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Updated: February 1, 2022
Best Areas to Stay in Minneapolis
Minneapolis is one of America’s most livable cities, blurring into St. Paul to the east to create the “Twin Cities” of Minnesota, home to over 3 million people. The Downtown core comprises several neighborhoods; the Central Business District is the traditional commercial heart of the city with most of the hotels, good restaurants, and a smattering of sights. The adjacent North Loop and Warehouse District is now a vibrant area of buzzy shops and innovative restaurants, while Downtown East and Elliot Park encompass the Mississippi riverfront and iconic Stone Arch Bridge over St Anthony Falls, as well as the innovative Mill City Museum. To the south, Loring Park is best known for the Walker Art Center. There are also plenty of attractions in South Minneapolis, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Minnehaha Park of Hiawatha fame. There are also several artsy outer neighborhoods known for their restaurants, bars, and galleries, and a vast network of parks, rivers, and the “Chain of Lakes” that ring the city.
Until 2020, Minneapolis was most famous for being the home of the late musician Prince (and perhaps the Mall of America, the western world’s largest shopping mall), but that changed after the murder of George Floyd that year. Most of the damage that occurred in Minneapolis in the summer of 2020 took place 3 miles south of city’s downtown, and the city has been healing ever since.
It’s relatively easy to explore the city center on foot and even for trips further afield, Minneapolis is a good place to leave the car behind. The city’s excellent light rail runs to St Paul and the airport, Minnehaha Falls, and Mall of America from downtown, while buses cover the rest of the city. Nice Ride is the city’s bike share system.
• There’s no need to rent a car. Public transportation in Minneapolis is inexpensive and comprehensive.
• In terms of weather, be prepared for rapidly changing temperatures and climates. Check the weather forecast closely; it’s possible to experience blizzards as late as April and though it can be cold in November, hot days are also not uncommon.
Most places to stay fall in the city center, while the usual choices of motels and chain hotels line the freeways near the airport, south of the city. We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail below, but with more time, these locations are also worth checking out:
• St Paul: The “Twin City” to Minneapolis is only a short drive or light rail ride away. The state capital of Minnesota isn’t as lively, but its compact downtown offers plenty to see: the 1905 Minnesota State Capitol, a Cass Gilbert beauty; the grand Cathedral of St Paul, a gorgeous Beaux Arts pile completed in 1915; the family-friendly Science Museum of Minnesota; and the Minnesota History Center, where the state’s rich past is chronicled. Our favorite hotels here are the Covington Inn, Drury Plaza Downtown, Residence Inn Downtown, Celeste of St Paul, Hyatt Place Downtown, and the Saint Paul Hotel.
• Chanhassen, for Paisley Park
Influential musician Prince was born in Minneapolis in 1958 and was based here for most of his career. After his tragic death in 2016, his Paisley Park Studio was opened to the public – fans should buy tickets online in advance. It’s located around 21 miles southwest of Downtown Minneapolis in the sleepy suburb of Chanhassen – you really need a car to visit. There are 3 decent mid-range hotels nearby: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chanhassen, AmericInn Chanhassen, and Country Inn & Suites Chanhassen.
• Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport/I-494 corridor
The airport lies around 12 miles south of downtown – if you’re planning to explore the surrounding region by car, or just need to be near the airport, you’ll find a huge array of motels and hotel chains here and along the adjacent I-494, though it’s not much cheaper here than in the city (and not as convenient obviously). Solid options include Cambria Minneapolis Airport, Hilton Bloomington, Renaissance Bloomington, and InterContinental St. Paul Airport.
Best Places to Stay in Minneapolis
- Best Luxury Hotels in Minneapolis
Hotel Ivy • Hyatt Centric Downtown • Loews • Marquette • Rand Tower • Renaissance The Depot • W Minneapolis
- Best Midrange Hotels in Minneapolis
Chambers Hotel • Element Downtown • Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown • Radisson Red • Residence Inn Downtown
- Best Boutique Hotels in Minneapolis
Alma • Canopy Mill District • Elliot Park Hotel • Hewing Hotel
- Best B&B in Minneapolis
- Best Cheap Hotels in Minneapolis
Comfort Inn MSP Airport • Ramada Golden Valley • Sonesta Simply Suites Richfield
- Best Hostel in Minneapolis
Best Neighborhoods in Minneapolis for…
- Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers/Sightseeing: Central Business District – Theater District
With a wide-range of accommodation from family-friendly chains to business hotels and romantic boutiques, the downtown core of the city is easily the best place to stay for first-time visitors. You’ll also have access to the heart of the light rail and bus system, as well as being within walking distance of the Mississippi River and the hip North Loop/Warehouse district. There’s also a decent spread of restaurants and bars here and the shopping hub of Nicollet.
