Adventuring Close to Home - Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota Weekend Trip Ideas
“I need a six month vacation twice a year.” Have you ever heard that saying? I think almost everyone could relate to it, if I'm being honest. It’s been just over a month since we returned from our last vacation and I’m already itching to get back out there for more adventures.
If only Zac could get himself a job that he can do from anywhere like mine – I have zero doubts that we would then be driving around in a camper van or RV, living our best lives out on the road. Since that is not the case, however, we will instead have to continue living with our three vacations per year and any weekend getaways that we can squeeze in.
I’m not complaining by any means – I obviously truly enjoy our lives (and am pretty certain Zac does too). Like I’ve noted in past posts, we have plenty of adventures right here at home. We can kayak, paddleboard, bike, hike, mountain bike, run, and more, all just five minutes from home! Plus, the way we live now means that we have more opportunities to research our destination choices before our trips.
In 2022, I want to put more of a focus on weekend getaways and short adventures so we can explore places nearby. The interest started with my adventure to a canicross race with Buzz (and Mischa!) last year, continued with my Christmas Eve adventure with the Facebook group I met through TikTok, and has still been going strong up through our day trip to Decorah for my birthday.
Something else we have been doing lately is looking to potentially trade in the Jeep for a new vehicle. Between the miles already on it, the current gas prices, and the fact that we will most likely very soon be fostering children, we are on the hunt for something that might make a bit more sense. We are both really going to miss the Jeep if we do that, though. It’s taken us on a lot of adventures – including some over and through streams and others up mountains.
Some are probably asking, What does the fact that you may be getting a new car have to do with anything travel, adventure, or even dog related anyway? To be honest, not much. What it does have to do with travel and adventure, though, is that there are so few cars available that we were exploring a wider area for vehicles. By doing this, it made us realize just how close Minneapolis is. It’s less than three and a half hours away! That, of course, means that I started a mini research session on things that we could potentially do on a weekend getaway there (and St. Paul is only 17 minutes from Minneapolis – so for the purposes of this post, there are places to go and things to do listed for both).
Museums and Art
Upon starting my research, I immediately found that Minneapolis and St. Paul have a plethora of options for museums and art institutes. Apparently, if someone wants a weekend full of knowledge and art, this is the place to go.
Minneapolis Institute of Art – This art center has three floors of art, and tickets can be $20 or less! You can sign up to become a member and get even cheaper tickets and extra specials too. As I’m writing this, they currently have a “Supernatural America” exhibit that seems awesome.
Mill City Museum – According to their website, “Mill City Museum was built within the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the flagship mill of the Washburn-Crosby Co. (later General Mills). It was the largest and most technologically advanced flour mill in the world when it was completed in 1880.” This museum gives people the chance to walk right through the old mill.
American Swedish Institute – Not just a museum, but also a historic mansion, this Swedish museum is a place to go for both knowledge and cultural education.
The Museum of Russian Art – It is no secret that there is currently tension causing a lot of hostility toward Russia. With that, the museum’s page advocates upon sign on that “[t]he Museum of Russian Art stands with the people of Ukraine and urges Russia to cease hostilities immediately and withdraw.” They have tons of Russian art and exhibits to explore.
Weisman Art Museum – Admission to Weisman is free, and they offer a lot of enlightening events with artists to and workshops for visitors. For those that are interested but don’t want to make the trek to Minneapolis, they even have a virtual tour of the permanent exhibits here.
Science Museum of Minnesota – Much like most of the other museums in the area, the Science Museum has multiple permanent exhibits along with quite a few temporary exhibits. They have everything from a permanent dinosaur exhibit to a permanent human body exhibit, and everything else in between.
Walker Art Center – The Walker Art Center prides itself on being “more than just a museum” and offers workshops, virtual events, seasonal exhibits, and more. Another free place to visit, the Walker Art Center has a ton of contemporary exhibits to explore.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – We have a Sculpture Garden in Des Moines, but it doesn’t seem to quite live up to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. They even have a “Spoonbridge” displayed proudly over a fountain.
The City's Famous Murals – Be sure to take a walking tour downtown to explore seven famous murals proudly displayed on buildings throughout Minneapolis. The murals are all completely unique, and there seems to be a bit of something for everyone.
