It's hard to write a travel post about the place you grew up. On the one hand, there's too much to tell. Too many meals, too many must-goes, too many memories. A coffee shop isn't just a coffee shop--it's where I stopped to eat a brownie and call my best friend (from a payphone) after failing my driver's test. A restaurant isn't just a restaurant--it's where I went on my first date (wearing--I kid you not--jeans with a hole in the knee, an abercrombie t-shirt, and a ribbon in my hair). A department store isn't just a department store--it's where I bought my prom dress (long and black with an ill-advised amount of beading).
On the other hand, there's too little to tell. I go home to see my family, to play on the lake, to speed-read cheesy young adult literature, and to binge on dairy queen blizzards and campfire s'mores. In other words, I'm not always up on the latest trends. Truth be told, when I'm home, I'm more likely to be shopping at Target than a classy boutique and there's a better chance I'm eating at a local dive bar than a chic bistro. Still, it feels wrong that Minneapolis is the place I've traveled to the most since starting this blog, yet it's gotten so little attention here. (Save my posts on the state fair, of course). During last month's visit home, my mom and I took some time off from our routine to spend a day visiting our old favorite haunts and checking out some new ones. Here's a look at what we did during our day in Minneapolis, plus a few additional ideas should you ever find yourself in the land of 10,000 lakes.
Breakfast: The Salty Tart Bakery
We started our day at the Salty Tart Bakery. Owner Michelle Gayer was nominated for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2010, and one bite of her pastries makes it easy to see why. My croissant was rich, buttery and airy, and my mom has already been back for a second savory milk tart, which was made with roasted tomatoes the day we visited. The Bakery, which is really just a stall in the Midtown Global Market, is decorated in retro, shabby-chic fashion (check out the cookbooks on display, below). There's no seating specific to the Bakery, but there are plenty of tables in the market where you can enjoy your treats. Other Breakfast Options: The Good Day Cafe offers delicious takes on classic breakfast entrees. Minnesota foodies have also been giving rave reviews to Rustica Bakery, though I haven't yet been.
Shopping: Saks Off Fifth
After breakfast, we were ready to indulge in a bit of retail therapy. To be perfectly honest, my favorite place to shop in Minneapolis isn't an adorable housewares store or a trendy boutique. It's the Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet store downtown. I know. But what it lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for in merchandise. I don't know how they do it, but somehow this location never disappoints. Just a few of the treasures I've scored in recent years include a deeply discounted Zac Posen cocktail dress, a cotton Theory shift I've practically lived in for the better part of three summers, and, on my most recent trip, this dress, which I plan to sport many a Saturday night come cooler temperatures (and which was marked down to $49!) Other Shopping Options: The 50th and France area is filled with cute boutiques, a great kitchen store, and some good restaurants (plus it's the home of Minnesota's first Anthropologie). And of course, I can't talk Minnesota shopping without at least mentioning The Mall of America. It's more amusement park than fashion destination (literally) but where else can you ride a roller coaster, visit an aquarium, see a movie, and buy some back to school clothes all under the same roof?
Sight Seeing: The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Walker Art Center and Loring Park
After our shopping excursion, we visited one of my very favorite spots in the city--The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In addition to the iconic Claes Oldenburg Spoon and Cherry, this urban sculpture garden is home to a rotating array of works from an impressive roster of artists. It also boasts a greenhouse and 11 acres of land on the edge of the city, making it the perfect spot to picnic, relax, and watch the world go by. Adjacent to the Garden is the Walker Art Center, a cutting edge contemporary art museum that can't be missed if you're a fan of modern art. Walk across the Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge at the edge of the Garden (be sure to read the poem inscribed on its beams) and you will find yourself in Loring Park, which has bike trails, a horseshoe court, and beautiful views of the Basilica of St. Mary--America's first Basilica (plus some wild-life, pictured below). Other Sight Seeing Options: One of the best things my family has done with visitors (or at all for that matter) is the Segway Magical History Tour of the Minneapolis Riverfront. Really. We learned so much about the city's history, and had a ball zipping through the Mill District, Nicollet Island, and St. Anthony Falls on our Segways.
Lunch: Lucia's: After all of that shopping and sight-seeing, it was time to eat. Mom and I opted for Lucia's, one of the first restaurants in Minneapolis to serve local and organic food, which is still as good today as it was twenty years ago. I ate a delicious salad of local greens, radishes, plums, chicken, and toasted hazelnuts, plus nearly an entire bread basket. Afterwards, we went for a stroll to check out some of the cute shops and sights in the funky uptown area (my favorite high school hangout). Other Lunch Options: One of my all time favorite spots is Turtle Bread Company, which has amazing soups and breads in a casual, counter-service environment. My favorite soups are the tomato-basil and curried squash apple. I also think about their chocolate loaf at least once a week. For real.
Get Outside: On the Lake: At this point in the day, mom and I headed home to spend some time on the lake. Lake Minnetonka is my favorite place to enjoy outdoor activities like boating, water skiing, and getting flung off of the inner tube by my brother's overzealous driving. If you're out on the lake, you can break at Maynard's or Lord Fletcher's for a bite to eat, a sunset cocktail or a game of beach volleyball. Other Outdoor Activities: In the summertime, it's really all about the lakes. If you don't have access to a boat, Lakes Calhoun, Harriet and Isles in downtown Minneapolis are great for walking, jogging, biking and rollerblading. There are also areas for team sports, picnics, and even stopping to smell the roses.
Dinner: On summer nights spent at home, dinner usually means grilling, or hitting a local dive for burgers and beers. If we're getting dressed up and going out (read: brushing my hair and putting on something that's not a swimsuit) my recent favorites are Bar La Grassa and Cafe Lurcat. Other Dinner Options: The hottest new spot in Minneapolis at the moment is definitely The Bachelor Farmer, which was named one of Bon Appetit's 10 best new restaraunts in America. I haven't been yet, but if you're in Minneapolis you should check it out. The Marvel Bar downstairs also reportedly makes a killer cocktail.
So if you ever find yourself in the Land of Ten-Thousand Lakes eat some baked goods, ride a Segway and most importantly, be nice. Oh, and try to leave some of the good stuff at Off Fifth for me.