Minneapolis, Minnesota is best known as being the city of ten thousand lakes surrounded by up and coming industrial districts and exquisite skyscrapers, along with a melting pot of world-class dining and music royalty’s greatest legacy. Check out this short travel guide and figure out the best ways to spend time in this mid-western city.
Perhaps made famous by a certain popstar, Minneapolis is rapidly becoming one of the hottest destinations in the world, with a booming food scene and plenty to do, guests can indulge in hearty Midwest fare and local craft beer – or take a highly recommended trip to Prince’s personal home and colorful playground, Paisley Park.
From there you can hop across the pond and head to the city’s booming city center: a buzzing, friendly metropolis of music, art and history that will keep your days busy and your nights late. From the dark corners of notorious jazz clubs and fancy steakhouses of downtown, to the museum-filled university district and famous suburb that houses Prince’s famous house-compound and now museum, your dollar will stretch here much farther than in other major US cities.
After years of being somewhat cast in the shadows of the likes of NYC and Chicago, the Minnesotan city (one half of the Twin Cities – the other being the adjacent St. Paul) lays claim to some of the states’ most highly invested-in sports stadiums and art museums such as the Minnesota Vikings’ home ground, the U.S. Bank Stadium, and the revered contemporary art museum The Walker. The latter has just this month reopened the newly restored must-see, Sculpture Garden. Shop till you drop at the US’ largest shopping center, the Mall of America – which even has its own newly appointed poet-in-residence.
What makes this city so special? The openness. That is, the expanse of the streets, the warehouse buildings that are being turned into trendy cafes and hip hotels, many of which have a view of one of Minneapolis’ vast waters. This is a city in which you can really relax and breathe, all while taking in a vibrant energy of artistic and artisanal growth – a lot of artists, musicians and small businesses have set up studios here due to the lower rental costs and sea of opportunity surges throughout the city.
Jump on the light rail from the airport when you arrive and get a glimpse places like Minnehaha while on the way to Downtown Central. Once you are there the first thing you’ll see stepping off the light rail is a giant mural of Bob Dylan, staring down at you near Nicollet Ave and Mall. Dotted around the city are an abundance of tremendous lakes where you can take boat rides or water ski and swim, making for a fun trip during the summer.
Party like it’s 1999
It’s a place with one striking feature you can’t escape: a local legacy that’s arguably one of the most inspiring across America. Minneapolis was the lifelong home to a person who sought to defy prejudice with songs and a style that was representative of a diverse and free-thinking modern future – Prince is still kept very much alive here today, after his untimely passing in 2016. Make time for the Purple Rain singer, and start with a bus tour with Captain Randy, a lively and hilarious guide who will show you Prince’s old stomping grounds. En route to Paisley Park, stock up on vinyls at his old favorite record shop, Electric Fetus and check out the famous old Capri Theater where he played his first show. You might find an amazing young gospel choir in rehearsal today. At your final destination, you can experience enlightening personal tours of the icon’s astonishing vault of costumes and instruments, an enormous sound stage and much more in his sprawling futuristic-looking glimmering white home in nearby Chanhassen. Prince would host impromptu public concerts both at his home and in town, so pay your respects with a night of dancing. After dark, head for drinks at the Foshay and any of the fantastic dive bars along Hennepin, before letting your hair down at First Avenue, the still-poppin’ since 1970 danceteria where Purple Rain was filmed and where all ages, sexes and colors come together to get loose on the dance floor. For a more sophisticated affair, reserve a table at Dakota Jazz Club, where Prince was seen watching a band on his second to last night alive. A table remains reserved for him with a bunch of lilacs.
You’ll notice a lot of hearty, beautiful, locally-sourced produced on your table at dinner (though it’s recommended you reserve more stomach space for brunch, the most popular and decadent meal of the day – especially if you’re on holiday). Enjoy Friday Fish Fry at Red Stag Supper club, or sample their epically delicious breakfast corned beef hash and sweet potato pancakes. Get your Irish fix with a Wake-Up Beer: stout with a shot of espresso. Another great dining spot any time of day is the Oscar Wilde themed Wilde Roast Cafe (decorated with his favorite peacock wallpaper). For dinner, nothing beats Murray’s, stunning classic downtown steakhouse to the stars, complete with cozy booths, heavy silver cutlery and slick but friendly family-run service since 1946. Order their famous garlic toast, orange seared scallops, fillet mignon medium rare with spinach and potatoes and a slither of their notorious family recipe raspberry pie. Wash down your decadence with a dry martini, a Malbec and a house port.
Ten thousand lakes, ten thousand winks
If chic, glamorous and super professional but with an unpretentious Midwestern edge sounds about right, book yourself a suite at the brand-new AC Marriott Downtown. Complete with a light, airy lobby filled with coffee table books and a well stocked bar – tended to by a very dapper tuxedoed mixologist – and floor to ceiling glass windows, huge flat screens and rainforest showers in every bedroom (plus a fully-equipped gym) you couldn’t wish for a higher example of how hospitality is done. Hewing Hotel is without a doubt the best boutique lodgings in the North Loop, one the city’s fastest-developing neighborhoods. With less rooms than the Marriott and a more Scandinavian design-led aesthetic, the exposed brick and timber interiors make this a traditional-feeling stay. You can ride their custom-made bikes around town and the hotel is dog friendly – we know azureazure readers love their pets. ■