Trip Report: 48 Hours in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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As I mentioned yesterday, I spent this past weekend in Minneapolis, tagging along for a couple days of sightseeing before my husband attended a work conference.  We got in late Friday night, and my return flight left Monday morning, which means we had just two full days to explore everything the city had to offer.

We started off Monday morning with a walk through Loring Park, a well-manicured park in the center of the city.  A 20-minute stroll through the gardens and over the pedestrian skybridge deposited us at the Walker Art Museum & Sculpture Garden, home to the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry installation (seen above).

We enjoyed the many sculptures the grounds had to offer before heading over to the conservatory area to check out the artist-designed mini golf event.  For $19/person, you can actually play through the works of art, all of which have different unique themes.

ImageThe mini-golf exhibition runs through September 7th, and your ticket also gets you same-day admission to the Walker Art Gallery, where they currently have a travelling exhibit called “International Pop” which features works by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, among others.  That exhibition runs through August 29th.

Our artistic sensibilities fulfilled, we headed back to the city center and over to Brit’s Pub, a British-themed bar and grill on Nicollet Mall with a secret attraction on their rooftop: lawn bowling!

IMG_2487The grass pitch is divided into four “rinks” which are first-come, first-served on the weekends, for a rate of $5 per hour, per bowler. Rules are posted for newbies, and the staff is helpful with questions.  And if lawn bowling isn’t your thing, there are also plenty of other bars up and down Nicollet Mall, happy to wet your whistle.

Later that evening, we headed to what would become my absolute favorite place in all of the Twin Cities: Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge.  Don’t let it fool you, though, the place isn’t a hotel – it’s a tiki bar!

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While the downstairs opens out onto a lovely riverfront deck and has more of a beach-bar vibe, the upstairs is classic 1960s kitsch, and we absolutely loved it.  We had several drinks here, including (at the suggestion of the hubby) one that was on fire…pro-tip: if you like your eyebrows, blow it out before consuming.  And while the drinks were good, the food was also a surprise winner – the fried cheese curds were a delicious local treat.

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When dinner time rolled around, we decided to hit up another classic Minneapolis treasure: Nye’s Polonaise Room.  Again with a nod to the 1960s, Nye’s features a formal dining room decked out with over-stuffed banquets and serving prime rib, as well as the original dive-bar on the side where “The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band” plays on weekends.  While we found the much-hyped traditional Polish food somewhat lacking (pierogies aren’t supposed to be deep-fried…) the martinis and the music made it worth our visit all the same, and we ended our first evening shortly after.

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The hubby in front of the 4-story Lego transformer

The next day, we ventured over to the only real must-visit attraction in the Twin Cities: the illustrious Mall of America. Even if, like us, you’re not a “mall person” there’s still a lot to see here.  We hit up the aquarium, the theme park, and the gigantic Lego sculptures that tower into the food court.

By mid-day, though, our dedication to the “Temple of American Consumerism” was starting to fade, so we hopped on the light rail and headed back to downtown Minneapolis for a quick nap at the hotel.

For our final meal of the weekend, we had made reservations at Piccolo Restaurant, helmed by James Beard Award semifinalist Doug Flicker.  There, we enjoyed several great small plates including this lovely chicken confit:

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With bellies full of great food and great wine, we headed back to the hotel, our 48 hours in Minneapolis coming to a close.  All in all, it was a great weekend, and a nice way to break up the summer tedium.

Tell us about your summer getaways in the comments!

Whitney