City of Minneapolis website
Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association website
Downtown Minneapolis is the Twin Cities' cultural heart and the place where visitors spend much of their time. Smack in the middle of downtown, Nicollet Mall is a 12-block shopping zone with all the usual trappings - trendy restaurants, boisterous bars, public sculptures and earnest street musicians.
Less than a mile south is the sizable Minneapolis Institute of Arts, housed in a dramatic 1915 Beaux Arts building. The collection ranges from African masks to Chinese jade to European oil paintings (Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Magritte - you get the picture). From Dr Seuss to Mother Goose, art of a different kind is on offer in the institute's lobby, home to the nationally respected Children's Theatre Company.
Minneapolis's historic Stone Arch Bridge, immediately upriver, was conceived in the 1870s by railroad magnate James Hill. At the time people thought he was plain crazy to build a 2100ft (630m) foot bridge (supported by 23 stone arches) across the fast-flowing Mississippi. When it opened in 1883, the bridge was an instant financial (and artistic) success. The bridge closed in 1982 and reopened to pedestrians, bicycles and trolleys in the early 1990s.
From the strictly functional Hennepin Avenue Bridge you don't see much of Nicollet Island. First settled in the 1860s, the island was later overrun by flour mills, Victorian row houses and finally by Prohibition-era speakeasies. Nicollet Island was largely abandoned in the 1960s and '70s. Only recently have the old warehouses been transformed into offices and residences.
On the north side of the river by the Pillsbury 'A' mill, SE Main St has a stretch of redeveloped buildings housing shops, restaurants and bars. From here the views of the river and of downtown Minneapolis are first-rate.
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