The Traveler: Minneapolis, MN - Home of the Vikings

By John Feld

Minneapolis has a lot to offer visitors. The area has one of the country’s best public parks system, a vibrant cultural scene and generally a lot to do. Plus an efficient light rail system connects some of the major destinations in the city (e.g., Mall of America, the airport and downtown).

Those traveling to Minneapolis for the upcoming Packers-Vikings game should expect a warm reception that demonstrates “Minnesota Nice.” Sure, you will inevitably run across a Vikings fan who will give you static for wearing Green and Gold behind enemy lines of a simmering sports border war. As a Wisconsin transplant and loyal soldier in this war, I simply advise you to smile and do an internal inventory of Super Bowl championships for each franchise.

With that moral victory in your pocket, you will be ready to enjoy some of what makes Minneapolis great. It is obviously part of the Twin Cities, and I am a big fan of St. Paul, but the following recommendations focus on Minneapolis since that is where the Metrodome is located.

 

The City

Sculpture Gardens – Located adjacent to the Walker Art Center, the Sculpture Gardens is one of the chief attractions in Minneapolis. It is filled with fascinating and unique art. None is more recognizable than the Spoonbridge and Cherry.

City Lakes – Within three miles of downtown is a chain of four unique lakes with more than 13 miles of walking/biking trails, countless beautiful homes canoeingand even fishing. I will never forget catching a 36” tiger musky from the shore of Lake Calhoun in view of the Minneapolis skyline. If you just want to relax, find a bench for some quaility people watching.

Mall of America – By measure of total space, the Mall of America is the largest shopping mall in the United States. Covering morethan 96 acres, you can find most any kind of store. A lack of sales tax also allows you to stretch every dollar. Kids will love the indoor amusement park, Nickelodeon Universe, and nearby indoor water parks.

Food

Matt’s Bar – Matt’s is a legendary beer bar that is also home to the original “Juicy Lucy,” a burger filled with molten cheese. It is a favorite of old-guard Minneapolis businessmen who scribbled out more than one big deal on the back of Matt’s napkins. Be careful to let the Juicy Lucy cool before you take a bite or you might end up wearing hot cheese.

Manny’s – From the painting of a virile bull you see when walking in to strong drinks and even stronger portions, Manny’s is steakhouse on steroids. It is a place to celebrate being hungry and a carnivore. Be sure to get the hash browns side dish.

Bar La Grassa – Located in the north loop of Minneapolis, Bar La Grassa is a trendy spot featuring James Beard Award winning chef, Isaac Becker. It features elegant, yet affordable, Italian fare. Bon Appetit named Bar La Grassa one of its 10 best new restaurants in 2010.

Nightlife

Nye’s Polonaise Room – If “Swingers” was set in Minneapolis, a scene would have been shot at Nye’s. From the septuagenarian pianoplayer accompanying karaoke singers to the back room with polka bands, it is place where it is hard not to have a good time. Esquire named it America’s Best Bar in 2006.

First Avenue & The 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis has a huge music scene and this is its foremost venue. More than a few national bands first called First Avenue home. It was also featured in many scenes in Prince’s “Purple Rain.” If the lineup at First Avenue doesn’t do it for you, try the Fine Line Café, Bunker’s or The Cabooze.

Brit’s Pub
– Brit’s boasts two floors of fun fueled by an impressive selection of beers, scotch and authentic British fare. If the weather cooperates, there is a rooftop patio with seasonal lawn bowling. Brit’s is located on a walking mall that includes a number of other good bars such as The Local and The News Room.

Game Day

An objective Vikings fan will admit their game day experience doesn’t reach the high standard set at Lambeau Field but they still manage to have fun.

Party on the Plaza – The Vikings and some of their media partners stage live music, interactive entertainment and concession stands.

Nearby Bars – A series of high-quality bars – such as Hubert’s and Grumpy’s – are close to, or within reasonable walking distance from, the stadium.

Parking can be tough to find and expensive. If reasonably convenient – even if just from the other side of downtown – it is a good idea to find a light rail line. It stops right outside the Metrodome.

John Feld is senior vice president of One Simple Plan, a fast-growing communications and brand engagement firm based in Minneapolis. He can be reached at john@onesimpleplan.com.