The Bold North: Super City Extraordinaire…
With the Superbowl a near distant memory, why visit Minneapolis? Because, as many Superbowl visitors discovered, Minneapolis is an amazing city. Besides the ridiculous number of activities the city has to offer, the people are overwhelmingly nice. That isn’t just a marketing gimmick, it’s a way of life.
Okay, I admit I might be a little biased since I was born and raised in Minneapolis, but a massive number of people and statistics agree with me.
Minneapolis is Number One
In recent years the city of Minneapolis has snagged number one ratings for being the Healthiest City in the Country (livability.com), the Number One Urban Park System in the United States (Trust for Public Land), one of the Top Ten Downtowns in the Country, and according to Forbes Magazine, Minneapolis is the Number One Bike City in the U.S.
That last one’s hard to believe given the sub-zero winters, isn’t it. Yet it’s true. Other studies show the city as the most affordable, the most livable,the most happy, and the third most literate state in the U.S.. And, I just noticed, Lonely Planet included Minneapolis in its list of Best of the U.S. Cities to Visit in 2018. Check here for dozens (truly) of top rankings in 2017 and 2018 for Minneapolis, including the best state for women and best state for singles.
- The Bold North: Super City Extraordinaire…
- 17 Outstanding Reasons why you must visit this Super City:
- Nature’s Serene Green
- 1. The Lakes
- 2. The Beaches
- 3. The Bike Trails
- 4. The Parks
- 5. Minnehaha Falls
- 6. The Mississippi River
- 7. The Food: Uptown, Downtown, Southside, Northside, East and West
- 8. The Minneapolis Bar Scene: From Dive Bar to Craft Brewery
- 9. The Minneapolis Music Scene:
- 10. The Art Scene:
- 11. The Festivals:
- 12. Shop ‘Till You Drop:
- 13. Sports:
- 14. The Stone Arch Bridge:
- 15. The Foshay Tower
- 16. Nicollet Island
- 17. Eclectic Neighborhoods
- Boredom Not Allowed
Getting back to the “nice” part, I swear I’m not biased when I say Minneapolitans are just plain nice. People wave you through intersections to go first, they urge you to go first in line, they say hello to you in public places. How cool is that. The term “Minnesota Nice” comes from the stereotype that the people in this sometimes frozen northland tend to be family oriented, courteous, friendly, non-confrontational, polite, generous, and outgoing. And it’s all true.
A study done in 2008 found that Minnesota was the second most agreeable and fifth most extroverted state in the nation, traits associated with “nice.” A documentary by native sons Joel and Ethan Coen, AKA the Coen brothers, about the making of the classic, Oscar-winning movie Fargo, which takes place in Minnesota and North Dakota, was even titled Minnesota Nice. And when the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Superbowl playoffs, Minnesotans generously contributed $200,000 to their rival team kicker’s charity.
Now that’s downright Minnesota nice.
The name Minneapolis, like most “Minne” named places, is derived from the Dakota Sioux name for water. That fits, as does the state motto, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” The nickname Mini-Apple comes from the idea that the city has a New York city vibe with an abundance of museums and art galleries, live theater, restaurants, nightclubs, and entertainment venues. In fact, this lively, culturally diverse, growing metropolis has been recognized as the cultural capital of the Midwest.
Once known as “The Flour Milling Capital of the World,“ Minneapolis features a mix of historic architecture and contemporary skyscrapers. The city proper has grown into a mini-Gotham of 413,000 savvy, active, culturally aware individuals whose average age is 31.9 years. There’s a vibrancy, an energy about Minneapolis, especially during the summer, that cannot be denied.
But what about all that snow and butt-freezing cold? Not a problem if you dress for it. Hearty locals embrace the snowy winters with activities like ice skating, ice sailing and cross-country skiing. No wonder Minneapolitans are so fit.
But it’s in the spring, summer and fall that Minneapolis really comes alive. During this time outdoor music and art festivals abound, as do fun runs, marathons, football and baseball games, biking, swimming, boating, paddle boarding, fishing and numerous other activities on the city lakes. But lake activities are only part of the fun in Minneapolis. There’s so much more. Read on for my take on the best places to visit in Minneapolis.
