a few. Either way, here are a few of the local faves you should try:

Right around the corner from the Walker Art Center, Sisyphus Brewing produces everything from staples like Centennial Pale Ale and WEEliam Wallace Scotch Ale to creative brews like Safe Lady Peanut Butter Stout and Mrs. Sisyphus, a gingery light ale.

One of the newest kids in town, Modist Brewing Co. boasts a huge taproom and brewery in the North Loop. Make this brewery your go-to for inventive brews like First Call, a cold-press coffee lager, and Deviation 008, a sour golden ale.

Near Loring Park, Lakes & Legends holds down the fort with Belgian-style beers. Sip a Trappist-inspired Dubbel, a fruity Great Wit North, or a super drinkable Marigold. This brewery features some delicious farm-to-table beers that go perfectly with its rustic taproom.

Evening: Choose a Dinner Destination

You’ll find an exciting food scene with tons of diverse cuisines in Minneapolis, which can make choosing a dinner destination tough. More than just a bar, Bar La Grassa has some of the best fresh pasta in town, with choices ranging from Spaghetti Carbonara to Pappardelle with Veal Ragu and Gnocchi with Cauliflower and Orange. Don’t miss the Bruschetta with Soft Eggs and Lobster or the Langoustine Crudo, either.

Another James Beard award-winning chef runs Alma, which serves up an impressive variety of culinary infusions. Start with the Sweet Corn Flan, mix things up with the Mung Bean Cake and Clams, and go with the Duck Breast & XO Sausage as your main. With options like Elderflower Panna Cotta and to-die-for cheese plates, you won’t want to skip dessert either.

If you’re looking for a meal that’s quintessentially Minnesotan, set your sights on The Bachelor Farmer, which dazzles with fresh, simple dishes. Start with the gravlax or the poached duck egg toast before moving on to the Grilled Devon Beef and finishing things off with the mouth-watering cherry ice cream sundae.

Late Night: Check Out the Theater District

Minneapolis is known for its performing arts scene, so don’t miss your chance to catch a show. One of the most popular in Minneapolis and famous across the nation, the Guthrie Theater hosts both classic shows and its own avant-garde productions. This theater complex has three stages, two cafés, and a cocktail lounge, so you can even do dinner and a show in one convenient spot.

For Broadway musicals and plays, head to the State Theatre or the Orpheum Theatre. For sketch comedy and improv shows that will definitely make you laugh, grab tickets at the Brave New Workshop.

mill ruins park
The Mill Ruins Park in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport Guide

The main airport for the Twin Cities, Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport (MSP) is the busiest in Minnesota. MSP moves over 37 million passengers every year, and it’s home to two terminals, Lindbergh Terminal 1 and Humphrey Terminal 2. While Terminal 2 is relatively compact, Terminal 1 has seven lettered concourses. You can travel between the two terminals via the light rail transit (LRT) service.

MSP hosts a wide range of airlines, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, and several charter airlines. You can fly to and from domestic destinations like Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, and Phoenix, as well as to and from several international destinations, including Puerto Vallarta, St. Maarten, Reykjavik, Toronto, and Tokyo.

How to Get to and From Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport

Thanks to its seamless integration with the Twin Cities, MSP is easy to access, no matter your preferred mode of transit. Taking public transit is a breeze, as Minneapolis’ LRT trains stop at both terminals and connect to over a dozen destinations throughout the metro area. With trains every 10 to 15 minutes and downtown Minneapolis only a 25-minute ride away, taking the LRT is a no-brainer. If your destination isn’t on the LRT line but you still want to take advantage of public transit, try the Metro Transit public bus service instead.

If travel by car is more your speed, pick up your Uber or Lyft ride from the designated spot at either terminal or hail a taxi to reach your destination. You can also rent a vehicle from any of the major car rental companies at MSP, and most services staff their counters from at least 6 a.m. until 11 p.m.

