2 Day Itinerary for the Twin Cities: What to See & Do

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Looking for some things to do on a weekend trip to the Twin Cities?

The Twin Cities area encompasses over 6,000 square miles, placing it in the top twenty largest metropolitan areas in the United States. With that amount of area, there are plenty of activities and sites to keep you busy!

With family living in the area, it means we've done lots of exploring. (Just not in the winter months – too cold, even for my Michigan blood!) Check out this two day activity guide for a ready for you action packed adventure!

Day 1 Twin City Itinerary:

Minnehaha Regional Park / Minnehaha Falls

This park is one of Minneapolis' oldest and most popular parks. Ample parking is available: paid, free, and metered parking.

The Minnehaha Falls are 53 feet tall and surrounded by limestone bluffs. If you want to go to the waterfall's base, use caution, as the stairs are in poor condition.

A view of Minnehaha Falls at the Minnehaha Regional Park. This just one of the many locations to visit if you have 2 days in the twin cities!

Besides the waterfall, there are many other activities: bike rentals/bike paths, a wading pool, a disc golf course, a volleyball court, a picnic area, a playground, restrooms, and drinking fountains.

The property also has a few historical sites and gardens to check out!

You could spend as little or as much time as you wanted here. This park is relatively close to the airport and makes a great stop to start your trip or to use up some awkward time before heading to the airport for your flight home.

Hours: 6 am-midnight in developed areas and 6 am-10 pm in undeveloped areas
Fee: Free
Address: 4801 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55417

St. Paul State Capitol Tour

A guided tour of the State Capitol in St. Paul. Tours last 45-60 minutes long and begins at the Capitol Information and Tour Center in Room 126, which you can find to the right if you enter the building under the giant gold roof statues.

Metered parking is available near the capitol building. There are also several Metro Transit stops around the capitol and the Green Line light rail stops within a block of the capitol complex.

A view of the front of the St. Paul State Capitol Building.

Self-guided tours are also available – grab a map at the Information desk.

The basement is not a part of the guided tour, but you should check it out! You will find the Rathskeller cafeteria – which resembles a German dining hall. It is open for public dining during the legislative session.

The most remarkable thing about this capital is that you get roof access to the Quadriga (the golden horses on the roof) if you take the guided tour. Of course, that is weather permitting, but there are excellent views from up there!

A photo from the St. Paul Capitol Building roof that shows the Quadriga and St. Paul's Church in the background.

A fun fact about this capitol is that it is the second-largest self-supported marble dome in the world! Interested in more capitol fun facts? Check out this post!

Walking tours of the capitol grounds are available and feature about 20 sculptures/memorials along the way. Maps are available online or at the Capitol Information desk.

Hours: Guided tours leave hourly between 10 am-2 pm during the week. Check the website for weekend availability.
Fee: Free
Address: 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

Wabasha Street Cave Tour

The Wabasha Street Caves is an exciting place to visit in St. Paul. The cave is a restored Gangster Era site that takes you into the belly of the 1800s abandoned mining labyrinth.

The caves have served many purposes over the years: mining, mushroom farm, and restaurant/casino gangsters' hotspot during prohibition.

Wabash Street Cave are near where you go in. Photos are not allowed deeper in the cave system.

Book the Wabasha Street Caves tour click here!

The caves have many offerings – from Historic Cave Tours, Dancing, and St. Paul Gangster Tours. In October, there are more “Haunted” type tours offered. Free parking is available. The guided Historic Cave Tour lasts about an hour.

Click here to book the Wabasha Street Cave Tour and the Saint Paul Gangster Tour together to save some cash!

Note: Photos are not permitted soon after entering the cave system.

Hours: Typically 11 am or 1 pm depending on the day of the week.
Fee: $11 per person
Address: 215 Wabasha St. S., St. Paul, MN 55107

Saint Paul Gangster Tour

After you finish the Cave Tour, you can opt-in to participate in the 2 hour long Saint Paul Gangster Tour. The motorcoach tour takes you around the city, where you will see some of the hideouts used by some of America's Most Wanted.

The tour guide dresses up to look like a Gangster – so fun!! For the most part, you will stay on the bus, but we did get out at one location – Swede Hollow Park.

The park is across the street from the William Hamm Mansion. At that stop we learned about Hamm brewing and the kidnapping of William Hamm.

