Twin Cities, Minnesota

Twin Cities, Minnesota Travel Guide

Hi loves. I am back today with highly requested Travel Guide – the Twin Cities – St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota edition.

As requested, here is my best list including dining, shopping, entertainment, and attractions that I have been and used to frequent in the period of 8 years of living there. Lots of these neighborhoods and locations are located in the Twin Cities and around the suburbs, so I do highly suggest you get a car for ease and convenience. Tax-free shopping (on grocery and clothes), so do pick up a few things from the shops if you’d like!

As in many of my previous Travel Guide posts (Seattle Travel Guide), I do not recommend a place or any specific hotels/AirBNBs to stay. The reason is that I do not mind where I stay personally, so I usually just look for an affordable option with free parking along the way using Hotel Tonight, Expedia, or Google.

A (*) denotes my favorite place/location.

ICONIC MUST-SEE PLACES!

Mall of America (Nickelodeon Universe, Crayola Experience, SEA LIFE Center Minnesota – aquarium, great for kids- & Moose Mountain – adventure golf)

Minnehaha Park – waterfalls, great for an afternoon stroll

Como Park Zoo & *Conservatory, Japanese Garden – picturesque zoo and botanical gardens

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska – garden display and walking trails

Minneapolis Institute of Art – free to the public

*Walker Art Center & Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – Spoonbridge and Cherry

*Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge, Mill Ruins Park, & *Guthrie Theatre (take the escalator up to the iconic yellow room in the Nine Floor, watch a play.)

Minnesota State Capitol, The Cathedral of St. Paul & Basilica of Saint Mary – beaux art historic landmarks

Downtown St. Paul: Rice Park, Landmark center, Raspberry & Harriet Islands, Science Museum of Minnesota

Grand Avenue

Minnesota Zoo

Valley Fair – amusement park

Mystic Lake Casino Hotel

University of Minnesota & Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

SPORTS

Target Field for Twins games, Minnesota United FC (soccer), Xcel Energy Center, US. Bank Stadium for MN Vikings, TCF U of M for Golden Gophers

St. Paul State Capitol

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Minneapolis city view from a church’s rooftop

EATS

Nicollet Ave. aka Eat Street in Minneapolis:

*Quang – Vietnamese (very busy and famous)

Pho 79, Pho Hoa

*Lu’s Sandwich – best banh mi in town

Eat Street Social

Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine

Cathedral Hill on Selby Ave.:

*W.A. Frost – great patio for brunch and fancy dining

Moscow on the Hill – Russian

Red Cow – burgers

*The Happy Gnome – American, HH, bar food

*Revival – Southern, fried chicken, and BBQ meats (other busier location is in Minneapolis)

U Of M/Dinky Town:

*Shuang Cheng (get fried walleye with meat sauce),

Pagoda (to me, it’s more like a great pregame party place before hitting the clubs back then.)

Korea Restaurant

Kowloon – Chinese

Tofu House

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers (multiple locations)

*HongKong Noodle

Markets for food/Food Halls and art:

Midtown Global Market on Lake Street – Moroccan, Mexican, Somalian food & African art

Keg and Case

The Lynhall

Seventh Street Truck Park

Hmong Marketplace

Juicy Lucy burgers:

The Nook Bar, St. Paul

The Blue Door Pub (they have Jiffy burger, yes peanut butter on a burger! I also love their fried cheese curds.)

Matt’s Bar

Brunch:

*St. Genevie – French, brunch

Bellecour

*Cafe Latte in Grand Ave. – I love their cakes!

Cossettas in St. Paul – Italian food complex, bakery, cafe, pizza & pasta

*Mandarin Kitchen: weekend dim sum

Pizzas:

Pizza Luce*, Punch Pizza

Seafood:

*Viet-cajun seafood/crawfish boil: Grand Catch & Crazy Cajun

Sea Change

Smack Shack

Stella Fish Cafe in Uptown – oyster bar

Sea Salt Eatery

Dinner:

*Spoon and Stable

*Bar La Grassa

*Pizzeria Lola & Young Joni – Korean influenced pizza

Dakota Jazz Club – live Jazz & Southern

Manny’s – fancy! I’ve had steak here once for a birthday celebration ~$65/piece of steak

