A Beginner’s Guide to Minneapolis

By: Katie Dohman

January 1, 2014

Garrison Keillor satirised Minnesota through his bestselling Prairie Home Companion describing it as the place where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” It gets a laugh, but as with all good satire, there’s a grain of truth: Minneapolis and St. Paul – the Twin Cities – regularly top best of lists when it comes to liveability, fitness, smarts, and arts. All great reasons to book a flight to Minneapolis and check out the city’s offerings for yourself with the help of our beginner’s guide to Minneapolis”¦

Maybe it’s the harshness of winter, which requires a certain fortitude and rich creativity to survive, or perhaps the credit belongs to the industrious Scandinavian stock from which its people come. Either way, this area, once mistakenly considered “flyover country,” has quietly and sturdily built a reputation as a cultural powerhouse (for instance, it’s second only to New York City in theatres per capita), foodie haven, and as a veritable feast of outdoor activities, despite (or perhaps because of) its climate.

Built on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, Minneapolis sprang up as a milling epicentre, thus the nickname “Mill City.” The most exquisite view of the river and the city’s beginnings is from the edge of the Endless Bridge cantilever, located at the Jean Nouvel-designed Guthrie Theater.

Guthrie Theatre | Guide to Minneapolis

Inside Minneapolis’ cultural hotspot, The Guthrie Theater © JFXie

But the Guthrie isn’t the only world-renowned arts centre in Minneapolis. The city also is home to the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden (one of five major modern-art museums in the country), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Weisman Art Museum “¦ and then there’s the live music. For an authentic Minneapolis experience, attend a rock show at the storied First Avenue, the club Prince made ultra-famous with Purple Rain. Or see an outstanding jazz performance at the Dakota Jazz Club. Or”¦or”¦or”¦

First Avenue | Guide to Minneapolis

First Avenue, Minneapolis’ authentic rock venue © Chris Yunker

But make sure to get to know Minneapolis through its waterways. Known also as the City of Lakes, it’s dotted by the chain of five lakes – Calhoun, Harriet, Cedar, Lake of the Isles, and Brownie – and residents regularly run or bike around, or canoe/kayak/sail across. The truly adventurous take paddleboarding or kiteboarding lessons. Rent a Nice Ride bike and coast the thirteen miles of paved trails that circle the lakes for a scenic view.

Lake Calhoun | Essential City Guide to Minneapolis

The Minneapolis skyline overlooking Lake Calhoun © kari.volkmanncarlsen

After so much fresh air, good food is a necessity. Luckily, many Minneapolis restaurants have taken home prestigious James Beard awards. For an unparalleled French dining experience, order the tasting menu at the Tim McKee-helmed La Belle Vie. Isaac Becker’s 112 Eatery serves up one of the best plates of gnocchi this side of Italy. One of the hottest, newest restaurants on the scene is the Beard-nominated Jack Riebel’s Butcher & the Boar, as is Spoonriver, locavore Brenda Langton’s veggie-heavy gourmet hotspot located in the heart of the Mill City district, near the Guthrie’s Endless Bridge.

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Have you travelled to Minneapolis recently? How did you spend your days in the city?


Katie Dohman

Katie Dohman went into journalism due to her insatiable curiosity and innumerable interests, her tendency to overshare, and her never-ending love for entertaining people with a good story. As a style editor, she’s covered fashion, beauty, health and wellness, fitness, home décor, and trends. But she also loves pop culture, parenting relationships,—and, of course, travel. Her favourite trips? Maui to get married (and Kauai to honeymoon), and a three-week criss-cross of Thailand. Find her at @katiedohman

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