The Twin Cities have a special place in my heart.
It’s at least partially a mythology my brain has built up around it–the soothing drone of Garrison Keeler rippling across the prairie grasses, a shadow of young F. Scott Fitzgerald hashing out his thoughts about life over absinthe, the glint of chrome at Mickey’s Diner — which I’ve never actually been to, so there may not be any chrome but I feel like there should be — the silent grandeur of Summit Avenue whose houses have seen so many glittering snowfalls and so many gem-like leaves in August.
I think the mythology we accumulate about certain places makes them come alive in our minds in a special way. And sometimes, the mythology can make the reality look a little drab.
But here is some wonderful reality for you.
After our wedding, Josh and I spent one day bouncing around Minneapolis/St. Paul before moving on. Although it was just a taste of what the Twin Cities have to offer, it was a perfect, bite-sized refreshment.
You could easily fill up an entire week or two there, but here is a one day itinerary for the foodie, art buff, or just plain multicultural enthusiast.
One Day Itinerary: Minneapolis and St. Paul
As a former barista, there are so many coffee shops in the Twin Cities that I would loooovvvvvve to visit. We just went to Claddagh Coffee, though, and it was a perfect, low-key start for our day. Bring your order down into their comfy basement. Some coffee shops have kind of a pretentious, hipstery vibe. Some coffee shops have an overly commercialized vibe. This one was just pure, quirky, casual comfort. Oh, and toss some gold to their leprechaun on your way out.
Next — now trust me on this — the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Plan on spending all day here. They have a cafe inside, so you don’t need to leave for lunch! We arrived around one in the afternoon, walked until our feet hurt and walked some more, didn’t leave until closing time — and we still missed out on a couple major galleries. Even if an art museum doesn’t sound interesting to you, there is something here for everyone — jade exhibits from Asia, mummies from Egypt, re-creations of Jane Austen era rooms, swords and suits of armor, all the famous paintings and sculptures your eyes are capable of absorbing in one day (actually, more), sheep to take selfies by. . .
Not kidding about the sheep.
Also, admission is free.
So when they kick you out at closing time, you’ll need to find some dinner. Moscow on the Hill. Do it. If I lived next to Moscow on the Hill, I would eat my way through their entire menu. Perusing the enormous vodka menu, Josh was like a kid in a candy store. I think we split their Appetizer Tasting Platter and it happened to be a variety of all things salmon, and it was amazing. I also tried escargot for the first time, and it is actually not revolting if you don’t think about it too hard!
It has been a year and a half, and my mouth is still watering, thinking about the salmon pate.
At the end of our long day, we checked into Hotel 340. They upgraded our room at check in due to availability, so I’m not exactly sure what kind of room we ended up in, but it may have been a king suite. It felt more like an apartment than a hotel room — I think I’d be ok with living there! It was a charming mix of modern convenience with early 1900s ambiance soaring 12 stories above the streets of St. Paul.
Usually, I’m the type of person who likes to try new things. I never buy the same shampoo twice. I’m always trying new recipes from Pinterest. If I’m going to travel somewhere, why see things that I have already seen?
But all that said, this one-day trip is one that I would be happy to recreate over and over again.