17 Outstanding Reasons why you must visit this Super City:
Nature’s Serene Green
1. The Lakes
Minneapolis, with 22 lakes within city limits, is known as “The City of Lakes.” The “Chain of Lakes” consist of Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun (AKA Bde Maka Ska), Brownie Lake, and Lake Harriet. These lakes, along with Lake Nokomis, and Lake Hiawatha, (farther east) are the most popular for canoeing, sailing, windsurfing, sunbathing, fishing, biking, in-line skating, walking and running in the summer. In the winter, hearty souls are at the lake ice skating, ice fishing and snow kiting. Almost all the city lakes have a running or bike path and areas of serene parkland for picnicking and relaxing. The Chain of Lakes is number one on my list of best places to visit in Minneapolis in the summer.
2. The Beaches
When it’s hot in the city, what’s better than a day, or even a few hours, at the beach? Luckily, in Minneapolis there are 31 public beaches, many of which are operated by the Parks and Recreation Board. Access is free and seasonal lifeguards are present during specified hours. Bathroom facilities vary.
My favorite beaches are the Main Beach and the Thomas Beach at Lake Calhoun, and the Main Beach at Lake Harriet near the castle-like bandshell. But if you don’t like crowds and want a little privacy…and lake water so clear you can see your toes when you look down…try Cedar Lake’s East-Cedar Beach, AKA Hidden Beach. It’s not easy to get to because you either have to walk a lengthy path through the woods or get there by kayak or canoe. Way back when, it was a known hangout for nudists and hippies, but now that it’s a city beach, naked dudes are no longer allowed. You’ll probably still find a few hippies hanging out.
3. The Bike Trails
Brilliant thinkers decided to convert the old train route into the Midtown Greenway, and also created the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, 51 miles of paved trails that wrap around lakes and along parkways.
This scenic trail showcases parks, gardens, historical sites, beaches, golf courses and diverse neighborhoods. The chain of Lakes section runs for 13 miles, and if that’s too much, the Midtown Greenway is 5.5 miles long and runs from Lake Calhoun on the west side to the Mississippi River on the east side. Most of the trails offer separate paths for walkers/runners, bikers, and rollerbladers.
If you don’t have a bicycle, you can rent one from Nice Ride, which rents out the neon green bikes on an hourly basis. Strategically located on corners in well populated areas of the city, you can pick up your bike at any Nice Ride station and drop it at another. With 1550 rental bikes and 120 kiosks in Minneapolis and it’s sister city, St. Paul, you can go almost anywhere without driving.
4. The Parks
With its extensive green space and a park within a 10-minute walk of most homes, the Minneapolis Park System was ranked number one by the Trust for Public Land as the Best City Park System in the United States.
Minneapolis’ 160 Neighborhood Parks are separate from the city’s network of Regional Parks, which rely on funds from the state and other public agencies. The neighborhood parks are smaller and primarily funded by local tax dollars and serve nearby residents.
5. Minnehaha Falls
A 53-foot tall waterfall in the middle of any cosmopolitan city is an unusual sight, but in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Falls is an icon right in the middle of Minnehaha Park. (The city’s oldest park.)
Minnehaha Creek flows through Minneapolis from the lakes in the southwest to the Mississippi on the east of the city. On the way, this sometimes puny little creek plunges over a surprising 53 foot precipice creating the spectacular Minnehaha Falls. The name comes from a poem titled The Song of Hiawatha, from William Wadsworth Longfellow.
As spectacular as the falls are in the summer, in the winter it will freeze and become a dramatic wall of ice. The falls in the winter definitely deserves a look if you happen to be in the city when it’s cold. During the nicer months, you can descend to the bottom and hike Minnehaha Creek downstream, through the woods and wildflowers, to the banks of the Mississippi River and the sandstone caves.
6. The Mississippi River
When the second largest drainage system in the United States runs right through the city where you live, you pretty much ignore it. It wasn’t until I moved away and came back to see all the new buildings at the river’s edge and the old warehouses converted into condos that I began to pay attention. Sipping a glass of wine at a bistro on the river’s edge is a great way to chill, and kayaking the river under the iconic Grain Belt sign is a fun afternoon.
