Reasons Why You Should Travel To Minneapolis
When an East Coast girl announces she’s visiting the Midwest, you’re expected to receive a lot of mixed looks. Excitedly, I told everyone that I was heading to Minneapolis and would watch their heads tilt with genuine confusion wanting to share the excitement, but their eyes were saying, why?
YES! Can’t wait to experience a new state.
Well it’s that attitude that stops you from exploring something new. I’m convinced I will have an amazing time.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was going to walk into. Through the grapevine you hear;
There isn’t much out there.
Isn’t it cold?
I wouldn’t expect much diversity.
It’s a flyover state.
Didn’t your mothers tell you not to listen to what others have to say?
Let me share with you what I discovered and what I deem to be a more authentic voice for this beautiful city.
Before the trip began I had worked alongside the wonderful people at Meet Minneapolis. Their site is full of insider suggestions covering events, food to eat, and places to stay.
You know GOAL likes to stray away from the expected tourist sites, so I was thoroughly impressed by the unique options they recommended. I quickly realized that my two days will not be enough time to see it all, but I was motivated to see as much as possible. Big thanks to their guidance!
The Culture of Minneapolis
Midwesterners are known to be friendly, and I can confirm this is accurate. You are greeted by everyone that passes by. They make eye contact and smile, they say hello on the bike path, provide chipper voices behind the cash register. It was a breath of fresh air coming from the east coast, where we feel that everyone and everything is a nuisance.
From the get-go, everyone I interacted with was very helpful. The manager at the AC hotel not only provided me with directions but left her post to escort me outside and point out directions with landmarks. My bartender suggested websites to look into to find out what was new and exciting in the downtown area. My uber drive opened the car door for me. These little things seem to be second nature for the Midwesterner, but to us from the East, that’s hard to come by.
My initial thought was I was going to be witnessing a lot of cowboy hats, jeans, and flannel shirts.
Couldn’t have been any further from the truth. I had no idea how big a melting pot Minneapolis was. What I quickly discovered is that Minnesota has the most refugees per capita in the US. They proudly open their arms knowing the refugees help boost their economy and diversify the state. Non-profits in the area help sponsor them, get them on their feet again, find housing, and provide legal help. Refugees are quickly realizing the hospitality offered in Minnesota. Because of this, one can expect the areas they concentrate to provide restaurants and stores of various flavors.
I witnessed much of this in the Midtown Global Market, packed with international foods and gifts. The center food court provides live music, like the Irish duo & families I watched dancing around. On a rainy Saturday, I witnessed lines of people ready to indulge in spicy Indian cuisine, Moroccan flavors, Dutch, and more. I couldn’t help but find myself immersed in a world of colorful Tibetan dresses.
The Nature of Minneapolis
Minneapolis is a broad city with various areas to dive into; the West End, the North East, Downtown, etc. Any area I stumbled upon, was a pleasantly well-kept. The streets of the city are extremely clean. The architecture provides a playful mix of old and new throughout the city. You will have classic brick buildings turned into small breweries next to a new condominium with a bright, minimalist design. The juxtaposition made for a colorful feel.
On my first day of exploration, I rented a bike to cover as much ground as possible. Like most cities, they offer a city bike option that I started with in the upper North East End, traveled alongside the Mississippi and crossed over into downtown. Pedaling around took me through three parks: Boom Island Park, Gold Medal Park, & Mill Ruins Park. How beautifully green and peaceful it was. On a gorgeous evening they were loaded with people getting their daily exercise or sitting back in a hammock relaxing.
My favorite moment was riding across the Stone Arch Bridge, stopping to view the mist of St. Anthony Falls glisten in the sunset, while listening to people play music on the park bench. The Stone Arch Bridge is sort of a staple view of the city, when riding across you view the Mississippi River, surrounded by green trees and waterfalls. Meanwhile, in front of you is the clear and elegant cityscape.
A Must Stop In Minneapolis
I couldn’t pass up Minneapolis’ staple attraction... The Mall Of America.
Let me preface this with, you know that I struggle with touristy hot spots.
I’m not one to even step foot in my own local mall, so the thought of heading to the largest mall in the United States, is kind of terrifying. Meet Minneapolis convinced me that it’s something everyone must experience once, and they were right. I couldn’t let my fear get in the way.
Did you know?
- About 40 Million people visit the mall each year.
- It houses over 500 stores, 50 restaurants, an amusement park, aquarium and other attractions.
- It is 96.4 acres, enough to fit seven Yankee Stadiums inside.
- One level is .57 of a mile (4 floors)
- Spending 10 minutes in every store would take a shopper more than 86 hours to complete their visit to Mall of America
Now, I’m not a huge shopper, but I was intrigued by their latest attraction, “Fly Over America.” An Imax theater style ride that provides a cinematic perception and feel of physically flying over America.