- Best Neighborhood for Romantic trip/Honeymoon: North Loop & Warehouse District
The hip North Loop & Warehouse District is relatively central and convenient for touring the city, but the neighborhood itself is perfect for a romantic getaway. Stay at the stylish Hewing Hotel and enjoy the views from the rooftop, which also boasts a spa pool and Nordic-inspired sauna. There are some cool places to eat around here, from old-school supper clubs such as the Monte Carlo and J.D. Hoyt’s Supper Club, to the fancy and contemporary hotspot Spoon and Stable. The Mississippi River is a short stroll away, lined with shady trails, while James & Mary Laurie Bookseller offers thousands of books and 30,000 vintage classical and jazz records. At night, check out live bands at Fine Line, or share some laughs at Acme Comedy Company. There’s also wine-tasting at the AxeBridge Wine Co.
- Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife: Central Business District, North Loop & Warehouse District, and Northeast Minneapolis
Minneapolis is a big party town with nightlife spots scattered across the city, but there are a few areas that especially standout. The CBD features plenty of clubs and live venues, including the iconic First Avenue of Prince fame, the Dakota, and the LGBT hub Gay 90’s. The North Loop is a bit more diverse, from Japanese whiskey bars to AxeBridge Wine Co. But our favorite area for a night out is Northeast Minneapolis. Lovers of craft ales are in for a treat, with numerous breweries and microdistilleries (Bauhaus Brew Labs is a popular choice), but there are also retro tiki bars (Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge), whimsical pubs (Betty Danger’s Country Club), dive bars (331 Club, Mayslacks) and cocktail lounges (Peacock Lounge).
- Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: South Minneapolis (Eat Street) and North Loop
Foodies are well catered for in Minneapolis, and “Eat Street” in South Minneapolis, a roughly 10-block strip of Nicollet Avenue, is a great place to start. The oldest spot here is 1960s mainstay Black Forest Inn, with its beer garden and German specialties, but there are plenty of other highlights, from Greek restaurant Christos and Vietnamese spots like Jasmine 26 and My Huong Kitchen, to hip Eat Street Social and Harry Singh’s Original Caribbean Restaurant. For innovative and contemporary spots, the North Loop is a good bet, home to lauded restaurants such as Gavin Kaysen’s Spoon and Stable, Borough, Demi, North Loop Galley, and Smack Shack, among many others.
Eat Street is connected to the CBD by frequent bus #18, which runs up and down Nicollet every 8 minutes.
- Best Neighborhood for Shopping: North Loop & Warehouse District; Northeast
Though Nicollet in Downtown Minneapolis is the city’s traditional commercial thoroughfare (Nordstrom Rack and Target are still here), we recommend perusing the indie stores of North Loop & Warehouse District and Northeast Minneapolis. The latter’s Arts District features numerous galleries and open studios, as well as jewelry, clothing, and home décor outlets (Curiosity is an excellent example, home to all sorts of local artisans and craftspeople). Rewind and Moth Oddities are popular vintage stores, while Magus Books & Herbs offers all sorts of New Age healing and wellness products. Highlights in the North Loop include the women’s fashions at D. NOLO, PARC, Requisite, and Statement Boutique, plus the menswear at Martin Patrick 3.
Mall of America – America’s biggest shopping mall lies about 12 miles south of Downtown, with a mind-bending 520 stores, numerous restaurants, the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Sea Life Aquarium, and more. The best hotels nearby are AC Hotel Bloomington Mall of America, Element Bloomington Mall of America, JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, and Home2 Suites by Hilton Bloomington.
- Best Neighborhood for Local Vibe: East Lake (South Minneapolis)
East Lake Street in South Minneapolis is studded with tempting food and shopping destinations which are far more popular with locals than tourists. Midtown Global Market and Mercado Central boast excellent food courts, as well as clothing, jewelry, art, groceries, and home goods stalls. Plaza Mexico, a little further along, caters to the Mexican and Latino community, with numerous snack and retail vendors. Ingebretsen’s has been specializing in Scandinavian food, gifts, and crafts since 1921. The Hook & Ladder Theater is an excellent indie performance center in an old firehouse, while the Somali Museum of Minnesota introduces the culture and crafts of one of the city’s largest immigrant populations.
