City Sidewalks: Exploring Minneapolis and St. Paul
By Ellie M. Bayrd, Amanda Fretheim Gates, and Molly Schelper
NICOLLET MALL, DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS
Minneapolis is a metropolis that is easier to navigate than many other large cities around the country. In fact, Walk Score named the city among the 10 most walkable cities in the U.S. With dining, shopping, and activities, downtown has something for everyone. Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis is a great place to start. This pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare has it all. Stroll down Nicollet to dine al fresco at Barrio (www.barriotequila.com) or Masa (www.masa-restaurant.com), two very different Mexican restaurants serving up delicious tacos, guacamole and more. Enjoy people watching at any of Nicollet’s restaurants. Order up the signature braised short ribs and gouda-filled burger at Vincent-A Restaurant (www.vincentarestaurant.com) or enjoy lawn bowling with fish and chips on the roof of Brit’s Pub (www.britspub.com). Follow Nicollet Mall back toward the Mississippi River and you’ll see a statue of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her tam in the air. Or stop and peruse the farmers’ market every Thursday. Shoppers should keep an eye out for the multi-story Macy’s (www.macys.com) and two-level Target (www.target.com) as well as upscale shopping destinations like Gaviidae Common (www.gaviidaecommon.com). For more shopping, don’t miss out on the rare books at James & Mary Laurie Booksellers (www.lauriebooks.com). Booklovers might also enjoy a look at the beautiful César Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library. Once you’ve enjoyed Nicollet Mall, consider a stroll along Hennepin Avenue or in the Warehouse District to find several theaters, Target Field (baseball), Target Center (basketball and concerts) and plenty of dining and nightlife. Or consider a visit to the Historic Riverfront District, with the Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum, Stone Arch Bridge and more.
FUN FACT: Hop on the light rail (at Fifth Street) and continue your metro area adventure. The Hiawatha Light Rail Line (www.metrotransit.com) connects downtown Minneapolis to Mall of America and the airport.
DOWNTOWN ST. PAUL
Our capital city blends classic architecture and history. The walkable city has really come into its own recently, adding fresh restaurants, new attractions and special events. Not a huge hotbed for shopping (leave that to Grand Avenue), downtown St. Paul does house 90-year-old Heimie’s Haberdashery (www.heimies.com), a specialty shop offering men tailored clothing, business gear, cigars and hats. For those looking to nosh, the Saturday St. Paul Farmers’ Market (www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com) vendors provide 100-percent locally grown products. Relax with a good book or snap your photo with a Peanuts character statue in Rice Park. Catch a movie at the Omnitheater, explore the Real Pirates exhibit or play mini golf at the Science Museum of Minnesota (www.smm.org). Kids up to age 12 will fall in love with the Minnesota Children’s Museum
(www.mcm.org). For a high-class, adult meal of steaks, chops, wine or whiskey, look no further than The St. Paul Grill inside the Saint Paul Hotel (www.stpaulgrill.com). Enjoy everything from crepes (four days a week outside) to oysters at Meritage (www.meritage-stpaul.com), which marries the best tastes of France and America. For the latest addition of deliciousness to downtown, head to the Food Truck Court (located at Kellogg and Wabasha) for several options like mac and cheese, chicken sliders, egg salad sandwiches, and more.
FUN FACT: The American Planning Association named Rice Park one of America’s Top Great Places.
Spanning 30 tree-lined blocks, Grand Avenue (www.grandave.com) extends from the Mississippi River to downtown St. Paul. In between you’ll find character, charm and one of the top destinations for shopping and dining in the Twin Cities. With so many shops and boutiques, the area really is home to a bit of everything, from apparel to jewelry, health and beauty, gifts, artwork, and home goods. If you’re looking for something to sport while you stroll down the avenue, you’ll find fashionable options at Bombshell (bomb-shell-boutique.com) and Karma (www.karmashops.com) and athletic wear at Lululemon Athletica (www.lululemon.com). For the kiddos, head over to The Red Balloon
(www.redballoonbookshop.com), where you can purchase a fairy tale or two to read before bed. The Grand Hand Gallery (thegrandhand.com) for a piece of local art. If all that shopping works up an appetite, visit Brasa Rotisserie (www.brasa.us) for food made with North American, Caribbean, Central and South American influences, or Salut Bar Américain (www.salutbaramericain.com), the best French bistro in the area. If it’s just a little treat you need, revert back to your childhood at Candy Alley on Grand (www.candyalley.com), a candy store filled with 50 flavors of salt water taffy, fudge, caramels and other treats, or grab a cone of homemade Minnesota ice cream at Grand Ole Creamery (grandolecreamery.com). With all that Grand Avenue has to offer, it’s the perfect place to spend a day or take a stroll.
FUN FACT: Forbes magazine named Grand Avenue one of America’s most beautiful neighborhoods.
Known as a hip and trendy destination, Uptown Minneapolis (www.uptownminneapolis.com) has its own unique atmosphere. Converging at Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue west of downtown Minneapolis, Uptown is filled with shops, bars, and restaurants, and is always bustling with activities like art fairs and festivities. Uptown is brimming with great eateries, many with top-notch rooftop views. Spice up your day at Chino Latino (www.chinolatino.com), the local hot spot featuring food from the Caribbean, South America, and Africa, as well as tasty drinks. The roof of Stella’s Fish Café (www.stellasfishcafe.com) also offers up stunning views, alongside a menu of fresh fish, seafood, and oysters. For more fun, head to Calhoun Square (www.calhounsquare.com) for shopping, dining, and entertainment under one roof. Here, the sky’s the limit at Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group (www.uptowncafeteria.com), which serves up hip comfort food and features great views and cocktails from above at its Sky Bar. Calhoun Square stores include Timberland (www.timberland.com), a destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and CB2 (www.cb2.com), for furniture and home accessories, among others. Stay at Calhoun Square for a fun night of music and ribs at Famous Daves BBQ & Blues (www.famousdavesbluesclub.com) or improvisational comedy at Comedy Sportz
(www.comedysportztc.com). Keep strolling around Uptown to find the indie Lagoon
Cinema (www.landmarktheatres.com) and book shopping at Magers and Quinn
FUN FACT: Uptown is blocks from Lake Calhoun, with walking and biking paths, boat rental, and casual dining at Tin Fish (www.thetinfish.net).