William Hamm Mansion has it stands today.

You will learn so much about the local happenings during prohibition! I highly recommend the Gangster Tour!

Hours: Typically tours are on Saturdays at noon and 2:30 pm.
Fee: $40 per person
Address: 215 Wabasha St. S., St. Paul, MN 55107

Raspberry Island

Raspberry Island is a beautifully landscaped small island located in the Mississippi River in St. Paul. The island has path, an open park area, and a bandshell.

The island provides spectacular views of downtown St Paul, the train lift bridge, and of the Mississippi River traffic.

A photo taken on Raspberry Island facing the bandshell, one of the many places to visit if you a have 2 days to spend in the Twin Cities.

There is parking available on the island and there are restrooms available. A fishing area is also found at the east end of the island.

Hours: 6 am – 10 pm
Fee: Free
Address: 2 Wabasha St., St. Paul, MN 55107

Day 2 Twin City Itinerary:

Mississippi River Visitor Center at the Science Museum of Minnesota

The Mississippi River Visitor Center is located in the Science Museum of Minnesota lobby, and it contains interactive exhibits and a ranger station.

Park rangers will help you find interesting things to do and see along the Mississippi River. The plaza overlooks the Mississippi River.

Note: National Park Service passport stamps are available at this location.

Hours: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM (closed on Mondays)
Fee: Visitor Center Free
Address: 120 Kellogg Blvd W., St Paul, MN 55102

Note: Metered parking is available on surrounding streets or in the Science Museum parking deck.

Science Center of Minnesota

The Science Center is a 370,000-square-foot, 3-story building that is built into the bluffs on the Mississippi River. The center feature lots of interactive activities and some great short videos.

The dinosaur and “quack” medical treatment exhibits are some guest favorites!

Plan to spend a few hours visiting the science center!

Hours: 10 am to 5pm, Monday – Thursday, 10 am to 8pm Friday -Saturday
Fee:
Adult: $29.95
Child, ages 4 – 17: $19.95
Under 4: free
Address: 120 Kellogg Blvd W., St Paul, MN 55102

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, is home to creative sculptures on 11 acres in the city's heart. A conservatory, an arbor, and over 40 sculptures were created by notable modern artists.

Click here for a self-guided tour sheet. Free on-street parking is available. Plan to spend an hour or less.

Hours: 6 am-midnight
Fee: Free
Address: 726 Vineland Pl., Minneapolis, MN 55403

An view of the Cherry on a spoon sculpture at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Add this to your 2 day in the Twin Cities Itinerary!

Walker Art Center

Adjacent to the Sculpture Garden is the Walker Art Center. The Art Center has paintings, sculptures, and photographs that are both modern and contemporary.

Kids will likely be bored at the Art Center, so take that into consideration if traveling with youngsters.

Visit the Walker Art Center website to book a timed entry ticket – this limits the number of people within the center. Free on-street parking or $6 underground parking via Vineland Place at Bryant Avenue exists. Metro Transit bus lines stop at this location.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Fee: adults pay $15; college students pay $10; children 18 and younger are free.
Address: 725 Vineland Pl., Minneapolis, MN 55403

James J. Hill House

A visit to the James J. Hill House is an excellent way to learn about the history of St. Paul and the life of one of its most prominent residents.

The Hill family was one of Minnesota's wealthiest and most influential families during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

View from the driveway of the James J. Hill House.

The one-hour long guided tour takes you through the grand entrance hall, the stunning dining room, the cozy library, and many other rooms that are filled with period furnishings, artwork, and artifacts.

While on the tour, the knowledgeable guides will tell you about the history of the Hill family and their influence on the development of the region.

Once the guided tour is over, you are welcome to explore further on your own.

Note: Also in the area are the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Alexander Ramsey House – both great options to visit!

Upper portion of Cathedral of Saint Paul.

Hours: 10 am – 3:30 pm Thursday – Saturday, 11 am – 3:30 pm Sunday, January 1 – November 22
Fee:
Adults: $12
Seniors (65+), Veterans, Active Military, College students: $10
Children ages 5 – 17: $8
Children ages 4 and under: Free
Address: 240 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

Stone Arch Bridge

Are you an architecture buff? If so, the Stone Arch Bridge is a must-see destination. This 2,100 foot long granite and limestone bridge, built in 1883, features 23 arches.

