Minneapolis Travel Guide—Vacation like a Local {Winter Edition}

The Superbowl is just around the corner, and this year, my hometown is hosting it. Whether you’re rooting for the Patriots or the Eagles, or just here for the experience, welcome to Minneapolis!!!! Here in the Twin Cities, we’re known for our hospitality and warm welcomes…and our inability to let you leave without the long, drawn out Minnesota goodbye.

We’re also famous for a few other things…Prince. That giant Mall. And of course, those lakes.

Pick up any guide book to the Twin Cities, and you’ll see some great things for you and your family to do. But if you’re looking for something completely unique and want to live for a few days like the good folks of the Twin Cities do, here’s a list just for you.

IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS

Stone Arch Bridge  

Brave the cold, bundle up, and take a stroll along the iconic Stone Arch Bridge. As you cross over the Mississippi River, you are able to take in beautiful views of the city skyline. Walking around is easy here, and well worth the rosy cheeks.

The Old Spaghetti Factory

233 Park Ave, Minneapolis

While this isn’t a “local” joint, locals love it just the same. Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, The Old Spaghetti Factory is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a nice sit-down restaurant with good Italian comfort food to warm yourself up after a day enjoying the Minnesota briskness. To be honest, I haven’t eaten here…but most of my family has and they give it rave reviews. Top menu pick: the calzone. And they have some pretty good gluten-free options as well.

Downtown Dunn Brothers Coffee 

201 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis

Now, I’m a Starbucks girl to the core. (My year living in Seattle was pure joy because of this.) But Dunn Brothers is hands down my favorite local coffee. There are lots of locations throughout the metro area, but a true coffee shop connoisseur will love the vibe of the downtown Dunn Bros located in Downtown Minneapolis. The weathered brick interior is just the start of coziness, and when you walk in, not only are you greeted by the amazing aroma of their locally roasted coffee, but will be surrounded by cozy chairs and beautiful architecture. If you like coffee, make this a must-do on your list.

Visit the Skyway

Keep out of the cold and walk most of downtown Minneapolis in the Skyway. Aimed for weekday warriors, most of the shops and restaurants here are open during your typical workday hours. The skyway has hours as well, depending on the section, but it is open on the weekends and in the evening as well. If you’re able to make it to the skyway during the work week or Saturday, there are two restaurants that make the top of my list. Visit Ginelli’s Pizza in the TCF Bank skyway (121 S 8th St #235) for some awesome pizza pie, or if you’re in the mood for Chinese, Skyway Wok (250 2nd Ave S Ste 245B) is the place to go.

Izzy’s Ice Cream

1100 2nd St. S.

A family favorite in the Twin Cities, Izzy’s Ice Cream is a perfect treat if you’ve got a sweet tooth. The website refreshes it’s current flavors every few minutes, and you’re sure to find something for each person in your family.


If you’re wanting to explore outside the immediate downtown Minneapolis area, there are some great places to stop with your family. These are all close to the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis, but still tucked away in some of the iconic Minneapolis neighborhoods.

Northeast Minneapolis (Or, as the locals call it, “NORDEAST”)

You could spend an entire day in Nordeast and still not do everything, but there are two places that are worth a stop on a quick tour on Minneapolis. Good Carma (614 Lowry Ave. NE) is an auto repair shop, but that’s not why I’m recommending it. The good folks at Good Carma also own Carma Coffee, straight across from their VW repair shop. The atmosphere is great, the coffee superb, and you can see some beautiful VW buses while you sip your coffee. Total win win.

After your cup of coffee, head on over to Kramarczuk’s Deli (215 East Hennepin Avenue) for some authentic and delicious Polish/Eastern European food. My Polish roots are happiest here. There is a great sit down area to grab yourself a pierogi (they are my favorite in the city) and sausage. Be decadent and order one of their tortes…you won’t regret it. The hustle and bustle feel of the deli will remind you of those New York deli’s you see in film.

Linden Hills

Linden Hills has a completely different vibe from Northeast, and located on Lake Harriet, you’ll be surrounded by grand homes of days gone by. The shopping scene is perfect if you’re looking for something family friendly and unique. Wild Rumpus (2720 West 43rd Street) is the cutest Children’s Bookstore I’ve ever seen. Imagine the bookstore from “You’ve Got Mail” and throw in a few shop animals that roam the store. There’s a chinchilla, some rats, and our favorites, a few lovely cats who are the soul of the store. Kids get to use a special door to get in, and the shop is teeming with magic. Summer or winter, Wild Rumpus is a must stop.

Another big hit for kiddos is Heartfelt (4306 Upton Avenue S), and within walking distance of Wild Rumpus, it’s another sure stop. Step into the doors of Heartfelt, and you’ll be surrounding by warmth and the joyous sound of kids crafting at the little tables in the middle of the store. Definitely Waldorf-inspired, Heartfelt encourages creativity and is full of amazing art and craft supplies, as well as Waldorf inspired toys and books for kids and adults. Our kids’ favorite part? The giant tree in the back they could play in.

After all that play and fun at Wild Rumpus and Heartfelt, fill your empty bellies over at Great Harvest Bread . It is located right by Heartfelt, and their selection of bread will warm your soul. Great Harvest Bread is not a local company, but is well loved in the Twin Cities. In fact, I grew up for 19 years in Great Falls, Montana, where the original Great Harvest Bread is located. Imagine my joy when their bread shops started popping up in the Twin Cities…it was a bit of my Montana home that I could enjoy. Great Harvest is always a good idea, especially on cold winter days when you walk into their warm shop.


Winter in Minneapolis can be brutal sometimes, but locals survive by enjoying the simple things in life. If you have time, be sure to walk down to Minnehaha Falls to check out the frozen waterfalls, stop in the yellow room at the Gutherie Theater, walk through the (free) Minneapolis Institute of Art, and catch a show at one of the many beautiful small theaters in the theater district downtown. (The Pantages is my personal favorite.)

If you’re from Minneapolis, and your favorite winter spot isn’t on here, add it down below in the comments! And if you’re not from Minneapolis and are going to be here for a few days in the winter, I hope you enjoy your time here!

I’m not affiliated with ANY of these businesses…they are some of our favorite places to stop at in Minneapolis.

 

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The Measure of Us

one family | one bus | big on adventure | small on stuff

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