Prince meets Paul Bunyan; Minneapolis is at once practical, creative, and industrious, with equal play given to multicultural city life and just getting outside, already.
When to Go
If you’re winter-weather averse, steer clear November through April, when snowfall is entirely possible. It should be noted, however, those hardy, layered-up natives (and those who think like them) find plenty of outdoor fun here on below-zero February days, when cross-country ski trails hum and well-attended festivals take place on frozen city lakes.
July’s Aquatennial has celebrated the essential midsummer combo of steamy city life and cool local waterways since 1940, evolving to feature your traditional fest events sandwiched between the fire-lit Torchlight Parade on opening night and a reliably spectacular fireworks finale. The new-millennium version, Northern Spark, shines all kinds of lights on climate change through hundreds of participatory art projects and lasts from sunset to sunrise one day in June.
What to Eat
A Juicy Lucy is basically an inside-out cheeseburger—a hamburger patty with molten cheese at its core. Done right, this keeps the inner burger meat tender, while allowing for pleasantly direct bun-on-patty contact. (Beware that first bite, which can prove somewhat, well, eruptive.) Two bars in South Minneapolis each claim the Juicy Lucy’s invention in the ‘50s, though restaurants throughout Minneapolis and the greater Twin Cities now serve their own delicious iterations.
Souvenir to Take Home
Upscale men’s boutique Askov Finlayson donates 110 percent of the climate costs of making their flagship North brand pom-topped hats (plus tees, enamel pins, stainless steel pint glasses, and more) to organizations working toward climate change solutions, to help, as their tagline says, “Keep the North Cold.” Both shop and brand belong to Dayton brothers Eric and Andrew, great-great-grandsons of George Dayton, the man who started the company that became Target (also headquartered here).
Sustainable Travel Tip
The cycling community is strong, if largely fair-weather, outside of a healthy stable of perennial commuters and messengers who typically trade to a fat tire bike when the snow flies. All make good use of the city’s 200-plus trails and paths that join the metro’s greater interconnected web. The Nice Ride bike share program feeds them with more than 1,800 bright green bikes spread over 200-plus metro stations, all self-rentable by the hour, day, or longer. Not up for biking? Minneapolis got a light rail transit system, the Metro, back in 2004, 50 years after downtown saw its last streetcar.
Little did internationally renowned French architect Jean Nouvel know, when he designed downtown’s Mississippi River-side home for the revered Guthrie Theater in the early aughts, he was supplying not one but two of the city’s future Instagram hot spots. The so-called “Amber Box” is like a life-size yellow-glass Lego piece attached to the building’s twilight blue façade, a few stories from the Endless Bridge, which cantilevers 178 feet toward the river and historic Stone Arch Bridge. Both are free and open during daily building hours.