Minneapolis has a delightful park right on the Mississippi River. You can spend hours exploring it. Here is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
We normally think of the mighty Mississippi River as a huge "father of the waters". Its headwaters are in northern Minnesota. Where it flows down past the Twin Cities, the river is fairly narrow. It starts to get really big as it nears St. Louis, and even bigger below Memphis. Here, visitors are sometimes surprised at how small it is.
This area is on the right after you cross over Hennepin Ave Bridge from downtown. It's a cobblestone street catering to a variety of tastes on one side: an upscale restaurant with live jazz; a quiet, dark pub; a cafe that features local artists; and a bar with live bands that attracts a younger crowd. In between all of this is a small movie theater that's almost never crowded; and then on the other side of the street you get a wonderful view of the river with the Minneapolis skyline looming above it.
In the summertime they occasionally close off the street and have art or car shows for pedestrians only. On July 4th they put on a huge fireworks show over the water. Get there early though, otherwise you'll be stuck watching from the bridge (although that can be nice too).
As a bonus: DIRECTLY across from the movie theater is the underside of a bridge crossing the river. Climb over a short fence, walk across some mud (ladies take your heels off and go barefoot), then run up a cement slope until you're under the bridge. There's a little graffiti up there, but the magnificent, private views of the city are well worth it.
I was born in MN in a small town which I fled from immediately after HS. I joined the US Navy.
After my hitch I returned to Mpls to go to college.
I spent many hours in downtown Mpls. It still evokes a confounding amount of emotions in me.
It's a beautiful city but I hate - wind, sleet, snow, blizzards and summers that last 2 months and are 95 degrees F and humid.
Lots of visitors think people in Minneapolis are nice and friendly. I guess if you are a visitor this may be true. But I found people to be stoic and difficult to be social with.
But it really is beautiful - the lakes and trees, the parks, Minnehaha Falls, late spring, early fall when the weather is acually tolerable for a few rare days.
It's a nice place to vist...I'm never moving back though.
Foshay Tower  is a Minneapolis landmark -- even as taller, larger buildings have dwarfed it since the IDS and its Crystal Court were built in1971. It was designed after the Washington Monument in Washington, DC.
The Foshay Tower has the city's only observation deck, since the IDS closed a while back.
The old city hall is a magnificent building, but you don't want to be hauled in to the subterranean holding cells against your will. I've never had the pleasure, but one time in college I did have to make a trip to this building in the dead of night to bail out some friends that had gotten a little unruly at the season opener for the Minnesota Twins.
The city hall also is reputed to be haunted by the spirits of criminals who were hanged in this building before that bloody practice was abolished in our state.
Here's a shot of the Minneapolis skyline. It seems to get a little bigger every time I go back. St. Paul also has some skyscrapers, but the architecture there is more conservative and it seems to be more controlled (or coordinated with the other buildings) than Minneapolis's more eclectic look.
This photo shows the beautiful vestibule of City Hall. Also of note, is the 345 foot clock tower which was added in 1895. Its clock face measure slightly larger than that of London's Parliament Building's clocktower.
The IDS Center. A landmark. Remember Mary Tyler Moore going into this building? Of course you do! This is still the tallest building in the city, but not by much. In fact, at 775 feet it's exactly one foot taller than the US Bank Building and two feet taller than the Wells Fargo Building. I like the simplicity of the exterior and the fact that it was a pretty modern building for one that was completed in 1973, but the best part is the interior. Most notable, is the "lobby" which is really an eight story glass wonderland called the Crystal Court. It's a beautiful open space that even has a 105 foot waterfall.
Hennepin Avenue is located on the western end of downtown Minneapolis and spans the Mississippi River across Nicollet Island. It is one of the more historic streets full of historic buildings and renovated warehouses.
There are a number of quotations set in irregular asphalt shapes in the sidewalk near the Loring Greenway and the Hyatt Regency Hotel. I *think* this one refers to the integration of the Ladies Garment Workers Union -- but after about an hour on the web I can't find any information. I'd be happy to accept help here:)
This beautiful church was the first Basilica in the U.S., and the architecture is simply breathtaking. While it is not quite as intricate as the cathedrals of Europe, it is still a fine place to visit and tours of the poperty are offered daily. Services on Sundays.
If you've visited the Mall of America and have an extra day I'd recommend visiting downtown Minneapolis. When you're downtown my first stop would be the Crystal Court in the IDS Tower which is a large indoor plaza with a fountain and plants. Next I'd step outside and visit the Nicollet Mall, a long pedestrian mall (almost a mile long), made famous by Mary Tyler Moore. From here you can walk down the mall to Peavy Plaza, a busy downtown square with fountains, a pond and lots of trees. The Foshay Tower, just a few blocks to the north, is a 30-foot skycraper from the 1930s and has the only observation deck in Minneapolis. The last stop in downtown is the historic riverfront along the Mississippi River. The river has parks on both sides. Make sure to walk on the Stone Arch Bridge and view St. Anthony Falls.
Even there is not much to do Downtown. I manage to find some decent shopping and a few restaurants like always. You can alway catch a Twins game also.
For many years, it was the tallest building west of the Mississipi River. A real architectural gem, which affords a fine view of the city.
On the right is the Renaissance building, nicely renovated -- on the left one of the new shiny towers and have changed the downtown landscape in the past 30 years.