Staycation: Minneapolis-St. Paul

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We've wrapped up a Magellan-esque trip back to the American Midwest after mashing our favorite people and things into a quick slice of time. Our last 2 weeks were spent in the Twin Cities metro area, otherwise known as greater Minneapolis-St. Paul. This region is a best-kept American secret; its cold winters dissuade people from finding out that it boasts a stunning spread of urban lakes or that it has the nation's third-largest theater market (behind New York and Chicago). And its location way out in the Midwestern middle of nowhere keeps a lot of that celebrity riff-raff away. It's colorful and cultural (and, yes, sometimes cold), and we love it.

So it sort of felt like we were on a staycation in Minneapolis-St. Paul - even though we don't live there right now. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, here is a small handful of places where we had oodles of fun with family and friends - as always.

Lake Harriet is an urban oasis, and paddle boarding on it is a lovely way to pass the day. My friend Lele has a bum leg (think metal rod) and it's one type of exercise she can actually do right now. We paddled and chatted, drifted and chatted, smiled and paddled in the middle of Minneapolis. 
          Do indulge in ice cream at the pavilion afterwards
          Don't touch the hot-dogs; ours were like smoky pencil erasers

Mickey's Diner in St. Paul is unsurpassed in greasy-spoon revelry, charmingly contained in a vintage Art Deco dining car. It's been featured in numerous TV shows, magazines and movies, but the pocket-change prices and retro booths remain the same. Coach and I agree. (*urp*)
          Do try the pancakes; they're pure maple bliss
          Don't wave the servers over; the place is small and they'll get there


Taprooms have popped all over northeastern Minneapolis in the year we were gone. We visited Indeed and Sociable Ciderworks in friend MarkinMaine's '63 Cadillac and stopped at Fulton and Bauhaus on other nights.
          Do sit outside 'round the fire at Sociable Ciderworks and steal the cool coasters from Bauhaus
          Don't drink and drive. Duh

Uptown Minneapolis might have sold out a bit to Apple and The North Face, but it still offers its mainstay goodies of sidewalk dining, secondhand shops, tattoo parlors, and dive bars, too. We saw a Fringe Fest play at Bryant Lake Bowl on our anniversary, attended the Uptown Art Fair with Ma and Pa W and ate noodles at Moto-I, among other things.
          Do park your car and walk around
          Don't park in the Calhoun Square ramp; it's exorbitant

Cathedral Hill is grand and aptly crowned with the Beaux Arts Cathedral of St. Paul. We're also big fans of its cement-stamped sidewalk poetry, Nina's Coffee Cafe, the YWCA for a workout and the summer patio at W.A. Frost. In fact, this is the area where we own a little condo :) 
          Do donate a book to the Little Free Library outside of Moscow on the Hill restaurant
          Don't pass the Great Harvest Bread Compant without stopping in for a sample

Ma and Pa W's place is in South Suburban Twin Cities. No, we don't advise being a tourist there, but it's certainly special to us! 
          Do eat Pa W's grilled salmon and crab legs
          Don't let Cooper the enormous dog nab your plate off the picnic table

And finally, because there's no way I'll get around to writing about every special staycation place and person in Minneapolis-St. Paul, here are some parting shots of us enjoying the environs with family and friends over the past two weeks :) Thanks, all!


  1. This looks like such a underrated place to visit! But I'm convinced! :) Pancakes in general convince me of pretty much anything! And I can't believe you can actually paddle board in the middle of the city like that!

  2. Yes - who needs New York or LA when you have Minneapolis ;) Thanks for reading, Camila!

  3. Aw, it looks like you had so much fun with your Minnesota crew while you were there! I haven't been back home yet (I know) and I always wonder if it would reaffirm my choice to live abroad or just make me a bit homesick. I'm thinking probably the former, but won't know until next year.
    Your Minnie & St. Paul picks look really great. Next time I'm there visiting family I would love to persuade them towards one of these joints!


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