Despite living in Minneapolis for decades, I’m embarrassed to admit that I know little about my own city outside of my home and life in Southwest Minneapolis. Blame it on years of raising a family or perhaps just my own tendency to stay where things are familiar and comfortable. But I found it ironic that as a world traveler and explorer at heart, I know little the dynamic culture and art in my very own backyard. Just last November, I spent three full days in Valparaiso, Chile exploring its vibrant street art scene. So why not do the same justice in my own home town?
Minneapolis is a huge, diverse city with many different neighborhoods and cultures. Although highly Scandinavian in heritage (there are too many “sons’ to name – Anderson, Johnson, Olson, etc), today Minnesota can boast being home to over 400,000 immigrants from around the world. In fact, per the City of Minneapolis’ most recent census the ten largest groups of foreign-born residents in Minnesota are (in descending order): Mexico, India, Laos, Somalia, Vietnam, China, Thailand (including Hmong), Ethiopia, Korea, and Canada. Believe it or not, Minneapolis has the largest Somali population outside of Somalia.
Given such a cultural melting pot, it is no wonder that Minneapolis has some of the richest street art and murals in the upper Midwest. During a recent self-made tour of South and Southwest Minneapolis, I discovered hundreds of colorful, impressive street art painted across the walls, buildings and garages of the city. I was so incredibly inspired and awe-struck by the incredible art I saw that a newfound love and devotion to my city began.
I have ignored you for too long, Minneapolis. It is now time that I start to share with the world your beauty, richness and culture. Better yet, I too will learn along the way.
The idea for this series on street art began when I decided to look out the car window and notice what I saw. I began to see that there was street art in many unexpected places and there was a lot of it. I did some research on the internet and found that there are not many up to date posts or articles about Minneapolis’ vibrant street art scene. I jotted down a few addresses that I found from the City of Minneapolis’ interactive street art guide (The Public “ Art Map”) but found that a lot of the art had changed.
So I decided to make my own street art guide, neighborhood by neighborhood, starting with what I know best: South and Southwest Minneapolis. Over time, I hope to hit North, Northeast and other parts of the city to complete the guide and even go across the river to neighboring St. Paul to see what kind of street art is over there. In this one sweep, I found over 80 murals so I had to cut it down to my personal favorites. Please feel free to add any locations of your favorites in the comments. I also had a hard time tracking down the artists of each work. Perhaps that will be a project for the next post.
Without further ado, here is my Epic Guide to exploring street art in South Minneapolis. Enjoy!
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Street Art Guide Part 1
Starting point: Lyndale and 38th Street
Mode of transportation: Drive, bike or walk. The complete route covers over 4 miles on mostly urban streets so driving is easiest. However if you do chose to bike (Minneapolis is a very bike-friendly city) be aware that these are very busy streets without dedicated bike lanes. If you want to bike along biker-friendly streets running parallel check out this site for a safer, more pleasant route. If you drive, street parking is very easy and I simply pulled over at each work of art. Finally, Minneapolis is a great walking city and I always love to explore a place on foot. Just don’t do it in the dead of winter! You’ll be very cold!
To complete this portion below, the total distance is: Around 2.5 miles
Time to drive: approximately 10 minutes without stops.
Time to bike: approximately 12 minutes without stops.
Time to walk: approximately 45 minutes depending on speed.
Starting at Lyndale Avenue, a major north-south thoroughfare that cuts through the city, head north towards uptown.
Lyndale and 38th
Lyndale and 36th
Lyndale and Lake
Lyndale and 28th
Lyndale and 26th
Lyndale and 24th
Cut a few blocks over to 26th Street and Hennepin Ave South – another major thoroughfare – and you will reach one of my favorite murals, a beautiful purple painting of the late musician Prince by Artist Rock Martinez.
Ready for a break? There are tons of excellent coffee shops and restaurants in the area. French Meadow Cafe is at 26th and Lyndale. Or if you are ready for lunch, there are many fabulous restaurants in Uptown or else you can continue on towards Lake Street and enjoy lunch at the Midtown Global Market (902 E Lake Street), an internationally-themed market place with food from all over the world all in one place. If you aren’t quite hungry yet, you can hold off and dine at Eat Street along Nicollet Ave.
Street Art Guide Part 2
Distance: 4.1 miles
Time to drive: 17 minutes without traffic
Time to bike: 22 minutes
Time to walk : 1 hour 18 minutes
This part of Minneapolis is known for its Mexican and Somali culture. As you drive past 35W on Lake Street you will notice the different stores and restaurants from these cultures.
207 E.Lake Street
211 East Lake Street
E Lake and 3rd Ave – This is a very long mural that goes along the entire side of a building.
E Lake and S 4th Ave -There are two murals on each side of the street, and if you continue to walk down 4th Avenue South you will find all kinds of art behind walls. A nice mix and Mexican and Somali inspired street art to reflect the strong immigrant communities who live in this area. There is also a touch of Native and African American culture as well.
Another group of murals in same area….
E Lake and South 5th Ave- one very long Mexican mural on side of Plaza Mexico Mexican restaurant and another smaller one on another Mexican restaurant.
Portland and 31st- Chinese dragon garage
Oakland and E 33rd Street- I love this cool, colorful fence
Columbus Ave and East Lake Street
Stevens Ave and East 25th Street – Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) of course has an incredible masterpiece on the side of its building.
227 East 26th Street
116 E 26th Street
East 26th and Nicollet- I loved this gorgeous series of 8 colorful window murals perfectly painted along the side of East 26th street. (If you are hungry, you are right near part of Eat Street on Nicollet. Tons of amazing restaurants to choose from!).
