Visitor Information

About the University of Minnesota

Founded in 1851 as the state’s land-grant institution, the University of Minnesota is one of the state’s greatest assets and one of the most comprehensive universities in the United States. Located in the heart of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area, the campus is just minutes from downtown Minneapolis. The Twin Cities campus is situated along the banks of the Mississippi River and in the rolling hills of Saint Paul. Through its strategic positioning plan, the University is making strides to become one of the top three public research universities in the world within a decade. At all of its locations—the Twin Cities, Duluth, Morris, Crookston, and Rochester—the University is moving in a new direction to meet the challenges of the 21st century. To read more about the University of Minnesota, visit the UMN website.

About Minneapolis and Saint Paul

The Twin Cities are located in the great state of Minnesota. We are proud of its diverse cultures, industry, and history, as well as its many lakes and rivers. These include the Great Lake of Superior and the mighty Mississippi River, originating in northern Minnesota and traveling through the state, gracing the state’s rich landscape.

The cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul offer a wealth of attractions for its residents and visitors. The Twin Cities are home to world-class museums, an array of theaters, concert halls, diverse restaurants, exciting sporting events, and the largest retail and entertainment complex in the United States: the Mall of America.

Recently Minneapolis has welcomed several outstanding new buildings for the arts and learning: the Guthrie Theater (designed by Jean Nouvel), additions to both the Walker Art Center (by Herzog & de Meuron) and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Michael Graves), the Minneapolis Central Library (Cesar Pelli), and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (Frank Gehry).

More than 10,000 lakes lie within a several hours’ drive, including Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which stretches along the Canadian border.

To learn more about the Twin Cities and Minnesota, visit Meet Minneapolis or Explore Minnesota.

Things to See and Do

Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota, founded in 1907, is a large regional science museum by the Mississippi River in downtown Saint Paul. The Science Museum's programs combine research and collection facilities, a public science education center, extensive teacher education and school outreach programs, and an Imax Convertible Dome Omnitheater to provide science education to an audience of more than a million people each year. The Science Museum of Minnesota is known worldwide for its interactive exhibits, dynamic traveling exhibitions, and internationally distributed large-format films. The Museum was an early innovator in the use of live theater as a humanizing interpretive tool and continues to be a training ground for other museums wishing to include live programming in their exhibit halls.

For more information, visit the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Chain of Lakes

The Chain of Lakes—part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway—includes Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake. This district of Minneapolis was purchased in the early part of the 20th century and provides a variety of wonderful outdoor activity venues.

Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) is the most central lake in the Chain of Lakes to Minneapolis life. Driving down Lake Street, one encounters Bde Maka Ska, a popular summer destination with many eateries, outdoor sports, and aquatic activities. There is a 3.2-mile walking path and a 3.1-mile biking path. Three beaches are also located on this lake: Bde Maka Ska 32nd Street Beach at 3200 East Calhoun Parkway, Bde Maka Ska North Beach at 2710 West Lake Street, and Thomas Beach.

More information on the Chain of Lakes.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Wurtele Upper Garden are located on Vineland Place, across from the Walker Art Center. The 11-acre garden is a joint project of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and the Walker Art Center. It offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy important works of art by leading American and international artists in a setting of plazas, walkways, and plantings.

More information on the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Walker Art Center

Formally established in 1927, the Walker Art Center began as the first public art gallery in the Upper Midwest. The museum's focus on modern art began in the 1940s, when a gift from Mrs. Gilbert Walker made possible the acquisition of works by important artists of the day, including sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, and others. During the 1960s the Walker organized increasingly ambitious exhibitions that circulated to museums in the United States and abroad. The permanent collection expanded to reflect crucial examples of contemporary artistic developments; concurrently, performing arts, film, and education programs grew proportionately and gained their own national prominence throughout the next three decades. Today, the Walker is recognized internationally as a singular model of a multidisciplinary arts organization and as a national leader for its innovative approaches to audience engagement.

More information on the Walker Art Center.

Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

Housed in a striking stainless steel-and-brick building, designed by architect Frank Gehry (who also designed the Bilbao Guggenheim) for the University of Minnesota, the Weisman Art Museum offers an educational and friendly museum experience. The museum's collection features early 20th century American artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, as well as a diverse selection of contemporary art. A teaching museum for the University of Minnesota and the community, the Weisman provides a fresh, engaging arts experience through an array of programs and a changing schedule of exhibitions.

More information on the Weisman Art Museum.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

In 1883, 25 citizens of Minneapolis founded the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, committing them to bringing the arts into the life of their community. More than a century later, the museum they created—the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia)—stands as a monument to a remarkable history of civic involvement and cultural achievement. Mia's permanent collection has grown from eight hundred works of art to around one hundred thousand objects. The collection includes world-famous works that embody the highest levels of artistic achievement, spanning 5,000 years and representing the world's diverse cultures across all continents. Mia's free general-admission policy, public programs, classes for children and adults, and award-winning interactive media programs have helped to broaden and deepen this museum's roots in the communities it serves.

More information on the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater, founded in 1963, is an American center for theater performance, production, education, and professional training. By presenting both classical literature and new work from diverse cultures, the Guthrie illuminates the common humanity connecting Minnesota to the peoples of the world. While the Guthrie Theater's mission and artistic excellence have remained constant, much has changed over the past four decades. What began as a summer season of four productions supported by a minimal staff is now a complex organization employing more than 900 people every year. As the Guthrie entered the new millennium, plans began to build a new multistage theater center on the banks of the Mississippi River. It opened June 25, 2006, and the complex includes three stages: a classic thrust stage for the grand-scale classics of the centuries, a proscenium stage for the more intimate classics of this century, and a studio theater for developing the classics of tomorrow. The new theater allows the Guthrie to retain its preeminence among theaters nationally and internationally.

More information on the Guthrie Theater.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

In 1980, Saint Paul resident Sally Ordway Irvine challenged her community to help her create a performing arts venue in which her dream of offering “everything from opera to the Russian circus” could be realized. The $46 million center opened to the public on January 1, 1985. Certainly, Sally’s vision is alive today in Ordway Center’s dizzying schedule of theater, dance, music, family events, and educational programs. Ordway Center contains the 1,900-seat Main Hall, the intimate 306-seat McKnight Theatre, two large rehearsal halls, and magnificent lobbies on each floor, including the second floor Marzitelli Foyer, a spacious, two-story lobby encircled by a glass facade.

More information on Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

Mall of America

The Mall of America has it all. Located in the heart of Bloomington and the Twin Cities area, the "Mall" is the largest mall in the United States. People from all over the world come here to enjoy the great stores and attractions inside the Mall of America. An entire neighborhood with a roof, this shopping and entertainment complex is virtually big enough to have its own zip code. Some of the 42 million annual visitors make a day of it at the many diverse eating spots, indoor amusements, and more than 500 retail stores.

More information about the Mall of America.

First Avenue

San Francisco has the Fillmore Auditorium. New York has CBGB and the Knitting Factory. Minneapolis has First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry. Anyone who knows about music in this town will tell you that, for the last three decades, First Avenue has been integral to the Twin Cities' vibrant music scene. From avant-garde acts to mainstream shows, First Avenue is a music club committed to fostering excellence in music, arts, and entertainment. There are a lot of people who care deeply about this club and have made it their lives. Quite simply, First Avenue is what a music club should be.

More information about First Avenue.