Top 10 Iconic Minneapolis Photo Locations

A Twin Cities couple takes in the view of the Minneapolis skyline from the Kenwood Neighborhood.

A Twin Cities couple takes in the view of the Minneapolis skyline from the Kenwood Neighborhood.

Fall in love with the city all over again with this list of the best locations for posting photos from Minneapolis

With summer in full swing now is the perfect time to get outdoors and see what it is that makes Minneapolis unique. But for the purposes of this list, I’ll be putting the lens on what makes Minneapolis a fantastic destination for outdoor photography enthusiasts of all types — from business, to portraiture to landscape — and how said photographers may see the cityscape a bit different from most passersby.

All photos ©Dan Iverson /

A couple posing for portraits near one of the graffiti-decorated walls at the Intermedia Arts Building in Uptown Minneapolis.

Number 10: Intermedia Arts Building, 2822 Lyndale Ave South

Sadly, the Intermedia Arts Building has been shuttered for years, and along with it, its evergreen artwork, which came in the form of artists creating new murals on the exterior walls every few months. The good news is at least one business has been in talks to purchase the building for office space and continue to foster area artists by offering up the building walls as canvases. The last time I walked by the building vibrant murals were still showcased on the exterior, making for a colorful backdrop and one that speaks to Minneapolis as a center for the arts.

A family takes in the sights from the vantage point of the Como-Harriet Streetcar line in Southwest Minneapolis.

Number 9: Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, 2330 West 42nd Street

You can take in the sights of Southwest Minneapolis from a different vantage point via a trolley ride on the Como-Harriet streetcar line. While the trolley will take you to some pretty scenic locales and one-of-a-kind shops, the cars themselves are a beautiful addition to the Minneapolis landscape, both inside and out. If you want to frame up you view of the city in an unexpected way, the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line is your ticket.

A couple strikes a romantic pose from the pergola at Minnehaha Falls in South Minneapolis.

Number 8: Minnehaha Falls Pergola Garden, 4801 South Minnehaha Drive

Pretty much any top list for Minneapolis will include Minnehaha Falls, and for good reason. They are a beautiful natural wonder and just a few-minute’s drive from downtown. However, from a photography standpoint they can be a challenge, namely that they’re dangerous if you get too close and they are often over-crowded. To me, a much better photo op is just a few steps away at the top of the falls. The Minnehaha Falls Pergola Garden offers great leading lines and repetition certain to make your next photo composition worthy of hanging up on your walls. The best and/or easiest times for photos are right when the garden opens at 7:30 a.m. since the location may be rented out for private events later in the day.

A young musician with a euphonium strikes a pose at the Schmitt Music Mural in downtown Minneapolis.

Number 7: Schmitt Music Mural, 94 South 10th Street

With walls that sing, the Schmitt Music headquarters in downtown Minneapolis makes for a stunning background for any musical talent. I grew up passing the mural every Sunday after church, so it’s wonderful to see the punchy black-and-white designs (musical notation from a piano piece written by French composer Maurice Ravel called “Gaspard de la Nuit”) unchanged decades later. If you want, you can channel your inner Prince and recreate his famed photo shoot there for Rolling Stone magazine in late ‘70s, just be prepared to bring a few bucks as the edifice sits adjacent to a functioning city parking lot. In my experience, the attendants prefer paying customers.

Known affectionately as The City of Lakes, a photo stop to Minneapolis just wouldn’t be proper without a visit to one of the city’s many bodies of water.

Number 6: Chain of Lakes, various locations

Known affectionately as The City of Lakes, a photo stop to Minneapolis just wouldn’t be proper without a visit to one of the city’s 13 major lakes, with Bde Maka Ska being the largest and offering stunning views of the city. Many of the lakes offer rental equipment for paddling away from the crowds a bit for a cleaner composition of the skyline. However, if you get down low and focus on your subjects you can make them seem like the only ones around for miles no matter where you find a seat.