Street Art Guide Part 3
If you still haven’t had enough, then head over to the Bancroft neighborhood by Lake Hiawatha and Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis where you can find two more amazing murals and then spend the rest of the day at the beach (on Lake Nokomis) or a visit to the Minnehaha Falls and Park. It is definitely worth the visit as the murals are beautiful and full of color and life.
Distance: From Nicollet and 26th Street, it is 4.1 miles.
Time to drive: 14 minutes
Time to bike: 24 minutes
Time to walk: 1 hour 22 minutes
E 42nd Street and Cedar
E 42nd Street and 28th Ave- Mississippi Flyway
Last but not least
I did not include these two murals in my tour however I still enjoyed them. If you want to see them, feel free to add them into the route.
Nicollet and 38th- panda mural at Rainbow Chinese restaurant
Blaisedell and 29th -Side of a bike shop
While this list by no means includes every street mural in South Minneapolis, it does include some of my favorites. There is no better way to explore the culture of a city than through its art.
Check out this awesome interactive map with street art by neighborhood by the City of Minneapolis “Public Art Map”
Very nicely done.
Thanks John! I was driving yesterday and noticed six more that I missed. I will have to keep this mission up. I also would love to figure out who all the artists are.
Wonderfully colorful! Isn’t it the truth that we fly all over the place looking for the art, culture, and lifestyles of people different from ourselves, when we can find all those things in our own cities?! I’m sure many Minneapolitans (had to look that up – haha) will be happy to have your new guide(s)!
Yes! I think the reason I do so much more when I travel is also I don’t have the responsibilities that I do at home. Life gets so busy and focused around the kids. Now is the time to get them out there with me exploring! Do you have a lot of cool street art in Houston?
Marvelous public art, thanks for the tour.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the tour Sally! It was so much fun and got me really excited to hit some more neighborhoods. I love art!
Wow… You’ve captured some fantastic street arts here. How nice to have a map to follow.
Cool post, Nicole! 🙂
Thanks Amy! It was really fun exploring and I also noticed a ton of new restaurants I didn’t know existed. I am excited to do some more exploring soon! 🙂
A visual feast, Nicole. Thanks for deciding to explore close to home, a place many of us tend to ignore, and letting us tag along (tag–ha, ha.)
Thanks Janet! It was a blast checking this all out. I bet there is some amazing street art in Chicago too. I was so surprised how much I found and yesterday I found four more when I was running an errand. Amazing!
I’m sure there is. I just don’t get into Chicago much. Now that it’s getting nice, though, I’ll take the train in on a day off and just explore.
Well the traffic in Chicago is not for the faint at heart! I remember how awful it was when I lived there trying to get around so I can see why you probably don’t get into the city as much. Next time I visit, I will have to look into this as a potential tour. I haven’t been there in way too long! Life has just been too busy.
I recently did the same thing in Denver!! I do love the Prince and the Mexican/Somalian artwork!!
Oh cool! Did you write about it? I’d love to check it out as my brother lives in Denver and I visit every once in a while. A super cool city.
I didn’t but I can!! I’ll add it to the list!
Oh I’d love that. Let me know if you do publish it! Maybe I could feature it on my blog too as a guest post by you.
I will for sure! I’ll have to try and make it super interesting 😉
Wonderful let me know!
No need to feel embarrassed, Nicole. I too realized that I hadn’t properly explored the city where I live in only after I started traveling beyond my home country and learning what makes a city or a place so endearing and fascinating. Sometimes we need to see things beyond our comfort zone to be able to appreciate those closer to us better. Sometimes we need to understand the world to be able to fully comprehend why things in our cities and our countries happen. Thanks for this comprehensive guide on street art in South Minneapolis! I don’t have any plan to visit this part of the world yet, but when I do I will surely check out some of the places you mentioned here.
Thanks Bama! I guess life just gets so busy especially with raising kids. So much routine and so little time to notice. I’m excited to look for more art this summer and bike around with my kids to different parts of the city. Thanks for reading! 🙂 I wonder what you’d think of Minneapolis. It is an interesting place.
What a lovely guide to your backyard, Nicole. We don’t have much of graffiti scene here in India.
Thanks Arv! I wonder why you don’t have much street art in India? I bet it would be amazing given your rich culture.
What a super idea and fun way to visit different neighborhoods! These wonderful murals speak volumes about the cultures and people they represent, and it’s great to see them in the US. Makes me want to visit Minneapolis!
Thanks Marilyn! It was so much fun putting this guide together. I guess I’ve lived here so long that I’ve become rather complacent in exploring and was getting bored of Minnesota. I’m so glad I just got out there and did it. I realized there is so much more to see!
I’m a big fan of public art too, and as a fellow Twin-Citian I also hang my head in shame a bit at how unexplored I’ve left my own city. But thanks to you and this truly EPIC post I’m eager to get out and see some of these places for myself. Wonderful photos, as always … and wonderful writing too.
Yes I think we get in our comfort zones. I realize I often drive and walk the exact same way so try to mix things up. Hope you can take this street art tour! If you do, let me know as I’d love some feedback on the guide! 🙂
I very much hope to take this tour in the coming weeks! But maybe not this weekend, since it’s supposed to be 200 degrees. 🙂
Yes it has been crazy weather here!
Lucky you to have such beautiful, diverse street in the city in which you live. You did Minneapolis proud! I could never choose a favorite, there are so many great murals. Loved this post Nicole!