You’ve probably been sleeping on the Twin Cities, but it’s not really your fault.
Admittedly, Minneapolis and St. Paul are lacking a lot of the key ingredients that make for an obvious vacation destination. They don’t have palm trees or ocean views or night clubs that draw bachelorette parties from around the world. But what they do have is duality — and lots and lots of lakes.
The Twin Cities has something for every kind of traveller. Hot weather and (v) cold weather. Bountiful outdoor activities balanced out by one of the largest indoor shopping centers in the country. Restaurants that range from fast-casual to fancy. Even your most frugal friend will dig the idea of a visit to the Twin Cities, because seriously, who doesn’t like a BOGO?!
Convinced yet? Read on and plan your MSP adventure!
Although it falls in the budget category, don’t be fooled: St. Paul’s Hotel 340 doesn’t skimp on luxury. Ornate four-post beds and mahogany accents give the space a cozy, vintage feel while the hotel’s location in the same building as the Saint Paul Athletic Club means guests can workout (and join in group fitness classes!) for free. Also, free is the continental breakfast included in your stay. Score!
Once again, this gorgeous, towering hotel in downtown St. Paul gets you a lot of bang for your buck without compromising on the lux details. Known for hosting high-profile guests — including past presidents! — The St. Paul Hotel pays homage to its history with traditional touches including tufted armchairs and writing desks. This hotel feels particularly magical during the holidays when nearby Rice Park is illuminated by dozens of decorated trees.
If the word ‘hotel’ still draws to mind images of weirdly patterned carpet, bland artwork, and a plastic-y feeling comforter, prepare to be seriously impressed by the Emery in Minneapolis. Here, everything from the food stocking the mini fridge to the plant-filled lobby has been carefully curated for maximum enjoyment. Oh, and speaking of the lobby, it also houses a Spyhouse Coffee outpost and Giulia, an Italian eatery where you can get mozzarella hand-pulled right at your table. Yes, please!
If the main item on your Twin Cities agenda is shopping at the Mall of America (no shame in that game!), the Radisson Blu MOA is just about as close as you can get to perfection, seeing that it is literally attached to the mall. Another perk of the Radisson’s unbeatable proximity to all of the mall’s attractions is how close it is to the MOA light rail stops — meaning you’re a 30-minute ride from downtown Minneapolis and 90 minutes from downtown St. Paul.
Although we said the Twin Cities weren’t exactly tropical, we never said that a trip here couldn’t be an island getaway! Nicollet Island Inn sits on an actual island in the middle of the Mississippi River and is only a few minutes walk to downtown Minneapolis by bridge. This tiny inn has lots of sweet touches from crystal chandeliers and Victornian accents to the teal flower boxes adorning each window. You can even get afternoon tea at the Inn’s on-site restaurant!
Sashay your way downtown to The Foshay for a stay in this four-star hotel. Not only can you enjoy spa services from the comfort of your art deco-inspired room and enjoy an amazing dinner at Manny’s Steakhouse, but you’re also only an elevator ride away from Minneapolis’ answer to NYC’s Top of the Rock (and Instagram hot spot!) the 30th Floor Observation Deck. (Pro tip: even if you don’t stay at The Foshay, you can still catch a birds-eye-view of downtown at the Observation Deck for $10.)
If you’re the type that likes to be totally immersed in the culture of wherever you are visiting, Hewing Hotel is your best bet. Every detail of this restored warehouse — from the Faribault Woolen Mill blankets on beds to the locally-sourced art hanging on the walls — is infused with Minnesotan charm. Another major selling point is Hewing’s rooftop lounge and sauna which are open year-round. And, in the off chance you’ll ever want to leave your room, you have all the excitement of Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood right out your front door.
With its killer playlist, minimalistic-meets-moody aesthetic and locations scattered throughout all of the TC’s trendiest neighborhoods, Spyhouse is so hip it almost hurts. Although all the house-roasted coffee drinks here are top-notch, the stand-out is the honey and lavender Spygirl latte, which tastes just as good as it will look gracing your Instagram feed.
Cafe Astoria may look pretty inconspicuous at first glance, but the drinks it serves up will have you doing a double take. The St. Paul shop started gaining popularity after whipping up a 24k latte featuring gold foil on top. Today, cafe-goers can choose from dozens of unique drinks featuring a multitude of OTT adornments like rainbow latte art and edible flowers. Hungry? Cafe Astoria has that covered with smoothie bowls, crepes, and salads.