A couple poses for photos near the Gold Medal Flour sign from the vantage point of the Guthrie Theater endless bridge in downtown Minneapolis.

Number 5: Endless Bridge, Guthrie Theater, 818 South Second Street

The Guthrie Theater itself could easily make its way into to the top 10 with its distinct design and iconic blue elevation, however, its the theater’s Endless Bridge that provides a vantage point for several Minneapolis landmarks from one position. The Mill City Museum and its Gold Medal Flour Sign, the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls can all find their way into your photos with the right framing on your camera. If you want to light up your Instagram feed you can stop by for this free photo op 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on non-performance days or 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. when the show is on.

A couple enjoys one another’s company from the protection of the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis.

Number 4: Lake Harriet Bandshell, 4135 West Lake Harriet Parkway

Few locations instantly strike up images of picnics, laughter and warm summer air quite like the Lake Harriet Bandshell. In addition to the well-groomed beaches nearby and ample walking and biking paths, the park hosts a free live music series and outdoor movie screenings throughout the summer. The bandshell’s towering spires are a fun way to play with scale for your photos, and its covered stage can be a welcome respite from harsh sunlight when you need to create a portrait without the squint factor.

A young woman poses for a portrait in front of the Minneapolis skyline from the vantage point of the Stone Arch Bridge.

Number 3: Stone Arch Bridge, 100 Portland Avenue

While the Stone Arch Bridge may be a bit overdone when it comes to photography it is at least for good reason. The bridge itself is gorgeous and a testament to shopping local in the 19th century — the magnesium limestone facing was quarried in Mankato, the pilings from granite in Sauk Rapids and the fill from the riverbank itself. Its the bridge’s close proximity to downtown and the skyline, however, that makes this location a must for any shutterbug hoping to showcase Minneapolis.

Pro tip: If you’re planning a photo for a large corporate group or wedding party you’ll want to check in with the city’s parks department as photo permits are required. In addition, the bridge is functioning and there are plenty of cyclists and urban explorers you’re likely to irritate if your group is blocking the way. The earlier you can visit in the day the better, and make it snappy!

A couple poses for pictures near the Spoon and Cherry Bridge at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Number 2: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 725 Vineland Place

It doesn’t get visually much more iconic for Minneapolis than the “Spoonbridge and Cherry” by Claes Oldenberg and Coosje Van Bruggen, but the gardens offer many opportunities for inspired photo compositions. Impactful pieces like “LOVE” by Robert Indiana and “Hahn” by Katharina Fritsch are certain to populate your social media feed, but some times the more subtle works can make the greatest statement. “Double Curve” by Ellsworth Kelly is one of my personal favorites for the simple way it can frame the subject of your photo. Many of the sculptures are in full sun, so for the best photos I recommend visiting the garden in the two hours post sunrise or the two hours proceeding sunset depending on the season.

A couple cuddles together along the 7th Street wall of First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

Number 1: First Avenue & 7th Street Entry, 701 North First Avenue

“First Ave.” has been the epicenter of music and culture in Minneapolis for more than 40 years. The club that launched a thousand musicians on their path to stardom did so figuratively and literally. No one can mistake those famed stars on the building’s facades. They were and are the backdrop for thousands and thousands of music fans as they wait in line to experience an underground secret, or what may just be “the next big thing.” First Avenue was my youth and is still the best place to reconnect with friends, lose yourself in the music and share old stories. Did I ever tell you about the time I watched Skankin’ Pickle with a then-unknown Gwen Stafani standing by my side? If you want to create a photo that screams Minneapolis, First Avenue is it. Be sure to swing by early to get a photo near the club’s one and only gold star: Prince, of course.

So, how did I do? Did I completely blow off some other Minneapolis landmarks or was I on the mark with this post? And if you have your own First Avenue memory to share please do so in the comments below. Thanks for viewing, everyone!