Ah, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota is often overlooked as an ice-desert nestled in the flyover states. And that’s fine — us locals like it that way. As our beloved Prince once said, “I like the cold weather — it keeps the bad people away.”
The Minneapolis and St. Paul area is small enough that you’re a part of the community, but large enough to have one of the best culinary scenes in the country and fill your weekends with unique outings. There’s a bit of grit to this place. You may be rocking the hell out of that trench coat and boots, but no one can look glamorous jumping through puddles of slush. It humanizes and unites those who live here. Once you’ve made it through a six-month winter, you can conquer anything.
I’m born and raised in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and as a twenty-something working in the arts + event industries, I’ve done the hard work of making the rounds for you to all of the greatest bars, restaurants, and museums in the coolest city (no pun intended) in the country. Colder weather doesn’t stop us from having fun, it simply makes it more interesting. Grab your favorite fall jacket and get ready for a cozy weekend getaway in Minnesota.
It’s only right to spend the night at a hotel with Nordic roots. Built in an old farm warehouse, this space not only has quilts on every bed and exposed beams throughout the ceiling for extra coziness, but also hosts a trendy rooftop bar with an intimate, living room feel. Plus, the year-round rooftop hot tub is a perfect place to sip a cocktail while watching a skyline sunset.
Wake up in a room that feels like a more chic version of your own. This boutique hotel doubles as a cute café just a few blocks from the Stone Arch Bridge and Mill City Ruins area. Alma is my favorite spot to spend a Sunday morning reading a book, and finishing it off with a walk around the most scenic part of Minneapolis.
For all my ladies who love luxury, you might need a little extra time in this spot. Not only is Hotel Ivy a posh getaway in the heart of downtown, but they’re boasting a fresh 2.5 million dollar renovated Anda Spa. It’s an urban retreat that’s on my list of fall musts.
With a location in both Minneapolis and St. Paul you have absolutely no excuse to skip this place. My religion lies in their cavatelli, and every single time my family comes to the city, there’s no question where we’ll be meeting for dinner.
This isn’t just a pizza place. It’s a women-owned, James Beard award-winning, greenery filled hot spot for all things delicious. Don’t miss the Korean BBQ pizza, or the Back Bar — Young Joni’s secret speakeasy. When the red light in the alley is on, wander back in time for a drink in this seventies-inspired watering hole.
A Juicy Lucy
Is any venture to a new city complete without swinging through the local dive bar? I don’t think so. Minnesota is known for the Juicy Lucy, a burger literally STUFFED with cheese. You’re on vacation — eat a salad later. There’s a heated debate for which one is the best, so I’m hesitate to suggest just one place. If you really want to do your research, stop by The Nook, Matt’s Bar, and Blue Door Pub.
Southeast Asian street food. Yes, we’ve got it — and it’s damn good. Hai Hai is in the Northeast neighborhood, which hasn’t become congested and “fully hipster” just yet, which makes it all the more wonderful. They’ve got a happy hour with killer cocktails and an amazing spread of snacks, so it’s a perfect starter spot before a big dinner.
A special note:
Minnesota introduces a new brewery to the scene as fast as New York City builds a new posh restaurant. Every spot has its own personality, so try samples at any that look fun. There’s far too many of my favorites to cover in one list, but there’s a few I frequent more than the rest. Check out Lyn Lake Brewery for a killer rooftop, Surly Brewing to taste a local powerhouse, Number Twelve Cider House for those with a sweet tooth, and Insight Brewing just for the Banshee Cutter.
It’s called the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a reason. Whether it’s a quick bike ride after work or walking around a lake on the weekends, one of my favorite lazy ways to spend a day in Minnesota is lounging by a lake. Lake Bde Mka Ska comes alive with sailboats that you can watch bob by from the lakeside path. It also neighbors the bustling Uptown area, which is full of rooftop bars for revival after a long walk.
It’s modern art that you can climb on. Bring out your inner kid as you feel the mist of the Cherry on a Spoon floating across this wide open space of art. It’s perfect for a picnic, date night, or Instagram-worthy photo-op. As with all of these suggestions, Minneapolis is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, and rental bikes are on every corner. Grab a bike and cover the entire city, swinging through the sculpture garden on the way.
It’s a mile and a half long and filled with every tour group you’ve ever seen. There’s an amusement park, aquarium, and every single store you’ve ever thought of, and a Starbucks on every floor. Touristy as it may be, there’s nothing like the largest mall in the country. I’m still a regular shopper here, even as a local. And, bonus: it’s right next to the airport, so you can get your retail therapy fix only minutes after your plane hits the ground.
I’ve written a few poems about this place. It’s a magical, golden hideout in the city. Even if you aren’t seeing a play in the breathtaking Guthrie, their viewing decks are open every day. As you explore the Stone Arch and St. Anthony Main area, make sure you ride the miles of escalators up to the yellow room. Bring a date, bring your family, bring your best friends.
Whether you’re snowshoeing across a lake, here for fall colors sprinkled in a skyline, or ready to lose yourself in miles of mall, Minneapolis and St. Paul are worth the trip. Planning a visit? Let me know what’s on your must-see list!