There’s always been boating, water-skiing, canoeing, and kayaking on the river made famous by Mark Twain, but during the Superbowl, you could ratchet the excitement up a notch with The Bold North Zip-line across the Mighty Mississippi. In the bone-chilling cold. A seasonal event, all you had to do is put on the gear, climb a ten-story scaffold in a parking lot on Nicollet Island, get harnessed up, hurl yourself off the platform into thin air, and jet 30 miles an hour on a high-wire across the murky depths of the Mississippi River…and land on another towering scaffold. Who doesn’t want to try that?
7. The Food: Uptown, Downtown, Southside, Northside, East and West
I lived in Minneapolis half my life and had no idea it would become a hotspot for incredible dining. In my family, our fast-food was White Castle, and fine dining didn’t happen. Now, I’m drooling over Mediterranean cuisine at the World Street Kitchen, French delicacies at Barbette, and Latin American fusion at Chino Latino. Toss in a diner or two for breakfast and you’ll see why Minneapolis gets the thumbs up from the food critics.
Gold Star restaurants abound, from the old established restaurants like the legendary Murray’s to the newer hip, health-conscious food purveyors like the elegantly designed Bluestem Bar, an offshoot of the French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, the Spoon and Stable, and everything in between. With so many great restaurants, it’s hard to choose.
Eat Street has more than 50 dining options. This 17-block area along Nicollett Avenue South, within three blocks of 26th Street, was formed in the late 1990s to promote the international variety of restaurants. If you can’t find something to your taste here, you won’t find it anywhere.
Victor’s 1959 Café is in the Kingfield neighborhood where small cafes and bistros seem to be popping up all over. Specializing in “Revolutionary Cuban Cooking,” Victor’s 1959 Cafe is one of my favorite haunts when in Minneapolis. Try the Ceviche Cubano, you won’t be disappointed.
Matt’s Bar in south Minneapolis is the home of the original “Jucy Lucy,” which was invented sometime in the 1950s. There’s a little dispute about who invented the first Jucy Lucy, but I’m going with Matt’s since it was my first experience with the yummy cheese-filled burger. I was in high school, Matt’s Bar was just a little neighborhood tavern, and I sat at the fifties style bar with neon beer signs blinking in my eyes and watched them make the burgers on the other side. They still do that.
The place has expanded since then, and the Jucy Lucy is so in demand it’s best to go before lunch if you don’t want to wait forever in line.
This succulent cheese-filled pillow of beef is so popular President Obama had to try Matt’s famous Jucy Lucy when he was in town. Hmmm. Another president likes burgers, too. I wonder…
Pizza Luce, best pizza ever! In several locations, including downtown and Uptown. My favorites are the Margherita pizza and the pizza that started it all, “The Luce,” loaded with Italian sausage, fresh garlic and onion and extra mozzarella. Pizza Luce also has gluten-free and Vegan choices.
Midtown Global Market – where you’ll have trouble choosing between 18 ethnic restaurants and food vendors. Located on Lake Street near Chicago Avenue, the Global Market stands where the old Sears and Roebuck building stood years ago. I remember a White Castle near this corner as well. Now, the Midtown Greenway Scenic bike path goes right by so you can stop in while you’re pedaling around town on your “Nice Ride” bike.
I can’t leave the food section without mentioning the traditional local food that Minneapolitans, and most Minnesotans devour with a passion not unlike their fervor for the beloved Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings.
How about a good “hot-dish,” or to be more specific, a “tater-tot hot-dish.” Yes, that’s a real thing. Other parts of the country might recognize the term “hot-dish” as a casserole, but in Minnesota, it’s a hot-dish. And for whatever reason, it’s always better with a few crunchy tater tots or onion crisps on top.
