10 Neighborhoods We Love
1. DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS
Minnesota is known for fluctuating weather, but itâ€™s always 72 degrees in the eight miles of climate-controlled skyways downtown, which makes it possible to get where you want to go one level above the street. When you visit Nicollet Mall, however, you will want to walk outside to experience its lively atmosphere. Take a picture with the Mary Tyler Moore statue, read a book at the CĂ©sar Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library, or stop in the two-level Target. When the weather is nice, eat on a rooftop patio. Shop at one of the major department stores, be entertained with a show on one of the Hennepin Theatre Trustâ€™s stages, laugh at the Brave New Workshop, or listen to live music at the Dakota Jazz Club or First Avenue.
2. DOWNTOWN SAINT PAUL
Before the railroad era in the 1880s, Saint Paul was the â€śend of the lineâ€ť for Mississippi River steamboat traffic and served as an arrival point for immigrants entering Minnesota. Now, Minnesotaâ€™s capital celebrates the culture and history of the people who came here decades ago. The Minnesota History Center, Cathedral of Saint Paul, Landmark Center and Fitzgerald Theater are historic sites that define the city. Rice Park showcases statues of The Great Gatsby writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and Peanuts comic strip characters created by Charles Schulzâ€”both men were Saint Paul natives. Complementing the history are modern attractions like the Science Museum of Minnesota, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and Xcel Energy Center.
Think organicâ€”not just food-wise, but in art, entertainment and scenic views. Lowertown Saint Paul is transforming into a lively hub of local and raw character. Known for the Saint Paul Farmersâ€™ Market, the area also hosts spring and fall art crawls and a three-day jazz festival at the end of June. Catch live music at Mears Park or unwind with a walk through the garden. A place you might not expect to find in the city is Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, a 27-acre park with skyline views, sandstone bluffs, prairie grass and the Wakan Tipi cave that is sacred to the Dakota.
4. GRAND AVENUE
Grand Avenue in Saint Paul was once the place where Fitzgerald attended dance classes and Saint Paulâ€™s elite came to shop and dine. These days it is one of the most popular shopping districts in the Twin Cities and was named one of Forbesâ€™ Prettiest Neighborhoods in America. Most shops on the avenue are locally owned and located in historic houses. Karma, Quince and Atelier 957 are popular womenâ€™s fashion stores and Trade Winds sells fair-trade clothing. You can take your child to Paint Your Plate or to pick out a book at Red Balloon Bookshop. Then get homemade ice cream at Grand Ole Creamery or indulge in dessert at Cafe LattĂ©.
5. NORTHEAST MINNEAPOLIS
Along and near the Mississippi riverfront is a slew of art, food and brews. Galleries, theaters and music venues provide a variety of entertainment and taste of local culture. Microbreweries are booming in the area where the old Grain Belt brewery was once king. Indeed Brewing is located here, and a 10-minute walk away is 612 Brew. You will also discover that Northeast has some very atypical bars. Drink beer out of das boot and shout â€śZiggy zaggy oy oy oy!â€ť at Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit, or go on a tropical getaway to Psycho Suziâ€™s Motor Lounge and drink out of a tiki cup on the patio that overlooks the river. And donâ€™t miss Nyeâ€™s Polonaise Room, a nationally acclaimed bar and home to the Worldâ€™s Most Dangerous Polka Band.
Whether itâ€™s a group of bicyclists zipping past, vibrant art, the reflection of the sun off Lake Calhoun or the taste of local produce, Uptown Minneapolis is one cool place to hang out. The area is populated with restaurants that believe in using organic, sustainable and local food, as well as ones with rooftops that offers views of Minneapolisâ€™ skyline, like Uptown Cafeteria. Youâ€™ll find plenty of retail at Calhoun Square, and can expose yourself to local artists in the area by attending a show at Jungle Theater or by strolling through the Uptown Art Fair in August. Youâ€™ll also want to get outside by renting a Nice Ride bike and pedaling down the Midtown Greenway, which has been named the best urban bike trail in the nation.
7. LINDEN HILLS
West of the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis is Linden Hills, a family-oriented area with a tightly knit community. The shopping district at 43rd Street and Upton Avenue is home to boutiques and restaurants, including Zumbro CafĂ© and the award-winning Tilia. Youâ€™ll want to spend time outdoors to listen to tunes at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, admire the Lyndale Rose Garden, picnic at one of the many parks and walk, bike or blade on the paths that lead you to the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. You can also go back in time by taking a ride on a historic Minnesota Trolley along the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, and then learn about the mysteries of electricity at the Bakken Museum.
8. MILL DISTRICT
In the oldest part of Minneapolis you can visit the Mill City Museum to learn about what it was like to mill flour and bake bread for the likes of Pillsbury and General Mills (both are headquartered in Minnesota). Visit The Depot, a train station built in 1864. Its last train left in 1971 and now itâ€™s the location of a hotel, waterpark and in the wintertime, a skating rink. The area is also home to some of the best views in Minneapolis. Stroll along Nicollet Island Park or on the Stone Arch Bridge for a view of the Minneapolis skyline and St. Anthony Falls. You can also see the skyline from Gold Medal Park or the Tony Award-winning Guthrie Theaterâ€™s endless bridge; then youâ€™ll want to catch a show on one of three stages.
9. NORTH LOOP
Once where abandoned buildings sorely sat next to railroad tracks, this area of Minneapolis has become a dining and shopping hot spot. Beginning with nationally known Bar La Grassa in 2009, the restaurant and nightlife scene continues to grow with places like The Bachelor Farmer, Borough, Haute Dish, Smack Shack and craft beer at Fulton Breweryâ€™s taproom. Scattered throughout the North Loop are high-end boutiques, including fair trade and eco-friendly home goods at The Foundry, menâ€™s pieces at Askov Finlayson and martinpatrick3, and womenâ€™s fashions at Statement Boutique and Câ€™est Chic Boutique. Also in the neighborhood you can catch a Twins game at Target Field, home of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
10. 50TH & FRANCE
The neighborly, yet sophisticated style of 50th and France in Edina is where a collection of boutiques and local eats collide to create a charming cobblestone stretch. More than 175 retailers and professional services line the avenue, including popular chains like Anthropologie, Sur La Table and Athleta, but the real reasons to come are the high-end boutiques, like the ritzy Grethen House, custom stationery and invitation store Paperista, and consignment-clothing shop Fashion Avenue. You can find home dĂ©cor at Gather, meaningful gifts at Live, Laugh, Love, and childrenâ€™s clothes at Goodnight Moon and Pacifier. You can also pamper yourself at one of several spas. Stop at Beaujoâ€™s wine bar, the cozy Pig & Fiddle, Raku for sushi, or Mozza Mia for handmade mozzarella and wood-fire pizza.