Despite common belief, the Midwest consists of more than boring farmland, and the Twin Cities provide the perfect amount of city in the heart of Minnesota. The Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis combine to create the perfect setting for an unforgettable college experience. Not only can you enjoy the nature found throughout the two cities, but you can also take in true experiences of city-life.
I present to you 24 things to do in the Twin Cities to fill a day with a fantastic, unforgettable adventure.
6 a.m. Go for a run along the Stone Arch Bridge
Greet dozens of fellow runners along this iconic route that provides a breathtaking view of downtown Minneapolis. The Stone Arch Bridge built in 1881 originated from the railroad business, but has now become a pedestrian path. “The Stone Arch is the best spot to get the sense of Minneapolis in one place,” Minneapolis resident Elsa Lundin said. The bridge enhances the routes of several running and biking races throughout the year, in addition to providing a backdrop to beautiful pictures for proms or weddings. Even if you don’t enjoy running, at least take a nice stroll or Snapchat story pic and enjoy the Minneapolis skyline view from the historic bridge.
7 a.m. Get a pic of your latte for the ‘gram at Café Astoria
You will definitely get tons of likes on your pic of the artfsy lattes from this hidden café in downtown Saint Paul. They even have a latte with edible gold if you want to feel extra fancy. “The lattes and matcha lattes have a lot of different designs and edible gold that makes it unique from anywhere else,” Saint Paul native Annika Vanstrum said. I give you a small warning that if you do go, prepare yourself to wait in line. “The best part was the hustle and bustle inside the café. So many people enjoying the company of their friends and family, with good coffee,” Twin Cities-born Emma Banashak said. The crowded atmosphere need not to ruin your experience, as it can also highlight your visit and prove that the café deserves your visit.
8 a.m. Grab an old-fashioned American breakfast at Hi-Lo Diner
Did you know that Adele ate here when she visited Minneapolis? “Hi-Lo Diner is a great place to go with your friends and has a vintage feel to it. The food can be expensive, but it is worth it,” Vanstrum said. A restored diner car houses the restaurant, and walking into the diner makes you feel as if you have literally stepped into the 1950s. Whether you prefer eggs and bacon or pancakes and waffles for breakfast, fuel yourself for the day in the right way at this old-fashioned diner.
9 a.m. Get your shopping on at the Mall of America
Whatever you need to look for, you will no doubt find it in this retail paradise. Countless stores fill the four levels of the mall, making the place a dream come true for shopaholics. College students may struggle financially, but this place will let you forget your lack of funds and give you the desire to take part in a last-minute shopping spree. Even if you could care less about shopping, you will find more than stores inside the country’s biggest mall. “There’s an amusement park and an aquarium if that’s more your speed,” University of Minnesota sophomore Jacob Ring said. With these attractions it becomes clear why the mall will probably necessitate more than an hour if you truly want to get the whole experience.
10 a.m. Kayak the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis
In the summer time you will see hundreds of kayakers and paddle boarders on the Chain of Lakes uniquely found in the center of Minneapolis. Admire the city skyline as you kayak your way through the lakes. Minnesotans partake in many other activities on the Lakes than just kayaking as well. “They are the closest thing to a beach that we have… People are running and biking and swimming and mocking,” College of Saint Benedict sophomore Maggie Morin said. Take in the warmth of the sunshine on a Minnesotan summer day and get some exercise as you paddle through the water, feeling the breeze blow through your hair.
11 a.m. Take a haunted tour of the Wabasha Street Caves
Challenge your fear of the dark and explore the Wabasha Street Caves in Saint Paul. The basic tour will entertain you with haunted stories from the cave’s history. This location also provides the opportunity for private events or murder mystery parties, where actors re-enact murders that took place in the caves throughout the years. Swing night also happens every Thursday night, where you can dance the night away in a haunted cave, something that you cannot do in any other city in the country.
12 p.m. Indulge in a Minnesotan “Juicy Lucy”
Can you imagine anything better than a cheeseburger? A burger with cheese stuffed in the center of the patty, of course. The Juicy Lucy first became famous at Matt’s Bar, but many other restaurants throughout the Twin Cities offer the delicious menu item. Any foodie has surely heard of this Minnesota creation, and it brings pride to the food scene of both Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Some other restaurants highlighting this famous menu item include The Nook, The 5-8 Club and Shamrocks.
