Moving to Minneapolis? Here's What You Need to Know Before You Go.
Known as the City of Lakes, a cultural mecca, and one of the Midwest's major economic centers, Minneapolis is hardly “Minne.” With its excellent schools and universities, vibrant neighborhoods, and easy access to nature, it's no wonder Minneapolis was voted one of Livability's top 15 places to live in 2019. Discover all that Minnesota's largest city has to offer in this comprehensive guide to moving to Minneapolis.
First Impressions of the Minneapolis Lifestyle
Whether you're relocating from elsewhere in the Midwest or you're planning a cross-country move, your first impressions of Minneapolis may surprise you. It won't take long for you to fit in, especially if you know what to expect when you move to Minneapolis.
Minneapolitans Are Active
Minneapolitans love digging into the latest food trends and enjoying a few beers, but they balance out all their indulgences by living relatively active lifestyles. In fact, Minneapolis is regularly rated one of the top five fittest cities in the United States thanks to its many opportunities for outdoor recreation and easy access to fresh food and farmers markets. Whether you prefer running, cycling, or taking fitness classes, you'll find countless opportunities to stay active in Minneapolis.
The City of Lakes Is Green
You'll find more than a dozen noteworthy lakes scattered across Minneapolis, but the city also has plenty of green spaces designed for recreation. In fact, the City of Lakes is home to 160 neighborhood parks, 100 miles of biking and walking trails, 55 miles of parkways, 12 gardens, and a handful of large regional parks. Whether you're looking for a small park for a picnic, a long trail for a bike ride, or a formal garden, you'll find your green space in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis Is Diverse
Many of the city's early residents came from Northern Europe, especially Norway, Sweden, and Germany. Since the city's founding in 1867, however, it has welcomed a population from a much wider mix of cultures and backgrounds. Today, Minneapolis is remarkably diverse, with thriving African-American, Latino, Somali, and Vietnamese communities.
Minneapolitans Are Friendly
In Minneapolis, “Minnesota nice” is much more than an empty phrase. Minneapolitans are known for their affability, and the city regularly ranks in the top 20 friendliest destinations in the country. Whether you can't wait to make a bunch of new friends after you move or you want to get along with your neighbors, you'll find Minneapolitans to be quite welcoming.
Minneapolis Is Great for Families and Retirees Alike
With its highly ranked school system and many family-friendly neighborhoods, Minneapolis is a great place to raise kids. At the same time, the City of Lakes also ranks as one of the top 10 places to retire thanks to its easy access to health care and affordable cost of living. Whether you're starting a family, settling into an empty nest, or occupying a place somewhere in between, you'll fit in here.
Where to Live in Minneapolis
The City of Lakes spans nearly 60 square miles and has neighborhoods ranging from tranquil and family-friendly places to hip and artsy. Browse some of the most exciting neighborhoods in Minneapolis to find the right home for you and your family.
Before you dismiss this neighborhood as a business district, take a closer look. Downtown East offers plenty of new housing, fresh farmers markets, and ample entertainment. This setting could be the neighborhood for you if you want to live minutes from the central core of Minneapolis and you want to have easy access to the theater district, cultural highlights, and regional parks.
Also known as Cedar-Riverside, West Bank is perched on the edge of the Mississippi River and is home to both Augsburg University and the University of Minnesota. West Bank is much more than a university neighborhood, however. Several East African communities call this area home, and you'll find excellent Ethiopian restaurants, cultural centers, performing arts theaters, and bike shops here.
With its many annual festivals, cultural attractions, and convention center events, Loring Park is always happening. In this neighborhood, you'll also find many diners, bistros, and bars to satisfy any appetite. When you need a breather, the area's namesake green space offers space for walking, jogging, and relaxing. Since Loring Park is mere minutes from the downtown core, living here means you can look forward to an easy commute.
Once an industrial neighborhood composed of a maze of warehouses, North Loop is now one of the trendiest parts of Minneapolis. Sports fans will love living here. Target Field and Target Center are nestled in the heart of this neighborhood. Beer enthusiasts will have a blast checking out the area's local breweries, and design lovers will appreciate the neighborhood's many independent boutiques and galleries. North Loop has everything from 1960s-era diners to brand-new noodle shops. You'll find plenty of great eats here.
