Dear Girl Friday,
Found your site and thought you may be able to help. My husband and I are moving to Minneapolis from New York City in January. To get a feel for the city, we're flying in the second weekend of August [5th-6th] to check it out. So here's the challenge, we have 24-hours in Minneapolis with no car and no previous mid-west experience... what's an itinerary that will make us fall in love with our soon-to-be home? (And also make all our New York friends super jealous that they weren't moving there too!)
Thanks for your help,
Welcome! Minneapolis, as I'm sure you've read about a million times recently, has become one of the nation's best places to live. You'll love it here.
First things first, I'm gonna skip all the indoor cultural selling points of Minneapolis and let you enjoy them when you move here in the dead of winter. Those are, of course, the Walker Art Center, the Guthrie Theater, and the Minneapolis Public Library. All have had grand reopenings recently and are recognized worldwide for their incredible architecture and interior design. I'm also skipping over the Mall of America. Despite its close proximity to the airport you'll be visiting twice in two days, it's another activity you can save for the cold months. It is just a giant mall, after all. (But it's totally awesome, so make sure you shop it when you do get all moved in.)
Once you're checked in to your hotel Saturday afternoon, slip on a pair of sneakers and head over to The Riverfront District. What you want to do is walk the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail. The views of both the river and downtown are spectacular, plus you get to learn a little bit of Minneapolis history along the 1.8 mile walk. If you're curious, go ahead and check out the Guthrie while you're over there. The doors will be open, if you just want to look around.
Another option for your first hour on the town: Take the RiverCity Trolley's Downtown Tour. It's a little bit dorky, I know, but it's one of the best tourist activities we've got. You get to see a large part of Minneapolis in a relatively short amount of time.
Oh, wait, you're probably hungry. Since you're staying by the U of M and close to the Riverfront, you'll be able to grab a late lunch just about anywhere. Keep it simple, though, because you'll want to save your appetite for dinner.
I'm going to give you a few top choice dinner options:
- First up, the 112 Eatery. Constant critical acclaim and a "cozy" dining room make it the hardest place to get into, but if you call for a reservation tonight (or don't mind eating after 9:00pm), you might just get lucky.
- La Belle Vie is another spot with a to-die-for menu. A full lounge and a large dining room make it easier to get a reservation, too.
- Located in the graves|601 hotel is Cosmos Restaurant, a long-time favorite of mine.
- If you can't decide on exactly what you're in the mood for, try Solera. Tapas of all flavors are on the menu, plus killer desserts and a huge Spanish wine selection.
(Note: Both La Belle Vie and Cosmos will do vegetarian tasting menus, and La Belle Vie, Cosmos, and Solera all have fantastic bars.)
All of those restaurants are downtown, so here are some after-dinner options in the same area:
- Bar-hopping down Nicollet Mall. Brit's Pub, The Local, The News Room, Masa, and Dakota Jazz Club are all bars worth checking out. They'll give you an idea of why (or why not) to spend Saturday night along this pedestrian thoroughfare.
- Ovation Music Group Celebrates the Music of "Purple Rain" at First Ave. Minnesota equals Prince, we all know that. And how cool is it to be able to hear all those classic tunes live, in the historic music venue where the movie was filmed?
- If you're feeling swanky, head over to Visage, Minneapolis' newest nightclub (unless you count Level closing and reopening as Foundation). Saturdays are for hip hop, so go shake your ass while you take in the view of the most beautiful club in town. That beauty only multiplies when the dancefloor breaks up every half hour or so for a live acrobat show.
Two more suggestions, not downtown:
- The Minnesota Fringe Festival is going on this weekend, if you're into live theater.
- For local indie rock, check out the Triple Rock or The Nomad, both are on the U of M's West Bank and have good shows going on Saturday night.
Let's move on to Sunday morning, time for a good brunch. Hop a cab over to Uptown and pick a spot to eat. A few suggestions:
- Lucia's: Fresh and creative, with a focus on locally-grown and organic.
- Bar Abilene: Southwestern, known for their margaritas and guacamole.
- Famous Dave's (in Calhoun Square): American barbecue, sprawling brunch buffet.
You'll notice a sh*tload of people everywhere; that's the Uptown Art Fair. Stroll through and check out some local culture. Artists of all kinds set up shop here one weekend a year, and it just so happens to be the weekend you're in town.
You saw the river yesterday, now you have to see the lakes. Since driving it isn't an option for you, head over to Calhoun Rental for a pair of bikes or blades. They should have a map of the Chain of Lakes for you, but if not, you can find one here and here.
Alright, you just biked (or bladed), like, 13 miles. You're thirsty and not feeling as sexy as you were a couple of hours ago. Not to worry, Uptown has about three dozen bars where you'll feel right at home. If you're having trouble choosing one along Hennepin Avenue (or the patios are just way too crowded), then skip down to Lyndale Avenue and check out two of my favorite places. The Herkimer is a great microbrewery with awesome food and foxy bartenders, and The Bulldog is known for their vast craft beer selection and simple but very tasty menu.
And then it'll already be time for you to head back to the hotel and get ready for your flight home. I do wish you could stay longer on your first visit, but I think the above suggestions will give you a good first impression of what Minneapolis is like. The people, the food, the nightlife, the summertime weather. Cramming it all into 24 hours is tough, but I hope you get a general idea of why we all love it here.
Don't forget to take lots of pictures to make your friends super jealous, or at least make them want
to visit you in your beautiful new city.