Scandinavian food: Lefse, pickled herring, gravlax, and Swedish meatballs are a staple for holidays and even otherwise in this neck of the woods. For a Nordic-inspired meal inside a stunning turn-of-the-century mansion, head to Fika at the American Swedish Institute. Another spot for Nordic cuisine is Hewitt’s Hotel, or try the trendy newcomer, The Bachelor Farmer Restaurant, for a toast board or their ridiculously awesome meatballs. Pssst…I hear there’s a fun, prohibition era speakeasy called the Marvel Bar, hidden underneath The Bachelor Farmer.
Scandinavians also love their wild rice, fresh walleye and cheese curds. What could be better than tossing hunks of cheese in a deep fryer. But Minneapolitans are not all Scandinavians. Like the rest of the U. S. there’s a homogeneous subculture of German Americans, Irish Americans, Native Americans, Polish Americans, Hmong, and Somalian Americans, and that creates a culturally diverse food scene. Minnesota has some of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S.. Here, you’ll find plenty of Bratwurst, sauerkraut, and German beer.
8. The Minneapolis Bar Scene: From Dive Bar to Craft Brewery
Minneapolitans love to hang out with friends and family in public houses, from old-time downtown bars to dozens of trendy wine cafés, bistros, and craft beer establishments.
While most neighborhoods sport their share of bars, Northeast Minneapolis (Nordeast to locals) is where the action seems to be. When we say Northeast, we mean northeast of downtown Minneapolis. You can start your brew tour at St. Anthony Main, just north of the Mississippi River and the 3rd Avenue Bridge.
Pracna on Main, opened in 1890, which makes it Minneapolis’ oldest, continually running bar and café. Pracna is located in the old warehouse district at the river’s edge in St. Anthony Main, the riverfront’s Main Street, and Riverwalk, where you’ll find plenty of cafes, terraces and outdoor seating.
Wilde Café & Spirits is just down the street from Pracna on Main. What writer can resist a bar that honors the writing icon Oscar Wilde. The Wilde Café, in a Victorian setting with a black granite bar and an Oscar Wilde-ish name for a classic cocktail, has to be one of my favorites. I’ll have the Dorian Grey Martini, thank you.
But don’t get stuck here, there are more bars to be sampled a few blocks away. (Don’t forget to Uber or Lyft if you need it.)
Frankly, there are simply too many cool bars and brewpubs in this area to list individually, and if I do, I won’t have room for all the other phenomenal establishments in other explore-worthy Minneapolis neighborhoods. There at least 25 craft brew pubs in Minneapolis alone, not counting the burbs or St. Paul. Check out this Top Ten Breweries in Minnesota list for the best of the best.
However, if you’re still playing in “Nordeast” Minneapolis, and if you ever feel like a sip or two while hanging out on a mechanical Ferris wheel tree, there’s Betty Danger’s Country Club, (which it’s not) and her equally unserious counterpart PsychoSuzi’s Motor Lodge only a few blocks away.
We can’t forget the Indeed Brewing Company, 612 Brew, and Dangerous Man, often cited as the best brewery in Minnesota. Most noteworthy at this micro-brewery is the Peanut Butter Porter and Chocolate Milk Stout, my favorite.
Be sure to check out the Bauhaus Brew Labs, where they serve a German-American hybrid beer. We tested this excellent hybrid at the Bauhaus Music Festival last summer.
And not far from Bauhaus, if you’re interested in an apple-infused brew, try the Sociable Cider Werks nearby. And by this time, you definitely need an Uber driver. If you don’t feel like driving from the start, sign up for a Brewery Tour and someone will happily escort you around town to various brew pubs, feed you snacks, regale you with a little local lore, and then return you to your original destination.
Other notable bars, citywide: First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis hits the list for both bars and best music venue; Dakota Jazz Club, also downtown, gets rave reviews; Up-Down Minneapolis, in the Lyn-Lake “Uptown” neighborhood is a blast to the past with a ginormous number of arcade machines and a full bar; Eastlake Brewery and Tavern tucked into the Midtown Global Market has an easy, casual vibe…and they have kombucha.
9. The Minneapolis Music Scene:
Between the live music venues and music festivals, Minneapolis has over 550 music concerts per year. There’s a 99 percent chance you’ll find your favorite musicians playing somewhere. Whether it’s at the opera or rockin’ at First Avenue with its famous “Star Wall,” Minneapolis has you covered seven nights a week.
