Is there a large shopping/strolling/dining area in Minneapolis-St. Paul?
July 29, 2013 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Visiting the Twin Cities in a few weeks with my girlfriend. She'd like to check out some walkable shopping districts with a vibrant, dense mix of stores and places to eat. But does this exist on a somewhat-large scale?

Off the top of my head examples from other cities would be Virginia-Highland in Atlanta, Blvd St-Laurent in Montreal, Pike/Pine in Seattle, Atlantic Ave or Smith St in Brooklyn, and Magazine St in New Orleans. Basically we want a neighborhood, a district, or a long stretch of street that has lots of small clothing stores, boutiques, antique/vintage shops, restaurants & cafes, gift shops, odd specialty stores, bookshops, galleries… you get the idea.

I grew up in the Cities but haven't lived there since the 90s. Fifteen years ago Uptown probably fit the bill, but my impression is that it's now mostly chain-type stores you'd find in any mall. I love the Cities and I know there are plenty of interesting shops and great places to eat around town, but they seem scattered across the metro area or found in little pockets here and there such as Linden Hills, Lyn-Lake or parts of Grand Ave. The Warehouse District in the vicinity of Bachelor Farmer seems like it should be chock full of cool stuff, but no. Midtown Global Market is great, but it's summer and we want to be out strolling the sidewalks.

If Nordeast is the place to go, is there a concentration of cool stuff on a particular block or two? Is there any charming "shopping/strolling/eating district" that doesn't have a 1:1 ratio of parking lots to storefronts? Or, should we just enjoy some of the great little neighborhood areas that abound? if we are to visit multiple small pockets of the Cities, which ones would you recommend?
posted by theory to Shopping (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

or if you are feeling daring:
posted by bobdow at 3:06 PM on July 29, 2013

Best answer: Northeast is most likely fits the bill. You can easily find parking and all these shops are within walking distance of each other

Food (not an exhaustive list but places I like)
- Masu
- Gorkha Palace
- Bulldog NE
- Punch Pizza
- Red Stag
- Mac's Industrial

Specialty food/booze
- Surdyk's Wine and Cheese
- Kramarczuk's

- I like You!
- Bibelot
- Baltic Imports
- T Lee Fine Jewelry
- Pacifier
- Bone Adventure

- City Salvage
- FindFurnish

- Parc Boutique
- GH2
- Key North

- Midway Contemporary Art
posted by mlo at 3:39 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's not the biggest area, but Selby-Dale and Cathedral Hill might fit the bill. It's gentrified a lot since the 90s, and has a number of good restaurants, bars and unique shops. Starting at the intersection of Selby & Dale and heading East, you have:

Mississippi Market - a pretty nice co-op
Muddy Pig - a great bar known for their craft beer
Black Blue - a clothing store (men's & women's)
Primp - an affordable women's clothing boutique
Mango Thai - a good Thai restaurant
Great Harvest Bread Co. - a decent bakery
Cheeky Monkey Deli - a cheap lunch/dinner spot with a great patio
Solo Vino - a great wine shop
The Happy Gnome - a gastropub with wide variety of beers
Nina's Coffee Cafe - yummy coffee shop
Common Goods Books - a great bookshop in the basement of Nina's
W.A. Frost - my favorite place to sit outside and enjoy a cocktail
Moscow on the Hill - a Russian restaurant with a great patio and delicious drinks

Summit Ave could be a good fit too, but has a lot more chain shops. It's still a fun area to wander though and pop in and out of stores and restaurants.
posted by JannaK at 4:50 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: While a ton of things have changed since the 90's, one thing that hasn't is the fact that the Twin Cities are essentially a giant sprawl that edges into Wisconsin.

Uptown and oddly enough, 50th and France have to had a semi-renaissance over the past couple years, especially on the dining front. The restaurant scene has exploded over the last couple years. Eat Street has the best food, but Nicollet is still a skosh dicey to my old ass.

If you're looking for more walking and less shopping, I'd start on Grand Ave. somewhere western, Prior if you're feeling ambitious, Snelling or Lexington if not. Walk east, stop in at a branch of the aforementioned Bibelot Shop, the whole Victoria intersection has exploded, albeit in a mall-y sort of way, yet still has some fun shops, I love Chef's.

Stop off for a cone at the Grand old Creamery, or if you're hungry stop in to Brasa, have a Surly. If you're in the mood for one of the longest displays of Victorian architecture on the planet, walk over to Summit and take it back.

Or maybe I can let you into the one thing that has changed since the '90s. Holy effin crap, everybody rides bikes now, it's like China in the '70s. You can rent one, go somewhere near a drop off point and just drop it off. You could do some serious riding and shopping.

Either way, welcome back.
posted by Sphinx at 5:38 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, when I said Summit as an alternate option, I really meant Grand. Oops! Between Snelling and Dale is my favorite part of Grand, but YMMV.
posted by JannaK at 5:45 PM on July 29, 2013

Both Grand and Northeast should be good for this, with Northeast being better (and, oddly, those are two neighborhoods I lived in during the 90s. Northeast has risen. Grand has mallified, almost to the point of Uptown at times).
posted by kaszeta at 8:53 PM on July 29, 2013

Best answer: When people talk about living in Northeast, they usually mean everything north of the Mississippi until you hit Columbia Heights or St. Anthony. But when people talk about strolling/shopping/eating in Northeast, they basically mean the 4-5 blocks adjacent to the Mississippi between 1st Ave NE and maybe 5th Ave SE. I usually call it "Upper St. Anthony main" or "Near Nordeast," but I'm probably the only one. It includes the lovely list that mlo made above, as well as famous polka bar Nye's Polonaise Room. There are also several restaurants (my favorite being Wilde Roast) along SE Main Street facing the river.

If that's not enough walking/shopping for you, walk south along the river. There's a narrow, grassy park with paved pathways that's gorgeous. Then cross the river on the no-vehicles Stone Arch Bridge, which will get you great views of downtown, the crazy architecture of the Guthrie theater, the ruins of old flour mills, the 35W bridge that replaced the one that fell down, and maybe even a boat going through the lock and dam. Once you're on the downtown side of the river, the Guthrie has a cool museum-y gift shop and you can go out on the "Endless Bridge," that balcony that juts out toward the river. If you're there on a Sunday, the Mill City Farmer's Market will be running, with lots of great food trucks to snack from. There are a handful of other shops and restaurants in that area between the river and Washington Ave. You can walk back north on the downtown side of the river and then cross to where you started on the Hennepin Ave bridge.
posted by vytae at 8:32 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all, especially mlo & JannaK for your painstakingly crafted lists!
posted by theory at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2013

Don't forget Dinkytown, and the Wedge (cluster of retail not really connected to Uptown). But really Uptown itself isn't so bad, it actually reminds me of Pike/Pine in Seattle.
posted by miyabo at 7:18 PM on July 30, 2013

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