Top 8 New Reasons to Come Back to Minneapolis in 2021

The headlines and images of the past year are only a small fraction of our Minneapolis story. As the epicentre of a nationwide movement for racial reckoning and equity and a destination impacted by the pandemic, we are a community leading the path forward. Now is the time to broaden our story. From our new $24 million park and Minnesota’s first restaurant focused solely on Indigenous cuisine to a new exhibition of Prince’s shoes, a new luxury boutique hotel and a new distillery with a world-famous, Irish master distiller (stolen away from Jameson), there is much more to Minneapolis for visitors to explore than the past year’s headlines.

Meet Minneapolis presents the Top 8 New Reasons to Come Back to Minneapolis in 2021:

Minneapolis is transforming: Since the killing of George Floyd, more voices are being included in our city’s plan for an equitable society, and we know the world is watching as we reimagine the future of public safety. The transformation is visible at the intersection of Chicago and 38th Street, known as George Floyd Square, where you’ll find more than a memorial. It’s a gathering spot for healing and reflection, filled with people from all walks of life. This is not a tourist attraction, but a place the world recognizes as the epicentre of a movement and an important space for racial healing and justice.

Nationally recognized Minneapolis Parks & Recreation opened two brand-new projects this spring: Water Works Park (May 20) and 26th Avenue Overlook (May 11). Water Works is a three-acre, transformative park adjacent to St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge. It is a sacred spot for the Native Americans who inhabited this land prior to colonization, and the park provides significant new historic, cultural and recreational amenities to one of the most iconic locations in Minneapolis. Along with a much-anticipated restaurant, the park includes outdoor spaces like a Nature Play Lab and features Dakota art and interpretation throughout the site. The 26th Avenue Overlook features a riverfront beacon and long-needed trail connection in North Minneapolis,

Indigenous cuisine debut: Perhaps no Minneapolis restaurant in recent memory has been as anxiously awaited as Owamni – by the Sioux Chef. Owned and operated by James Beard award-winning chef Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson (The Sioux Chef), it will feature local Indigenous cuisine year-round. The restaurant is located on the top floor of the pavilion of the new Water Works and opens this summer. Learn more from this duo’s recent online presentation about the history of the area and plans for this restaurant.

High-flying airport art: Recently ranked first in the Digital Airport Index North America 2021 list, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport welcomed The Aurora in March. The 29-foot-high glass and metal sculpture, by artist Jen Lewin, is suspended through an oval opening between ticketing and baggage claim. The aerial wave of more than 20,000 aluminium rings that house over 1,900 hand-blown glass bulbs with nearly 6,000 LEDs uses live weather data to alter its colour palettes to reflect Minnesota’s seasons and weather conditions. Underneath the sculpture, interactive, reflective glass platforms shaped like area lakes react to people walking or dancing with swirling light and colour changes matching the seasonal colours above.

Old bones, new food: The soon-to-open Market at Malcolm Yards will welcome visitors with dining and cocktail innovations including a self-pour tap wall, boxcar bar and nine cuisine concepts. The market is in a historic machinery building and is designed as both an incubator to empower chefs and a culinary destination for diverse flavours. It is steps away from Surly’s popular destination brewery and the city’s newest distillery (see next entry). This triumvirate, located just off the METRO Green Line light rail and nearby the University of Minnesota campus, has the power to make the Prospect Park neighbourhood the newest “it” neighbourhood in Minneapolis. You heard it here first.

Distillery attracts global talent from Ireland: What would lure a worldwide known, Irish master distiller away from Jameson to Minneapolis? A convincing entrepreneur and a chance to make Minneapolis the crossroads of American and Irish whiskey styles in the brand-new O’Shaughnessy Distillery. At this newly constructed facility, located across from the aforementioned Market at Malcolm Yards and Surly Brewing Co., Brian Nation has recently launched Keeper’s Heart whiskey and the craft distillery’s taproom will open to the public this summer.

A new historic boutique hotel: The Rand Tower Hotel opened in December 2020 during a pandemic lockdown. Today, this meticulously restored Art Deco building, in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, is more than ready for visitors to enjoy its contemporary amenities, retractable roof bar with incredible skyline views and lobby bar with French flair. A celebration of namesake Rufus Rand, Jr., a visionary industrial giant, aviator and war hero, this 1929 tower on the National Register of Historic Places is the latest Tribute by Marriott boutique hotel. A $110 million renovation provides 270 rooms and suites, 3,750 square feet of meeting/event space and the convenience of mobile check-in and a proprietary air quality and monitoring system. Every guestroom is uniquely equipped with an advanced air quality reader that measures particulates and air pollutants in real-time to ensure guests feel relaxed and confident during their stay.

Art draws visitors: Minneapolis museums and artist studios are encouraging the return of tourism with several exciting new exhibitions, including the not-to-be missed The Beautiful Collection: Prince’s Custom Shoes, the largest ever display to spotlight Prince’s footwear, featuring over 300 pairs of his iconic shoes at Paisley Park beginning July 9. The exhibition will be included in all tours through Sept. 6. The Walker Art Center’s exhibition schedule highlights now through 2023 for those who wish to plan ahead. In the near term, its quirky and fun Skyline Mini-Golf is open through Sept. 26 with 10 distinctive, artist-designed holes, including two new additions created in collaboration with Native Youth Arts Collective. Home to over 350 artists and more than 200 studios, the largest arts complex in the Midwest, Northrup King Building, hosts First Thursday each month and Open Saturday weekly. Both offer open studio events on all four floors of the massive, former seed warehouse in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Shop for jewellery, photography, ceramics, textiles, fashion, lighting and more in artists’ studios.

For information about what to see, do and eat in Minneapolis, visit