How to Entertain Out-of-Town Guests

Plan an itinerary without the stress, showing your guests the best of the Twin Cities

downtown minneapolis, minnesota journeys, weekends, things to do

Photo by Todd Buchanan

It can sometimes be a struggle to please out of town guests. As a host, you want your guests to see your city’s greatest hits, but you may also want to let them in on some well-kept secrets—either to give them a different picture of a familiar place, or to show off some of your insider knowledge.

This is the predicament I’m in this weekend. Where can I take my guests to give them the most comprehensive picture of the Twin Cities possible without being too predictable? With a constantly growing crop of high-end restaurants, a bevy of independent theaters and concert venues, and a diverse mix of locally owned boutiques and artisan brands, the Twin Cities metro is truly a melting pot of cultural perspectives, creativity, and innovation. In other words, there should be no shortage of things to do. But where to start?

Visit Twin Cities is the newest, and most comprehensive guide to the metro that’s a useful tool for both visitors, and locals who want to play tourist in their own town. I perused its themed itineraries, neighborhood spotlights, and destination descriptions to come up with a weekend game plan.

For a coffee lover such as myself, the Twin Cities is a haven of small-batch roasters and cozy, independent coffee shops. Visit Twin Cities provides an inventive Caffeine Crawl highlighting unexpected spots and hidden gems for a caffeine boost.

Assuming there’s nice weather, I’ll definitely want to hit a few of the Twin Cities’ beautiful public parks with my guests. At Minnehaha Regional Park, we can take in the splendor of the Falls and grab a bite to eat at Sea Salt Eatery, the popular seafood spot, just a few paces from the river. Loring Park, with its surrounding restaurants and nearby Walker Art Center, is another great option.

If the weather’s not cooperating, I could spend a few hours touring St. Paul’s restaurant and shopping district, Grand Avenue. While the Mall of America may be the most obvious choice for a shopping experience, an afternoon on Grand should be a crowd pleaser; the street’s mix of local boutiques and well-known stores, kid-friendly spots, and unique eats would make for an enjoyable afternoon.

The evening could go a few different ways. If we’re feeling ambitious, we could visit a few of the spots on Visit Twin Cities‘ Brewery Tour. The local craft beer scene has never been bigger, and most Twin Cities breweries make a concerted effort to pair their brews with high-quality, locally sourced food—so dinner will be a snap.

If we want a little more in the way of entertainment, we could check out one of Lowertown’s many up-and-coming restaurants, and then head to the Ordway or Park Square Theater for a show. Or, Minneapolis’ Nicollet Avenue (known locally as Eat Street), full to the brim with beloved eateries, would pair well with a play or concert at one of several venues along Hennepin.

I’m slowly learning that a weekend with out-of-town guests shouldn’t be stressful. Rather, it should be exciting—it’s a way to give visitors a brief snapshot of all that the Twin Cities has to offer, and hopefully entice them to come back. If you use the resources at your disposal, planning a fun-filled itinerary should be a breeze.

For more travel tips and ideas about how to get the most out of the Twin Cities, head to