Minneapolis Mill City Museum and Historic Riverfront District

Minneapolis Panorama
If you ever get a chance to spend some time in Minneapolis (hopefully not during the cold, cold winter) you owe it to yourself to go downtown to the Riverfront District and check out the sites in and around the old Mill City Museum. (Hours and Directions.)

The name Minneapolis is actually derived from “mni”, the Dakota word for water, and “polis”, the Greek word for city. Minneapolis is nicknamed the “City of Lakes” and the “Mill City” – hence the necessity of seeing the historic riverfront area.

Minneapolis Historic Stone Arch Bridge

Behind the Mill in the Mississippi river you’ll find the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam which is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Unfortunately it is not currently open (or wasn’t when I went there) to visitors except by scheduled tour, and the web site says this is due to construction.

Minneapolis' Historic Riverfront DistrictHowever, that won’t keep you from standing outside of the locks and watching as cruise ferry’s go in and out. Nor would it stop you from actually taking a ride on one of those ferries.

Minneapolis' Historic Stone Arch BridgeNow, in order to get the best view of the locks you’ll need to take a walk across the Stone Arch Bridge. This beautiful stone arch bridge was built in 1883 and although it’s had to have a few repairs it’s in fantastic condition and perfect for walking or biking across.

The views from the bridge are extraordinary. Not only is this your only vantage point to watch the locks and dam, it also affords views of the riverfront buildings such as the Old Mill, the Guthrie center and more. There is also a parking lot adjacent to the entrance to the bridge which makes it accessible even to those who can only stand to walk for a little bit, and I didn’t notice any difficult hills or steps so.

Minneapolis Guthrie CenterSpeaking of the Guthrie Theater, it is breathtaking. This is one of the most incredible buildings I’ve ever been in. What’s more amazing is that it was open to the public and completely free!

Anyone visiting the Mill and bridge absolutely must go next door and check out the view from the Guthrie’s Endless Bridge. You also have to take a ride on the 4 story tall escalators! The whole building is full of amazing feats of engineering.

Faces in the Guthrie CenterAnd while you’re standing there admiring it in all of it’s blue beauty, pay special attention to the outer walls and you’ll see faces lightly etched into the building. No, you aren’t seeing ghosts!

Minneapolis Riverfront District MapBefore you head down there, make sure and study the area map. You may want to enlarge sections of it and print them out before you go.

By the way, that is a 1.5MB PDF attachment. The good news is that you can really zoom in and see the detail. The bad news is that it’s a big download.

Minnesota Capital BuildingNow, while not exactly at the Riverfront district, you should also make sure and stop by the Minnesota Capital building and the surrounding area. They have a Veteran’s memorial and some really beautiful dedications to the men and women of the armed services.

Then, just down the street from the capital is The Cathedral of Saint Paul. It is quite simply the most amazing church I’ve seen in North America. Just plain astounding.

Finally, Minneapolis is the home of Target. And in downtown they have a two-story Target with a really, really cool cart escalator. You MUST go check it out. But you can at least see my video before you do.




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  1. Kenan

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