Minnesota has more Nordic heritage than any other state, with 45% of residents reporting Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, or Swedish ancestry. That adds up to a lot of cultural pride that displays itself in everything from museums to our professional football team. Whether you’re visiting from a Nordic country or just want to learn more about Minnesota’s heritage, follow this itinerary to immerse yourself in a weekend of Scandinavian activities and find your own version of hygge here in the Twin Cities.
Upon arriving in the Twin Cities, check into one of Bloomington’s 45+ hotels, ranging from economy to deluxe. Several are inspired by Nordic design, including Renaissance Minneapolis Bloomington and AC Hotel Bloomington Mall of America. Most of our hotels offer free parking and complimentary shuttle to Mall of America, MSP Airport, and the light rail, which will maximize convenience and affordability during your time in Minnesota!
For dinner tonight, have a quick bite to eat at the Renaissance’s LARS Bar & Restaurant, an excellent place to try Minnesota favorites like walleye and wild rice soup. Make sure you stay plenty hydrated in preparation for the next stop of your evening: sauna! This traditionally Nordic activity has gained steam (pun intended) in recent years in Minnesota due to our cold winters. The best saunas are located outdoors, and several mobile pop-up saunas travel around the Twin Cities and park in public spaces for paying guests to enjoy. Check out 612 Sauna Society and Little Box Sauna to see if they’re welcoming visitors for the evening or make a reservation ahead of time at the Nordic Nook, a relaxing sauna and oasis in nearby Hopkins.
Rise and shine, it’s time for breakfast! The first item on today’s agenda is Taste of Scandinavia, a local bakery with a location on 98th Street in Bloomington. Their extensive menu includes traditional delicacies like lefse, Swedish pancakes, and lingonberry dishes, and will fuel you for a busy day.
After a delicious meal, head to Bloomington’s star attraction: Mall of America. A must-see for any visitor, MOA’s 520+ stores include several with Nordic roots, including Fjällräven, an outdoor apparel shop; and Scandinavian North, stocked with home décor, jewelry, and other items perfect for souvenir purposes. Right across the street from the Mall is IKEA, Sweden’s massive home furnishings retailer. You never know what you’ll find at IKEA, whether it’s a floor lamp, spatula, or snack at the in-house restaurant (no visit is complete without trying the Swedish meatballs).
The later part of your Saturday will be dedicated to exploring Minnesota’s Nordic roots at several of our celebrated museums. American Swedish Institute (ASI) and Norway House, both located in Minneapolis, showcase the past and present of Scandinavian immigrants to our state. ASI’s exhibits are mainly housed in the historic Turnblad Mansion, a stunning former home to the Turnblad family that was completed in 1908. In addition to galleries filled with both older artifacts and contemporary exhibits, the museum also hosts workshops, youth programs, and special tours.
Norway House’s public art gallery showcases cultural, historical, and creative exhibits throughout the year, including the awe-inspiring Gingerbread Wonderland during the holiday season. If you’re still looking for a memento to bring home, stop by Ingebretsen’s Buttik, a gift boutique full of authentic crafts, books, cookware, and more, or the original Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace on historic Lake Street.
Next up is dinner at one of Bloomington’s beloved restaurants, Urbana Craeft Kitchen and Market. Located inside the Hyatt Regency Bloomington-Minneapolis, Urbana is a contemporary nod to Minnesota’s Nordic heritage and features funky, welcoming décor and a menu that blends Minnesota with Scandinavia. If you’re visiting during the summer, enjoy dinner and a signature cocktail on Urbana’s garden patio.
The final day of your weekend trip will focus on Minnesota’s pride and joy (and sometimes cause of great despair): the Vikings football team! Depending on the time of the year, you’ll be visiting US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis or the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan, both just a short drive away from Bloomington. Before you head out for a busy day, enjoy a breakfast smorgasbord at your hotel or stop into local coffee shop Mugshots Coffee Co. for a tasty drink and a pastry.
July and August: Attend Vikings Training Camp at the TCO Performance Center; it’s free and open to the public with a required reservation. This is a unique opportunity to see the Vikings gear up for their upcoming season and provides the first in-person glimpse at new additions to the team.
September-January: Watch a regular season game on select Sundays at US Bank. The stunning new stadium has hosted the Super Bowl, NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, and each of the Vikings’ home games since it opened in 2016. There’s truly not a bad seat in the house here, and even visitors who aren’t football fans will enjoy checking out the stadium’s architecture and bevy of food options.
February-June: During the off season, both US Bank Stadium and the TCO Performance Center are open for tours so you can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the team’s operations. At US Bank, tour guides take visitors into the team locker room, stadium floor, and more. At the TCO Performance Center’s Vikings Museum, fans experience the history of the Minnesota Vikings and football in Minnesota through comprehensive exhibits and a 360-degree theater.
If you prefer a different sport, take in an MLS game at Allianz Field, home of the Minnesota United, or watch our professional hockey team, the Minnesota Wild, play at Xcel Energy Center. The Ryder Cup will be played in Minnesota once again in 2029, when Americans and Europeans will compete at Chaska’s Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Optional day trips
-Lindstrom: “America’s Little Sweden” was the home of several notable Swedish immigrants and holds the annual Karl Oskar Days to honor the city’s founders.
-Northfield: This quaint town is the home of St. Olaf College, founded in 1874 by a group of Norwegian-American pastors and named after Olav II Haraldsson, king of Norway from 1016-1030.
-Scandia: The Gammelgarden Museum in Scandia is the only open-air museum devoted to Swedish immigrants in the U.S. and also contains the oldest Lutheran church building in Minnesota.
There’s a lot more fun to be had in Bloomington and the rest of Minnesota! Learn more about our destination’s attractions, hotels, restaurants, and more, and contact us for assistance with trip planning and visiting Bloomington.