Growing up in Fargo (yes, like the movie), I spent a lot of time in Minneapolis. The closest big city was home to family, special events, and back-to-school shopping; and, truth be told, I was not a fan. In fact, I swore I’d never live there. Fast forward 15 years, and I ate my words. After calling Minne home for a year and a half, I found my share of hidden gems.
Since it’s quickly becoming a travel nurse hub (don’t let the cold weather deter you), I thought I’d put together a few of my favorite spots.
Food and Drink
- The Lynhall is one of my favorite spots, partially because of the vibe, partially because of the menu. The brunch bundle is unbeatable - a coffee/tea, a pastry, an entree, and a brunch cocktail for $25!
- Copper Hen is the best for boozy brunch - bottomless mimosas and honestly some of my favorite brunch food.
- French Meadow has a huge variety on their menu.
- HenHouse is the epitome of “Minnesota nice.” They’ve got a homestyle menu and have been known to give out free cinnamon rolls if you show up at the end of the day.
- Spoon & Stable is a little on the fancier side, but absolutely glorious.
- Sushi Fix is a hole-in-the wall place like all the best are, but gets rave reviews.
- Red Rabbit is a favorite spot for girls’ nights or groups - Italian food and lots of easy-to-share dishes.
- The 5-8 Club or Matt’s Bar for a “juicy Lucy” - a burger with the cheese in the middle. There’s a decades-long debate over which place was the original…but you can’t go wrong with either.
- MN Nice Cream has the most fun and colorful soft-serve creations you’ll ever see in your life…all topped with edible glitter.
- I’m not ashamed to say I visited Milkjam Creamery probably once a month since I lived so close.
- Lala Homemade Ice Cream is home to the best brownie sandwich I’ve ever had, as well as some of the best homemade soda floats you’ll ever find.
- Izzy’s is a classic and always topped with a mini scoop - grab a double scoop then take a stroll by the riverfront.
- Once again, the Lynhall (see above).
- Spyhouse is a local favorite. There are multiple locations, but my shop of choice is in Northeast.
- Fairgrounds is new to the Twin Cities from Chicago. They have coffee on tap and swings at the end of their bar and both of those things make me quite happy.
- Cafe Astoria is on the St Paul side, but their beautiful lattes are worth the drive - think rainbows and gold flakes.
- Prohibition gets you a 26th-floor view of downtown.
- If distilleries are your thing, Norseman is the way to go. Try their strawberry-rhubarb gin gimlet.
- Stella’s is my favorite rooftop in the summer.
- Tullibee at the Hewing Hotel has a fancy vibe and is walking distance to plenty of food and drinks.
- Taylor’s Falls, MN is the spot for the outdoorsman - hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter, and beautiful leaf peeping in the fall.
- Stillwater/Hudson are cities sitting on the MN/WI border. Both cute little river towns with lots of hidden gems!
- Excelsior is on one of the bays of Lake Minnetonka, and has great food and shops in the most adorable downtown ever.
- Wayzata is also on Lake Minnetonka - similar vibe as Excelsior, different side of the lake.
- “Up North” refers to any one of a number of cities north of Minneapolis. Crowd favorites are Duluth, Two Harbors, and Grand Marais - all beautiful towns seated on the northern side of Lake Superior.
- This is where I insert a shameless plug for Fargo. Partially to say you’ve been there, partially because they’ve done a lot of work downtown, and partially because I will always have a soft spot for my hometown.
- Madison, WI is a super fun college town on a lake with a bunch of unique, locally-sourced restaurants. Make sure to eat all the cheese curds.
- If you want to ruffle some feathers, head over to Green Bay to buy some Packers gear. All kidding aside, Door County, just north of Green Bay, is full of quaint lakeside towns… the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway.
- The Mall of America is something you maybe should experience, if for no other reason to say than you went on a rollercoaster inside of a mall.
- The Walker Art Center has cool art as well as great views of downtown and is next to the Sculpture Garden - stop by for a photo of the cherry spoon.
- Tour the Mill City Museum, which was once the world’s largest flour mill.
- The Science Museum can easily occupy a day, and they also host “Science Socials” for ages 21+ if you’d rather not battle crowds of kids.
- Visit all of the lakes! The Chain of Lakes (consisting of Harriet, Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar) is within the city - rent a paddle board and go exploring. Calhoun, Isles, and Cedar are connected, so you get a three-for-one!
- Medicine Lake is larger and allows motorized boats.
- Lake Minnetonka’s “Big Island” is often the site of massive boat parties.
- You can walk across the Stone Arch Bridge to peek at the skyline. (Late nights are my favorite; that way, I don’t have to share the view.)
- Minnehaha Falls is beautiful, but the frozen falls are even more so. The park itself has plenty of walking trails as well.
I would be remiss not to mention the Minnesota State Fair. Known as the “Great Minnesota Get Together,” you’ll find some of the state’s best exhibits (the “birthing barn” is a crowd favorite), food (hotdish on a stick is a must-try), and people-watching here for the two weeks before Labor Day each year.
Minneapolis is one of the dog-friendliest cities I’ve come across! Lots of breweries allow your well-behaved furry friends inside, so they still have options to get out of the house in the winter.
- Peek at the list on Sidewalk Dog to find one near you.
- Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park is a pooch’s heaven alongside the river, but it’s huge and wooded so make sure yours is a good listener.
- A group called Dogs of MSP holds monthly meet-ups for dog-loving humans - check one out and make some new friends!
This should be a good start for your explorations during your travel nurse assignment in Minneapolis. Have fun and see you out there!
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