What to Do in Minneapolis While Attending a Marketing Conference

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published for the 2019 Digital Summit. We’ve updated for relevance.

In Minneapolis for the long-awaited 2021 Digital Summit? This might be your first in-person event in a long time. (It is for us!)

This event takes place from Aug. 5-6, hosts over 1,500 attendees and is filled with great sessions on content marketing, social media, B2B, UX and more. While your days will be packed with learning cutting-edge industry trends and networking, you still might want to take time to experience some of what the host city has to offer. We consider ourselves to be somewhat of Minneapolis experts (we HAVE been in business here since 1996), so we decided to compile our favorite things to do around the downtown area for those new to the city. Here are a few things to consider adding to your itinerary.

Food & Drink

In 2017, Minneapolis was featured, alongside Montenegro and Shanghai, as one of the top ten places to visit in the world by the Wall Street Journal. Aside from the scenic lakes and public art, Minneapolis was also recognized due to its hotbed of nationally-recognized dining.

As always, though, be sure to pay attention to COVID-safety protocols at each area. 

Here are a few spots to swing by over lunch or in the evenings following the conference’s scheduled activities:


Walking Distance from the Minneapolis Convention Center

Barrio: This would be a fun spot to unwind after a long day of sitting, learning and networking. Catch the end of happy hour for their tacos al fresco and tequila after the pre-event proceedings. It’s just a couple blocks away.

Source: Barrio

Butcher and the Boar: If you’re looking to get a taste of the city’s award-winning dining experiences, consider this exciting restaurant close to the Digital Summit. Butcher and the Boar specializes in steak and smoked meats. Hours are limited, so think about snagging a reservation before it’s too late. 

Ping’s: Ping’s Bar & Grill could be the move if you’re looking for Asian cuisine. It’s a perfect spot to nab takeout for lunch so you don’t miss out on the goings-on at the conference. There’s something especially satisfying about their Chef’s Special Lo Mein. Note: Ping’s is currently delivery or take-out only, so this might be a great choice if you want to relax in the hotel room after a long day of learning. 


If You Have Wheels…

The Kenwood: This award-winning restaurant is perfect for outsiders. You get the city’s best casual dining and then can take a stroll alongside Lake of the Isles, a Minneapolis favorite, afterwards. They’re closed on Mondays for bacon preparation, so reap the rewards on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Worth the short drive.

Black Sheep Pizza: If you’re looking for pizza to write home about, check out Black Sheep. Located in the North Loop neighborhood of the city, you can smell the delicious aroma of coal-fired pizza from the Convention Center.

Source: Black Sheep

A Big Boom in MPLS: Breweries

Surly Brewing Company: Surly is a 50,000 square foot must-visit if you’re interested in breweries in the Twin Cities. It has a unique architectural style, a spacious beer hall, offers a variety of great food, and, last but not least, has award-winning beer. Sit outside on their patio around the fire and enjoy their vast variety of microbrews. 

Source: ArchDaily

Dangerous Man Brewing: While the name of the taproom may come off as threatening, Dangerous Man actually offers an incredibly welcoming and warm environment. The small venue offers first-come, first-served seating and there’s often a line of customers standing patiently for a spot to open up. See and taste what the fuss is about!

Finnegans Brewing Company: Enjoy beer and popcorn while making a difference in the community. Not more than a five-minute walk from the Convention Center, Finnegans is famously public-spirited; they support hunger alleviation and social entrepreneurial efforts in everything they do.

Experience Minneapolis (Probably) After 5

With the short stay chock-full of engagements until around 5 p.m. every day, it’s impossible to fully explore Minneapolis. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Here are ideas for making a dent in the city’s offerings after the events. Most involve lake visits, art or both.


The Lakes

Bde Maka Ska: The largest, and arguably most beautiful, lake in the Minneapolis area. It’s surrounded by bike and walking paths, beachy areas and good food. It’s also a great spot to take in the skyline. Consider renting a bike from NiceRide for a relaxing excursion.

Stone Arch Bridge: There isn’t a better way to embrace the beauty of Minneapolis than walking along the Stone Arch Bridge. It’s about a half-mile walk across the Mississippi River and it leads to some of the city’s landmarks like the Guthrie Theater and Mill City Museum, both architectural marvels.

Source: Nicole Harrington, Unsplash

Lake Harriet Bandshell: There’s never a dull moment at Lake Harriet, complete with a walking path, beaches, boat dock and other water amenities. It’s a popular spot for Minneapolis residents and visitors alike. They also have a stunning bandshell that hosts fantastic summer concerts and movies in the park. You can even catch Little Shop of Horrors playing at 9 p.m. on Friday night!


The Arts

The Walker Art Center: The Walker, a contemporary art center, is a great spot to hang out following a long day. It features the nation’s first-ever sculpture garden, which includes the renowned sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry. Spoiler alert: the spoon nor the cherry are to scale. Get the party started a day early with free admission to its exhibits on Thursdays.

Minneapolis Institute of Art: The Minneapolis Institute of Art (dubbed Mia) has free general admission. That’s a bargain given their collection of 90,000 artworks. Get cultured in addition to taking in the insights you received earlier in the day.

First Avenue


First Avenue: First Ave is a landmark concert venue in Minneapolis. Check the calendar to see if any of the events over Digital Summit weekend interest you, and if nothing strikes a chord, it’s still worth checking out if you’re roaming around the city. Its unique exterior, featuring hundreds of stars of past performers against a bold black background, is recognizable to most Minneapolis residents. Be on the lookout for Prince’s golden star!

Don’t miss a beat of the latest trends in the industry. Here are the top upcoming marketing conferences for the rest of the year and the key takeaways from past conferences that Brandpoint has attended. See you there!

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