One of the best things about the Twin Cities is the variety is has to offer. Whether you like nature or urban, the Twin Cities has what you’re looking for. As a photographer, I have spent plenty of time searching for great photo locations around Minneapolis and St. Paul. Here is a list of my favorite photo locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul (and a few bonus locations in surrounding suburbs)!
Urban Photo Locations
Mill Ruins Park (Minneapolis)
Mill Ruins Park is a super cool, neutral, urban location in downtown Minneapolis. The ruins are a unique background, and there is a touch of green here to add another layer of interest. As a bonus, this park is dropped right between to the iconic Stone Arch Bridge and Guthrie Theater. I typically walk my clients around this area to add variety to their galleries, but the Mill Ruins Park area is always my favorite backdrop for a filmy, neutral look.
Saint Anthony Main (Minneapolis)
Saint Anthony Main is one of the most popular photo locations in Minneapolis. On a nice summer evening, this place can be swarming with photographers! There is a good reason for this, as Saint Anthony Main offers buildings with unique, colorful facades and brick streets. Additionally, Main Street is home to one of the most popular photo locations in Minneapolis: “the rock.” The rock is located right across from Aster Cafe right along the water. There’s a small path right behind a tree to walk down to the rock. Here, you can capture an amazing view of the water and Minneapolis skyline. Check out some examples below!
North Loop (Minneapolis)
North Loop is home to the Minneapolis Warehouse District. It’s a hip, urban spot with converted warehouses, picturesque alleyways, and great restaurants. Check out Hewing Hotel for indoor or rooftop photos (just call them ahead of time to get permission) or Spyhouse Coffee with your crew!
Rice Park (St. Paul)
Rice Park features historic Twin Cities staples like the Landmark Center, James J. Hill Library, and The Ordway theater. I love James J. Hill for a neutral, urban backdrop that looks expensive and historic. The best part? Rice Park is still a park, so there is plenty of greenery and a gorgeous fountain. The only difficulty with this spot is it can often be busy or full of people (especially if there is a show at the Ordway). Visiting at sunrise instead of in the evening will be your best bet!
Bonus: Rice Park has beautiful Christmas lights around the holiday season if you’re looking for a romantic photo location in the winter.
Union Depot (St. Paul)
If you’re looking for a rooftop in the Twin Cities that’s never busy, look no further than Union Depot. I love this spot because it’s quiet, private, and easy for outfit changes! This is a functioning bus station, but the historic architecture and views of Lowertown St. Paul make for awesome photo backdrops. There is a parking structure under the Depot and public restrooms for outfit changes, so this is one of my favorite spots for senior shoots.
Nature Photo Locations
Boom Island Park (Minneapolis)
Boom Island Park is snuggled up next to the Mississippi River and Saint Anthony Main, making it easy to combine with urban locations. This park offers a cool combination of greenery and skylines, making it perfect for a shoot where you want a touch of both!
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Chaska)
“The Arb” hosts the most gorgeous gardens in the Twin Cities. While this location isn’t in the Cities, you can reach Chaska in about 40 minutes from Minneapolis/St. Paul. While the Landscape Arboretum is huge, you can generally walk around the gardens close to the Visitor Center for amazing variety and colors. I love this location for senior sessions and engagement photos.
Hint: The Arb does require a photography permit for portraiture or professional shoots. You can purchase a one day pass or seasonal permit. It’s a little spendy, but well worth it in my opinion!
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory (St. Paul)
Como Park Zoo is unique spot in the Cities, because it includes a zoo, a theme park, and a conservatory all in one! Due to this variety, it makes for a fun photo location! The Conservatory is the more picturesque spot, with it’s white and glass architecture. You can shoot inside the Conservatory too, but you are limited to 30 minutes and need to secure a pass beforehand. The lush greens and flowers inside make for amazing photos, so it’s worth the trouble of getting the permit! I personally love the area around the main Pavilion because of its unique architecture and pristine park nearby.
Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Eagan)
While this spot isn’t exactly in Minneapolis, Eagan is only about 30 minutes outside the city and this regional park is huge. Lebanon Hills technically spans multiple suburbs and contains walking paths, lakes, beaches, and docks. There is also plenty of parking, making it convenient to meet clients. I always park and shoot at the Schulze Beach entrance off of Cliff Road. Please note, you should secure a permit to photograph in this park through Dakota County.