Brasa Premium Rotisseries – Mexican/Caribbean rotisserie cooking

Butcher and the Boar

Blackbird

Japanese: Sa Ji-Ya, Ramen: Zen Box, Moto-i

Thai: *Amazing Thailand in Uptown, *On’s Thai Kitchen, Phad Thai on Grand Ave., Naviya’s Thai Brasserie

Korean: *Mirror of Korea, *Hoban Korean Barbecue (Bloomington & Uptown), Korea Restaurant, the Rabbit Hole

Vietnamese on University Ave., St. Paul: *Bun Bo Hue at Tay Ho, Ai Hue, grocery at Ha Tien Supermarket, Trieu Chau, Hoa Bien, iPho by Saigon

Happy hour/late night:

Chino Latino in Uptown – happy hour & international eats

*Checker Bar & Liquor – order fried dry chicken feet, Hmong sausage & sticky rice, papaya salad (Lao’s style), and you’ll be in heaven!

Salut Bar American on Grand Ave.

Tango Sushi, Uptown (Woodbury and Uptown location – HH oysters, state fair shrimps & beef tataki)

Other Cuisines:

Shish Cafe* on Grand Ave. – Mediterranean

World Street Kitchen (next to Milkjam Creamery on Lake Street)

The Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant in Cedar-Riverside – where I used to frequent with coworkers!

Victor’s 1959 Cafe – Cuban

Anchor Fish & Chip

All-you-can-eat sushi: Kyoto (multiple locations)

And here’s my to-do food list for next visit:

Travail, Burch, 112 Eatery, Pig Ate My Pizza, Hai Hai – really famous Viet-fusion Pan Asian, Grand Cafe – French, Tilia (Linden Hills), Martina – Argentinian (known for their ice cocktail that looks like a bird nest, called ‘The Egg’), & Hello Pizz (third sister restaurant of Young Joni and Pizzeria Lola, owned by Ann Kim), The Copper Hen – award-winning brunch, Borough, Parlour

brunch at W.A. Frost

brunch at St. Genevieve

DRINK/COFFEE/DESSERTS

*Brit’s Pub – watch soccer on the rooftop in the summer

Psycho Suzy’s Motor Lounge – tiki bar & tropical cocktail

Breweries in Northeast: *Indeed Brewing Co., *Bauhaus Brew Labs, Fulton Brewing – where I used to frequent after work with coworkers

Surdyks – huge liquor store on Hennepin Ave./Northeast

Ice cream:

*Sebastian Joe’s

*Izzy’s Ice Cream – don’t forget the Izzy scoop

Milkjam Creamery – you can order a flight of 4 scoops of ice cream or ‘all of them’ for a total of 16 different kinds. Also, try the Black cocoa ice cream.

Glam Doll Donuts on Eat Street – fancy donuts (popular ones: Cosmopolitan Girl, the Flirty Frenchie, & the Vanilla Darling.)

Coffee shops:

*Spyhouse Coffee (locations: Whittier, Uptown, Northeast, North Loop, St. Paul, & Downtown/Emery) – great study and work-from-home places (not the downtown one since you’ve got to pay for parking)

*Groundswell in St. Paul

*Penny’s Coffee

*Nana’s near the Cathedral

*Parallel

Kopplin’s

Five Watt’s

*Cafe Astoria – IG-worthy coffee shop, get their 24k Latte (yes, it’s topped with real edible gold!) – I think their coffee is just alright! Great for other cute looking brunch items though.

Black Coffee & Waffle Bar

Black Coffee & Waffle Bar

Waffle Bar MN

*Kungfu – boba tea shop (U of M campus is my personal favorite.)