Stone Arch Bridge with the river flowing beneath it.

At the time the bridge was necessary for the city's development – providing access of people and goods into and out of Minneapolis.

Now days, you can walk or ride bikes between Mill Ruins Park on the west bank and Father Hennepin Bluff Park on the east bank of the river. 

The bridge is a popular spot for sunset views of downtown Minneapolis

Hours: 6 am – midnight
Fee: Free
Address: 100 Portland Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55401

Nearby places to consider if you have an extra day

While the above items are likely to keep you busy for a weekend here are some other ideas that you could swap out or visit if you have more than 2 days.

St. Anthony Falls

The St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center is located at the Upper St. Anthony Lock in downtown Minneapolis. The lock at St. Anthony Falls accounts a 49 foot height change of the Mississippi River between the Twin Cities and St. Louis, MO.

Image of St. Anthony Falls from the Visitor Center.

When open, 30 minute long ranger-led walking tours (11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm) of the lock and dam are available. The walking tours include the lively history of the river, milling, and other topics related to the area.

If you'd like to stretch your legs the Heritage Trail is 2-mile self-guided trail that loops around the area of the falls.

Along the trail you will walk along grain silos, get a close-up view of the Saint Anthony Dam and catch a glimpse of some bluff remnants.

The loop follows both banks of the Mississippi River from the Stone Arch Bridge in the south to the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in the north.

The best views of St. Anthony Falls are from the Stone Arch Bridge and the Water Power Park.

Note: The Falls are open daily from Memorial Day week through Labor Day weekend and then on weekends throughout September. National Park Service passport stamps are available at this location.

Hours: 9:30 am to 5 pm, seasonally
Fee: free
Address: 1 Portland Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55401

Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo, located in the suburb of Apple Valley, about 30 minutes south of downtown Minneapolis. The zoo features a vast array of animals from around the world, including tigers, bears, giraffes, and many more.

Plan to spend 2 hours to half a day in your schedule for a visit to the zoo.

Note: If you plan to visit be aware that you will need to purchase or reserve tickets online ahead of time for a specific date and time. This helps keep the zoo from becoming overcrowded.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, though hours may vary by season.
Fee:
Adults ages 13 to 64: $19.95
Senior citizens and kids 3 to 12 years old: $13.95
Children two and younger: Free
Parking: $7 per car per day
Strollers: Single $8.00 or Double $11.00
Address: 13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124

Mall of America

The Mall of America is the country's largest shopping mall with more than 500 stores! This is a great rainy day or cold weather activity. Beyond the shopping, the mall also has over 25 different rides and attractions.

One of many Lego block displays at the Mall of America. This one shows an explorer with a globe behind them. There is also a horse with a knight on his back in the background.

The mall is located about 11 miles south of downtown Minneapolis near the airport, making it a great option if you are looking for something to do before a flight.

Hours: Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Fee: Free
Address: 2131 Lindau Lane, Bloomington, MN 55425

Paisley Park: Prince's Home & Studio

Paisley Park is about 20 minutes southwest of downtown Minneapolis is a must-visit destination for any fan of the iconic musician Prince.

Even if you aren't a die-hard fan, you've likely heard Prince's music or heard some of the unique stories about him.

One of the stages at Paisley Park.

When the home was constructed in the 1980s, the area was cornfields. Prince would create, record, and perform at Paisley Park. Many well-known artists like Madonna, REM, and Lizzo came to Paisley Park to record and mix albums at Paisley Park.

The tour offers guests an intimate look into Prince's life and work.

Hours: Vary by day and season. Advanced tickets are required. Get your ticket here.

Fee: There are three tour options available. Prices range from $48 to $160.
Address: 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, Minnesota 55317

Visiting the Twin Cities: FAQs

Places to eat

The Twin Cities are home to a vibrant and diverse culinary scene, with countless options for dining out. With a mix of trendy new spots and long-standing favorites, the Twin Cities offer something for every taste and budget.

Some of my favorite places include:

Pizza Luce has a unique array of homemade gourmet pizzas, pasta dishes, and hoagies. This 20+ year community staple has multiple locations for dine in, carry out, or delivery.

Address: Multiple locations in the Twin City area.

Pizza at Pizza Luce.