1 p.m. Explore the Skyways of downtown Minneapolis
The Skyway System of Minneapolis connects almost the entirety of downtown, covering over 80 city blocks. You can go from one corner of the city to another without stepping a foot outdoors, making the Skyways very handy during the winter months and distinguishing the city of Minneapolis as unique compared to other big American cities. The office workers express gratitude for the easy access to hundreds of restaurants for their lunch time break. In the summer, the Skyways provide constant air conditioning and relief from the heat, while in the winter they provide much-appreciated heat and protection from the frigid winter air.
2 p.m. Head to Surly Brewing Company for a free tour
Even if you have not turned 21 yet, you can still enjoy this tour through Surly Brewing Company, and if you have an appetite afterward, head upstairs for some delicious, hot pizza or enjoy the sunshine outside in the beer garden in the summer months. The tour showcases the brewery’s brewhouse, fermentation cellar and the packaging hall, thus giving a full tour of the entirety of the brewery. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this activity remains the free price, something every college student will surely greet with open arms.
3 p.m. Become a part of the wild at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
A zoo may seem cliché or childish, but Como may just attract your college budget. “Como Park is a great community attraction as one of the only zoos in the nation that doesn’t require an admission fee,” Saint Paul-born Christine Siebels-Lindquist said. Watch Sparky the sea lion’s famous show or take the opportunity to feed the giraffes. Then head to the conservatory to look at the blossoming and unique flowers. Before you leave, stroll through the Japanese garden and take a tour of the authentic tea house to learn about the true Japanese tea experience.
4 p.m. Get an “Izzy scoop” at Izzy’s Ice Cream
Going for some good old-fashioned ice cream makes a day truly complete. Stop at Izzy’s to excite your taste buds with some homemade goodness. “If you’re feeling really Minnesotan you can get the Izzy’s Hot Dish, which has  ‘Izzy scoops’ [Izzy’s signature ‘mini’ scoop size] of every flavor,” University of Minnesota junior Rachel Brown said. Almost all Minnesotans can recognize the popular Izzy’s ice-cream, which multiple restaurants of the Twin Cities showcase on their dessert menus.
5 p.m. Enjoy going back in time at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
This museum, also known as the MIA, provides access to a vast collection of art from many different time periods of history all the way from ancient times to the 1900s to modern and contemporary artwork. “They have interesting period rooms for people interested in historical eras,” Rachel Brown said. It will absolutely take more than one hour to fully enjoy all this museum has to offer, and the museum houses more than simply paintings, as many artifacts from Africa, Asia and other parts of the world fill the museum.
6 p.m. Practice your chopstick skills and have some sushi at Haiku Japanese Bistro
When you get sick of ordering pizza as a college student, try going for some sushi instead. “Their sushi is great and the prices are unbeatable! It’s a really fun atmosphere… I’ve gone there to celebrate birthdays or just during their happy hour to chill,” University of Minnesota sophomore Miller Balley said. The decade-old activity of ordering pizza gets an update with the new activity of going out for sushi. Add a little cultural experience to your day and chow down on some edamame or maki sushi, and if you feel brave, add some more spice to your life with wasabi.
7 p.m. Look at the city from the Foshay
You must not forget to visit the observation deck in the Foshay Tower where you can get an up- close view of the other Minneapolis buildings. “It’s an unbeatable view like no other in the Twin Cities,” St. Catherine University sophomore Beth Wulf said. Do not miss out on this lesser-known secret location of the Twin Cities. Even though it may not still claim the title as the tallest building, the building remains a historical landmark of the city and the observation deck allows you to appreciate this piece of history found in Minneapolis while admiring the view of the surrounding buildings.
8 p.m. See a cheap movie at the Riverview Theater
What college student can say they don’t feel ecstatic about $3 movies? When trying to save up money, head to the Riverview with some friends. “It’s cheap, and it’s an experience. I go with friends, and it doesn’t matter if the movie is good or bad because we pay so little and then just laugh our way through it and eat cheap popcorn,” Siebels-Lindquist said. Crowds fill this hot-spot theater as on the weekends the line easily goes all the way down the block. If you happen to find yourself there on a Tuesday, save even more money and only pay $2.
9 p.m. Ride the Ferris wheel at Betty Danger’s
This unique Minneapolis restaurant has great food as well as a Ferris wheel. Small restaurants found in other cities rarely have their own Ferris wheel providing entertainment while you wait for your meal or drinks to come to the table, so this opportunity will add another unique experience to your Twin Cities day-long adventure. At night the Ferris wheel even lights up in bright pink, adding some brightness to your ride.
