Maxing Out in Minneapolis – Things to see and do
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Mill City Museum (612-341-7555, 704 South Second St., admission adults/students $8/6, open 10 a.m.â€“5 p.m. Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat, 10 a.m.â€“9 p.m. Thurs, Noonâ€“5 p.m. Sun). This recently completed tribute to Minneapolis’ “Mill City” era is housed in the ruins of the historic Washburn A Mill on West Mississippi River Parkway. The museum features a “multi-sensory, interactive journey” through the local flour milling industry and its contribution to the development of Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (612-870-3131, 2400 Third Avenue South, www.artsmia.org, admission free, open 10am-5pm Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thurs, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun, closed Mon). The MIA is the larger, more accessible counterpart to the nearby trendy and snooty, but still awesome Walker Art Center, not only in that admission is free and the offerings are more varied, but best of all it’s directly across the street from the Minneapolis International Hostel! The cavernous space can simultaneously accommodate a multitude of temporary and permanent exhibitions from a plethora of genres and you don’t feel like you should be holding a $14 glass of wine as you make your rounds.
The Science Museum of Minnesota (800-221-9444, 120 West Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, www.smm.org, admission exhibits/Omnitheater $8.50/7.50, open 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monâ€“Sat, noon-5 p.m. Sun). OK, yes this is in St. Paul, but anyone hauling around an inner-child geek will be glad they made the extra effort. Oversized, exciting exhibits that dabble in electricity, robotics, paleontology and the elements will make you forget yourself and shove the (other) children aside so you can have your own go. If that weren’t enough, the mother of all over-stimulations is waiting for you in the gigantic, dome-screened Omnitheater for a brain-frying ride of audio/visual nirvana.
Visit www.minneapolis.org for a dizzying list of local activities.
Walking/biking/blading Minneapolis boasts the only national scenic byway located entirely within an urban area. This winding, uninterrupted series of lakes, parks, creeks, parkways and the vast Mississippi River Boulevard offers quiet soothing escape from the urban buzz while providing a pleasant, green conduit to points all over the city. Calhoun Bike Rental (612-827-8231, 1622 West Lake St.) rents bikes and rollerblades for $7.50 an hour or $25 for a full day.
Downtown Skyway The bulk of the central downtown area is connected by a second level, “Skyway” labyrinth that allows people to travel for seven miles without sticking a toe outdoors during inclement weather. People who plan their lives meticulously, arranging to live, work and shop all within these boundaries, can conceivably go weeks without facing the elements. This may sound like a Gerbil Habitrail Hell of sorts to some, but after a few weeks of February weather in Minneapolis, I’m confident just about everyone could find the appeal of this lifestyle. Even with the Skyway being above ground, allowing glimpses of the streets and surrounding areas during each street cross-over, it’s quite easy to lose your bearings. Dazed Hennepin County Hospital patients, in slippers and open-backed gowns, pulling IV stands have been found wandering in Neiman Marcus, 10 blocks away.
First Avenue (612-332-1775, 701 First Avenue North, www.first-avenue.com). This is Minneapolis’ answer to CBGB, with the bragging rights of having hosted just about every great band to ever come through the Twin Cities. This place has 35 years of music excellence behind it, not to mention an unhinged dance club (admission $3 9 p.m.-11 p.m.; $6 11 p.m.-close). Any self-respecting music lover should pay homage.
Live Theatre: Minneapolis is second only to New York in live theatre seats per capita. The flagship of this community is The Guthrie Theater (toll-free 1-877-44STAGE, 725 Vineland Place). Their productions are world renowned, regularly featuring high profile guest actors. Equally superb are Theater de la Jeune Lune (612-333-6200, 105 North First Street, www.jeunelune.org) and The Jungle Theater (612-822-7063, 2951 Lyndale Ave South www.jungletheater.com). Day-of rush tickets and student discounts are widely available.
Minneapolis Farmer’s Market (612-333-1718, 312 East Lyndale Ave. North, www.mplsfarmersmarket.com). This is Minnesota’s largest open-air, covered market. The Lyndale Ave. market is open seven days a week, three seasons a year, 6 a.m.-1 p.m. The abbreviated downtown Nicollet Mall Thursday Market (mostly flowers, fruit and vegetables) is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m.
The Mall of America If you’re simply looking for a single absorbing day indoors, rather than a whole lifestyle a la the Skyway, the omnipresent fallback is the Mall of America, easily accessible from downtown by light rail. There are 520 stores housed under this massive roof, making it the largest mall in the country and soon-to-be the largest mall in the world. Just to give you a sense of what that means for your imminent shopping opportunities; if you resolved to spend two minutes in every store in the entire mall, it would take you over 17 hours to complete your goal. Just to simply walk past all the storefronts at an easy pace would take you nearly two hours. Additionally, there are more than 50 dining options within the mall. Chose from over 30 different eateries in two food courts or take time out for a proper sit-down meal in one of the 20 full service restaurants like the Rainforest CafÃ© or Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Factor in the 36 specialty food stores like Krispy Kream Doughnuts, Starbucks and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and you will seriously consider renting one of the mall’s wheelchairs to get yourself back out to your car. Feeling overwhelmed yet? If not, consider this: Planning for the mall’s phase II expansion is well under way. When completed, it will add an additional 5.7 million square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment possibilities to the Mall of America. That’s more than double the size of the current mall. Don’t worry, it’s OK to cry.