Minnesota Zoo – I know a zoo isn’t technically art or a museum, but I feel just as in awe of animals in a zoo as I do of art at a museum. Plus, I always love visiting zoos in new places because no two are ever alike.
If visiting at the right time of the year, Minneapolis and St. Paul offer a ton of options for outdoor adventures. From the famous Minnehaha Regional Park to miles of singletrack trails, they seem to have plenty of things to do for outdoor enthusiasts.
Minneapolis also has a great calendar of summer movies and music for up-to-date information on family-friendly events throughout the entire season.
St. Anthony Falls – Zac and I love our waterfall views. St Anthony offers an interesting view of a dam-created fall.
Minnehaha Falls – This is an activity for those that want to stay close to the road but also those that want to explore. There are options for more hiking into the falls area for those that choose to do so.
Minnehaha Dog Park – Must I say more?! For a $5 daily permit, Fido can explore more than six acres of land off-leash with his fur-legged friends.
Disc Golf – The park has a 9-hole disc golfing course that is free to use.
Kayak or paddleboard Minnehaha Creek – Right now, the waters are too low to offer kayaking excursions, but when the water levels raise, they can be rented here.
Trails, Trails, Trails! – Minneapolis has plenty of options for trails, whether the go-to adventure of choice is mountain biking or hiking.
Minnehaha Falls/Minnehaha Creek Trail – Easy, 10 miles
Lake Harriet/Lyndale Rose Garden and Peace Park – Easy, 2.8 miles
Fort Snelling State Park/Pike Island Loop/Lake Nokomis Trail – Easy/moderate, 5 miles paved, 18 miles gravel; 7 mile loop; 2.5 mile loop
Nicollet Island/Boom Island Trails – Easy, 2.1 miles
St. Anthony Falls/Stone Arch Bridge – Easy, 1.8 miles
Mississippi River Gorge Trail AKA West River Parkway Trail – Easy, 3 miles
Warehouse District/North Loop – Easy, 1.4 miles
My favorite thing to do on vacation is explore with my own two feet (or two tires – depending on if I’m biking or hiking). However, I also love finding unique things to do, whether they’re outdoors or inside. Minneapolis has their fair share of museums, outdoor adventures, and unique things to check out too!
iFLY – I have never wanted to visit a place to skydive indoors. Quite frankly, I have never wanted to skydive for real either, and doing it indoors doesn’t seem any less awful to me. However, Zac really wants to skydive someday, and this might be one of the best ways for him to do it (because I can watch safely from the sidelines, without my stomach doing flips).
Sidewalk Harp – While out and about, be sure to stop at the sidewalk harp and play a little tune.
House of Balls – Okay, if people are still reading this, the name of this place made me chuckle. Once I got past that, I realized that it is actually a really neat art gallery. His art all started by working specifically with bowling balls, which is where the name came from. He has since branched out and has tons of cool art. The website even shares that soon, some of his art will be available for sale.
Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt – Let’s Roam is an app-led scavenger hunt to try. They have multiple scavenger hunt options, from a bar hunt to a ghosts hunt.
The Herbivorous Butcher – I’m by no means a vegan, but The Herbivorous Butcher seems interesting enough that even carnivores should check it out. They have hand-crafted vegan meat and cheese options available for sale.
Orfield Laboratories Inc – Orfield Laboratories offers a very unique experience, for people to visit the “Quietest Place on Earth.” Apparently, the sound inside the quiet room, when measured, is actually negative in decibels, and no one has been able to stay in the room for more than 45 minutes. An article that goes further in-depth on the room can be found here.
Minnesota State Fair – The Minnesota State Fair is the second largest state fair in the United States (coming in right behind Texas. For my Iowa readers, as a size reference, the Iowa State Fair ranks as the seventh largest (Source: Readers.com)).
I listed twenty different things to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but there are so many more things available to see and do. The city of Minneapolis actually even has a list of 150 Things You Must Do in Minneapolis. I think a day trip would be amazing, but after my research, it is obvious that a weekend (or more) would be necessary to get to even a portion of everything there is to do there.
Buzz, trying out his new yoga move –
Sha-Dog-Sana, the Doggie Corpse Pose.
Until we can get out there for a day or weekend trip, though, I will continue to plan and research other trips too. I am bound and determined to ensure that we get more frequent short trips in this year so we can do more exploring. The only question is – where to next?