Minneapolis-St. Paul may not top many must-visit travel lists, but there’s a lot going on in the Twin Cities right now. Here are three reasons to visit in 2016.
Mall of America's Recent Expansion
Add an extra day to your shopping vacation. The largest mall in America just got bigger thanks to a three-level, $330 million expansion that includes space for an additional 50 high-end retailers, tourist welcome center, 10-story office complex, event space, and 342-room JW Marriott hotel. There’s also a new food court with marble tabletops that will soon feature options such as Piada Italian Street Food, Shake Shack, Melt Shop, Disco Fries, and Naf Naf Grill.
But that’s just the beginning. Plans submitted in October 2015 will eventually add another half-million square feet of retail space, an additional hotel, another office building, a health club, an NHL-sized ice skating arena, and even more dining and nightlife options. That’s in addition to what the mall already offers: 520 retailers, the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park, the 1.3 million gallon Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, Minnesota Children’s Museum, 14-screen movie theater, and 500-room Radisson Blu.
Upgrades for Super Bowl LII
The 52nd Super Bowl is still two years away -- the game date is set for February 4, 2018 -- but Minneapolis is already planning. One of the biggest projects is a $1 billion, state-of-the-art stadium that's under construction, replacing the Minnesota Viking’s former venue. (You can visit the U.S. Bank Stadium Preview Center to learn more about the field where Super Bowl LII will be played; book a preview center tour here.)
But stadium construction isn’t the only work going on in the downtown area -- Minneapolis is experiencing a mini-revival of sorts. Near the stadium, the city is designing a new 4.2-acre greenbelt dubbed the Downtown East Commons, and local developers are adding office, retail, and residential space in the area. Much of this will be connected to the existing skyway and sky bridge system that allows pedestrians to move from building to building without stepping outside.
Culture, History, and More
The Twin Cities is more cosmopolitan than one might think. Art lovers can view more than 83,000 pieces at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, considered one of the finest collections in the country with works spanning from Rembrandt to Matisse. The best part? Admission is free. Or, visit the Guthrie Theater for a backstage or architecture tour. You can also download a free self-guided audio tour before visiting the theater’s public spaces, including the “Endless Bridge,” a cantilevered lobby that offers incredible views of the Mississippi River below.
History buffs will want to visit the next door Mill City Museum, housed in what was once the world’s largest flour mill. The museum explores the history of the flour industry, the city of Minneapolis, and the Mississippi River.
For something a little more active, head to the nearby historic Stone Arch Bridge. You can walk, bicycle, or take a Segway tour across the 23 arches that span the Mississippi River just below St. Anthony Falls.
Finally, foodies will be happy to know that Minneapolis is in the midst of a culinary explosion with darlings like Gavin Kaysen's Spoon and Stable or the ultra-cool Heyday. Along with good eats, there's a thriving craft beer industry. Don’t miss Summit Brewing Company and Dangerous Man Brewing Co.