When you have a place that combines distinct mountain culture with an urban-sized appetite for…
The Super Bowl is heading to chilly Minneapolis. It’s estimated that a million people will flock to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for the big game. If you’re one of them, you should really go beyond downtown. Minneapolis and St. Paul are full of incredible food, music, art, history and more. Here’s a few places to put on your radar.
Where to get outside:
Don your warmest gear and get outside! You’ll fit right in. Minnehaha Park is a great place to get some fresh air. Walk the bluff top trails, visit the frozen Minnehaha Falls, and if you need a dog fix, head to the off-leash dog park that winds down to the Mississippi. It’s a beautiful walk in the woods (almost 3 miles roundtrip!), and I promise people will not look at you sideways if you don’t have a four-legged friend along. The light rail’s blue line will take you directly from downtown to the park, before continuing on to the international airport and Mall of America.
The St. Paul Winter Carnival
Since 1886, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival has brought family-friendly events and community pride to the Twin Cities. Over four dozen events are held city-wide, including snow sculpting competitions, outdoor skating, an ice palace and more. Most events are FREE, open to the public, and will take place in downtown Saint Paul, as well as at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The carnival runs January 25 – February 10, 2018. Trust me, you’ve never seen anything like it.
The Walker Sculpture Garden
The Walker Art Center re-opened its sculpture garden last year, and to great acclaim. Take a selfie at the iconic Spoonbridge Cherry or the brand new bright blue rooster. A walk around the garden is great year round (really!). If you get chilly, warm up at Esker Grove, the bar and restaurant inside the museum.
Channel your inner Mary Tyler Moore by visiting Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. Bike and walking trails connect these three urban lakes, and you’ll see Minnesotans on them year-round. Lake of the Isles offers an outdoor skating rink with a warming house. Didn’t bring your skates? They offer a variety of skates for free. They may not be that sharp or in great condition, but who cares! It’s just plain ol’ Minnesota fun.
Where to play inside:
Can Can Wonderland
Not sure you Head to Can Can Wonderland for artist designed indoor mini golf place with fun cocktails, pinball and more. A heads up– it’s in a rather industrial part of St. Paul, and once you get to the building you’ll need to follow the arrows to the basement. The adventure is worth it!
This vintage bowling alley is a long time local favorite. Best part? You can order more than stale popcorn and crinkle fries! The BLB’s menu includes lots of yummy options, including grass-fed beef or veggie burgers; plus lots of vegan and vegetarian options. There’s a great little live theater attached– check their website to see what’s playing.
Did you know Minneapolis is the birthplace of modern day improv? See some of the best long-form improvisors at HUGE Theater. Shows are held nearly every night.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art (aka Mia) offers extraordinary exhibitions and one of the finest wide-ranging art collections in the country. From Monet to Matisse, Asian to African, 40,000-year-old artifacts to world-famous masterpieces, Mia links the past to the present and enables global conversations. Best part? It’s free, every single day!
Where to eat:
The Twin Cities offers incredible dining, and you can read about some local favorites here. Keep in mind, things get a little crazy during the Super Bowl, with many restaurants closing down for private parties. Be sure to call ahead, and it’s really a good idea to get a reservation no matter where you go. All that said, parties typically happen at night… which means people are likely sleeping in. Take advantage and go out for breakfast!
For incredible coffee, pastries and eggs in a beautiful setting, visit Café Alma, James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Robert’s casual counterpart to his beloved Restaurant Alma.
Victor’s 1959 Cafe
If you love a good Cuban breakfast, Victor’s is your place. Cozy booths bedecked in vibrant oil cloth, walls so covered in graffiti that you can barely tell they were once painted yellow, and the best eggs, black beans and rice in town. You’ll forget you’re even in Minnesota, if only temporarily.
The best brunch in town award goes to Burch. Their tomatillo bloody mary, potato pancakes, brunch burger and waffles are stuff of legend. They only do brunch on Sundays, so make your reservation now.
Visit Iconic Landmarks:
With every big band in town for the Super Bowl, there probably isn’t an opportunity to see a show at the venue Prince made famous (unless you’re on the list… lucky you!). But it’s for sure worth walking by and getting a snapshot in front of exterior’s painted stars featuring names of acts who’ve graced the stage.
