by Gloria Hochstein (2014-2016 President and 2009 Convention Chair);
updated for 2016 by Desiree Libengood, (Chapter Sponsor, North Central University, MN)
Minneapolis may be famous for its lakes and infamous for its cold weather, but residents of the city love it for the vibrant culture and energy that it offers all who visit. The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, our convention hotel, is ideally located on the Nicollet Mall to afford easy access to all the wonderful food, theater, museums, and literary hot spots that Minneapolis and St. Paul have to offer. Both a pedestrian walkway and a transit hub, Nicollet Mall runs through downtown Minneapolis. A city made for pedestrians, Minneapolis boasts wide sidewalks and an extensive skyway system for walking indoors when it is a bit too cold to be outside.
You will be able to walk or catch a bus to dine on local and international cuisine from Irish pub food to Japanese sushi to Italian desserts to American burgers. You easily can visit independent bookstores, particularly Magers and Quinn, see a play at the Guthrie Theatre, view the art and media at the Walker Art Center, listen to jazz at the Dakota, experience the nightlife of the vibrant downtown areas, or even visit a park or lake or the Mississippi River.
For only $1.75 ($2.25 during rush hours), the Hiawatha light-rail line and the Metro Transit buses connect the Nicollet Mall to all parts of the Twin Cities, including the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America. Weather permitting, for $3.00 an hour you can rent a bike using Nice Ride Minnesota. With stations all over downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, these bikes are a fun way to explore the cities.
For more information about things to do in Minneapolis, visit the Minneapolis Visitor’s Guide.
The Twin Cities area has something for everyone, but I will highlight just a few of the numerous nightspots, dining options, and entertainment venues near the Nicollet Mall. My local friends especially recommend Brit’s Pub (1110 Nicollet Mall) and the The Local (931 Nicollet Mall) for casual dining. Brit’s serves pub food but also offers high tea on weekdays (reservations needed for high tea). The Local is an Irish pub that offers American food with an Irish flair. Also recommended for breakfast or lunch is Keys Cafe (1007 Nicollet Mall): fresh bread, farmer’s omelets, and breakfast served all day. For casual lunch or dinner, or a brewski, go to the Rock Bottom Brewery (8 W. LaSalle Plaza), a lively brew pub.
Barrio is a modern Latin American restaurant that offers tapas and tequila (925 Nicollet Mall), or if you’re in the mood for Mexican food, try Masa (1070 Nicollet Mall) for a contemporary take on traditional Mexican. Zelo (831 Nicollet Mall) offers Italian cuisine in an arty space. For steak (the best downtown, some say), seafood, chicken, and burgers, have your lunch or dinner at Mortons of Chicago (555 Nicollet Mall).
King and I (1346 La Salle Ave., street behind the Hyatt) is known for its excellent Thai menu and vegetarian options. If you’re looking for an affordable menu, check out La Belle Crepe for breakfast or lunch (825 Nicollet Mall). They offer crepes and pho at very budget friendly prices.
Within walking distance of the Nicollet Mall is the fun retro 40s atmosphere of Ike’s Food and Cocktails (50 S. 6th St) serving good, basic breakfasts, lunches, and dinners including blue plate specials; Ike’s also offers one of the best all-you-can-eat brunch menus in the city with a cinnamon roll that shouldn’t be missed. For a fun news-themed atmosphere and American food, head over to The Newsroom (990 Nicollet Mall).
For music, my local friends INSIST that you MUST go to the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant (1010 Nicollet Mall). It also has a good bar and prides itself on its wine list and Midwestern gourmet food. Clubs, bars, and restaurants line the Nicollet Mall. On the north end of the Nicollet Mall, the Warehouse District is known for its lively night spots and exotic restaurants. Other fun neighborhoods offer great restaurants and are just a bus ride away.
Food AND Culture? The Walker Art Center (1750 Hennepin Ave.), a 15-20 minute walk from the Hyatt, has both. Visit the modern art and then dine across the way at the New American café Lurcat. The Walker is internationally acclaimed for its interdisciplinary celebration of all the modern arts: dance, music, sculpture, painting, film, and more. Special exhibitions during March 2-6, 2016, include Andrea Büttner, Life in the Sky: The Elevated City, Ordinary Pictures, and Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections. The famous art deco Foshay Tower is worth a tour, and from the top floor observation tower one can see the and the Twin Cities and the Mississippi River. The famed Manny’s Steakhouse is located in the Foshay Tower.
Great performances: How could English majors pass up catching a performance at the renowned Guthrie Theater (818 S. 2nd St.)? During the convention, The Critic and The Real Inspector Hound are being performed. The Guthrie anchors the Riverfront scene of lively bars and restaurants. Just down the Mall, Orchestra Hall (1111 Nicollet Mall) offers a variety of concerts. The Hennepin Theater District houses many restaurants, bars, and clubs, or you could head to St. Paul to check out the Ordway Theater.
Who hasn’t heard of the Mall of America, in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, the largest shopping mall in the United States? Besides shopping (more than 500 shops), you can visit the aquarium, the indoor amusement park, the many restaurants, and the wedding chapel. Then you will know why folks come from all around the world to visit the Mall of America. Or maybe you would rather stroll around the posh shops of Gaviidae Common (611 Nicollet Mall).
Minneapolis offers many fun neighborhoods to explore! Across the river is the St. Anthony Main area with numerous bars and eateries. Also just across the river near the University of Minnesota is Dinkytown, with its eclectic mixture of unique restaurants, bars, live music, and film. Uptown is just a bus ride away from downtown and has a wide range of fun restaurants and theaters.
For a more thorough preview of the sights, sounds, tastes, and happenings of Minneapolis and St. Paul, spend some time looking at MSP Magazine.