The high-octane music culture in Minneapolis is a music lover’s dream. No wonder Prince stayed in Minneapolis. Bob Dylan said on his arrival in Minneapolis in 1959 he had no idea it was a rock and roll town. He said he thought the only rock and roll was in Memphis and Shreveport, and in Minneapolis he found a lot of high-voltage groups. “The Twin-cities were surfing rockabilly cranked up to ten.” And it looks like it hasn’t slowed down since…always just a little ahead of its time, like favorite son Prince.
If you like variety, check out Cabooze where you may be introduced to something new via its wide range of shows and diverse line-up of artists. The Shout House, Dueling Pianos invites the audience to submit songs to a pianist who plays and sings your pick, and then…hold on… while the other pianist plays the same song to compete for the most cheers and applause.
The Fine Line Music Café is located in the trendy Warehouse District. An upscale live music venue with an exciting list of national and regional acts. You’ll find big names and local artists ranging from Lady Gaga to The Black Keys.
But there’s no need to go to a fancy music venue to get your tunes in Minneapolis. Here you’ll find regionally and nationally known artists playing during summer months at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minnehaha Park, and various parks citywide. All you need to do is spread a blanket, open that cooler for your beverage of choice, kick back and enjoy the music.
10. The Art Scene:
Art Galleries and Museums – Nowhere will you find a more art-conscious population than in Minneapolis. Minneapolitans eagerly visit the outrageous number of art galleries, the theater, art festivals and long-standing art museums such as the world renowned Institute of Art with its extensive international art collection, the Frederick Weisman Art Museum, the contemporary Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Mill City Museum and The American Swedish Institute.
There’s also a thriving small theater enclave around Dinkytown, the eclectic neighborhood where the University of Minnesota resides, and where Bob Dylan got his start back in 1959. In this neighborhood you’ll find satire, theater in the round…and a few small coffee houses, hold-overs from the hippy/folk era, and lots of college students.
11. The Festivals:
Summer is the busiest season of all in Minneapolis with local festivals happening somewhere most every day throughout the summer. Some of the most fun are:
- The Aquatennial – often called the “Best Days of Summer,” the Minneapolis Aquatennial is an annual outdoor event during the third full week of July to celebrate the city’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Born in 1940, the festival offers a week’s worth of fun events beginning in Loring Park with a 5K race, to the ending torchlight parade and massive fireworks from Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. During the week you’ll find everything from milk-carton boat races to the Aquatennial tennis classic to a blood drive. Fun for the whole family.
- The Uptown Art Fair is a juried fine arts festival with a reputation as one of the most exceptional art fairs in the country, and generally offers something for most budgets. Held in the vibrant and diverse urban Uptown neighborhood at the intersection of West Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, this is a destination all family members can enjoy, especially during the first week in August.
- The Minnesota Fringe Festival in Minneapolis is an annual celebration of theater, dance, improvisation, puppetry, kids’ shows, visual art, and musicals. With over 800 performances in 11 days, the Fringe Festival is the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States.
- Other festivals in the Uptown area include the Uptown Truck Food Festival, Bastille Day, and the annual North Star Bicycle Festival.
- Festival of Colors Fun Run. There’s a fun run for just about everything.
12. Shop ‘Till You Drop:
Mall of America – Okay, technically, not in Minneapolis proper, but is there anyone who hasn’t heard of the largest shopping mall on the continent? The Mall of America, in the Bloomington burb, is four stories tall and built on the site of the old Metropolitan Stadium where the Vikings used to play. More than 530 stores are arranged along three levels of pedestrian walkways, with a fourth level on the east side.
Not only that, the MOA has its own indoor theme park, the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park (formerly Camp Snoopy), with a roller coaster and a thrill ride called Brain Surge.
Downtown Minneapolis Shopping: Downtown consists of five distinct areas: The Northloop and Warehouse District, the Central Business & Theater District, East Town – Mill District Riverfront, Loring Park, and the Nicollet Mall, the main shopping area.
