Minneapolis is a city that deserves a deeper exploration. A place of parks, lakes and heavy-hitting cultural institutions, it’s cleaved in two by the glistening ribbon of the Mississippi River. Explore more, and you’ll unearth a wealth of big city attractions and al fresco fun.
AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE
Immigration, and the vibrant culture and understanding it brings, is the reason why this museum is such a life-affirming place. The great Swedish exodus in the latter half of the 19th century is responsible for shaping much of modern Minnesota’s character and culture, and it’s lovingly explored in this handsome building. (2600 Park Avenue)
Borne from the city‘s best loved food truck, this real world (aka, stationery) new venture takes the same recipe of slow roasted cuts of beef, fiery Latin sauces, party-starting cocktails and brings it to a smart, wood and steel eatery. Reassuringly, the homemade chorizo is as good as ever.
3501 Nicollet Ave
The best place in the city for cards, books, prints and graphically minded goodness. Greater Goods stocks designs from around the world, but there’s a definite Midwest touch to their most popular prints of birch forest and lake and huge empty skies.
Sometimes, a dive bar is just what the doctor ordered. And when that moment arrives, beat a path to the dependable Uptown stalwart, Liquor Lyles. Cheap drinks, friendly locals, massive selection of local beers. What more do you need? Don’t dress up.
St Paul, the ‘other twin’ of the Twin Cities, is where Minneapolis unwinds, undoes its collar and takes time to appreciate the finer things in life. The capital city of Minnesota, St Paul’s restored 19th century civic buildings, its laid-back charm and its small-town vibe are the backdrop for a refreshingly cosmopolitan array of attractions.
PUBLIC Kitchen + Bar
Overlooking Mears Park, PUBLIC kitchen + bar comfortably settles in the old Noyes & Cutler Building, once home to the Wood’s Chocolate Factory, now it’s an assured and loungey restaurant which morphs seamlessly into a cocktail joint after dinner’s over.
Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar
Another venue with a mild case of personality disorder is the wonderful Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar. By day, a simply brilliant coffee shop, Black Dog exchanges caffeine for cocktails as the sun sets, and the BPM of the soundtrack steps up a gear. It’s a likeable and affordable place to hang out. Its menu is simple bistro staples, and all the more enjoyable for it (308 E Prince Street). The Cuban sandwiches are worth the trip alone.
The Bulldog Lowertown
If beer’s more your thing, Bulldog should be on your Lowertown hit list. Open til 2, this big screen-sport loving shrine to real ales and hot dogs is as uncomplicated, and as fun, as it gets. Serves food til 2am, too (237 6th St E Saint Paul) Try the homemade meatloaf.
Heartland celebrates organically grown food from local farmers. The menus reflect what’s in season, but they always put Midwest regional cuisine centre stage (289 E. 5th St).
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
About as far removed from down home Midwest cooking is the assured and authentic Tanpopo Noodle Shop – whether to-go or eat-in, this is fabulous fine food, Japanese-style (308 Prince Street).
Buzzing until the small hours, Barrio’s lip smacking cocktails take the heat off the fiery latin-inspired tapas (235 E 6th Street), while Camp Bar keeps the party swinging (490 Robert St N) and less glitzy, but perhaps more fun, Turf Bar (1601 University Ave W) welcomes those about to rock.
For shopping thrills, head to the vibrant Saint Paul’s Farmers’ Market (fresh food, live music, local crafts (daily, apart from Mondays – 290 5th St E.), Three Sisters Eclectic Arts – jewellery, clothing, art and ceramics (Jax Building, 253 E. Fourth St).
And the artists’ studios at the industrious Northern Warehouse (250 Third Avenue North) and the lofts at Tilsner buildings (300 Broadway St).
Want a bit of Midwestern-style clothing? Head to the delightfully old school Leather Works. Here, they’ll make you up an apron, weekend bag or belt in next to no time (308 E Prince St).