How To Spend A Cool Summer Vacay In Minneapolis!

You may not know it, but it’s quite the foodie town.

 

My first trip to the land of 10,000 lakes was in February. I stayed downtown, went through the indoor habitrail maze from the hotel, to work, then to the office and back again, so I never had to freeze outside. It’s a monumental achievement to build a city like this, though it didn’t make me want to go back any time soon.

SEE ALSO: How To Have An Amazing Weekend In Charleston, South Carolina

For the most part, everyone from Minnesota speaks about how residents don’t leave during the summer, so I thought I should check it out. With that in mind I had a business trip scheduled for July, and my wife decided to come out for the weekend because she heard it was a cool foodie town. On Tuesday night a severe thunderstorm formed just after I landed. Where have I seen that before? (See the last several articles) I have to wait for the weather to clear up then I meet my buddy John at Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge, a local tiki bar on the Mississippi river. Yes, that Mississippi river. You didn’t think it started out of thin air in the South did you? The lounge has a large open-air bar with outside patio and cool rum drinks. But it is still raining and that certainly dampened the spirit here. Note: I will return here in a few days to get my jacket which I left, and I will find it sunny and hoppin’!

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Tiki bar in Minneapolis on the Mississippi!

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Wednesday night comes and we’re off to Union Restaurant and Bar. This is where the beautiful people come once the frost thaws. Women with Scandinavian blonde hair and featuring super model physiques are seemingly everywhere here, situated side by side with many beautiful Somali women who are dressed in lovely headscarves. Yes, apparently Minneapolis is home to a major immigrant population, not only from these two regions, but also from Ethiopia, Laos, and other concentrations. Maybe you knew about the blondes already? After dinner we head across the street to Seven, another rooftop restaurant and bar for drinks. Tonight was very cosmopolitan I must say. When you are locked up for such a long time of the year, the need to be outside is palpable.

On Thursday night my wife arrived, and after work drinks with a few colleagues we head off to Restaurant Alma. We’re treated with a nice table upstairs. They do a three course tasting, which I normally hate, but one of the courses is not dessert, so I love it. Waitress and staff are all very friendly at this farm-to-table type restaurant. Cuisine entrées include buckwheat crepe with golden chanterelles, melted leeks, and summer greens; duck two ways, yum! We then decide to walk back through the park, across the multi-bridged Mississippi river. We pass by the Mill City Museum, which is honestly one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen! It has an ultra model glass menagerie wrapped inside a crumbling façade of a century-old industrial mill building. Need I say more?

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Poached prawns and Pinot at a gem of a restaurant!

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Friday night arrives, and we head down to the Aloft lobby and see music playing in the courtyard. We grab a drink and head outside. The first song is okay; the same is true for song true, which is about shoes. Then I realize song one is also about shoes, and I turn to the guy behind me and say we got here late, did the singer mention why all the songs are all about shoes? He says they are all shoe reps for a company. Apparently we are crashing a private event! I then explain I used to sell shoes at Nordstrom when I was in college, and I get all the shoe references and jokes from the songs.

We are invited to stay, which we do for another few songs. Good times, strange times, but good times nonetheless. I ask my buddy for a good bar recommendation close by the restaurant we are going to, and he suggests Liquor Lyle’s, which is apparently where the actor Josh Hartnett hangs out when he is home. Red Naugahyde-colored booths, the smell of stale beer, drunks at the bar who have been pickling all day, every second drink for an extra $1 – this is absolutely the type of bar my wife loves. Not! She is on high alert so we don’t get mugged or accosted, so I have my two drinks quickly and we head across the street to Burch Steak and Pizza.

 

This visually engaging restaurant is quite the scene. It appears to be two different spaces separated by a large doorway: upscale pizza bar on the right and steakhouse on the left. But don’t worry you don’t have to choose as they have one very inventive menu covering both sides! The sea beans and Dungeness crab dish is literally like pulling up something you would find washed ashore from a kelp forest, which happens to be so bright and fresh. The waiter recommends something off the dumpling menu, a schupfnudel, walnut, and Gorgonzola dish, which is really like the best macaroni and cheese you ever had. The waiter accidentally brings another one after we were done and I REFUSED. It was so rich, and I am so diabetic that I had to pass. I’m sure the kitchen staff was thrilled to have it returned, so they could eat it I would guess!