Known for its walkability and great restaurants, Lyndale is ideal for foodies and nightlife lovers. You'll love exploring the all-American breweries, globally inspired restaurants, and creative entertainment options. From old-fashioned bowling alleys and classic arcades to intimate theaters, this lively neighborhood offers round-the-clock fun.
Finding a Job and Working in Minneapolis
With its thriving economy, Minneapolis has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States. Whether you're looking for a job in the city or you want to plan for career advancement, take a look at some of the largest industries in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis is no longer the flour milling powerhouse that it once was, but manufacturing is still one of the city's largest economic drivers. Today, the city's manufacturing facilities produce technology, electronics, machinery, transportation equipment, food, and more.
The city's location and infrastructure make it a critical transportation hub for the Upper Midwest. The Port of Minneapolis processes millions of tons of cargo every year and cements its role as an important commercial shipping center. The city's rail and road transportation industry is also thriving, an environment which makes this industry one of Minneapolis's largest employment opportunities.
Minneapolis is known for its combination of high-quality, low-cost health care, and the metro area is home to some of the nation's top hospitals. Since the city's universities produce some of the best medical providers in the nation, the health care industry in Minneapolis is booming.
Banking and Finance
Together with neighboring Saint Paul, Minneapolis is considered the Upper Midwest's top financial center. The Ninth Federal Reserve District Bank headquarters and hundreds of local banks and insurance companies provide thousands of jobs for professionals in the financial sector.
Getting an Education in Minneapolis
Whether your kids are in elementary school, high school, or college, you can look forward to sending them to a great school. Minneapolis is known for excellent public and private schools, and the Twin Cities are home to more than a dozen colleges and universities.
Public Schools in Minneapolis
Minneapolis Public Schools, the city's public education district, has more than 35,000 students and 100 schools. Students may attend their home schools or enroll in a range of magnet programs. The district offers optional International Baccalaureate, Spanish immersion, Montessori, and other programs. On average, public schools in Minneapolis have a student-to-teacher ratio of 16-to-1.
Private Schools in Minneapolis
Minneapolis also has dozens of private elementary, secondary, and combination schools. Many of the city's best private schools focus on college preparation and have high graduation rates and specialized programs for gifted students.
Colleges and Universities in Minneapolis
More than 60,000 college students call Minneapolis home every academic year. The city's largest post-secondary institutions include:
- University of Minnesota: The Twin Cities branch of Minnesota's largest public university has neighboring campuses in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Together, they enroll more than 55,000 students and offer more than 100 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. The Center for Measuring University Performance ranks the University of Minnesota Twin Cities one of the top research institutions in the nation.
- Augsburg University: This private university opened as a Lutheran seminary in 1869, and today, its mission continues to emphasize volunteer work and community service. Augsburg University enrolls nearly 4,000 students and offers a range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.
- Metropolitan State University: Designed for adults and nontraditional students, this public university has offered bachelor's and master's degrees since 1971. Today, Metropolitan State University enrolls more than 11,000 students and offers more than 75 graduate and undergraduate degrees.
- Minneapolis College of Art and Design: This private institute has specialized in visual arts and design since 1886. Today, Minneapolis College of Art and Design enrolls about 650 students and offers bachelor's and master's degrees as well as post-baccalaureate certificates.
Thanks to its location on the northern edge of the Midwest, you can easily assume that Minnesota is chilly throughout the year. Instead, Minneapolis tends to be a city of extremes, with hot summers, cold winters, and occasional severe storms. Although you'll experience relatively normal weather most days, you'll want to be prepared for surprisingly windy days, some of the most frigid winters in the United States, and wide temperature ranges throughout the year.
Seasons in Minneapolis
Minneapolis enjoys four distinct seasons. Find out what you can expect during a typical year in the City of Lakes:
- Winter: From mid-December through mid-March, high temperatures generally reach the mid-20s Fahrenheit, while low temperatures dip down to 10 degrees. Minneapolis receives an average of 4 feet of snow during a typical winter, and January tends to be the snowiest month.
- Spring: From mid-March through mid-June, temperatures usually top out around 70 degrees and reach an average low in the mid-40s. Although spring can be rainy in Minneapolis, you won't typically experience many thunderstorms until late spring or early summer.