10 p.m. Swing dance the night away with some friends
The Ukrainian Center on Main Street in Minneapolis provides the opportunity to try something new and have some dancing fun with friends. “At 10 p.m. they do late night swing. $6 is the normal price, but students can bring their ID on Thursdays and its only five dollars,” University of Minnesota sophomore Zoe Kondes said. Many college students get into their boring routine of going to clubs, but change it up and go out swing dancing one night for an exciting and culturally exciting experience.
11 p.m. Grab some late-night munchies at Snuffy’s Malt Shop
Nothing satisfies a late-night craving like some good old fries and a malt from this authentic Saint Paul malt shop. “One of my favorite things to do in the Twin Cities is to grab a strawberry malt and some fries from Snuffy’s,” University of Minnesota junior Rachel Wheeler said. This family-owned malt shop opened its first location in 1983, and has now expanded to some suburban locations, making it a Minnesota–loved tradition. The fun drawings and paintings of friendly animals fill the walls and provide some entertainment to look at during your meal.
12 a.m. See a concert at First Avenue
Purple rain comes to mind at this music venue, for Minneapolis-born pop icon Prince got his start at First Avenue. Many other famous musicians have performed at this unique Minnesotan club such as U2 or Billy Idol, and you can learn the names of all the performers who have taken the stage by looking at the names on the stars that fill the outer walls of the building. Make sure you get some good fun in at one of the best clubs for night life in Minneapolis. The venue emphasizes its welcoming environment to people of all backgrounds, making it a wonderful place for a diverse club experience.
1 a.m. Walk around downtown Minneapolis and take in the city lights
If you enjoy cities, you will love Minneapolis at night. “Going [to] downtown Minneapolis at night is really fun. I like to walk around and look at the lights and take pictures, and just mentally relax after a long day,” University of Minnesota sophomore John Patterson said. If you define yourself as a city person, make sure you take in downtown Minneapolis at night, as this definitely prove the fact that Minnesota does not only house farms and small towns. Simply walking down Hennepin Avenue will give you plenty to look at with the numerous theaters and restaurants with lit-up signs. Finish it all by looking at the illuminating reflection of the Hennepin Bridge lights on the Mississippi River.
2 a.m. Visit Rice Park in Downtown Saint Paul
In the winter time, go skating on the free ice rink in Rice Park and take some cute pictures. “Walking around there is really cute and perfect for ice skating photo-ops,” Wulf said. Definitely stop by this beautiful park in the winter, or stroll through the park in the summer. The historical buildings surrounding the park add beauty to the experience, including the St. Paul Public Library, the Landmark Center, the iconic Saint Paul Hotel, as well as the Ordway Center for Performing Arts where you can appreciate the amazing talent in the Twin Cities.
3 a.m. Take a picture with the cherry and spoon at the Sculpture Garden
The Sculpture Garden houses numerous interesting and fun sculpture creations to explore and view. The most popular sculpture found at the Sculpture Garden, the cherry and spoon sculpture gives the ideal opportunity for a fun illusion picture to make it appear as though you hold the cherry stem in your hand. Before you leave the Sculpture Garden, don’t forget to enjoy the Walker Art Museum found right next door where unique modern art pieces intrigue its visitors.
4 a.m. Visit Minnehaha Falls
Minnehaha Park gives the Twin Cities a unique feature of a waterfall that runs into the Mississippi River. “I love that we have an actual waterfall right in the middle of the city… It’s fun to walk along the trails. When you’re tired of walking, you can soak your feet in the pool at the bottom of the Falls and maybe have a picnic,” Minneapolis-native Allie Brown said. The falls includes more than just the crashing waterfall, and the trails along the creek leading to the Mississippi provide a great place for exploration and adventure in the nature of the city.
5 a.m. Grab some coffee from Caribou and watch the sunrise on the Mississippi
After the many activities you participated in, you will need a boost of caffeine. Caribou Coffee can claim the title “Starbucks of the Midwest” due to the large number of locations, including almost 300 in Minnesota alone. Get some delicious coffee to complete your exciting day in the Twin Cities and take in the Mississippi River in the quiet morning hours as the sun comes up. You just might find a favorite new coffee shop. I make it a necessity to stop at Caribou and taste their signature coffee taste when I get to visit my homeland of Minnesota on breaks from school.