In the 1960s skyways were built throughout downtown Minneapolis, connecting offices and removing pedestrian traffic from the city streets.
Eleven blocks of Nicollet Avenue were closed to car traffic and converted into the Nicollet Mall. Trees, benches and street art were added to continue the park-like green theme throughout the city. Gaviidae Common, on the east side of the 500 and 600 blocks of Nicollet Mall spans two blocks and is an indoor mall housing independent stores, national retailers and designer discount stores.
Also on Nicollet Mall: Crystal Court, in the foyer of the IDS Building, the tallest Skyscraper in Minnesota, has more shops and restaurants. Remember Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat in the air in front of the IDS Building? During the summer, every Thursday and Saturday you’ll find a farmers market (one of five Minneapolis farmers markets) on the streets of Nicollet Mall.
If you’re a sports fan, Minneapolis is the place to visit. From Football to Olympic Games contenders, there’s something for all sports fans. Not only will you find teams in all four professional leagues, MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, you’ll also find collegiate teams in major and small school conferences.
Football – Minneapolis is home to the proud Minnesota Vikings, who came so close to being the first NFL football team to play in its own venue for Superbowl LII. SKOL Minnesota Vikings!
Baseball -The Minnesota Twins last won the pennant in 1991, but die-hard fans are just as faithful as those Cubs fans who waited 100 years for their next win. Next year could be the year. They play their home games at the world class Target Field that offers visitors spectacular views of the Minneapolis skyline and many other amenities.
Hockey – The Minnesota Wild, an NHL team founded in 2000, haven’t appeared at any Stanley Cup finals, but they made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2003. The Minnesota Whitecaps are an all-women’s team that played in the Western Women’s Hockey League . Now independent, the Whitecaps played exhibition games with the National Women’s Hockey League in the 2015–16 season.
Basketball – The Minnesota Lynx are a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team founded in 1999 and play their home games at Target Center, a multi-use arena in downtown Minneapolis. The Lynx have won four WNBA Championships, doing so during 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The Minnesota Timberwolves are Minnesota’s NBA team founded in 1989. They play their home games at Target Center in Minneapolis. The “Wolves” as fans call them, have yet to appear in an NBA Finals series, but they made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2004.
14. The Stone Arch Bridge:
The Stone Arch Bridge, one of the most photographed structures in Minneapolis, is best photographed from the area of St Anthony Main near the riverfront’s oldest bar and restaurant, Pracna on Main, and the University of Minnesota. Summer, winter, spring and fall, daytime or dusk, this is also one of the best views of the Minneapolis skyline.
Built in 1883 by James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railroad, the Stone Arch Bridge spans the Mississippi from one side to the other. In its day, the Great Northern Railroad at its peak carried two tracks into downtown Minneapolis bringing 80 passenger trains a day into Union Station. With the demise of the railroad as a passenger carrier in the 70s, the bridge passed hands over the year with alternate ideas on what to do with it. Finally with a $2 million federal grant for the reuse of historic transportation structures, an agreement was hammered out between the state and the park board to convert the bridge to a pedestrian and bicycle path linking Father Hennepin Bluff Park on the east bank of the river with West River Parkway on the opposite side.
15. The Foshay Tower
Once the tallest building in Minneapolis, the Foshay Tower was designed in the image of the Washington Monument and completed in 1929, just months before the infamous stock market crash in October 1929. Rising 32 floors and 447 feet (136 m) high, plus an antenna mast to make the total height 609 feet (185m) . The Foshay Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and is a great example of the popular Art Deco architecture of the time.
A lifelong dream of Wilbur Foshay, an art student turned businessman and owner of three utility company empires, the tower was planned to house his business and residence on two top floors where a three-bedroom, three-bath suite was built. The apartment included a fireplace and library, Italian marble walls and glass-paneled ceilings. Foshay had a lavish opening of 25,000 guests, including senators and congressman, half-nude dancers, a 19-gun salute, and music provided by John Phillip Sousa. It seems almost tragic that Foshay was never able to live in the residence since it went into receivership in November of 1929 at the start of The Great Depression.
