Whether you’re planning your first trip to the Twin Cities or you’re a lifelong resident, Minneapolis and St. Paul Paul are full of unique things to do and see. From natural areas to man-made sculptures, there’s a little something for everyone. The proximity of Minneapolis and St. Paul make it so you really get two cities for the price of one when you visit. Use this list to help you plan your next trip to Minneapolis and Saint Paul – or, if you live in the Twin Cities, to discover new things to do that are close to home.
1. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
As the home to one of the icons of the city, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a must-visit spot for anyone spending time in the Twin Cities. You can't miss the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry, but there are many other remarkable sculptures here as well. Spending a summer afternoon wandering the grounds is one of the best ways to spend a day in Minneapolis.
2. Minnehaha Falls
How many major cities have a 53-foot waterfall within city limits? That alone makes Minnehaha a unique place to visit! When you add the gorgeous, tree-lined trails and grassy hills (not to mention the nearby Sea Salt Eatery), you have the recipe for an incredible place to see.
3. Frozen Minnehaha Falls
Yup, this fantastic feature is on our list twice. Minnehaha Falls is absolutely spectacular in the summertime, but in the winter, it takes on an eerie beauty. The frozen falls look like something from another world, and you can even hike down the staircase to see the icy creek up close. Minnehaha Falls proves that even when the temperature drops, Minneapolis is an incredible city.
4. The Bakken Museum
If you're looking for some indoor fun, the Bakken Museum may be the most unique museum in the Twin Cities. Also called the "Museum of Electricity in Life," a trip to this interesting spot is full of educational opportunities. When you walk away, you'll have a greater appreciation of the history of electricity and how it has impacted human life.
5. Wabasha Street Caves
The Wabasha Street Caves may look unassuming on the outside, but the doors open to one of the most fascinating places in the Twin Cities. Carved out of a sandstone bluff near the Mississippi River, these St. Paul caves date back to the mid-1800s. They're shrouded in legend, with some even believing them to be haunted. A tour will tell of their history, from the time they were used to grow mushrooms to the days when they housed infamous mobsters.
6. The Grain Belt sign
This unique place in Minneapolis is easy to spot in just a few seconds, but it's an icon of the city and definitely worth passing by. Travel down the Hennepin Avenue Bridge and you'll see the famous sign, which dates back to 1941. Now you can even see it at night! It was relit for the first time in 21 years in late 2017.
7. Twin City Model Railroad Museum
This museum is a little-known St. Paul treasure that more people really should visit. It's filled to the brim with model railways of all kinds, each as impressive as the last. One of the best exhibits is a train that travels through a replica of Minneapolis. It's a magical place to visit, and it gets even more magical during the holiday season. The overhead lights are turned down and guests are entranced by the lights of the models.
8. Shadow Falls
OIYS Staff Photo
Minneapolis may have Minnehaha Falls, but St. Paul is not without its own waterfalls. The city's Hidden Falls is a great place to visit, but Shadow Falls is even lesser known. To access it, visitors must hike a rugged path through the woods along the Mississippi River. It is possible to access the bottom of the falls, but be aware that the path is rutted and often muddy. Even if you don't make it to the bottom, this quiet waterfall offers peace and quiet that you can't find in many major cities.
9. Mill Ruins Park
Minneapolis was built on the milling industry, and Mill Ruins Park celebrates that history. Visitors can wander around the old ruins along the Mississippi River and remember where the city got its start. The nearby St. Anthony Falls are a must-see and Mill City Museum is a fantastic place to learn more about the flour and lumber mills that the city was built on. All in all, it's a fascinating look at history that no other city has.
10. Indian Mounds Regional Park
The Twin Cities are full of history, and it dates back to long before the cities were first officially founded. At St. Paul's Indian Mounds Regional Park, guests can take a walk right alongside history. The park is made up of six Native American burial grounds that date back 2,000 years. If you visit, you'll get a peek at these ancient final resting places and learn about the first people who lived in this area.
Twin Cities residents, are there any other unique spots you’d recommend? Share where else you’d recommend to visitors in the comments below!