- Summer: From mid-June through mid-September, high temperatures generally reach 80 degrees and get as low as 60 degrees. Summer is a rainy season in Minneapolis, and August tends to be the wettest month of the year, with an average of 4 inches of rain.
- Fall:From mid-September through mid-December, average highs reach 50 degrees, and lows can drop into the mid-30s. Autumn tends to be dry and sunny in Minneapolis, and this season offers ample opportunities to enjoy the colorful fall foliage.
Cold Arctic Air
Arctic air crosses the Canadian border and blows into Minneapolis. During the winter months, these cold Arctic blasts can make the city truly frigid. No natural barriers prevent them from driving down temperatures.
Hot Urban Center
Despite the chilly air that drifts across the Canadian border, Minneapolis can be hot, especially in the center of the city. In fact, downtown Minneapolis experiences what's known as an urban heat island effect. The many tall buildings and extensive concrete throughout the downtown area tend to capture heat, often making downtown Minneapolis feel several degrees hotter than the suburbs.
Getting Around in Minneapolis
Navigating Minneapolis is relatively easy due to its grid system and conveniently named streets. Outside of the downtown core, many of the city's streets follow a grid pattern, which makes for straightforward routes. In addition, many north-south streets in Minneapolis feature alphabetically ordered names. You'll easily know which direction to turn for Aldrich Avenue or Zenith Avenue. You'll also find clusters of thematically named streets that help with wayfinding.
Traffic in Minneapolis
Aside from the standard morning and evening rush hours, traffic in Minneapolis tends to be lighter than other major cities. Interstates 35 and 94 cross through the city, providing easy access to Saint Paul in the east, Bloomington in the south, and Lake Country in the north and west.
You'll find plenty of paid parking curbside and in downtown garages. Many city-owned parking facilities also support Spot Hero, which allows you to reserve and pay for parking online. If you'd rather get behind the wheel only when necessary, you can find car-sharing options such as Zipcar throughout the city.
Public Transit in Minneapolis
Are you considering a car-free lifestyle in Minneapolis? You'll appreciate the city's extensive light rail and bus network. The light rail system connects downtown to the popular Mall of America, and the bus system links many neighborhoods in the city. Fares cost between $2.25 and $3.50, and monthly passes and employer-sponsored Metropasses make public transit more affordable in Minneapolis.
Cycling in Minneapolis
Whether you plan to commute by bike or you prefer cycling on your days off, you'll find plenty of opportunities to get around Minneapolis on two wheels. In fact, Minneapolis is considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States due to its extensive bike lanes and minimal hills. You'll find bike routes connecting many major corridors throughout the city as well as scenic pathways such as The Chain of Lakes and Minneapolis River Parkways.
Walking in Minneapolis
If you love stretching your legs and exploring your city, you'll appreciate the city's pedestrian infrastructure. The Minneapolis Skyway features nearly 10 miles of enclosed, elevated pedestrian bridges that connect 80 city blocks in the downtown area. Whether you're taking care of business in the government offices, shopping in the boutiques, or heading to a show, the Skyway makes it easy to walk in any weather.
Flying to and From Minneapolis
Air travel to and from Minneapolis is a breeze. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) is conveniently located on the southern edge of the city. MSP is a Delta Airlines hub and hosts more than a dozen airlines that transport passengers to destinations ranging from Detroit to Paris.
Top Things to Do in Minneapolis
Whether you love nature, culture, sports, or a mix of everything, you'll never get bored in Minneapolis. When you move to the city, put the following attractions at the top of your to-do list.
Art and History Museums
From world-class art collections to local history, the museums in Minneapolis tell fascinating stories about cultures around the globe. Immerse yourself in art and history at some of the city's best museums:
- Minneapolis Institute of Art: For more than 125 years, the city's largest art museum has been delighting visitors with exhibits of American and international art. Tour the museum's impressive collection of Asian art and American architecture. Don't miss temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and photography.
- Walker Art Center: As the city's top destination for contemporary art, the Walker Art Center aims to impress with a full schedule of rotating exhibitions, artist residencies, and performances. When you visit, don't miss the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to dozens of outdoor artworks.