Let’s be real: half the fun of going to a coffee shop is in admiring its aesthetic. Penny’s Coffee in downtown Minneapolis definitely delivers on that front with its super-high ceilings, huuuuge windows, all-marble decor, and pink neon logo. And just in case you weren’t already convinced to move in, just wait until you peep the menu’s huge selection of customizable coffee classics and all-day breakfast faves.
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The 5-8 Club is celebrating “5-8 Day” with food and drink specials this week on Wednesday, May 8th🔥🍔🤟🏻🍟🍺🔥. ____________________________________________________________ In honor of 5-8 Day, the 5-8 Club will feature a $5 classic hamburger or cheeseburger (single patty hamburger or cheeseburger from the classics menu; fries included, coleslaw is extra) and an $8 burger plus a drink special (regular tap beer, glass of wine or well drink). This special will be at all four 5-8 locations (the Minneapolis location has beer and wine only). Aside from the Mpls location, there are 5-8 Clubs in Champlin, Maplewood, and West St. Paul. Go check out @58club this Wednesday for a yummy and affordable meal! • • Pictured here is the $5 cheeseburger special & the Juicy Lucy roadhouse burger 💯💪🏻 #burger #sponsored #foodporn #mnfoodie #eeeeeats #supportlocal #eatdrinkdishmpls #tryitordiet #onlyinmn #devourpower #minnstagramers #eatingfortheinsta #instayum #treatyoself 🍔 🖤 🍟 🍔 🖤 🍟 >> #bestfoodtwincities #foodgasm #yelpmsp #nomnom #alwayseating #forkyeah #eattheworld #foodstagram #zipkick #dailyfoodfeed #feedyoursoull #instafood #foodblogger #foodilysm #minneapolisfoodie #foodphotography
When it comes to the local delicacy that is the cheese-stuffed Jucy Lucy burger, two Twin Cities eateries have some pretty serious beef. Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club both claim to be the home of this Minnesota classic. While we can’t divulge who made the first, we do know that the real winner in all of this is you, because you have the perfect excuse to try two burgers.
After a long day of Minnesota Nice, it doesn’t get much better than digging into some Naughty Greek. Everything at St. Paul’s two Naughty Greek locations is never-touched-a-freezer fresh from the pita plates to the deep fried eggplant and zucchini. Oh, and do NOT leave the Cities without trying the heavily seasoned, feta-topped Naughty Fries because #vacation.
Yes, you can find Surly at liquor stores across the region, but even cracking open a nice cold can of Furious pales in comparison to an IRL visit to this self-described ‘destination brewery.’ Tucked away behind the University of Minnesota campus, Surly is the perfect place to relax around a fire with a drink, take a brewery tour, or grab a slice of ‘za from the upstairs pizzeria.
Who would’ve thought you had to venture so far North to get some of the best Southern soul food of your life? Seriously, just wait until you get a taste of Brasa faves like gravy-covered pulled chicken, cheddar grits, and beans with smoked brisket. Not only is it all SO. GOOD. but you’ll still leave feeling comfortably full — not stuffed — meaning you can continue your day without feeling the overwhelming urge to change into sweatpants and nap.
Say hi to one of the city’s most fun new dining options. Situated in the Northeast Arts District, this Southeast Asian restaurant fits right in with the neighborhood’s funky, eclectic vibe with street food-inspired options like build-your-own lettuce wraps and sesame biscuits with coconut cream and pork gravy. Oh yeah, and alcoholic slushies!
Betty Danger’s Country Club isn’t a regular country club… it’s a cool country club. Seriously, how many places do you know where you can order potato-chip-crusted fried chicken or ride on a ferris wheel while waiting for a bartender to whip up your neon pink prickly pear margarita or play mini golf on a course built around a dining room?
We love the fact that Young Joni dishes up some of the best high-end food in the Twin Cities while still remaining super chill. This Northeast hotspot specializes in shareables and wood-fired cooking (you can ever order pizza!), so bring your buds and come hungry.
While any opportunity to visit the North Loop’s Spoon and Stable is a good one, try your darndest to make it here for weekend brunch. Not only is this French-inspired restaurant’s menu teeming with options ranging from savory to sweet, but you can also order the restaurant’s crème de la crème: the crepe cake.
Between its meat-filled menu and top-shelf liquor offerings, we have a strong feeling that this Minneapolis steakhouse would get Ron Swanson’s stamp of approval. Of course, even those of us who don’t identify with Parks and Rec’s main man will find plenty to love about Butcher & the Boar from its dog-friendly beer garden to the delectable selection of post-meal pastries.
