Oh Minneapolis, how I adore thee. Widely recognized for its local arts scene and bike-friendly nature, the “Mini Apple” also boasts some of the nation’s best restaurants, bars, and breweries. It’s an eclectic, lively cosmopolitan full of high energy during the summer months—the ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
Sure, being a Minnesota native may mean I am a little biased, but you don’t just have to take my word for it! Travel + Leisure Magazine mentioned Minneapolis as one of the best cities to travel to this summer, so take some inspiration from this local’s guide and get planning! (Be sure to stick around until the end for my giveaway details—a weekend in Minneapolis for two may be nearer to your future than you think!)
WHAT TO DO
LIVE THE LAKE LIFE
As the Land of 10,000 Lakes (15,291 to be exact), the best place to kick-off your Minneapolis adventure is on the water. You can fish, canoe, sail, paddle, and swim in freshwater all with the city’s skyline in view. Stand-up paddling has become a popular activity on Lake Calhoun and along the Mississippi River, while locals love to hit the beach at Lake Nokomis. There is even a floating library on Cedar Lake that offers free poetry readings from canoes!
If you prefer to stay dry, there are plenty of activities surrounding the lakes, including live music over at the Harriet Bandshell (on Lake Harriet), and trails for hiking, jogging and bicycling that circle Lake of the Isles.
Speaking of biking, given the reputation Minneapolis has for it’s cycling culture means there are a variety of creative ways to see the city by bike. Explore the street art scene with a graffiti tour, or ride past beautiful buildings on an architecture tour downtown. Alternatively, the Art Al Fresco Tour takes riders to see different outdoor art installations while Fit Tourist tours keeps your heart racing and simultaneously showcases the city’s hot-spots. Bike to Beer takes you to the newest microbreweries of Minneapolis and the PedalPub leisurely leads tours through downtown while you simultaneously sip on craft taps.
After spending the day pedaling, catch a baseball game at Target Field, home to the Minnesota Twins. The stadium has been mentioned as the most modern venue to enjoy America’s favorite pastime and, being just blocks away from the famed 1st Avenue (both the music venue and nightlife main street,) is one of the most urban ballparks in the Major Leagues. Baseball just wouldn’t be baseball without a hot dog so fill up on my favorite ballpark bratwursts from Kramarczuk Sausage Company and load ’em up with sauerkraut, fried onions and mustard!
SUPPORT THE ARTS
Minneapolis ranks high as one of the most artistic cities in the U.S., and with a quick walk around town it’s easy to see why.
Get your mornings started with a little breakfast and produce shopping over at the Mill City Farmers Market. Local sustainable farmers and artisans promote healthy living with their wide variety of products that not only support an alternative food system but give back to the community. It’s a fascinating marketplace to try everything from mint charmoula to squid-ink ramen (all organic, of course.) The market is wedged between the Mill City Museum, a historic flour mill that offers concerts and a summer opera series from the building’ iconic ruins, and the Guthrie Theater, currently performing South Pacific and soon to be featuring Sense and Sensibility.
The Uptown Art Fair (August 7-9) takes over Lake Street with over 350 painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists showcasing their best work. If you’re looking for ceramics, jewelry or any other specialty pieces local to Minnesota, this is the place to find it.
Dancers, poets, musicians and magicians have their own festival, too! This year from July 30-August 9, performers seize the opportunity to entertain you for an hour each at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. The event focuses on live stage performance and encourages artists of all ages to participate.
WHERE TO EAT
Minneapolis is becoming one of the nation’s best foodie scenes and has award after award to prove it! People are quick to think hotdish and Lutefisk, but our culinary scene has much more to offer than the stereotypical lefse and SPAM.
The 2016 James Beard Foundation “Best Chef of the Midwest” is cooking up some deliciously refined dishes, and paying homage to Minnesota’s Nordic heritage with each plate over at The Bachelor Farmer. Chef Paul Berglund’s cooking at this eco-conscious café focuses on locally-sourced ingredients and features dishes that highlight the vegetables and herbs growing on the restaurant’s rooftop farm.
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the farm-to-table eatery Spoon and Stable, and for good reason. This 2015 “Restaurant of the Year” also features a James Beard award-winning chef whose cuisine focuses on “the seasonality of the Midwest, and the roots of local culture,” as described on their website. If you can only go just once, make it brunch.
Every year, locals vote their favorite hamburgers as the juicy lucys from Blue Door Pub. Known as the “Blucy,” these cheese-filled burgers are also stuffed with peanut butter and come smothered with your favorite choice of sauce. (I can’t even get into how amazing is their basket of tater tots.) It’s a true local original!
During the summer months sidewalks flood with patio dining and outdoor seating in downtown Minneapolis, especially down the famed Nicollet Mall. Diners can enjoy their favorite restaurants with a street view, but I suggest you take outdoor dining to a whole new level—the roof! My go-to dinner with a view is at Stella’s Fish Café & Oyster Bar, but the new 4 Bells (serving southern-inspired dishes) and CRAVE (sushi and American cuisine) are also great choices.
A LA ‘CART’
Street food is one of my favorite ways to experience local flavors wherever I travel, so all hail to the food trucks that have have taken the streets by storm to serve up some curbside flavor. There are over 135 trucks serving everything from falafels and empanadas to grilled cheese and tater tot concoctions, so there is undoubtedly something for everyone! Hola Arepa is my go-to truck for Latin flavors and Rusty Taco is numero uno when it comes to Tex-Mex (their shrimp tacos are heavenly!) As evidenced by block-long lines, locals love the lobster rolls of the Smack Shack and Fro Yo Soul for something sweet.
WHERE TO STAY
Enjoy the excitement of downtown without the chaos of sleeping in the city by staying at the Minneapolis West Country Inn & Suites. Avoiding the hassle of traffic and noise is your best bet for a good night’s rest, and this affordable option is located a convenient 15 minutes from downtown.
After a multimillion-dollar renovation, the sleek new design of Minneapolis West is contemporary, fresh, and clean. The decor is modern, yet the hotel maintains the cozy feel of the Country Inns I remember from family road trips long ago.
Each of the rooms are equipped with free high-speed Internet and the hotel features an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, lending library, and a fabulous breakfast buffet (fresh waffle bar, anyone?) making this an easy choice for your home away from home.
The outdoor bonfire pits are a hotel highlight, offering up a great place to unwind under the stars after a long day of sightseeing and exploring Minneapolis. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
WIN A GETAWAY
We are giving away a FREE, two-night stay (for two!) at ANY Country Inn & Suites in the United States and Canada! Enter to win the opportunity to get away this summer by following these easy steps:
- Visit Country Inn & Suites by Carlson and check out the list of all their locations. (If you live in Minnesota and the greater Midwest, I highly suggest you head straight to the stunning Minneapolis West page!)
- Get a feel for your favorite amenities and features available across the nation.
- Let me know in the comment section below your favorite features of the hotel and where you would like to stay if you win! (Your email will NOT be published or visible when you leave a comment.)
- Share the Facebook post below and spread the word about the #CountryInns getaway giveaway!