Minneapolis Weekend: Exploring Prince’s Playground Like a Pauper

Minneapolis, Minnesota, mixes Scandinavian heritage with diverse cultures, earning the nickname “Mini Apple.” Enjoy its blend of arts, nature, and city life, from the Prince Museum to Minnehaha Falls, for a memorable Minneapolis Weekend Getaway.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a rich Scandinavian heritage but is now a melting pot of cultures. You’ll find West Africans, Hmong Americans, and Mexicans bringing their foods and traditions to the “Twin” City. It’s also called the “Mini Apple” (you’ll get the pun when you say it out loud) because of its sophisticated downtown and love for the arts. Minneapolis perfectly blends culture, nature, and vibrant city life. From the legendary Prince Museum to the serene Minnehaha Falls, every moment of your Minneapolis Weekend Getaway will be filled with memorable experiences. This itinerary ensures you capture a little of everything that makes Minneapolis a fantastic weekend destination.

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Table of Contents

Weekend in Minneapolis

Multi-cultural

I’ve been a travel blogger and military spouse for quite some time. I adore destinations like South Korea and Japan, but I’m particularly drawn to places with rich diversity. Minneapolis is one such place. My server was from Ecuador, the attendant in the M-Club hailed from Tibet, and we passed two women in traditional Peruvian attire. I saw a young girl taking photos for her quinceañera in the sculpture park, encountered numerous Somalis, and last night, we witnessed a traditional Indian wedding ceremony in our hotel. It’s clear why Ilhan Omar, who represents parts of Minneapolis, was elected. This city is a vibrant melting pot of people and cultures—and I absolutely love it.

First Tier Sports Teams

Minneapolis is a top-tier weekend sports city, a hub for fans of basketball, baseball, and football. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Twins, and Vikings each play their games in iconic venues that capture the city’s sports fervor. Staying at the central Marriott, we were right in the thick of basketball and baseball games. Over the weekend, we experienced the vibrant atmosphere as fans flocked to Target Center and Target Field, bringing the city to life with their excitement and energy.

Shop at the Mall of America

After checking into our hotel, we drove 15 minutes to Bloomington to visit the Mall of America—the largest mall in the United States and the 11th largest in the world. It lived up to the hype. Wear comfortable shoes because we walked for hours and didn’t see everything. This colossal mall features over 500 stores, numerous dining options, and even an indoor amusement park.

The mall has a wide range of shops, from expensive to trendy. The amusement park is huge, with several roller coasters, free-fall rides, a Ferris wheel, and more, all geared toward the younger crowd. You can spend an entire afternoon just sampling food. Make sure to try Chocolate Moonshine, a truffle store on the 3rd floor that makes liquor-infused chocolates. You’ll find something for everyone, from high-end brands to unique boutiques. I found the prices fairly high in the boutiques and anchor stores. But, the prices in places like Ulta were normal. I hoped to find a Saks Fifth Avenue, but it is in another mall we’ll check out tomorrow.

Address: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10 AM–9 PM
Sun: 11 AM–7 PM

Phone: (952) 883-8800

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The Normandale Japanese Garden in Bloomington

The Normandale Japanese Garden in Bloomington, Minnesota, is a serene two-acre oasis on the campus of Normandale Community College. Follow the signs, which make it easy to find. This traditional Japanese garden features authentic elements like a koi pond, bridges, lanterns, a teahouse, and a hexagonal Bentendo structure. It provides a peaceful retreat perfect for leisurely strolls, photography, and quiet reflection.

The garden is open year-round from 5 AM to 11 PM, and there is no admission fee, though donations are appreciated. It is especially picturesque in the spring, summer, and fall when the diverse plant life is in full bloom. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult, and koi food can be purchased at the entrance for feeding the colorful fish from May through October. I found a container of koi fish food for 50 cents, which was small but well maintained. It was a nice way to start the day. Although there is a little shade in the garden, the walk up is unshaded so bring a hat or umbrella because the sun is intense. There were more people than expected, grads and a newly married couple so I think its a popular attraction for locals too.

For more details, visit the Normandale Japanese Garden website.

Dave’s Hot Chicken

On our first night in Minneapolis, we ate dinner at Dave’s Hot Chicken. We shared a couple of chicken sliders, which were perfectly crispy and packed with flavor. Dave’s Hot Chicken is known for its Nashville-style hot chicken, offering seven heat levels, from no spice to reaper, and delicious sides. It’s not cheap—two sliders, fries, and a drink cost $19.00. The casual atmosphere and friendly service made it a great start to our trip. The sliders come with Dave’s sauce and dill pickles; both were very good. We chose medium and hot. We both preferred the light heat of medium, but hot was probably as hot as I’d enjoy.

The decor is fun hearted street art. Minneapolis has a couple of locations, but the one in St. Paul had the highest rating, so we went there. For more details on their menu, you can visit their website: Dave’s Hot Chicken Menu.

Visit the Prince Museum

The plan was to start our Minneapolis Weekend Getaway with a visit to the iconic Prince Museum. I didn’t think I could visit the city without visiting Paisley Park. This museum offers a deep dive into the life and legacy of one of music’s greatest legends, but it costs $75 per person. Since we have our grandson with us, who isn’t a fan, that’s too much. We’ll go back another time when it’s just the two of us. Guests can wander through his recording studios, view his iconic outfits, and experience his creative world. The museum also has interactive exhibits for those who enjoy hands-on experiences.

