Marcus and I have been wanting to check out another metropolis not far from home, Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota. We had the chance this past summer, and decided to bring along some friends to make the trip even better. Our main objective for this trip wasn’t as much about seeing the city as it was going to Mall of America for the first time. After getting to Minnesota, however, we found we really liked the city and spent the weekend fitting in like locals! Museums, dining and some unexpected fun make for a great summer weekend getaway.
Mill City Museum
One of our friends on the trip is a history teacher, so the Mill City Museum was a must-stop for us. We took the full tour which gave a very detailed look that the history and legacy of Minneapolis and it’s flour mills. Located in an old mill, the tour featured an enlightening video, a ride in an elevator shaft and a tour through what remained of the mill and it’s machinery. At the end of the tour we got to stand out on a balcony with a spectacular view of the river and bridge, one of Minneapolis and St. Paul’s iconic scenes.
Science Museum of Minnesota
Marcus and I tend to gravitate towards museums on our trips and we were happy to see St. Paul has the Science Museum of Minnesota. Although we had gone to another science museum in Chicago, Minnesota seemed to have a more hands-on approach to their museum. We certainly didn’t misjudge on that aspect and I was thrilled that not only did we learn some neat things about Physics, Ecology and Dinosaurs, but there were live talks by museum staff, tons of activities, special museum exhibits and did I mention the Dinosaurs? We had a great time here and although we won’t need to be back any time soon, I do highly recommend a visit, especially if you have inquisitive children. In an environment like that, Marcus fit right in.
Mall of America
The original inspiration for this trip was a visit to the Mall of America. I had never been there and as I do love shopping, it seemed the perfect reason to spend a weekend in Minnesota. We spent an entire day here, wandering around three floors with over 500 stores. Honestly, I think we were all underwhelmed. So many of the stores were duplicated, and triplicated and almost all were name brand corporate shops that I could find back home. We did find a few interesting places: a small game shop, Nordstrom Rack, and Cinnabon, which made me quite happy. A decent train ride from our hotel, this was a pretty full day of walking and browsing. If we ever go again, I will need to bring more money, and leave the husband to his own things.
Cathedral of St. Paul
We stopped at the Cathedral of St. Paul because as we were driving by, we though. ” Why not?.” It’s a jewel that can be seen for miles with it’s beautiful copper dome and stained glass Rose window. I am really glad we decided to stop here as the architecture is amazing and the cathedral really has powerful presence. The history and significance, being the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul, the third largest church in the US, and the fourth tallest, makes this cathedral a place anyone visiting St. Paul and Minneapolis should consider.
Aquatennial Celebration (fireworks)
This is part of the trip that I think yielded the most fun, and we didn’t even know it was happening! Our hotel was a few blocks from the Mississippi River, and we had a blast watching the Aquatennial Celebration fireworks on Saturday night. We sat down by the Stone Arch Bridge with several thousand Minnesotans and watched a spectacular fireworks display. Live music and carnival food helped to give this evening event a home-town feel and afterwards, we just wandered back to our hotel and hit the hay!
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
I always feel like I’m dragging Marcus around to look at Art, but I just want to see those amazing things for myself! We decided to hit up the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on our way of out town Sunday afternoon. I’ve always wanted to see “Spoonbridge and Cherry”, and we finally got there! The garden also has “Standing Glass Fish” by Frank Gehry, the Architect behind The Guggenheim in New York City and many other amazing buildings. The gardens are free admission and the tour is self-guided. We had a pleasant time here and it was a nice way to stretch out our legs before the long drive back home.
Hotel: The Depot Renaissance
The Depot was an interesting hotel, ordinary in it’s rooms, but the feel of the lobby and the interior of the hotel itself were very up-scale. There is a bar and dining downstairs, which we didn’t partake in, but it was nice to have the option. The hotel was a couple blocks walk from both the Mississippi River and a train stop. The neighborhood was nice and we took a few walks down to the Stone Bridge, farmer’s market and restaurants.
Where Did We Eat?
- LouAnn’s Restaurant- Great diner food, we stopping for Sunday morning breakfast
- Anchor Fish & Chips- Amazing Fish Fry!
- Kokomo’s Island Cafe- In Mall of America
- Mill City Farmer’s Market- Nothing beats a Farmer’s Market breakfast.
- EagleBolt Bar- We stopped here for some bar food and beer.
- Great Waters Brewing Company- In downtown St. Paul