The Foshay Tower was renovated in 2008 and reopened as a dynamic luxury hotel in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. But whether you’re staying at the hotel or not, you can ride the Art Deco elevator to the museum to learn more about the storied history of the tower and Foshay’s infamous feud with John Phillip Sousa. From there, go to the observation deck on top to view the entire city.
Or you can step back in time and head to the 27th floor and the Prohibition Bar, a speakeasy that will give you a taste of what life was like in the 1920s. The bar, originally Wilbur Foshay’s private, full-floor retreat, will seduce you with its Art Deco design, delicious cocktails and breathtaking 360º views of the city.
16. Nicollet Island
Nicollet Island sits smack dab in the center of the Mississippi River so close to St. Anthony Falls that if the movement of the falls hadn’t been stopped in the late 19th century, the island would no longer exist. Originally one of six islands, Nicollet Island is the only one remaining. The other islands have either been destroyed or connected to the east bank. Opened to settlement in 1838, the island is part of the Saint Anthony Falls Historic District, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although it’s now a trendy place to stay with the historic Nicollet Island Inn located on the island, along with three multi-family residential buildings and twenty-two restored Victorian-era houses on the north end of the island, it was not always that way.
For years, the Inn, built in 1893 was a Salvation Army men’s shelter from 1913 to the 1970s, which is how I remember it. While visiting the island this last summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see the renovation of the area. Now, Nicollet Island Park has a promenade with a view of the first dam built on the Mississippi River in 1858, and the elegant Nicollet Island Pavillion is open for hosted events. However, if you’re in the mood for music, the Island is one of the main locations for the Music in the Park summer concert series. What could be better on a balmy summer night than a free concert on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River.
17. Eclectic Neighborhoods
Minneapolis has nearly a dozen unique communities and 84 eclectic neighborhoods within those communities. Each of the areas are explore-worthy for their diverse cultural vibe, restaurants and contemporaneous happenings.
I grew up in South/Southwest Minneapolis, so when visiting, that’s where I usually stay, keeping the southwest lakes, restaurants, bars, shopping, and other attractions within walking distance.
East Isles – On the east side of “Lake of the Isles,” East-Isles has a relaxed feel with tree-lined streets that match the area’s historic yet contemporary vibe. Part of the Minneapolis chain of lakes, the East Isles’ neighborhood runs from Hennepin Avenue on the east to lake shores on the west. Here, serenity awaits as waterways and parks are everywhere. This is green-living at its finest.
Calhoun-Isles – Encompases West Calhoun and Cedar-Isles-Dean. Its lakes, thriving restaurant and arts scene, and walkable neighborhoods make it popular with young and old alike.
East Harriet – my old stomping ground, still a vibrant area with new outdoor cafes, bistros and wine bars popping up everywhere. This is where you’ll find Rincon 38, a superb authentic Spanish tapas restaurant with an extensive selection of wines, and Patisserie 46, the best bakery in town. Victor’s 1959 Café is right next door…and across the street….the Tap Society, a new do-it-yourself brewpub with great food and a wall of taps for you to sample over a dozen craft beers. All are in the Kingfield Neighborhood.
Lynnhurst – Has the highest livability score of all the neighborhoods. Here you’ll find old world charm and contemporary living with plenty of shopping, small boutiques, restaurants, businesses, coffee shops, and retailors.
Boredom Not Allowed
So, are you inspired to visit The Bold North? With three stadiums, river walks, world class theaters, live music venues, and a ridiculous number of shopping and dining options – I promise you won’t be bored. Or, maybe I should say that in Minneapolis, there’s no excuse to be bored. It’s difficult to include all of the best places to visit in Minneapolis, but if you get to half the places on this list you can’t help but be charmed, inspired, and energized. This active community of artists, creators, musicians, foodies, dancers, runners & bikers will always give you something to do. And then, you can just kick back at one of the lakes and enjoy the spectacular sunsets.
And if all that isn’t enough reason why you should visit Minneapolis, check out this fun vlog by Renata Pereira. Or tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll tell you where to find it in this Super City!