Address: 7801 Audubon Rd, Chanhassen, MN 55317
Year: 1987 paisleypark.com

Hours:
Mon: 9 AM–5 PM
Tue-Wed: Closed
Thu: 9 AM–5 PM
Fri-Sat: 9 AM–6 PM
Sun: 9 AM–5 PM

Phone: (952) 495-6750

Self-guided Prince Murals Tour

Minneapolis honors its iconic musician, Prince, with three captivating murals, each a vibrant tribute:

  • Uptown Mural: Painted by Rock “Cyfi” Martinez, located at 26th Street and Hennepin Avenue on the rear of the building. It was created in April 2016, adding a splash of artistry to Uptown. Google Maps
  • North Loop Mural: Designed by Jonas Never for Floyd’s Barbershop, this mural graces the side of the 424 building on Washington Avenue. It was completed in 2019 and showcases Prince’s enigmatic presence. Google Maps
  • Downtown Mural: Minneapolis’ newest addition and my personal favorite was painted by Hiero Veiga and located on Parking Ramp A near First Avenue and the Target Center, 101 N 9th Street). Unveiled in June 2022, it features three dynamic portraits of Prince. Google Maps
  • Star Wall at First Avenue: Located at First Avenue and 7th Street, this iconic wall features a gold star dedicated to Prince, celebrating his deep connection with the legendary music venue. Hundreds of silver stars recognize other musicians as well as Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar Google Maps
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Minnehaha Falls

Visit Minnehaha Falls to enjoy the 53-foot drop waterfall in Minnehaha Park. It’s not the biggest or loudest waterfall I’ve ever seen, but it sits in a picturesque spot perfect for finding a bit of peace and quiet. And the locals turn out there too. Take a leisurely walk along the trails, sip on an iced coffee, and soak in the natural beauty. The sound of rushing water and the lush greenery creates a peaceful retreat. It takes less than 20 minutes to reach the falls from the parking lot.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/z1rLhzUN44JY6wJg6

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Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

I love a pretty sculpture garden when it’s not too hot outside. Luckily, this weekend provided an overcast backdrop to enjoy it. Head to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture. This 11-acre park features works by both local and world-renowned artists, making it a perfect spot for art lovers and photographers alike. Stroll through the garden and admire the creativity on display. Each sculpture tells a unique story, adding to the garden’s charm. The spoon was the best sculpture by far. We played a game trying to identify the modern art– none of us are experts on that stuff. But since parking at Walker Art Center (also worth checking out) was only $4, it was highly accessible and I think an hour well-spent in the late afternoon. The garden is open Monday to Sunday from 6 AM to 12 AM.

Address: 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Lunch at Kruse Markit Cafe

Lunch at Kruse Markit was a treat, but it definitely comes with a price tag. We splurged a bit and ended up spending $70. The food was really good. We enjoyed a yummy avocado toast and the hearty chicken panini. Sure, it’s not the cheapest lunch spot, but the quality of the farm-to-table ingredients and the delicious flavors made it a memorable experience.

Coffee at Fairgrounds Coffee

If you’re like me and you really miss the eclectic nature of cafes in South Korea, stop by Fairgrounds Coffee for a mid-morning pick-me-up. This unique coffee shop offers a variety of brews from different roasters, ensuring a perfect cup for every coffee lover. The eclectic decor and relaxed vibe make it a great spot to unwind. You can also enjoy a selection of teas and snacks.

The Foshay Observation Deck

The Foshay Tower, built in 1929 as a homage to the Washington Monument, was the tallest building in the Midwest for 48 years. It rises 447 feet with 32 stories. Explore its museum to discover the skyscraper’s distinctive history and its founder, Wilbur Foshay, through old newspapers and letters. Make sure to visit the outdoor observation deck on the 31st floor—it’s a must-see.

Minneapolis has a pretty unique skyline. Head to the observation deck at the Foshay Tower. It’s renowned locally as the best spot for city lights views, offering a 360-degree panorama that’s particularly stunning at night.

The Foshay Tower’s observation deck is located at 821 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402. It’s open every day from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Admission is $15 for ages 13 and older, while children 12 and under can enter for free.

Walk Along Stone Arch Bridge

Next time you visit Minneapolis, take a few minutes out your busy day to walk along the historic Stone Arch Bridge. This former railroad bridge offers breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and the Minneapolis skyline. It’s a popular spot for walking, biking, and taking in the city’s skyline. The bridge’s history and architecture add to its allure. It’s the only stone bridge along the entire Mississippi River. Unfortunately, the bridge is currently closed, so it we still have this to look forward to on our next trip.

Stroll Down Grand Avenue

Conclude your weekend with a Sunday morning stroll down Grand Avenue. This charming street is lined with boutiques, cafes, and historic homes. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, do some shopping, or just window shop with an iced coffee in hand. Each shop and cafe has its own unique charm, not unlike Minneapolis itself.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/5N9ipcd3nVSana1R6

Getting There and Where We Stayed

It took us 5:33 hours to get there from Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. The route took us through Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, Iowa, if you’re interested in a side-trip. We stayed at the Marriott Minneapolis City Center using points. Did, I love this Marriott. No, but it is 31 floors, and the view, like the Foshay observation tower, is phenomenal. Opt for a corner room to maximize the view.

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