We're heading to Minneapolis! What should we do?
June 8, 2013 8:28 PM   Subscribe

So my BFF and I have five days in Minneapolis, two of which we're spending at an educational conference (Yay FlipCon13!) in Stillwater. Hope us eat well AND have fun in Minnesota!

Maybe helpful details:
--This is our first time hanging out in person. We are cross-country team-teachers and spend a lot of time on Google Hangout (think 15-20 hours a week on GHO and on the phone) so having some things to go out and do together will be good in case it's a little awkward to be in the same room at the same time. This is also kind of a special occasion for us, because it was through a previous year's conference that we originally met.
--I'm gluten free, and he should be. So it'd be nice to find some good gluten free options. Money isn't a super huge deal (he's getting per diem and I have some money saved for this), and we'll probably want a decent meal at least once. But casual cheap-ish restaurant suggestions are helpful. We both like good food, and will eat most cuisines.
--We're both pretty flexible, although we aren't huge on crowds, shopping, or paying a lot of money to go somewhere (like a zoo or theme park or something). We have considered driving to the border of South Dakota so we can say we've been to another state. Yes, we're weird. He's in to sports, but I'm not, so that's probably out too.
--We will have a rental car and are staying in Hudson, WI.
--We already know that we'll be going to get a tattoo at Uptown Tattoo, and seeing the new Gatsby movie. Beyond that, we're in town Sunday morning (a week from tomorrow) through Thursday afternoon. The conference is 9-3 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thanks everyone! I'm so excited for this trip, and to see the hivemind's suggestions!
posted by guster4lovers to Travel & Transportation around Minneapolis, MN (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're working in Stillwater and staying in Hudson, then Minneapolis proper is a long-ass drive for you. I strongly suggest you avoid that drive, which would entail whipping right by the many attractions Saint Paul has to offer this lovely time of year.

Speaking of long drives, I've been to the South Dakota border and back by car, several times. I do not recommend the trip.

So: Time to kill in Saint Paul! I'm afraid I don't know for Gluten-free options but most of these places should have something excellent for you.

Eat at Ward 6 on Payne Avenue for a locally sourced gourmet meal and excellent original cocktails.

Or maybe step up to a truly gourmet experience at dine at Strip Club.. I've had great steaks in Manhattan, Vegas and Palm Beach, and they were nothing compared to the Filet at Strip Club.

For a more casual experience, go to the Bymore Tacqueria, also on Payne Avenue (right next door to Ward 6). Real latin food prepared by real latin americans. Try the Burrito, the Enchilada, or the Quesadilla. All are excellent and made fresh from scratch.

All these are true local treasures. I know and love this city inside and out. MeMail me if you have more specific questions.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 8:57 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you read the Betsy-Tacy books, Mankato is 90 minutes away by car.
posted by brujita at 9:03 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Uptown will be fun. Even on a weekday, if it's nice out there will be thousands and thousands of people at Lake Calhoun. But it really is close to an hour's drive from Hudson, once you negotiate some pretty extreme traffic and find a place to park.

Stillwater is a major tourist attraction in itself -- it's a cute small town with a lot of old fashioned shops and a beautiful riverfront. It's enough of a tourist attraction that finding a parking spot downtown will be a challenge on a nice summer day.

Como Park is on vaguely that side of town and always has something interesting going on -- restaurants, gardens, big old houses, that kind of thing. And it has a free zoo.
posted by miyabo at 9:48 PM on June 8, 2013

When I visited Minneapolis a couple years ago I really enjoyed Al's Breakfast. Definitely an atmosphere I haven't seen anywhere else, not for the claustrophobic. They played through the entire Miseducation of Lauryn Hill while the proprietor sang along and chatted with us while cooking.
posted by domnit at 10:11 PM on June 8, 2013

I fully agree with domnit about Al's Breakfast. It's unusual, to say the least.

I also really enjoyed a visit to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center. I was dragged there kicking and screaming by my wife because a few other family members had spoken so highly of it, but it was simply fascinating to see such a variety of large birds up close.
posted by imjustsaying at 3:25 AM on June 9, 2013

As far as gluten free you could try The Good Earth (this person snapped a shot of the menu) in Roseville. It can get busy, though (sorry, I don't know if they do reservations).
posted by starman at 5:21 AM on June 9, 2013

Oh god no - don't drive to South Dakota! There are all sorts of fun things to do in Stillwater, St. Paul & Minneapolis; you don't want to waste your time sitting in a car staring at nothing but flat land as far as the eye can see.

Drive north to St. Croix Falls, WI, and go to The Vegetarian. Delicious, gluten-free Indian food. Then go walk around the park in Taylors Falls (across the river in MN) and have a nice walk in a beautiful park on the river.

I went on a riverboat cruise in Stillwater & it was nice. The food was average buffet stuff (and I'm not sure if anything would be gluten-free, but you could call. I requested a vegetarian option when we made reservations.) Mostly, though, it was a pretty cruise down the river on a beautiful sunny day. We had drinks, listened to the live Dixieland band, & talked.
posted by belladonna at 6:29 AM on June 9, 2013

A couple of places with gluten free options (Disclaimer: I'm not gluten free. Hard Times is the only one I've been to with someone gluten free.):
Hard Times (Yelp, as they have no website. Cash only. Read the Yelp reviews as some people find it really off-putting. One of few places near campus you can have lunch for less than $5.)
Seward Cafe (less grungy than Hard Times and serves meat; now open late)
Pizza Luce does gluten free pizza and has a bunch of locations.
The Seward Co-op has a really good salad bar if you're in Minneapolis and stuck for food.

If either of you knit or crochet (or spin, I think), Darn Knit Anyway in Stillwater is a good yarn shop.

It is obligatory in an AskMe about Minneapolis that I mention I kind of hate Uptown, particularly when it's crowded (often). If you want to do the walking around a lake thing, Lake Como in Como Park in St Paul is nice. However, there's a fair bit of state park along the St Croix that you might as well go to if you're not deeply invested in walking around something.
posted by hoyland at 6:32 AM on June 9, 2013

OK, for other leisure activities, you could visit the world-class Cathedral of Saint Paul, built in the early days of the City's history with help from rail baron James J. Hill. Take a free guided tour at the State Capitol building. Walk around Lake Como or Lake Phalen. You have picked a beautiful time of year to visit the Twin Cities area - enjoy your time here!
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:15 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with hoyland that Uptown can be kind of a drag, not to mention far away as others have said. But if you do have your heart set on going to Uptown Tattoo for your ink, I recommend popping down to the coffee shop below it, Bob's Java Hut. Catch it at the right time, and you can do some great people-watching: it's a biker joint, and you'll see a lot of grizzled dudes in leather and fringes. Quite an atmosphere!

Oh, and just up the street from Uptown Tattoo on the corner of Lyndale and 26th is Common Roots Café, which is fairly reasonably priced (for being all organic, local, etc.) and appears to have a rotating gluten-free menu (though that particular one looks to be from April).
posted by honey wheat at 9:37 AM on June 9, 2013

If you wanted to take a little road trip, Duluth would be a shorter and infinitely more fun trip than going to the South Dakota border. You could kill an afternoon strolling along Lake Superior on the lakewalk, watching the ore boats go under the lift bridge, and checking out the maritme museum and lighthouses- all zero cost.

But as others have pointed out there's a lot of beautiful places to explore close to Stillwater as well. Have fun!
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 10:51 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

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