- Unsafe Areas of Minneapolis
Central Minneapolis is generally quite safe, though the usual precautions should be taken at night. In 2020, riots affected large parts of the city in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, but this was exceptional and things have calmed down since then. The Hawthorne area, north of Downtown, tends to post the highest crime rates, but there’s little reason to go here. You should also take care at night in some neighborhoods in South Minneapolis: notably Midtown Phillips, East Philips, and Ventura Village.
The 7 Best Neighborhoods in Minneapolis for Tourists
The heart of downtown Minneapolis is lacking somewhat in character, but is likely where you’ll be staying – most of the hotels are here. Dominated by office buildings and skyscrapers (including the historic Foshay Tower), the area tends to wind down on weekday evenings, but it’s nevertheless home to some of the city’s best restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment venues (including the Theater District itself, home to the Orpheum, State, and Pantages theaters). And in winter (or bad weather generally), the enclosed Minneapolis Skyway System means you can traverse the area without going outside. Nicollet (formerly known as Nicollet Mall) is downtown’s core shopping and entertainment street, while Orchestra Hall is home to the Minnesota Orchestra. Also here, First Avenue and Dakota Jazz Club, legendary live venues associated with Prince. In terms of restaurants, steakhouse lovers are in for a treat: Murray’s and Manny’s are 2 of the standouts.
- The CBD offers the widest choice of accommodation in the city beyond the airport, though prices are usually fairly high. Though there are no major sights here, you will have central access to the city’s transportation network – everything is a short cycle or light rail ride away.
- It’s best not to drive in the city center: many streets are one-way and it is illegal to drive on the Light Rail tracks or on Nicollet. Parking is expensive and often hard to find.
- Best Hotels: Four Seasons (opening mid-2022) • AC Hotel Downtown • Elliot Park Hotel • Hotel Ivy • Hyatt Centric Downtown • Loews • Marquette • Rand Tower • W Minneapolis
- Best Midrange Hotels: Chambers Hotel • Embassy Suites Downtown • Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Downtown
Northwest of Minneapolis CBD, the North Loop and Warehouse District is the city’s hippest enclave. In the late 19th century, the warehouses here formed part of the city’s industrial district, but since the 1990s, they’ve increasingly been converted into shops, apartments, and restaurants. Target Field, the Minnesota Twins ballpark, lies in the neighborhood, but there are otherwise no major sights – a visit here is all about soaking up the vibrant atmosphere and enjoying the buzzy shopping scene, innovative restaurants, and nightlife. Highlights include live shows at Fillmore Minneapolis, LGBT icon the Gay 90’s, and the indie Lab Theater, home of the city’s fringe theater. The neighborhood is also a major craft beer hub, with some of our favorite taprooms at Modist Brewing, Fulton Brewing, and Inbound BrewCo.
- There’s only a handful of places to stay in the neighborhood, but it’s within walking distance of most of the hotels in the Central Business District.
- Parking here can be tough, especially when there’s a game or event at Target Field (it’s mostly on-street, metered parking). Bike, walk, or take public transport (bus #7 and #14).
- Best Hotels: Element Downtown • Hewing Hotel
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotel: TownePlace Suites Downtown/North Loop
Like North Loop, Downtown East was originally a business district, primarily crammed with factories serving the “milling capital of the world” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, it’s another rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, filled with converted apartment blocks, restaurants, and small businesses. In terms of attractions, the US Bank Stadium is home to the fanatically supported Minnesota Vikings football franchise, as well as the Minneapolis Summer X Games and numerous live concerts. The absorbing Mill City Museum sheds light on the city’s industrial heyday and overlooks riverside Mill Ruins Park. From here, you can visit the St Anthony Falls Visitor Center or cross the Mississippi via the pedestrian and bike only Stone Arch Bridge. The modern Guthrie Theater complex also overlooks the river, featuring performances as well as an unusual 178-foot cantilever known as the “Endless Bridge” (with stunning views) and the yellow-tinted “Amber Box.”
- There’s less choice when it comes to accommodation here, but the hotels tend to be newer and more stylish, and the neighborhood has more character than the CBD. It’s just as effectively connected to the rest of the city by public transport but not as well served by restaurants and bars.
