How to Spend Two Days in the Twin Cities?
April 12, 2006 7:54 PM   Subscribe

Other than stalking Lileks, what should we do when we're (husband, wife, 13 year-old daughter) in Minneapolis for two days this summer?
posted by baltimore to Travel & Transportation around Minneapolis, MN (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Check out the new Minneapolis Central Library. It has an entire area dedicated to Teens with interesting books and literature, Multimedia, all set in a very fun and funky decor, like no library ever seen before. Architecture done by the firm of Cesar Pelli. It's brand-new, opening at the end of May.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 8:00 PM on April 12, 2006

Which two days? There's all sorts of fun stuff going on in Minneapolis / St. Paul during the summers.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:07 PM on April 12, 2006

The Sculpture Garden is always a safe bet.
posted by jodic at 8:23 PM on April 12, 2006

If those are too highbrow, I cringe but don't forget about the Mall of America.
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:33 PM on April 12, 2006

Eat at Pizza Luce. See a show at Jeune Lune and/or Jungle Theatre. (Guthrie is overrated.) Take a trip to Lake Calhoun or the Falls of St. Anthony. And, of course, there's always MOA.

Have fun in Mpls.
posted by hatsix at 8:38 PM on April 12, 2006

Uptown has some shopping, bars and restaurants if you're into that. Then you can perhaps take a stroll/jog around lake Calhoun.

Oh and there's that mall.... what's it called. Personally I hate it. (On preview, someone already mentioned it).

You should also try and visit the Walker Art Center, outside of which the Sculpture Garden is located.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 8:38 PM on April 12, 2006

Hatsix posted right before me, but I forgot to mention, eat pizza at Punch Neapolitan Pizza, one of the few "authentic" pizza joints outside of Italy, as judged by the Verace Pizza Napoletana assn. Pizza Luce is pretty good, but punch is better.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 8:44 PM on April 12, 2006

The Minnesota Zoo is just south of the TwinCities. Certainly worth a visit.
posted by jlkr at 8:46 PM on April 12, 2006

How about the world's largest shopping mall?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:13 PM on April 12, 2006

I'd say check out the sculpture garden by the Walker Art Center. I just moved here a little less than a year and a half ago, and thought that was reasonably high on the 'hey, nifty' scale.

If you go to Luce, go to the downtown one. I think the pizza is better, and the atmosphere isn't as cramped as the uptown Luce. Galactic Pizza is also delicious! But the seating can be scarce, I've found.
posted by cellphone at 2:41 AM on April 13, 2006

Go embarrass the kid by posing for pictures in front of the Mary Tyler Moore statue (bring a hat), then maybe go embarrass the kid some more by checking out the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. Vacations are for embarrassing your kids.
posted by pracowity at 3:20 AM on April 13, 2006

I vote for Pizza Luce, too. French Meadow Bakery is a notch up, though... And, they have all kinds of organic food. (Organic food seems popular around Minnesota—especially in the Twin Cities. There are a bunch of Co-Op grocery stores, there's a wicked-cool farmer's market in St. Paul, etc.)

There are great chamber groups and other ensembles if you're into classical music. For jazz, check out the , in St. Paul, and The Dakota, in Minneapolis.

Downtown Minneapolis is much different than Uptown—for sites, shopping, people-watching, discovering obscure places with good food, etc.—but they're both fantastic places for such things. The main drag for the Downtown area is Nicollet Ave. And, if the weather's nice and your schedule's flexible enough for this, the Downtown Minneapolis thing can make for a great afternoon-on-the-town / dinner / concert. Orchestra Hall is right next to the 'restauranty' block of Nicollet Ave. The Minnesota Orchestra's Sommerfest is good fun (unless you can't stand it).

Last recommendation: Prairie Home Companion. Get tickets; it's thrilling if you're into that kind of thing.

Oh, and the Science Museum is cool.
posted by Yeomans at 6:00 AM on April 13, 2006

Uggh. I totally botched those jazz links.

Artist's Quarter, in St. Paul.

Dakota, in Minneapolis.
posted by Yeomans at 6:02 AM on April 13, 2006

Seconding suggestions of Zoo, science museum, and questionable medical device museum. All are well worth the time.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:39 AM on April 13, 2006

Scratch that....the questionable medical device museum has been closed.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:41 AM on April 13, 2006

I second all of these suggestions accept the Mall of America, which, frankly, isn't even that special as malls go. Depending on what time of the summer you're here, I'd also recommend renting a canoe to paddle around on Lake Calhoun (it's pretty cheap and easy, and there are canals to connect you to two other lakes). There are also places to rent bikes near Calhoun (which is right next to Uptown, with lots of good eating opportunities), and very good bike paths going aroudn the chain of lakes and along a creek/park beltway that runs across the city to the Mississippi. Good stuff abounds there.

The best place in town just to sit and hang out is the Stonearch Bridge downtown. It's an old rail bridge that's been converted to pedestrian use. You can sit on it and dig what 's left of St. Anthony Falls, a lock to get boats over the falls, a bunch of ruined (and restored) flour mills, downtown Minneapolis, the fairly-cool-looking-from-the-outside new Guthrie Theater, and, more than likely, some geese.
posted by COBRA! at 7:23 AM on April 13, 2006

where are you coming from? If you don't have something more spectacular near your home, you might want to go to the Valleyfair Amusement Park & Whitewater Country Waterpark. As a former 13-year-old Minnesotan, I highly recommend it for hot days. It's down near the zoo, which as others have said, is awesome.

The sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center is the best of all Minneapolis art experiences. Some easy-to-understand things, some more out-there, it's a good combination. Plus they have the giant cherry on the giant spoon.

I still haven't been to the new science museum, but the old one was good and this one is supposed to be 10x better.
posted by whatzit at 7:26 AM on April 13, 2006

Spend an hour or two at the Bryant Lake Bowl. "A bowling alley?" you may think. Ah, but this is no ordinary bowling alley. It has only a few antique lanes (where wackiness is encouraged), and also a restaurant with delicious food, and a theatre that presents comedy and musical entertainment (very little drama when you can hear 'strike!' through the wall). This is an excellent brunch destination and it's kid-friendly, although you may want to double-check the theatre schedule if you decide to see a show - offerings range from kid-specific to NSFK.
posted by hsoltz at 7:54 AM on April 13, 2006

I've always liked trhe como park zoo and conservatory. This zoo is not nearly as big as the other, but it is free (suggested donation admitance).
posted by edgeways at 8:12 AM on April 13, 2006

The Walker, walk around downtown and Uptown either for shopping or just to see the city. If you must make it to the mall, consider checking out the light rail. I haven't had the opportunity to take it but it goes from downtown out to Bloomington.
posted by mikeh at 8:40 AM on April 13, 2006

The Mall of America is just four normal giant malls stuffed together with a middling amusement park in the middle. It can be efficient - jump on the light rail downtown Minneapolis, do a little shopping, eat out, see a movie, and back. Only worth it if you are into shopping (and the teens, oh, they do seem to love it...), and as an excuse to try the light rail, which is still fairly new and shiny and inexpensive.

Another vote for the Walker Sculpture Garden and the MIA. The Walker art museum is free the first Saturday of each month and every Thursday evening, and normally gallery admission is only $8 adults; $6 seniors (65+); $5 student/teen (with ID). It is worth it if you like art, both the Walker and the MIA have excellent collections. Most collections at the MIA are free.

Minneapolis/St. Paul have one of the most extensive networks of parks and greenspaces
in the US. There are great walks by the river, a good destination from downtown Minneapolis. There are nice walking paths around the chain of urban lakes near Uptown, which I'll second as a good shopping destination for more alternative/botique shopping, plus check the Lagoon Cinema and Uptown Theater for less mainstream movie options.

Finally, the City Pages is a good general resource for restaurants and current events.

Minneapolis is a great town, you'll have no problem packing a couple of days as full as you like. Please feel free to email me (email in profile) with questions about anything specific.
posted by nanojath at 9:03 AM on April 13, 2006

Seconding the recommendation to check out City Pages, particularly the Annual Manual.

Children's Theatre Company is Tony award-winning and does an exellent, creative and consistent job. I also like History Theater, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, and Mixed Blood Theater for family-friendly shows. Their seasons may slow down in summer, but there's lots of theater to be found in the Cities, and it's one of the best reasons to visit.

If your daughter's into shopping or people-watching, Calhoun Square and the Uptown area are fun to walk around. Nicollet Mall is also nice for walk/stop/shop/cafe afternoons. NordEast Minneapolis, near University and Central, is also building a charming little shopping/entertainment district. It's near Saint Anthony Main and a pretty park/bridge. Lake Street and Mercado Central have lots of cool little shops and great Mexican food.

Minnehaha Park is beautiful, and it's a quick stop off light rail. The Midtown or Saint Paul Farmer's Markets are lots of fun in the summer. "Eat Street" is Nicollet Avenue in Whittier, and it's full of neat markets, cafes, and tiny pho shops or Mexican restaurants.

And don't forget to try local restaurants: Lucia's, Barbette, Everest on Grand, King & I Thai, for example.

Have fun!
posted by hamster at 10:10 AM on April 13, 2006

Check out this thread on MNspeak
The Rake magazine has an online list of events. It's especially good for art galleries. Check them out, especially in NE Mpls.
posted by tbartel at 5:47 AM on April 14, 2006

IMHO, one thing that makes these Twin Cities distinct is the incredible access to nature within a relatively dense urban area. As a result, I'd recommend:

- Renting a kayak at Lake Calhoun in Uptown, and paddle up through Lake of Isles to Cedar Lake.

- In the alternative, I believe you could rent bicycles at Minnehaha Falls Park and bike up Minnehaha Creek to the chain of lakes.

If you like art, it's hard to go wrong with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and/or the Walker. (f you go to the Walker, check out the Sculpture Garden and maybe one of the restaurants across the footbridge in Loring Park.

If you want to shop, I'd recommend Uptown / 50th & France / Edina (Galleria) over the Mall, which is really pretty generic.

As far as food goes, there are countless exciting, interesting restaurants on University Avenue in Saint Paul and Nicollet Avenue (a/k/a "Eat Street") in Minneapolis.

Finally, depending on your family's interests, you could consider music. There are often free outdoor concerts. Or you could go to First Avenue, and see the club that Prince made famous (well, for non-Minnesnowtans) in Purple Rain.

Have fun.
posted by subgenius at 8:10 AM on April 14, 2006

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