A lovely city with no obvious tourist attractions, Minneapolis probably doesn't get the attention it deserves from travelers, but then again that's probably part of its appeal. This is definitely a place to avoid in the winter since it has one of the harshest climates of any American city, but spring, summer, and fall can be glorious by contrast. The name means "city of lakes" and that refers to the 22 natural lakes within the city limits, but this is only the tiniest fraction of the over 15,000 lakes in the entire state of Minnesota. And we can't forget that this is one of the Twin Cities, as the underappreciated St. Paul sits just across the river.
What to do
Whether we mention it first or last, it's hard to avoid the Mall of America when discussing Minneapolis tourist attractions. By some measures it's the largest shopping mall in the United States, and it's a common tourist destination in the region as well. Located in the suburb of Bloomington about 10 miles south of Minneapolis, the MoA has over 500 stores, a cinema, a wedding chapel, an 18-hole miniature golf course, and an indoor theme park. You can reach the mall by light rail or bus.
Like so many other cities around the world, the downtown area in Minneapolis has been revitalized in recent decades. A series of Skyways will keep you out of the cold if you are crazy enough to visit in winter, but even in summer they can be a nice way to go from one shop to another. The music scene here is legendary and Prince is only one of the notable artists to call this city home. The First Avenue club featured in Purple Rain is still going and is one of the better places to hear live music most nights.
Being the main hub of Northwest Airlines makes finding a cheap ticket to Minneapolis fairly easy most of the time. The huge Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport (code: MSP) is the only game in town, but due to it being a major hub you can get nonstop flights from nearly everywhere into this airport. Getting into the city is very easy thanks to the light rail, which will shuttle you into town for $2 or less.
If you need to get to the airport by car, you can save both time and money by paying for your Minneapolis airport parking in advance. Or you can choose the Minneapolis airport shuttle to get you fast and cheap to the airport and back.
Where to stay
There are obviously many Minneapolis hotels from which to choose, and prices tend to be low compared to other major American cities. Pay close attention to location when you book though, since the area is quite spread out once you leave downtown. There are a few actual hostels in Minneapolis, which should be good news to those traveling on the tightest budgets. There are other budget hotels mixed in with those listings, but cheap dorm beds are possible here.