When you think microbrewery, a tiny, bootstrapped operation might come to mind. Not here. In the past 14 years, this beloved brewery grew from a home garage operation into a $30 million brewing and beer hall facility. Grab a seat in their casual and always busy beer hall, which features a full (and delicious) menu as well as 24 beers on tap.
Mall of America
It’s the biggest mall in America! And there’s lots more fun to be had here than just plain ol’ shopping. Read more here.
This adorable Northeast Minneapolis shop sells exclusively locally made items. Jewelry, cosmetics, candles, textiles, art—you never know what you’ll find here, and you’re not likely to find it anywhere else.
With eight locations throughout the Twin Cities, this locally based shop is many a Minnesotan’s go-to for gift giving. Products are perfectly curated, and include anything Thymes bath and body products, home décor items, creative kids toys, cards, books and more. Their simple and elegant gift wrapping makes Patina the perfect spot to pick up a Twin Cities souvenir.
I love an old fashioned bookstore, and this Uptown gem could entertain me for hours. The well-read and passionate staff will gladly help you select a page turner (either new or used). I should mention that Paper Source is right next door, perfect for notebook nerds like me.
Check out this pop up market, which runs for 10 days leading up to the big game. Thirty-six local brands, large and small, have signed onto the North Local Market to showcase their Minnesota-made product. Vendors are setting up next to Super Bowl Live in City Center, and include Adam Turman, eyebobs eyewear, Hagen and Oats and Namakan Fur.
Fun Neighborhoods to Walk around:
Unless you’re a frequent visitor, Linden Hills is the kind of neighborhood that’s probably not on your radar. A few miles southwest of downtown, this quiet residential ‘hood is chockful of gems. Check out Coffee & Tea LTD for a cup of joe with some serious character (no seats; so prepare to take yours to go). On the same street, you’ll find Wild Rumpus, a children’s bookstore with live chickens (!) and cats freely roaming the store (yes, they get along). Tilia restaurant might be Minneapolis’s coziest restaurant; and nearby Penny’s Coffee Shop is the perfect place for a fancy coffee and crepe.
Known for its industrial buildings and warehouses, at first blush this neighborhood doesn’t feel inviting. But start exploring and you’ll unearth one of the most creative and fun places in the city. There’s a huge concentration of breweries (Dangerous Man, Indeed, Bauhaus and Able are all local favorites); lots of dive bars (Mayslack’s, 331 and Knight’s Cap are within a block or so of each other); kitschy restaurants like Betty Dangers Country Club and Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge; and some of the most talked about restaurants in town, namely Hai Hai (Vietnamese) and Young Joni. Spend an evening here and you’ll see why Minnesotans love “Nordeast”.
Selby & Dale
On the other side of the river, you’ll find Selby & Dale—home to great local restaurants and shops. American heritage brand loving guys will dig Black|Blue, who specialize in raw denim, ethically made shirts and handmade leather goods. Traveling with a teenage girl? She’ll think Primp, with its stylish clothes at a very reasonable price, is the coolest place in the whole world. Grab a bite and a pint at The Happy Gnome; fried chicken and a glass of champagne at Revival; or enjoy a romantic dinner at W.A. Frost.
Where to buy warm clothes
Forgot to pack your parka? Don’t worry, there are plenty of places to gear up in the Twin Cities. Bonus: there’s no sales tax on clothes in Minnesota!
Located on the West Bank, near downtown, this is where local outdoor enthusiasts stock up on coats, hats, gloves and anything else outdoorsy. There’s a discount area, Thrifty Outfitters, so be sure to do a lap!
This Swedish brand feels right at home in the very Scandinavian Twin Cities. There’s two locations in town, but the Uptown store is technically their outlet, meaning they have a few racks with discounted winter gear. It’s still not cheap, but the quality is worth every cent. It’s worth mentioning that a block away, you’ll find North Face, Columbia, Arcteryx—meaning your chance of success in this neighborhood is high!
Owned by Andrew and Eric Dayton (his family founded these little stores called Dayton’s and Target… Maybe you’ve heard of them?), warmth meets fashion at Askov Finlayson. You’ll find parkas, scarves, mittens and their famous North beanie hats. Be sure to grab a coffee and pastry at the Bachelor Farmer next door—they’re delicious.
What are your favorite spots in the Twin Cities? Share in the comments!
US Bank Stadium photo by Matthew Paulson