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The Top 10 Fun Things To Do Off-Campus

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Minnesota chapter.

It’s extremely easy to go to college here at the U and never leave campus. Which is great! Mostly. Every convenience you could need is within walking distance and so are all of your friends and classmates. The U’s campus sometimes feels like a little city of its own. That makes it really easy to forget that we live in a vibrant metropolis with tons of things to do and see.

If you’re new to the U and the Twin Cities – and even if you’re not but you haven’t really gotten around to seeing much of it since you got to college – now is a great time to go explore, and feel more connected to the community and place you live in outside the context of college life. Especially while the weather is still nice!

1. Go Downtown

This one is super easy. The light rail or the 3 Bus will lead you right there, and it’ll take less than ten minutes. This one might be boring to anyone born and raised here, but if you came to college from a rural area, it’s fun just to hang out in a city setting and see the business and energy of the city.


2. Stone Arch Bridge 

While you’re downtown, don’t miss out seeing the Stone Arch Bridge, which is one of the prettiest places in Minneapolis. Whether you walk or decide to bike, it’s a beautiful location where you’ll probably see at least three wedding parties taking their photos.

3. Gold Medal Park and Guthrie Theatre

Right next to Stone Arch Bridge, Gold Medal isn’t a huge park, but it’s a great place to sit and hang out while you’re in the middle of downtown. It’s right next to the Guthrie Theater, which is the most famous theater in Minneapolis. If you have the chance, you should absolutely go to a show – but since tickets are pretty pricey, it’s also cool to see from the outside. The park is also right next to Izzy’s Ice Cream, which is best in the summer but still fun in the fall.

4. Theatre District

If you’re into the arts scene but don’t want to spring for the Guthrie, there are a ton of theatres just off of West Bank – most of them in walking distance! You can usually get inexpensive tickets, and Minneapolis has more theatres than any other city in the country (except New York), so you know you’ve got a good chance of seeing something great.

5. Art Museums

If you’re a museum person, there are plenty to choose from. One of them, the Weisman, is on campus (and free)! The Minneapolis Institute of Art is free, too, and well-worth the visit. The Walker Art Center will cost you some money, but right outside in their sculpture garden is one of the most famous Minneapolis landmarks – Spoonbridge and Cherry.

6. Mall of America

You can’t live in Minneapolis and not go see the mall at least once, even if you decide you don’t want to go back and face the crowds. The light rail will take you right there and back, and if you don’t want to shop or ride the various attractions, it’s still a fun place to get dinner or see a movie. They also have free parking if you’ve got a car nearby.

7. Lakes

This is Minnesota. You’re going to have to see a lake or two while you live here. Bde Maka Ska is pretty beautiful, but there’s plenty to choose from to go spend a day on the beach. Try to make it before the ice takes over, unless you’re planning on making it an ice-fishing expedition!

8. Como Zoo and Conservatory

Como Zoo is over in St. Paul, but it makes for a fun afternoon. It’s one of the only free zoos left in the country, and it’s right next door to some very pretty (and also free) gardens. The gardens might come in handy this winter when you’re dying to see some greenery.

9. Nice Ride Bikes

Not exactly an attraction, but you know those green bikes you see everywhere? They’re called Nice Ride Bikes, they’re cheap and easy to use, and you can use them to get to a lot of different places off campus, whatever’s your taste! Even if something’s not in walking distance, it might be in biking distance, and it’s a great way to see more of the city and enjoy the fall weather.

10. Head Out of Minneapolis

And if you have the chance, it’s always nice to get out of the city for a day or weekend. You might not have the option, but if you have a friend with a car, or even if you just want to get a ride home with your mom for the weekend, it’s a good idea to get some distance from campus and the school mindset once in awhile. School is stressful, even for the best students, and getting off-campus can help clear your head more than you think.

Campus is a fun place to hang out, but make sure you get to explore the greater Twin Cities this semester!


Courtney Welu is a student at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities who studies English and theatre.
Jillian McMahan

Minnesota '19

Jillian McMahan is a senior studying child psychology at the University of Minnesota. She aspires to one day be the Leslie Knope of her workplace.