I found this concept interesting. Could this be the start of more ways to travel virtually?
You are buckled into a seat with a massive screen in front of you, but with a barricade that does not allow you to see it all. When the lights go dark, the barricade drops and your seats are moved into the middle of the room, feet dangling, and viewing a massive screen covering your vision from all corners. Think an Imax theater, but with more coverage. When the video begins you are greeted by the clouds and an instant feel of flying in a small plane with an aerial view of the world. Your chair may sway slightly up and down, left or right, as gusts of wind blow. The ride provides a more realistic feel, enhancing your senses by adding the feeling of mist from waterfalls or the scents of pine trees through the woods.
It’s about a 10-minute ride that takes you through all the beauty America has to hold. It’s a spectacular visual and cinematic experience, like being involved in a Planet Earth documentary. What I appreciate from this experience is it opens the eyes to many who are simply unaware of how much natural beauty is available in our country. I definitely think it would be very inspiring to many non-travelers to peak their interest and possibly ignite that travel bug.
I would love to see this concept grow in more ways than one. Sure, it’s a fun ride, but I think there’s a lot of room to add more education. Maybe adding facts about our environment and things we can all do to protect it? Just a thought.
Beer in Minneapolis
One thing is for sure, Minnesota is never going to have a beer shortage. It’s impressive the number of craft breweries sprouting in this state. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge beer drinker and my main plan was to visit the breweries that offered an outdoor ambiance, but mother nature rained on that parade, literally.
My friend from Wisconsin crossed the border to see me and said there’s one brewery I must try, The Dangerous Man. I was advised to mix the peanut butter porter with the chocolate milk stout for a dark and delectable Reese's Peanut Butter Cup flavor.
And before you go, “gross!” Let me explain. When I do drink beer, it tends to be Guinness or a stout. If you’re into those darker stouts, then this concoction was for you. It wasn’t overly flavored, it was just enough hints to make you go, oooh... DELICIOUS.
The Dangerous Man is a tiny brewery that was jam packed with locals. I think we all had the same idea for a rainy day. Great place to kick back and try a variety of flavors they make, also conveniently located outside was a food truck. You know you never want to drink on an empty stomach.
If you have been following our journey you would know that Marc and I are big fans of traveling in a more authentic way. Typically choosing Airbnb’s, boutique hotels, or even RV’s. So when it was suggested to stay at the AC Hotel (a part of Marriott), I wasn’t too sure if it would be aligned with our typical experiences.
Well, my mind was blown. I’m obsessed with this hotel, and ironically, found out it started in Spain. Just so happens that we’re there right now when this blog is posted. Keeping my eyes open for ya AC Hotel!
So check this out. The AC Hotel stands for Antonio Catalan, who started his hotels in Spain and later collaborated with Marriot to expand in the states. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a Marriott in our lifetime, but they made sure to differentiate slightly thanks to Mr. Catalan’s background.
By design, it is very minimalistic, inviting, comforting, but not to the point that you don’t want to get off the couch. The reason for this is because they want your hotel to be a place you come to for sleep, where you prepare yourself for the day, grab a snack, and hit the town running. They want you involved in its city, they don’t want you wasting a day at their hotel. Your stay is not about the hotel, your stay is about experiencing the surroundings.
With that same concept, they do not offer full meals for lunch or dinner. They have a gorgeous rooftop bar to sip on fancy cocktails and indulge in Spanish Tapas, a perfect way to start or end your evening, but the goal is for you to leave to truly experience your night elsewhere.
That Spanish influence is offered in the morning buffet, hands down the best hotel breakfast I’ve experienced. For $15 you can indulge in croissants, meat & cheese plates, freshly sliced prosciutto, quiches, and parfaits, with flavors you would never think of pairing. Obviously, I feasted every morning.
Here is what really sold me. We don’t look at corporate businesses and think they help the local community in any way, but the AC is different. I was presented with a “Locals” guide that influencers in the area shared their favorite “go to” spots throughout the city. Their snack bar is filled with unique goodies made right in Minneapolis, some curated in the homes of the owners, and every piece of artwork is made by a local artist. This simple act makes a huge difference by keeping money locally and I that hope that more businesses, not just hotels, strive to follow this business model.
The Overall Voice
Minneapolis isn’t just a flyover state. It’s a place filled with joyful residents who love to share their kindness with those that visit. Their pride in their city shows by how well it’s taken care of, from the community to its design. I felt welcomed everywhere I went and that is a type of city I will want to visit again and again.
Have you been to Minneapolis?
How was your experience? Let us know your favorite spot in the comments below.