Saturday comes and its time to check out Lake Minnetonka on a 24 foot pontoon boat from Rockvam marina. You might remember Prince telling Apollonia to purify herself in these waters, and then famously told her it wasn’t what she thought. But this is the real thing, 80 degrees, no clouds, and perfect weather! Very unlike my recent travels, I must say.

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Pontoon boating on Lake Minnetonka with my main squeeze!

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We uber there from Minneapolis for $30 as this is known as a metropolitan lake, and somewhere you can actually live on and work downtown. We go and pick up food and drink at the marina and find out they don’t really have food beyond snacks or sell alcohol at all! We ask about lunch spots and are told by the 22-year-old desk clerk that Lord Fletcher’s Wharf is for the young and that we should go to Maynard’s. No offense taken, of course. We head off for Wayzata to view the very palatial estates with their never-ending lawns coming all the way down to their private docks and boats, including a $40 million house being built. I know $40 million in San Francisco is like a really nice three bedroom apartment, but this is a little bigger than that.

The lake is beautiful, with lots of fingers and low bridges linking them. We head over to hit the Muni store to pick up some “drinks.” Pulling up on the boat is pretty easy here as there are plenty of docks everywhere with young kids on summer break jobs helping you land for a few dollar tip. We hear the store has a great wine list that can rival any store in San Francisco, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. #Roséallday!

 

We then head for lunch at Maynard’s, a beautiful outdoor bar and restaurant with bright red umbrella tables. We get a nice table on the lake and order some drinks and the walleye. This will be the only time I see a walleye, the official fish of Minnesota. It looks fried, and perhaps didn’t put up much of a fight in the end; but it is delicious!

Then we’re off to find a swimming spot for a much needed dip! We pull up on the party scene area of Big Island to do some people watching, but it is actually not too crazy, so we drop anchor. My wife points out the coincidence that the boat next to us has an all female super model crew of seven. We jump in and the water is at a great temperature. It is then that we realize we have no swim ladder, so no way to get back onto the boat! Scenes from Open Water 2 float through my mind. I finally manage to get my wife back on the boat after a couple of tries pushing. It wasn’t very graceful, I must admit but it was effective. A few bowline knots later and I am no closer to getting on the boat. So I continue to float around on my raft until I can flag a ski boat down and ask for a ride to my boat. They say sure, where is it? I say, right here. Back on the boat, we then head to other side of the island.

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We can pull the boat up to the island, so swimming around on the raft with no risk of being stranded. I paddle my way over to another boat and bum a beer from them. By the time I get back to my boat, another boat has pulled up beside us. On that boat is honestly the most beautiful girl in a red string bikini. You know that feeling when you are trying not to get caught staring? But then you look over and your wife is also staring, so all good! We then shove off and start making our way home. My wife, who barely “tolerates” boating, said, “Do we have to go back right now? Can’t we float around for a little longer?” I am now a proud husband. So we hang on the pontoon until it gets closer to 6:30 p.m. when it’s time to take the boat back. We have some extra beers, and I ask the young college kid doing checkout for us if he can find them a good home. He smiles.

Then back to the hotel we go to await pickup from my colleague, Eric and his wife Jody, so we can hit the Butcher & the Boar, a local steakhouse. Rated the number one restaurant on Trip Advisor in Minneapolis, and it absolutely did not disappoint! Wild boar and green chorizo sausages, peanut butter stuffed jalapenos, and smoked beef long rib – this is a foodie’s dream! Think rich Corinthian leather, ultra modern version of a steakhouse, with an excellent wine list and fancy s’mores for dessert. We ventured to Zelo for a nightcap, where my buddy knows Brad the bartender, so we are treated like royalty.

 

Sunday, our last day, I decide to hit Minnehaha falls. A beautiful river running through a park with an impressive set of waterfalls. I started with lunch at Sea Salt Eatery. Think the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park New York, but it’s more southern counterpart. Peel and eat shrimp, enjoy delicious oysters, and enjoy some truly exquisite cuisine options. I had to walk off this delicious meal with a four mile round trip trek down the river and back. It was very peaceful!

Summer in Minneapolis can’t be beat. But take it from me, at the very least rent a swim ladder!

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Minnehaha Falls in all its glory!

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Have you ever been to Minneapolis? Share with us in the comments.

 

Jason Canter

Contributor

Jason loves beaches, sailing, diving & trying new foods. His travel style is about staying central & close to the action. His favorite country is Mexico & he never travels without his Tumi roller.

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