Question: what’s better than one scoop of ice cream? Answer: even more ice cream. Izzy’s Ice Cream knows how to give the people what they want in the form of an Izzy scoop, a sample-sized bonus-scooped plunked right on top of your regular order. In addition to smelling like waffle cone heaven, Izzy’s also has an auto-updating menu so you can drool over the options here long after your vacation is over.
Exploring a city’s doughnut offerings is a subjective, time-intensive process. Unfortunately, since this is a weekend guide and not a month-long eating tour (which sounds amazing TBH) you probs won’t have time to try every doughnut in the TC. You do, however, have time to stop at Bogart’s to try the Brown Butter-Glazed doughnut. And the Vanilla Bean Buttercream-Filled doughnut. And the Nutell — actually, you might as well just get one of each and thank us later.
If the beautiful, beautiful idea of a half-pound cookie doesn’t bring a tear to your eye — or at least convince you to include T-Rex in your travel itinerary — we’re not sure what will. We highly recommend snagging this treat at the Minneapolis Farmers Market, but beware: one bite of the bestselling Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Chip will raise the bar for every other cookie you eat.
Shop at Mall of America
Mall of America is a bit polarizing amongst locals. Some love the convenience of having every store they can imagine in the same place, while others disdain the crowds and the struggle of finding a parking spot. But whatever side you fall on, there’s no denying that the fifth largest mall in the country is pretty dang impressive. Whether you want to shop ’til you drop at the mall’s 500-plus stores (no sales tax on clothes, baby!), scope out the indoor amusement park Nickelodeon Universe, or get your steps in while engaging in some quality people watching, MOA is a can’t-miss Minnesota experience.
Check out one of the 10,000+ lakes
Even if you know next to nothing about Minnesota, you’re probably aware that 1. it gets cold 2. there is an abundance of lakes. (Did you know Minnesota has more shoreline than California and Hawaii combined. Wild!) That being said, no trip to the Land of 10,000 Lakes (11,842, to be exact!) would be complete without heading to Uptown’s Chain of Lakes Regional Park to stroll, kayak, paddleboard, or swim.
Pay homage to Minnesota’s music scene
A major point of pride amongst Minnesotans is the music scene. Want to scope it out yourself? Visitors can take a tour of Prince’s former home, Paisley Park, snap a selfie in front of the massive rainbow mural of hometown hero Bob Dylan in downtown Minneapolis, or catch a show at the star-studded First Avenue.
Snap an Insta pic at the Sculpture Garden
Art and the outdoors converge at this iconic Minneapolis destination. Nestled across the street from the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is an 11-acre park/gallery housing nearly 40 pieces of public art including the cherry on top of any visit to Minnesota: a peek at the giant sculptural fountain Spoonbridge and Cherry.
Catch the best skyline view from Stone Arch Bridge
Some of the best views of the skyline can be found by crossing the Stone Arch, a one-time railroad bridge connecting downtown Minneapolis with the historic Saint Anthony Main neighborhood. There’s plenty to do on both sides of the bridge. On the downtown side, explore Guthrie Theatre and stop at Mill City Museum for some history on Minnesota’s flour-milling past. On the Saint Anthony Main side, take in river views while eating at one of the restaurants lining Main Street.
Rock down to Summit Avenue
Calling all history buffs! If you appreciate the architecture of yore, you’ll love Summit Avenue where you can ooh and aah over the longest stretch of Victorian homes in the whole U.S. of A. On your trip down memory lane, make a stop at Summit Overlook Park for stunning views of St. Paul. Head a bit farther and you’ll be next to the Cathedral of St. Paul!
Go chasing waterfalls
Waterfalls are cool wherever they are, but Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Falls deserves its own shoutout for being absolutely stunning year-round. While it’s fun to see the falls roaring in the summer, it is incredible to see them turn into a giant blue icicle in the winter. Want to make a day of it? The area surrounding the Falls offers plenty to do including hiking, biking, and grabbing a bite to eat at Sea Salt Eatery.
Catch a sporting event
Fun fact: the Twin Cities is one of only 13 American metros with all four major pro sports — meaning you can cheer on the Timberwolves at Target Center, catch the Wild at Xcel Energy Center, watch the Twins at Target Field, or see the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. But that’s not all! The Cities is also home to the Minnesota United FC and have plenty of non-professional sports options ranging from Saints baseball to the Minnesota RollerGirls.
No list of things to do in the Twin Cities would be complete without mentioning the multitude of museums you can explore. Popular attractions include the Minnesota History Center, Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Looking for something a little more zany? Check out the Twin City Model Railroad Museum, The Bakken Museum, or the aforementioned Mill City Museum.