What Is Minneapolis Known For? (17 Things It’s Famous For)

Minneapolis is a city in the state of Minnesota, located in the north-central area of the US. This city is crossed by the Mississippi River and adjoins Minnesota’s capital, Saint Paul.

Minneapolis is known for its many lakes, Innovative skyscrapers, and its unique Skyway System. It’s also famous for having the biggest mall in the US, and home of the second biggest state fair with 2 million visitors, yearly. Minneapolis ranked 1st in having the most percentage of volunteers in the US.

Plenty of Lakes

Minneapolis is surely not short on water. This is the metropolis with the highest number of lakes in the whole of the US, with a total of 22. The most iconic ones are Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet. All together they are known as the Chain of Lakes. They are located within walking distance of each other in the southwestern area of the city.

Mall of America 

With an area of 5.6 million total square feet and more than 550 stores, Mall of America is the largest mall in the US. If you had to spend ten minutes in each store, it would take you 86 hours to visit it completely! This place is humongous, and you can fit 9 Yankee stadiums inside it!

In addition to this, the Mall of America is among the most visited tourist attractions in the world. It attracts 40 million visitors each year. To give you an idea of how much this is, less than 20 million people visit the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World every year.

Mall of America also features an aquarium containing 1.2 million gallons of water! This is home to all sorts of marine creatures, from sea turtles to sharks and stingrays.

Minnesota State Fair 

If the Mall of America shocked you, wait to hear the stats of the Minnesota State Fair! This fair is one of the largest in the US, second only to the State Fair of Texas. The Minnesota State Fair takes place in the summer and gathers about two million people every year.

The fair is more than 150 years old, and it was first organized in 1859. It features 300 vendors, and it occupies 322 acres of fairground!  

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden 

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of the most visited attractions in the city. Here you will find the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry structure. This massive work of art measures 30 by 52 by 13 feet and was designed by Claes Oldenburg in 1988. As you stroll throughout the park, you will be able to admire 40 other outdoor sculptures from renowned artists.

First Avenue

First Avenue is, without a doubt, the most popular club in Minneapolis. This nightclub first opened in 1970 and, since then, has welcomed the best artists from all over the world. From Frank Zappa to Tina Turner, U2, The Ramones, BB King, REM… The list is endless!

But First Avenue is particularly known because of Prince! He made this nightclub his regular venue to the point that some of his fans believed he was the owner. 

Museums and Art Galleries

Minneapolis is home to plenty of museums and art galleries. For instance, The Minneapolis Institute of Art displays 9,000 works of art, representing more than 5,000 years of history. The museum has paintings from famous artists such as Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Matisse. Other important museums in the city include the Mill City Museum, the Bakken Museum, The Walker Art Center, and the Weisman Art Museum.

Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge is one of Minneapolis’s most iconic landmarks. In the past, this used to be a railroad bridge, but nowadays it is open to pedestrians and bicycles. This is one of the oldest bridges in the US and the longest of its kind. The Stone Arch Bridge is 2,100 feet long and has 23 arches.

One of its most impressive features is that this bridge is not built in a straight line, following ancient Roman architecture. Building curved bridges is highly risky. In fact, you necessarily have to put lots of weight on certain joints. Despite this, Engineer Charles C. Smith managed to build a resistant structure that is now more than 100 years old!

Honeycrisp Apples

Have you ever tried a Honeycrisp apple? As the name suggests, they are incredibly sweet and crunchy! And guess what? They were developed at the University of Minnesota! These apples were specifically designed to be juicier and, therefore, tastier.

Honeycrisp apples have larger cells than most other apples. They also have more cells that rupture when people bite them. Both of these characteristics contribute to their juiciness, making them irresistible!

Juicy Lucy

Minneapolis is also known for being the birthplace of the famous Juicy Lucy burger. But why is this burger so popular? Unlike most burgers, the cheese in a Juicy Lucy is inside the meat rather than on top.

It is still unclear which restaurant first invented the Juicy Lucy. Both Matt’s Bar and 5-8 Club claim they came up with the original recipe. At the moment, we still do not know who is right, and probably we will never know! 

Juicy Lucy became famous all over the country when, in 2008, Time magazine mentioned it in an article. Following the newspaper cover, several tv shows, such as Man V Food and Food Wars, featured this burger in their programs. Today, most restaurants in Minneapolis offer the Juicy Lucy. But the original ones are only in Matt’s Bar and 5-8 Club.

Skyway system

Not many people know that Minneapolis has the largest skyway system in the world. The city is in fact full of enclosed, second-level bridges. It has 9.5 miles of pathways connecting 80 different buildings. 

The first skyway was built in 1962, and now the whole system connects apartment complexes to offices and stores. This allows the residents of Minneapolis to go to work and shop without setting foot on the road.

Sound 80 

Sound 80 is a recording studio known for having released the first commercial digital audio recording. Tom Jung and Herb Pilhofer founded this recording studio back in 1969.  Several artists came here to record some of their best pieces. For instance, in 1974, Bob Dylan recorded portions of his Blood on the Tracks. A few years later, in 1977, Cat Steven also worked at Sound 80. Here he recorded his tenth album, known as Izitso. Price also came here to record the demo tapes of his first album, For you.

Altruistic people

Minneapolis is also known all over the US for its extremely generous citizens. People here tend to be very altruistic and selfless. In fact, according to a 2020 study, Minneapolis has the highest percentage of volunteers in the whole of the US.

Innovative skyscrapers and architecture

Minneapolis is also very famous for its many skyscrapers and stunning buildings. Some of the most iconic ones include the Walker Art Center and the Guthrie Theater. The former was designed by the famous American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. The latter is a creation of Ralph Rapson, Head of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota from 1954 to 1984. Jean Nouvel and Herzog & de Meuron, and Long and Kees also contributed to the architecture of the city. 

Flour Milling Capital of the world!

Today Minneapolis’ economy may not be heavily based on flour milling, but in the past it surely was. The city held the title of flour milling capital of the world for half a century. This contributed to the quick expansion of the city. In 1870, the population of Minneapolis counted only 20,000 inhabitants. But the population grew exponentially along with the growth of the flour milling industry. In 1890 more than 165,000 residents lived in the city!

Betty Crocker

Few people know that the famous fictional character Betty Crocker was invented by a Minneapolis citizen. Marjorie Husted was an American businesswoman who worked for General Mills. She created Betty Crocker in 1921 and wrote most of her script. This fictional character was extremely popular in the US! It has been estimated that in 1948, 91% of American homemakers knew who Betty Crocker was.

St Anthony falls 

Minneapolis is home to the only natural major waterfall on the Mississippi River. St Anthony falls formed roughly 12,000 years ago and has an average flow rate of 370 m² per second. It also played an important role in the milling industry of Minneapolis. During the mid and late 1800, several dams were built atop the falls to support the milling industry of the city. This helped Minneapolis grow and become one of the main cities in the state.

Swedish influence

Between 1850 and 1930, over 250,000 Swedish people migrated to Minnesota. Most of them went to live in Minneapolis. This is why still nowadays, the city has a huge Swedish American population. The Swedish influence can be seen in Minneapolis’ food scene. People in Minneapolis do not have to go to IKEA to try some traditional Swedish food.  Dishes such as Swedish meatballs and pickled herring can be found all over the city.