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What is Minneapolis Known For? 10 Fascinating Facts

Minneapolis skyline

When people think of cool places to live, Minneapolis may not be the first place that pops into their heads. But honestly, it should be. If you’re considering buying a home in Minneapolis, you may first want to know, what makes this city so special? Whether you settle into one of its character-filled urban neighborhoods or opt to get more bang for your buck in a surrounding suburb, here are some of the many things Minneapolis is known for and why you’ll love calling this city home.

1. St. Anthony Falls

Everybody knows Minnesota is home to over 10,000 lakes, including beautiful Bde Maka Ska, Harriet, and Lake of the Isles in Uptown Minneapolis. But did you know there’s also a gorgeous waterfall downtown? Known to the indigenous Dakota as mnirara, meaning “curling waters,” it’s nestled in the center of the two-mile Heritage Trail, which will take you across the historic Stone Arch Bridge, past the ruins of the old flour mill, and to the St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center. You can also tour the lock and dams to learn more about the area’s rich history.

2. University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota has five campuses throughout the state, but it all started in 1851 at the flagship campus on the banks of the Mississippi overlooking St. Anthony Falls. The university has since become a world-renowned leader in research, with faculty and alumni that include winners of the Nobel Prize and other prestigious awards. The school also boasts a storied athletic program: the Golden Gophers have been members of the Big Ten since 1896, and cheerleading was invented at the university.  

Surrounding the campus are Dinkytown and Stadium Village, neighborhoods that have developed their college-town vibe over decades. Head to Stub and Herb’s for the classic college dive bar experience and be sure to stop by the celebrated greasy spoon diner, Al’s Breakfast. And don’t worry about what to do with your car in the meantime–the area is extremely walkable and easy to navigate via public transportation.  

3. The Honeycrisp apple

Another of the university’s claims to fame is this beloved variety of apple, which is also the state fruit. University scientists developed it through cross-breeding in 1960, and achieved wild success in their goal of creating a delicious and hardy fruit that could withstand harsh Minnesota winters. Honeycrisps are now grown and enjoyed all over the world, but they still taste best when freshly-picked at one of Minnesota’s many apple orchards.

4. The Jucy Lucy

If you see someone spell the name of this cheeseburger “Juicy,” that person is an outsider and not to be trusted. Locals know how to spell it and where to get it, but there’s still disagreement about who invented it: Matt’s Bar or the 5-8 Club. The two restaurants’ versions of the Minneapolis signature–a beef patty with cheese stuffed in the middle–are also pretty different, so try them both and decide for yourself who wins the Battle of the Burger. 

Minneapolis jucy lucy

5. Art and culture scene

The metro area has 55 museums, including Walker Art Center with the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry featured in its Sculpture Garden. There are also more than 400 stages that feature touring Broadway shows, local plays, comedians, dance troupes, and, of course, music. In fact, Minneapolis was ranked 2022’s fourth-best city for music in the U.S. because of its storied musical past and the diversity of current local artists and groups, including the Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra. And because residents are known for their passionate support of live music, national acts love to play the Twin Cities when on tour.  

6. The Skyway System

Begun in the 1960’s with one enclosed pedestrian bridge downtown, the 8 mile and still growing Skyway System is a true life-saver when it comes to enjoying the city during the harsh Minneapolis winter. Navigate between dozens of buildings to access shops, restaurants, museums, and more, all while looking down at snow and street traffic from warmth and safety. Just make sure to pay attention to signs, especially the one designating your starting point. Many travelers have gotten lost in this skyway maze over the years.    

7. The Great Minnesota Get-Together

Eat your heart out at the Minnesota State Fair, the second largest in the country. TV food personality Andrew Zimmern, a Minnesota Native, attends all 12 days of the fair every year for the famous roasted corn, deep-fried pickles, Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar, and anything you could ever imagine on a stick. 

If you want something to do in between snacks, check out the horse and livestock competitions, car shows, huge musical acts performing at the Grandstand, and of course, rides on the Mighty Midway. Kids ages two to 92 will love the Miracle of Birth Center, featuring baby farm animals of every species. If you’re lucky, you might even get to watch some being born!

Whatever you do, don’t miss the butter bust of Princess Kay of the Milky Way, crowned each year by the Midwest Dairy Association, which also runs the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand (preferred pairing: a bottomless cup of 2% and a bucket of warm Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies).  

Minneapolis State Fair

8. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s House

While you can’t tour the inside of the famous Great Gatsby author’s home, you snap a picture in front of it while strolling down historic Summit Avenue. The area also boasts the Victorian mansion-turned-museum of railroad tycoon James J. Hill, the governor’s residence, and hundreds more original homes. While technically in Minneapolis’ sister city, St. Paul, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump across the river on the Metro Light Rail.

9. Mall of America

Also not technically in the city proper, this is another easily-accessible landmark on the Light Rail. As the largest mall in the U.S., it offers much more than just shopping (although, with over 520 stores, there is plenty of that). The four-level complex is also home to Nickelodeon Universe–formerly Camp Snoopy–an indoor amusement park featuring rides and attractions for every age. 

If that’s not entertaining enough, you can visit SEA LIFE Aquarium, play putt-putt on two different courses, throw some axes, climb a giant rock wall, Build a Bear, catch a stand-up show, and do some epic people-watching of the 40 million yearly visitors from around the world.

10. Paisley Park

Minnesota’s hometown hero Prince may be gone, but his legacy lives on at his studio complex in the suburb of Chanhassen, where he famously played surprise shows for super fans and partied like it was 1999. After his death, his family opened Paisley Park for tours, so you can experience the purple majesty of his custom-built home, including the concert hall, music club, and recording studios, as well as collections of his outrageous clothing and shoes. 

Final thoughts

By now, hopefully you have a better idea of what Minneapolis is known for and what makes it special. Whether you’re living in a home in the suburbs or an apartment in Minneapolis, if you want the perfect combination of sophistication and fun in a less daunting package than a huge city like New York or Chicago, Minneapolis might just be perfect for you.

Explore more Minneapolis articles:

Fun Things to Do in Minneapolis: 13 Can’t-Miss Activities for New Residents

Is Minneapolis a Good Place to Live? 10 Pros and Cons of Calling the Twin Cities Home

10 Unique Reasons You Should Move to Minneapolis (And Why You’ll Love It)

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