Chatime

Mii Tea

SHOPS

Mother Co.: unique cacti shop

Shopping Streets & Districts:

Nicollet Mall, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, downtown Minneapolis & walk the Skyways without braving the cold air in the winter

Edina – Edina Galleria (indoor mall – check out RH, the Macy’s store here carries designers), 50th and France: upscale independent stores and restaurants

*Grand Avenue, St. Paul – packed with many lifestyle stores and restaurants (my uncle’s tailoring shop is located here, called Tom’s Tailors)

Downtown Stillwater – antiques, restaurants with river view

Uptown Minneapolis: CB2, Calhoun Square

St. Anthony, Northeast Minneapolis – clusters of boutiques and restaurants, attractive architecture & historic buildings

Linden Hills, Southwest Minneapolis – Victory Vintage (next to Penny’s Coffee)

North Loop – D.Nolo (women’s designers), MartinPatrick 3 (menswear, home & interior design), PARC shop (hip, IG-worthy shop), Russel & Hazel (stationary), The Foundry

Shop designers on sale: **Opitz Outlets (2 locations: *St. Louis Park & Minnetonka)

Antique & vintage shops: Mall of St. Paul, Ax-man Surplus Stores, Hunt & Gather

Red Balloon Bookshop

Anthropologie, Patagonia, Fjah Raven on Grand Ave.

*Mille

Proper Minneapolis

Pharmacie

other malls in the cities, & MOA, obsivously!

OUTDOORS

*Lake Calhoun & Lake Harriet (Uptown) – kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding, canoeing, watching people and sunset

Duluth – Canal Park, Aerial Lift Bridge, & Lake Superior – great day trip (about 3-hour drive North from the Twin Cities)

Day trip to Taylor Falls

Hiking/camping:

Willow Falls – located in Hudson, Wisconsin, but it really is not too far to get here! It’s a fun day hike I used to take my cousins there.

Split Rock Lighthouse

Superior Hiking Trail

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Jay Cooke State Park

SEASONALS

Grand Old Day – St. Paul’s hugely popular summer kickoff festival, here the first weekend of June.

Twin Cities LGBT Pride Festival in Loring Park – June

*Minnesota State Fair – August (I used to go at least 2 or 3 times a years. Go with a group and everyone order one thing to try! My favorites are the fried pickles, Sweet Martha’s cookies, deep fried everything, and the ride/game section! They have the most outrageous foods every year, so make sure you try them as well!)

Lake Harriet Band Shell – fun-filled concerts on the green in spring & summer.

Zombie Pub Crawl – Haloween time, dress up as zombies, bar crawl, & dance the night away.

Afton Alps, Buck Hill, & Lutsen Mountain (Trollhaugen in Wisconsin. it’s not far from the Twin Cities) – skiing & snowboarding

Holidazzle in Loring Park, Minneapolis – Christmas lights and art in downtown

Phalen Park in St. Paul – decked out with lights and ice sculptures

*Minnehaha Falls – in the freezing cold winter, climbing underneath/behind the falls late at night is quite fun, but be careful!

Basilica Block Party – 2-day music festival right in front of the Basilica of St. Mary church

Uptown Art Fair in August

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

MY FAVORITE HIDDEN SPOTS:

*Father Hennepin Bluff Park – park here: 44.9833340,-93.2528852 – and hike down to the Lower trail via sets of stairs, you’ll get an amazing view of the Stone Arch Bridge both day and night time

Witch’s Hat Water Tower – peaceful night view of the city

*Shadow Falls in St. Paul – hike to the cliff with views of Mississippi River & waterfalls

photo taken at the cliff at Shadow Falls – fall 2016

Swedish American Institute – pretty architectural building and art display (photos below)

Outdoor Terrace at Walker Art Center – super bright sun-lit open area, great for photos

The sunroof hideout area right outside of Walker Art Center

FUN GROUP/FAMILY ACTIVITIES:

Up-Down in Uptown – 21+ adults, skee-ball, pinball, vintage video games

Can Can Wonderland in St. Paul – mini goft

Air Maxx in Eden Prairie – trampoline park & fun center

Grand Slam in Coon Rapids – family fun center

Punch Bowl Social in St. Louis Park

If you have a day, go do:

Mill Ruins Park, Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge, Lake Harriet, Minnehaha Park, & Mall of America

.

Congrats on making it till the end of this lengthy post! I hope this has helped some of you pin-pointing and navigating what to do and where to go in the Twin Cities. Let me know in the comment section below if you have any questions regarding the places I’ve recommended above.

Thanks for reading!

style and senses signature stay inspired

An Trieu

Currently based in Seattle, Style & Senses is my digital life and style journal of all things that inspire my senses and beyond. Hope you stay inspired, as always! - An Trieu.

Currently Loving

YOUTUBE