Things to do and see in Minneapolis this spring break

Minneapolis, Minnesota, and its surrounding areas showcase a collection of attractions that draw more than 29.5 million annual visitors. The sprawling Mall of America, world-renowned institutions like the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the celebrated Guthrie Theater with its award-winning productions, and a five-star hotel contribute to the city’s dynamic and multifaceted appeal.

“Minneapolis is known as the City by Nature, where you can enjoy the Mississippi River, 22 lakes, and 180 parks for outdoor recreation in countless ways — year-round — while just steps away from your stay in a top hotel,” says Melvin Tennant, President & CEO of Meet Minneapolis.

“On the same trip,” Tennant continues, “you can enjoy a performance at the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theatre Company or a game from one of eight professional sports teams, then dine at restaurants serving cuisines from cultures like Hmong, Somali, Swedish, and Mexican, or indulge with our world-famous Jucy Lucy burgers. Numerous free and inexpensive activities make it affordable for everyone.”

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This diversity is precisely what attracts families from all across the country.

Accessibility adds to the area’s attractiveness

Minneapolis’s easy access enhances its allure, making it a standout choice for an easy spring break getaway.

“Every major airport across the continental U.S. falls within a mere four-hour flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), positioning the city as a conveniently accessible hub for families nationwide,” says Shreya Patel, Marketing Manager at Lowest Flight Fares.

Buildings stand illuminated at dusk in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 18, 2020. (Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

MSP’s coveted distinction as the world’s top global airport and large airport awards for on-time performance elevate Minneapolis’ accessibility and cement its status as a compelling vacation spot.

“On-time performance is an expectation of our travelers and delivering on that expectation is a top priority for our operation at MSP Airport,” explains Brian Ryks, CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns and operates MSP. “Whether it’s business travelers, leisure passengers, families with children, or those with special needs, the journey is enhanced when flights depart and arrive on time.”

Explore the Twin Cities via Metro Light Rail and Skyway

Minneapolis and St. Paul, collectively known as the Twin Cities, offer a seamless rail and skyway system. The Metro light rail’s direct link to the airport, the two cities, and the Mall of America means visitors can skip the rental car, stretching their vacation budget further.

The Skyway in Minneapolis connects over 80 city blocks, creating an extensive indoor network linking shopping, restaurants, offices, and entertainment venues. This network weaves together the best of downtown Minneapolis, making it a breeze to enjoy much of the city’s vibrant life, rain or shine.

While many cities struggle to bridge tourist destinations with public transportation, the Twin Cities efficiently connect major sites via its light rail. The light rail, launched in 2004, links the airport, Downtown Minneapolis, and Mall of America.

“We could explore the entire city without driving, thanks to the handy light rail station at the Mall! After spending a full day there, we hopped on the light rail to Downtown for a Timberwolves game,” says Ashley Pichea, travel writer at Rooted Wanderings.

Like Pichea, many visitors appreciate the convenience of moving between Minneapolis’s attractions with ease.

Mall of America

Since its 1992 opening, the Mall of America (MOA) quickly became a vacation destination, drawing 32 million visitors annually. Located in Bloomington, just outside Minneapolis and a quick 12 minutes from the airport via the light rail, the MOA is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the U.S.

At 5.6 million square feet, Mall of America houses up to 520 world-class retail stores and restaurants; Nickelodeon Universe, a 7-acre indoor theme park; SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium; FlyOver America; Museum of Illusions and more.

“Whether guests are spending their spring break with us or shopping for their upcoming destination, Mall of America has everything you can dream of under one roof,” says Jill Renslow, Chief Business Development & Marketing Officer, MOA. “This is one of our favorite seasons, as our guests take time for themselves to relax and enjoy all we have to offer.”

Alex Caspero, founder of Delish Knowledge, shares, “It might be the largest mall in America, but it’s so much more than that. You can spend days exploring the shops and other attractions like the aquarium, mini golf, mirror maze, and more. The amusement park at Nickelodeon Universe is always a highlight for kids, with almost 30 rides, plus you can meet Nickelodeon characters!

Families staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel can spend their entire vacation immersed in a world of shopping, dining, and entertainment all under one roof. Located inside the mall, the four-star hotel offers vacationers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the mall with its luxurious Laughing Waters Spa and full-service FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar. Combined with the ease of travel to the Minneapolis airport and the Metro light rail, a stay at the Radisson Blu effortlessly enhances any visit to Minneapolis.

The bonus of no sales tax on clothes or shoes in Minnesota makes it an even more appealing spring break destination for families that’s as economical as it is entertaining.

There’s more to Minneapolis than the Mall of America

In Minneapolis, the blend of history, art, and theater turns the city into a hot spot for spring break adventurers. Beyond the giant Mall of America, the city’s cultural entertainment scene is another magnet for visitors.

Mill City Museum

Minneapolis was once the flour-milling capital of the world. The Mill City Museum, built within the ruins of the old Washburn A Mill, tells the story of how the city leveraged the power of the only waterfall on the Mississippi River to become a global leader in flour production. The museum, born from the ashes of a devastating flour dust explosion and years of being abandoned, now serves as a testament to the city’s resilience and innovation.

Museum visitors can view “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes,” explore interactive exhibits that bring the milling era to life, and ascend the observation deck for panoramic views of the Mississippi River. Additional highlights include baking demonstrations that feature historic recipes and the Flour Tower elevator show, which offers a unique narrative of the mill’s history as it transports guests between floors.

Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA)

A highlight in the city’s cultural scene, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) stands out as a must-visit for families exploring Minneapolis. Offering free admission, Mia invites visitors of all ages to explore a collection encompassing 5,000 years of world history. The museum has nearly 90,000 works and provides a unique educational experience that spans ancient artifacts to contemporary art.

Visitors encounter masterpieces by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Matisse, as well as an Asian art collection hailed as one of the best in the country. Other exhibits add to the museum’s appeal, including the striking Chinese Year of the Dragon display and works by Georgia O’Keeffe and Salvador Dalí.

Guthrie Theater

An integral part of Minneapolis, the Guthrie Theater not only stages an eclectic mix of performances ranging from classic plays to modern dramas but also welcomes all families visiting the area. The Guthrie provides free access to its public spaces six days a week. Visitors can explore its architectural beauty and enjoy the stunning views of the Mississippi River and surrounding bridges from its viewing areas.

The building is a work of art designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. It features large windows that frame the river and cityscape, making it a perfect backdrop for family photos. The Guthrie’s commitment to the community is evident in its educational programs and behind-the-scenes tours, which visitors can preregister for.

Four Seasons Minneapolis Welcomes Families

The Four Seasons Minneapolis, located in the heart of the city, is Minnesota’s crowning jewel of hospitality. The state’s first five-star hotel blends adventure and refined comfort for all guests in its luxury accommodations. Its stunning city views and amenities tailored for families ensure that no matter how visitors spend the day, they have a peaceful retreat waiting upon return.

“When we opened Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis, we did so hand in hand with the children of our community,” says Allie Stoneberg, Director of Communications & Partnerships at the hotel. “Since they cut the ribbon, clapped, and skipped inside, they’ve remained an important reminder of the opportunity and responsibility we have to create a space where people enter just as they did: confident they belong here and confident they’ll find something special inside.”

Upcoming events

Minneapolis hosts a variety of community events, many of which are open to families vacationing in the city. Visitors can add more local flavor and fun by checking the city’s event calendar and aligning their trip with Minneapolis’s many cultural happenings, festivals, and kid-friendly events.

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