- Mill City Museum: Located in a renovated mill in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, this museum is the ideal place to learn about the history of your new city. You can learn about the city's fascinating flour milling industry throughout the year and catch outdoor concerts during the summer.
Parks and Green Spaces
Whether you want to walk or run, go paddling, or enjoy a picnic with the family, Minneapolis has tons of parks and lakes to choose from. Explore the great outdoors in the following amazing green spaces:
- Minnehaha Falls Regional Park: Minutes from Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Minnehaha Falls Regional Park feels like a world away from the city. The namesake waterfall is the park's biggest draw, but you'll find countless other things to do here. Go boating and canoeing in the summer, hike dozens of miles of trails in the spring and fall, and go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the winter.
- Loring Park: Located a short walk from downtown Minneapolis, Loring Park is home to a peaceful lake and miles of walking and biking paths. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Walker Art Center are across the bridge, a location which makes this park a convenient place to relax during a tour of downtown.
- Lake Harriet:Nestled on the southwest side of Minneapolis, Lake Harriet Park is one of the city's best summertime spots. Get out on the water with canoe and kayak rentals, ride the bike path, or stretch your legs on the walking path. Check the park's events calendar. The bandstand hosts concerts and community events throughout the summer.
Music and Performing Arts
Musicians as diverse as Prince and Bob Dylan have called Minneapolis home, and the city maintains an exciting annual music and performing arts calendar. Catch a show at one of these popular Minneapolis venues:
- First Avenue & 7th Street Entry: This seasoned venue has hosted the likes of Prince and Joan Jett. It's your destination for rock and alternative shows.
- Guthrie Theater: Since 1963, the Guthrie Theater has been one of the city's top spots for plays, musicals, and performing arts.
- State Theatre: This historic theater features ornate interior decor and an intimate performance space and hosts everything from music to comedy shows.
Shopping and Retail Therapy
Whether you're in the market for a new wardrobe, the latest technology, or local products, Minneapolis has plenty of great places to shop. Satisfy your need for retail therapy at one of the following bustling shopping districts:
- Bookstores: Minneapolis is known for its literary culture, and the city is home to many independent bookstores that satisfy residents' appetites for reading. Browse the endless aisles at Magers & Quinn, try an experimental read at Milkweed Books, or find a rare classic at The Book House.
- Farmers Markets: You'll find plenty of fresh local eats at many farmers markets, and some are open throughout the year. Check out the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Lyndale Avenue every day of the year or try Mill City Farmers Market for a great selection of prepared foods and food-related activities.
- Mall of America: No matter what you're shopping for, you'll find it at the Mall of America on the south side of Minneapolis. You can browse more than 500 stores, dine at dozens of restaurants, and play at Nickelodeon Universe.
Minneapolis Sports Teams
Sports fans, get ready to cheer for your hometown team. Minneapolis is home to several college sports teams and six major league teams.
- Minnesota Lynx: The city's WNBA team is tied for the most championship titles in league history and plays at the Target Center in the downtown core.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: The Twin Cities' NBA team also plays at the Target Center.
- Minnesota Twins: Minneapolis shares its MLB team with fellow Twin City Saint Paul. The Twins have played at Target Field, in Minneapolis's warehouse district, since 2010.
- Minnesota Vikings: The city's NFL team has called Minneapolis home since it debuted as an expansion team in 1960. The Vikings play at U.S. Bank Stadium in the Downtown East neighborhood.
- Minnesota United FC: The Twin Cities MLS team debuted in 2015 and plays home games at Allianz Field in nearby Saint Paul.
- Minnesota Wild: The city's NHL team hits the ice at the Xcel Energy Center in neighboring Saint Paul.
The Minneapolis Food Scene
You'll never go hungry when you live in Minneapolis. The City of Lakes has a thriving food scene, and you'll find plenty of tasty snacks and upscale menus at every price point.
6 Dishes You Have to Try in Minneapolis
From all-American comfort food to international favorites, you won't want to miss the most popular eats in Minneapolis. Put these six dishes on your foodie bucket list:
- Juicy Lucy: This dish may look like a standard hamburger, but when you take a bite, you'll find it stuffed with hot, gooey cheese. Some versions feature creative additions such as glazed ribs and Thanksgiving-style stuffing.
