Northern Delight: Guided Tours of Minneapolis

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Far from being the center of a frozen tundra somewhere, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a lovely town of 300,000 residents that visitors might enjoy. Fortunately, guided tours of the area are available through several hotels and through the Chamber of Commerce. Visitors to the area may just be surprised at the lovely views and culture the area has to offer.

Get the lay of the land before you dive in and take a bus trolley tour of the city; guided tours are available daily and will show you the IDS Center, the high rise building featured in the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the statue of Mary nearby on the Nicollet Mall.  The trolley will show you around the lakes and the fabulous homes there, including Mary’s “home” in the show.

You’ll also catch sight of the Basilica of St. Mary’s, one of Minneapolis’ largest and most beautiful churches.
Once you’ve seen an overview, many guided tours will take you to the Walker Art Museum—a contemporary art museum with many unusual sculptures and paintings.  Perhaps the highlight, however, is just outside in the sculpture garden where large statues grace paved pathways that visitors can walk on.  One of the most famous sculptures is of a large spoon with a cherry in the spoon.  There is also an indoor greenhouse that features flowers all year round.

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Another museum on the docket of most guided tours is the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  This is a more traditional art museum with old paintings, sculptures and ancient artifacts from all over the year.  The Institute offers both its permanent collection and one or more traveling collections, such as the Monet exhibit, throughout the year.

On the subject of museums, perhaps you’ll be able to convince one of the guided tours to take you across the river to Minneapolis’ sister city of St. Paul.  There you can see the Science Museum of Minnesota, which has exhibits that vary over time, and its Omnitheater—a large planetarium-like large-screen theater offering spectacular shows.  In addition, families might wish to take in the Minnesota Children’s Museum, a lovely place to take the kids.

Back in Minneapolis, many guided tours of the area will take you around one or more of Minneapolis’ four prominent lakes.  Those with good walking shoes can walk on pathways around the lakes and bicycles can be rented.  In the wintertime, skating is offered on crystal clear skating rinks.

Nature-lovers may wish to see Minnehaha Falls, nestled within Minnehaha Park. Guided tours of the area will often make the stop on the way to your final destination nearby at the Fort Snelling State Park.
There are guided tours within the Fort Snelling State Park that take you into the old fort itself where, in the 19th Century, soldiers guarded the area from Indians and other potential intruders.  Located at the fork between the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, the fort takes you back in time and helps you understand how the soldiers lived during those times.

As a final stop, many guided tours will drive you out to the Minnesota Zoo, a sprawling, natural habitat zoo, complete with a huge indoor rainforest area.  A monorail will take you past buffalo, tigers and other wild animals living comfortably in their natural habitat.

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