- Best Hotels: Canopy Mill District • Hyatt Place Downtown • Moxy Downtown • Renaissance The Depot
- Best Midrange Hotels: Aloft • Radisson Red • Residence Inn Downtown
4. Loring Park
A smaller neighborhood south of the CBD, Loring Park is centered around the eponymous park and lake, a popular local hangout. Though it’s primarily a residential district, the park usually hosts the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival, annual Summer Art Fair, and Holidazzle festival in the winter. The main attraction is the world-class Walker Art Center and adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” installation by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Nearby is the grandiose Basilica of St. Mary, a gorgeous Beaux-Arts pile completed in 1914.
- Street parking is hard to find in Loring Park. Numerous buses run up and down Nicollet between the neighborhood and the CBD (look for buses marked “Free Ride” to pay no fare).
- There’s not a lot of accommodation here, but Loring Park is within walking distance of most of the hotels in the CBD (or short bike/taxi rides).
- Best Hotel: Hyatt Regency
- Best Midrange Hotel: Millennium
- Best B&B: 300 Clifton
Northeast Minneapolis lies across the Mississippi River from Downtown, a primarily residential neighborhood that is nevertheless worth a visit for its rich arts and culinary scenes. The section known as the Northeast Arts district is home to numerous art studios and galleries, as well as memorably named bars such as Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge, Betty Danger’s Country Club, and Hai Hai. To the south, the Riverfront district offers stunning views of the CBD skyline and lush Nicollet Island Park, home to the iconic Grain Belt sign plus one of the city’s most intriguing hotels, the Nicollet Island Inn.
- There’s not a lot of hotel accommodation here (nothing at all in the Arts District), but most of the area is easily accessible via public transport from the CBD (bus #4 and #61 run straight up Hennepin Avenue from downtown, while #11 heads into the Arts District). Away from the main avenues, street parking is easier find here.
- Best Hotels: Alma • Delta Hotels Northeast • Nicollet Island Inn
Sprawling South Minneapolis contains some of the city’s biggest attractions, parks, and lakes, a diverse blend of posh, multi-cultural neighborhoods with some of the most neglected zip codes in the region. George Floyd Memorial Square is at 38th and Chicago Avenue, an ongoing tribute (enhanced with florid murals) commemorating Floyd’s murder here in 2020. The biggest conventional attraction is the Minneapolis Institute of Art, crammed with world-famous art from all continents (it’s also free). Nearby is the stylish American Swedish Institute, and a bit further south the markets and food emporiums of Lake Street, including Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts & Foods. The Bakken Museum is a family-friendly science and technology showcase.
In terms of food, “Eat Street” occupies a restaurant-filled stretch of Nicollet Avenue, while Minneapolis signature dish the Jucy Lucy (aka “Juicy Lucy”), a hamburger with two beef patties surrounding a hunk of cheese, is served by 1950s rivals Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club, both located on Cedar Avenue.
The Chain of Lakes comprises Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun), Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake, while Lake Nokomis is close to riverside Minnehaha Regional Park, home to the 53-foot-tall Minnehaha Falls and Longfellow Gardens, named after the author of The Song of Hiawatha.
- Depending on which section you choose, staying in South Minneapolis can offer the chance to experience the city as the locals do, with numerous parks, lakes, small restaurants, and markets to enjoy.
- Mainstream accommodation options are few; this is probably a better area to seek apartment rentals.
- Having a car here can be useful, given how spread out everything is. However, all the main sights – Eat Street, Minnehaha Park, the art museum – are accessible by light rail or bus.
- Best Hotels: Moxy Uptown • Westin Edina Galleria
- Best Midrange Hotel: Homewood Suites Edina
- Best Hostel: Minneapolis Hostel
The tiny neighborhood of Dinkytown borders the large University of Minnesota campus on the north bank of the Mississippi, just across from East Town. It can be a fun place to stay, with students unsurprisingly making up the majority of residents and plenty of diverse (and cheapish) places to eat and drink (including some excellent microbreweries). The Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum is another plus, and the area is well-served by light rail. The campus itself is a hub for arts and cultural events, with Northrop Auditorium the primary venue.
- Metered on-street parking is usually easy to find in Dinkytown, but it’s only 10 minutes to the CBD on #3 or #6 bus. The light rail station lies in the center of the university campus.
- Best Hotels: Graduate Minneapolis • Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis University Area
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Days Hotel University • Hampton Inn & Suites Minneapolis University Area