- Hot Dish: When you're craving the ultimate comfort food, you need hot dish. Essentially a casserole topped with crispy Tater Tots, this wintertime classic is a must-order dish in Minneapolis.
- Cheese Curds: Hungry for something more indulgent than Tater Tot hot dish? Order a basket of cheese curds, which are deep-fried bites of cheese. Whether you enjoy these items as a side dish with burger or as a snack to accompany a beer or two, these cheesy bites are irresistible.
- Freshly Caught Fish: The City of Lakes is known for its fish, and you'll see walleye on menus across the city. Whether you try it grilled or fried, you can expect the fish to be fresh and perfectly cooked.
- Lefse: Many Minnesotans have Scandinavian roots. You'll have no trouble finding Norwegian and Swedish dishes to try. Don't miss the Norwegian lefse flatbread or Swedish gravlax and pickled herring.
- Pho: Minneapolis is also home to a large Vietnamese population, which means pho is plentiful across the city. You'll want to help yourself to a hot bowl of this fragrant noodle soup every chance you get.
The Best Foodie Spots in Minneapolis
You can dig into great eats all across the city, but you'll find some of the best spots concentrated in the city's foodie neighborhoods. Set your sights on these areas, and be sure to arrive hungry:
- Powderhorn: Head straight for Matt's Bar and Grill, the 1950s-style tavern that invented the infamous Juicy Lucy. Head north along Nicollet Avenue for a mouth-watering array of Vietnamese, Malaysian, Mexican, and Greek restaurants.
- Warehouse District: Located on the banks of the Mississippi River north of downtown, the Warehouse District has some of the hippest dining destinations in town. Sample sushi, treat yourself to farm-to-table cuisine, or nosh on Nordic menus here.
- Southwest Minneapolis: If you're planning to spend the day at Lake Harriet, you'll find great places to eat within a short walk from the water. From fresh fish and seafood to pizza and Mexican food, this neighborhood has it all.
Minneapolis's Best Annual Events
When you live in the City of Lakes, you'll get the chance to participate in festivals and community events throughout the year. Whether you love music, the arts, or outdoor fun, Minneapolis has something for you. Mark your calendar for some of the city's top events.
The Great Northern
Every winter, The Great Northern features 10 days of outdoor events designed to warm Minneapolitans up despite the chilly weather. The festival spans Minneapolis and Saint Paul and incorporates major events such as the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and the City of Lakes Loppet. With events such as cross-country skiing, hockey games, sledding, ice carving, and beer sampling, this winter party has something for everyone.
Twin Cities Marathon
For nearly 40 years, the Twin Cities Marathon has attracted runners from across the nation and around the globe. The course begins in downtown Minneapolis before winding along Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet, tracing the banks of the Mississippi River, and ending in downtown Saint Paul. The marathon happens in early October every year, and the weekend's calendar of events features 10K, 5K, and family races to include participants of all skill levels.
The Minneapolis Aquatennial traces its roots back to 1940 when it debuted as a celebration of the city's many bodies of water. Today, this outdoor event is a multiday festival that happens during a long weekend in late July. Also known as The Best Days of Summer, this festival features a 5K race, live music, a parade, a water ski show, canoe rides, and fireworks. Don't miss the nighttime parade that kicks off the festival or the fireworks that cap off the long weekend.
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
As the largest film festival in the Upper Midwest, the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival has drawn large crowds for nearly 40 years. Each year, the festival debuts more than 250 films to nearly 50,000 people and presents awards for documentaries, locally made films, short films, and more. Reserve your tickets well in advance to see some of the best new films in your new city.
Minnesota Fringe Festival
You'll find fringe events all around the world, but the Minnesota Fringe Festival is the third largest in North America. This performing arts festival happens over the course of 10 days in early August and features a full slate of events including dance, musical theater, comedy, and children's shows. Since the events take place at venues scattered across the city, the Minnesota Fringe Festival offers a fun opportunity to get to know some of the best hidden treasures in Minneapolis.
Whether you're considering a move for work, the great schools, or the nature and culture, the City of Lakes welcomes new residents. Start planning your move to Minneapolis and get ready to call the City of Lakes home.