Handsome Hog is a local BBQ joint that serves up a large collection of unique entrees. It wasn't my favorite type of place because you didn't get to pick the sides that went with the entrees.

They do have side dishes, but not all that are listed with the entrees are available as sides. (reservations recommended)

Address: 173 Western Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55102

Obb's Sports Bar is a local hangout for the sports enthusiast – just 5 minutes to local stadiums and multiple TVs hanging on the walls.

Obb's was one of the first 10 bars to get a liquor license after the end of prohibition. The menu is large enough to keep everyone in your party happy.

Address: 1347 Burns Ave. St. Paul, MN 55106

Now that you have some ideas on what you could do on a visit to the Twin Cities, what about everything else? How to get around? Where to stay? When is the best time to visit? Below, you will find answers to those questions!

Best time to visit the Twin Cities

As you can imagine, Minnesota gets COLD in the winter! While there are some fun winter activities/festivals, a summer visit will be the most enjoyable as attractions will be open.

Summer also means larger crowds and higher hotel costs.

Fall is a great option to enjoy the changing leaves and cool, crisp weather. Hotel prices will be a bit lower, but some attractions will be closed (or closing) for the season.

Spring is a good time to visit, but you need to keep an eye on the weather – snowstorms and chilly temperatures are common. The crowds are smaller and hotel prices will be lower than in the summer.

Getting Around in the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities area offers several transportation options. Here are some of the most popular modes of transportation in the area:

Metro Transit: The Metro Transit system operates buses, light rail trains, and commuter trains throughout the Twin Cities area. 

The light rail trains, known as the METRO Blue and Green Lines, connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul and many other popular destinations throughout the area. 

The commuter trains, known as the Northstar Line, connect downtown Minneapolis with suburbs to the northwest.

Bike Share: Nice Ride Minnesota is a bike share program that operates in Minneapolis and St. Paul. It allows users to rent a bike from a station and return it to any other station in the system. 

Ride Share: Uber and Lyft operate in the Twin Cities and offer a convenient way to get around, especially if you need to travel to a destination not easily accessible by public transit.

Taxis: Traditional taxi services are also available in the Twin Cities area.

Car Rentals: Car rental companies like Avis, Budget, and Enterprise have locations throughout the Twin Cities area, which can be a convenient option for those who prefer to drive themselves.

Twin Cities Accommodations

There are ample hotel options available in the Twin Cities, most of which will charge for parking.

☑️ Luxury Suggestion

Located in the heart of downtown Saint Paul, the Hyatt Place St. Paul is within walking distance of many popular attractions, including the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Capitol. 

The hotel also provides easy access to public transportation, including the light rail system. Union Depot Transportation Hub is located directly across the street from the hotel and offers access to the Green Line LRT, Amtrak, and bus services. 

Parking is available for $35 per day. Pets are welcome to stay for an additional fee. Check-in time is after 3 pm, and check-out time is 11 am.

All rooms are smoke-free and have a mini-fridge and a flat-screen TV.

There is an indoor pool and a fitness center on-site. Be sure to enjoy the buffet-style breakfast – it has many positive reviews!

Address: 180 Kellogg Blvd East, Saint Paul, 55101

☑️ Budget Suggestion

Hampton Inn & Suites Minneapolis/Downtown is a comfortable and convenient hotel in downtown Minneapolis. The hotel also offers a variety of amenities, including a fitness center and a complimentary breakfast.

The hotel is within walking distance of Target Field and public transit. Additionally, the hotel connects to the climate-controlled Skyway footbridge in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

Every room features a 42-inch flat-screen LCD HDTV with premium cable selections, a small refrigerator and a coffee maker.

Check-in time is after 3 pm, and check-out time is noon. Public parking is available at a location nearby and costs $16 per day.

Hotels are welcome at this location for an additional fee.

Address: 19 North 8th Street, Downtown Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN 55403 

➡️Book your stay at Hampton Inn & Suites Minneapolis/Downtown here!

Final Thoughts: 2 Days in the Twin Cities Itinerary

A 2-day stay in the Twin Cities can be an incredibly fulfilling experience since there are so many unique and exciting attractions to visit.

From exploring the historic neighborhoods of St. Paul to discovering the vibrant arts and culture scene of Minneapolis, the Twin Cities offer a diverse range of experiences that are waiting to be explored!

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