What to Do at Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport

Have some time to kill at MSP? Stretch your legs and set out on the 1.4-mile American Heart Association walking path through Terminal 1. Grab a quick sub at Quiznos, a root beer float at A&W, or a cup of coffee at Roasting Plant. If you have a little more time, sit down for a meal at the French Meadow Bakery & Café or a beer at Rock Bottom Brewery.

Treat yourself to a manicure before your flight or do a little shopping at the MSP Mall. If you need a little quiet time, head to the reading and meditation area, located on the upper level near the entrance to the E and F Concourses.

Alternatives to Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport

If you’re angling for convenience, MSP is definitely your go-to airport in the Minneapolis area. But if you’re looking for a great deal on a ticket to a nearby airport, check out Rochester International Airport (RST), which is about 95 miles south of the Twin Cities. Though Rochester isn’t exactly next door to Minneapolis, you can easily get between the two cities via a rental car or the Southern MN Connection, a shuttle bus service with fares from $8 to $15.

RST hosts American, Delta, and United flights, mostly short hops from Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Note that RST has free Wi-Fi, making it easy to catch up on work or blog posts, but it’s home to just one restaurant, 331 Express. If you have your heart set on fine dining, plan to eat before you arrive at the airport.

university of minnesota
The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Where to Stay in Minneapolis

Whether you’re traveling on a budget, you want to spend some cash, or you’re looking for a home-like stay, Minneapolis has just the accommodations you want. Check out the top Minneapolis hotels, the best hostels, and the coolest private rentals in the city.

Top Hotels in Minneapolis

Skip the mega hotel chains and plan your stay in a boutique Minneapolis hotel instead. Thinking something quaint and historic? Book your stay at the Hewing Hotel, a North Loop hotel that occupies an 1890s farm implement warehouse. It’s the perfect mix of rustic, industrial, and chic, and there’s plenty of Minnesota flavor, too. You’ll sleep soundly underneath original timber ceilings, and don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at Tullibee, the Nordic-inspired restaurant run by a James Beard-nominated chef.

Thinking upscale and luxurious? Set your sights on The Hotel Minneapolis, Autograph Collection, which boasts a sophisticated atmosphere right in the middle of downtown Minneapolis. Right across the street from the Minneapolis Convention Center, Hotel Ivy is a swanky pick, and its on-site spa is the ideal place to unwind and relax. If you’re feeling something smaller and more intimate, check out 300 Clifton, a bed and breakfast set in a vintage mansion in adorable Loring Park.

Best Hostel in Minneapolis

Whether you’re feeling social and you want to meet up with fellow travelers or you just want to save your hard-earned dollars for delicious eats and fun attractions, an awesome hostel is always a smart pick. Minneapolis may not be a hostel hotspot, but it is home to the Minneapolis International Hostel, which has tons of character and affordable prices.

It’s set in an early 20th-century Victorian mansion that oozes charm, and it’s right in the middle of Uptown. Note that whether you book a private or a shared room, you’ll need to check in and out between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Coolest Private Rentals in Minneapolis

When it comes to picking private rentals, it’s all about the neighborhood. Fortunately, Minneapolis is home to tons of cute communities.

Live it up on the waterfront, and plant yourself in Excelsior for a night or two. Score a great rental in one of the neighborhood’s many Victorian homes, browse the red-brick shops, and treat yourself to a frozen custard at Adele’s. You can even go for a dip at Excelsior Commons, a swimming beach, or rent a bike and hit the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail.

Once a streetcar suburb, Lynnhurst is now a popular neighborhood with historical appeal. No matter where you rest your head in this area, you won’t want to miss the Malt Shop, the vintage stores, or the neighborhood pub, George & the Dragon.

From the lush parks and the amazing museums to the delicious food, you’re going to want to spend much more than a day in Minneapolis. Start planning every part of your getaway right here on GoDoTrip and make sure you don’t miss a single thing.