No matter the weather or time of year, the Twin Cities has plenty to offer.
Even here in Minnesota, we have come to the sad conclusion that climate change has no pattern or mercy.
There were times over the past 18 years living in the Twin Cities where you can up to a foot of snow in mid-April. Well, that is what some of the local meteorologists may have predicted. Instead, we may receive just a few inches of slush and another couple of coatings afterwards. The next week, the same weather gurus would predict six inches of snow, which will turn into a slight shower.
No matter the weather or time of year, the Twin Cities has plenty to offer. Plenty may be a bit modest, but, seriously, the region where Victory & Reseda has made its home since Day One has more than enough to keep locals and visitors on our toes. Between its arts scene, sports activities, community involvement and corporate interaction, V&R's home base is abuzz with activity all year round.
To augment the combined chambers of commerce efforts to promote the Twin Cities, V&R decided to put a twist on the Five Favorites formula somewhat. On occasion, we will take a metropolitan area and give you Five Favorite things to do there. This time, we figured to categorize them – dining, arts, recreation, people watching/meeting and a local driving spot. Even in public transportation-heavy communities, there is always some driving spot for enthusiasts or Sunday drivers to enjoy.
From the place where almost every vehicle review is executed, our Five Faves for the Twin Cities…
[TOO MANY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS TO LIST HERE]: Every city and metropolitan area has a slew of great restaurants to dine at. The Twin Cities is no exception. The problem is choosing one above all. That is exactly my problem, too. I can rattle off about a couple dozen restaurants in the Twin Cities – both national and local – that are worth dining at. Minneapolis is the home of James Beard Award winner Owmani, an indigenous restaurant that mixes great ingredients with a top-notch atmosphere. Saint Paul offers a lot of great spots, including the historic Cosetta's for a mix of Italian food choices and dining experiences. There are just too many good places to eat in the Twin Cities – too many to list. I am certain your hometown is exactly like this.
THE WALKER OR THE MIA? This poses a good question, as these two great halls for the visual arts are titans in the region's cultural scene. By Loring Park, the Walker Art Center is the region's home for "modern art." For works that challenge the mind and your senses, the Walker has a multi-story exhibition space along with the sculpture garden across the street. If you are looking for the big spoon with the cherry, that is where it is located. However, cut across Uptown past Nicollet and 24th and you reach the largest visual art exhibition place in the region – the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The MIA's collection ranges from the antiquities to modern exhibits. You can certainly find everything – including a 1930s Tatra – under the MIA's roof. If you had to flip a coin between the Walker and the MIA, consider that the latter is free (except for special exhibits, which admission is still less than the Walker). However, the Walker opens its doors at no admission on Thursday nights and the first Saturday of each month.
MALL OF AMERICA: This huge paean to consumerism is the most visited location in the Twin Cities – by visitors and locals alike. Out of state tourists will enjoy tax-free clothing purchases, while the rest of us just visit once a year to get our holiday shopping done. However, the main attraction for some of us is the people watching. Walk around the three levels of the mall and you will see all sorts of people you may never see anywhere – unless you live in their communities. The question of "do these people exist" is answered as soon as you reach the East Rotunda. Would you meet any of them? Unless you pre-arranged to meet old friends, former colleagues and such, that answer is "no." The place is a literal Babel – and we would not have it any other way.
THE GRAND ROUNDS: The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board maintains a combined two-lane roadway connecting several parks around the city's boundaries. Originally conceived as a way to conserve some of the area’s natural wonders, the parkway system, along with its associated bicycle and hiking trails, was given National Scenic Byway status by the Federal Highway Administration in 1998. Starting near the North Loop, the parkway runs along the Mississippi River down to Minnehaha Falls, then it cuts westward towards Lake Nokomis before reaching the Chain of Lakes. Continuing north, the parkway swings by the former headquarters of V&R and turns eastward over the Mississippi to its terminus in Nordeast Minneapolis. Speed limits hover around 25-30MPH, but who’s in any hurry when you have sweet turns, elevations and scenery along with the ride. It might get a bit bumpy, but once the potholes are fixed, it is always a nice run along the city’s limits.
SPORTS: You already know about the Vikings, Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, and Minnesota United FC. However, we're just scratching the surface. Because of the legacy of the WNBA's Lynx, women's professional sports are taking fertile ground here in the Twin Cities. The Aurora FC is going to be a premier women's soccer club when things sort out. We also have the Whitecaps in women's hockey, too! Add the Saint Paul Saints, the Twins' Triple-A affiliate, to the mix and you're pipped for choice here. That is, if you like being disappointed regularly. That seems to be how we deal with professional sports here.
YOU'RE MINUTES FROM THE COUNTRYSIDE: No, seriously. You can drive out about less than an hour from either downtown Minneapolis or Saint Paul and you're in a rural community. Plus, the bluffs along the Mississippi and Saint Croix rivers offer some decent driving roads within a hour from either core. Welch Village Road is one of our favorites. The twisty bluff road starts south of Hastings and will end up just minutes from Red Wing. For as leisurely drive, take Minnesota Highway 95 north of Stillwater towards Taylor's Falls. Or, head down the opposite direction, where it becomes Saint Croix Trail.
As the title states, this is just a quick list of things to do in the Twin Cities. There's so much more to list. The best thing to do is to simply come and explore.
All photos by Randy Stern