One of my first posts ever on this blog was called Nine Reasons To Go To Milwaukee which I started by saying:
Before my most recent trip to check out my brother’s new home, anyone that I told I was going to Milwaukee all had the same response: Why?
Leading up to Minnesota was no different. As everyone was packing their Labor Day bags for the shore, I was packing mine for the midwest and anyone I told couldn’t seem to understand why. Well I’ll tell you why! It’s because over the past couple of years, everyone I love the most in my life keeps uprooting and hauling ass half way across the country, that’s why! But there’s been a silver lining. I’ve gotten to visit a whole bunch of awesome places that I never would have, had my friends and family not completely abandoned me.
Shortly after my best friend Vanna got married back in 2011, she and her husband Brian moved to his hometown of Minneapolis. Having let two years go by without a visit, I was coming dangerously close to being replaced as her BFF. God knows I hate to lose at anything. So me and our other closest friends (Jeff, Jackie and Denise) all piled onto an airplane and took off for the “Land Of 10,000 Lakes” to make sure that my status as “Best Friend Forever” remained unscathed!
At least that’s how I saw it. It’s possible they were just on vacation. At any rate, we had such a good time I had to share my findings with you. So for all of those people who wanted to know “Why?” I was going to Minneapolis, here are nine reasons:
#1 The Grand Hotel Minneapolis
I’ve never been one to spend money on fancy hand bags or shoes. I kind of hate shopping in general. The two things I do drop cash on though tend to be travel and booze, so when I’m on vacation, I splurge a bit on my accommodations. The Grand Hotel Minneapolis was worth the extra dough (and I’m only talking like $150 a night vs. the $75 it would have cost to stay at the Best Western). Our room was huge and even had a TV in the bath tub that I never watched.
Plus, it’s a Kimpton Hotel so they give you all kinds of fun little extras like fancy bathrobes and a yoga mat with a twenty four hour yoga channel. That way you can do yoga for six minutes before remembering that you’re on vacation and you should probably just head to the bar. Speaking of which, all Kimpton Hotels have a cocktail hour at five o’ clock where they offer you free wine in the lobby.
There are also bikes available if you feel like going for a ride. Just whatever you do, don’t bring your firearm onto the treadmill with you. Mmm-kay?
#2 Nice Ride
The bikes at the hotel were both out but that wasn’t a problem because Minneapolis has the Nice Ride bike share program. You can pay $6 for a twenty-four hour period as long as you don’t take longer than half an hour to ride from one station to the next. Having to look up where all the different stops were was a great way to get familiar with the city. We came across all kinds of cool stuff.
This is the Mississippi River. I had no idea they had one of these in Minnesota.
We had to climb down and dip our toes in.
You can get into some real Tom Sawyer type shit if you meander enough. I’m not sure that this is what the Nice Ride people had in mind when they decided to give the public access to bicycles but that didn’t stop Jeff from peddling over this rickety bridge.
At one point we heard cheering off in the distance, so we rode towards it and came across this football game. You get to see a lot more on a bicycle than in a car or on foot so I think this may be my move in new cities from now on.
#3 This Girl
This is Kristin. She’s a server at The Astor Cafe. I love Kristin because she’s super friendly, extremely knowledgable about the menu and showed up at all the right times. I’ve noticed a considerable drop off in service over the last number of years, so when I find someone who is fantastic at their job, I make it a point to visit them on a regular basis. Things usually get awkward after I misinterpret the nature of our relationship and ask to be on their volleyball team (happened in Brooklyn a month ago) so it’s a good thing I don’t live in Minneapolis, because Kristin is totally the type of girl I would want to make my friend.
On Saturdays they have a bluegrass brunch and you can sit outside and have a really pretty view of the trees and even kind of see the city. The food was really good too, but I didn’t take a picture of that because I’m not a jerk-off.
#4 The Lake
If there’s ten thousand things that Minnesota has, it’s lakes. We didn’t manage to get to all of them but we did make a trip to Lake Calhoun to rent various flotation devices and splash around in the water. You can take out all kinds of things like paddle boards and kayaks but we opted for peddle boats and a canoe.
We even had music to listen to.
#5 The Mall Of America
So the whole time leading up to our trip, Jeff and I were all We’re definitely going to the Mall of America, right!? anytime we were on the phone with Vanna. However, we were kind of saying it in a dickish way just to reiterate how clueless we were about everything else Minnesota has to offer (nice friends huh?) but ho-leee shit. I have never had so much fun in a mall before!
They have an amusement park right smack in the middle of it. For thirty bucks you can get an all day pass and go on as many rides as you want. There were hardly any lines, so we got to go on over and over again which made me completely ill for three hours after we left. Seems like poetic justice after all the shit we gave Vanna before arriving.
#6 Gay 90s
I’ve been reading a book on advertising that says your message is most effective when stated clearly, yet briefly. They must be onto something because no two words have ever made me want to go to a place more than “Gay” and “90s”. Unfortunately, because everyone in our group is eight hundred-years-old, we were too tired from all of our day excursions to make it there on any of the weekend nights when they have six different bars to choose from and a number of drags shows. However we did manage to stop in on what we thought was our last night there (more on that later) for a quick drink. Only one room was open and they were hosting a karaoke night but the next time I find myself in Minneapolis, hitting up the Gay 90’s on a Saturday will be at the top of my list.
#7 The State Fair
I’ve never been to anything quite like the Minnesota State Fair. While there are many attractions, including rides, various animals and vegetables the size of monster trucks, it seemed to me that the core objective while there, was to see how many fried foods on a stick you could ingest before collapsing of a massive coronary. Turns out it’s a lot. Here is a list of things that I ate while at the state fair:
However, as I stated earlier, there were other things to do. One of the most fun was our hotel’s Minnesota State Fair Bingo.
We thought this was going to take all day but after being there for around six minutes, we pretty much had every box checked off. This is how shit went down:
If you can make it to the end without throwing up or stroking out, do a celebratory jig like me and Jackie.
#8 Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
This post would have been called Seven Reasons To Go To Minneapolis had our flight home not been cancelled but the morning we were supposed to be leaving, we found out that we would be staying an extra day. No worries! Jeff and I biked over to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where they have this giant cherry on a spoon. But that’s not all! They also have a mini golf course designed by a number of different artists as well as this weird depth perception box.
#9 Brit’s Pub
Finally, if you’re looking for a beautiful outdoor space to have some beers in and perhaps do a little lawn bowling, you should head over to Brit’s Pub for a drink.
In fact, for somewhere that gets so cold in the winter, Minneapolis has quite a few bars and restaurants with substantial outdoor space. I get the feeling that Minnesotans make the most of any time they get to spend outside, because apparently the crisper months here bare a striking resemblance to the most grueling scenes in March of the Penguins. So if you ever find yourself in the Gopher State, you’ll want to check out all of these super fun things. Just make sure you do it between May and October.