Here at Minnehaha Lofts, we try our best to provide our guests with a home away from home. Over the course of the years, we have had quite a few guests that return to stay with us over and over again. We reached out to some of those guests to see the city through a fresh viewpoint. If you'd like to tell your story and share tips for other travelers, feel free to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We sat down with our guests/guides, at Sea Salt Eatery near Minnehaha Falls, to get their take on the Twin Cities. Bill and Kathy are pretty familiar with all that the Twin Cities have to offer. Between St. Paul and Minneapolis, they lived in the area for about 55 years before flocking to the warmth and sunshine of Oscala, Florida. Despite the beauty of their new home, they haven't completely cut ties with their Midwestern roots. Each year, Bill and Kathy make the trek to Chicago to visit their son and then spend about a month in their old stomping grounds of the Twin Cities. For the last 5 years or so, Bill and Kathy have been staying at Minnehaha, a one bedroom house near Minnehaha Falls. We've compiled a list of some basic tips, favorite spots, and hidden gems that Bill and Kathy were kind enough to share with us (and you!).
Bill and Kathy's Tips for Travelers
Bill and Kathy are very fit and enjoy using the amenities that the Twin Cities offers to stay active. Since they are often here in the end of the summer, most of their activities take place outside, but they have great ideas for getting a work out inside as well. Here are their tips on how to get your exercise in while staying in Minneapolis:
When Bill and Kathy originally started coming to the Twin Cities as tourists, they would play tennis at any old court they could find. That is, until they found the courts at Lake Hiawatha Park! Now they always know where to go for nice, clean, large courts. Because there are 5 courts, there is almost never a wait. If it happens to be a super busy day, make sure to hang your racket on the fence to call dibs on the next open court.
Lake Hiawatha is about a 10 minute drive from the Minnehaha house and also has a golf course, fishing, a playground and picnic area.
Biking the Grand Round or just Around Town!
Bill was quick to point out how bike friendly Minneapolis is, with the most designated bike lanes and paths in the country. Many of Minnehaha Lofts properties have bikes in the garages, but for another no-fuss option, use the bike share program, Nice Ride.
Kathy suggests that visitors bike the Grand Round, a system of bike paths that wind around Minneapolis' lakes and river. The trail system consists of 51 miles of bike trails. The most popular segment of the Grand Round consists of the chain of lakes in Uptown, circling Lake Harriet, Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun), Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake.
While staying in Minneapolis, Bill and Kathy visit the Anytime Fitness off of Cedar Ave. Located in a strip mall area (convenient for running other errands), this small gym is clean and has the basics for working out while traveling. Our guides mention that senior citizens can use their Silver Sneakers card through Medicare for free access to the gym. Check with your healthcare provider for freebies or discounts, or try a free 7 day trial offered through the gym.
This is a great option for guests visiting during the colder months of the year.
It's almost too easy to get your exercise in when visiting the Twin Cities, as there are tons of places to walk to. Minnehaha Falls Park is just a 20 minute walk from the Minnehaha house. In the mornings, walk to a nearby bakery, like Mel-O-Glaze on Minnehaha Parkway or A Baker's Wife on E 42nd St. During inclement weather, many people use the Mall of America as a giant walking tour (shopping optional).
Bill and Kathy are not only travel enthusiasts, they are also culinary adventurers. They love to try new restaurants in the cities that they visit and often write reviews on them. You can see the full list of reviews on their TripAdvisor page. Since they stay for a whole month, they also cook at the Minnehaha house. Here are some tips on where to stock up on groceries and other needs when you first get into town and some of the restaurants in the area that Bill and Kathy enjoyed:
East Lake Street & Hiawatha Ave.
There are quite a few places to stock up on goods around this intersection.
As mentioned earlier, Richfield has a convenient shopping area near the Anytime Fitness. With chain stores and fast food joints, you can grab everything you need from Target (which is a Super Target, so it includes a full-sized grocery store), Home Depot, Famous Footwear and Richfield Municipal Liquor Store.
You can also grab a quick bite from Subway, Chipotle, Five Guys Burgers, or one of the other restaurants in this outdoor mall area.
A bit closer to the Minnehaha house is a Walgreens, for any of your pharmacy and beauty needs.
Within walking distance to the Minnehaha house is Nokomis Market. This little corner store has small convenience store goods and snacks.
While interviewing Bill and Kathy for this article, we ate a meal on the patio of Sea Salt Eatery. This restaurant is in Minnehaha Regional Park, a 20 minute walk from the Minnehaha house, in beautiful surroundings. Don't be deterred by the long line, as it moves quickly and you can order a drink while you wait.
The park itself has a lot to offer besides the eatery. There are walking and biking trails and surrey and bike rentals.
A little further from the Minnehaha house, but just a hop away on the light rail and within walking distance from our other properties, is Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub. This cool neighborhood restaurant has a delicious selection of food and beer at good prices. On a nice day, the patio is a great option, covered in wild hops.
For more information on this and other breweries in Minneapolis, check out our recent blog article: Minneapolis Brews (LINK ONCE POSTED).
With as many trips to Chicago as Minneapolis, if not more, Bill and Kathy have become authorities themselves on true Chicago taste. The hot, dipped Italian beef sandwich tastes just like Chicago. The Chicago Taste Authority (formerly Chris & Rob's CTA) serves up sandwiches for lunch or dinner. This joint is about 2 miles from the Minnehaha house, but incredibly close to Lake Hiawatha, so grab a dog after an afternoon of tennis or golf.
The last restaurant in the neighborhood that Bill and Kathy mentioned was Boss Pizza. Within walking distance from the Minnehaha house, this restaurant is very convenient. Bill rated their pizza as "just ok", but with delivery service available or quick pick up, this can check the boxes if you need food fast.
Bill and Kathy are big proponents of taking the Light Rail to get around. Traveling on the Light Rail is quick, easy, and can save you a lot of money in parking fees. Both the VA Medical Center Station and the 50th Street Station are about a 10-15 minute walk from the Minnehaha house. The tickets are easy to purchase at the station and will run you $2 ($2.50 during rush hour) for a transfer ticket that can be used for limitless transfers during the 2 1/2 hours after purchasing the ticket. Senior Citizens ride at a reduced rate - $1 ($1.50 during rush hour). Check out the Metro Transit website for all information on public transportation.
Here are some places that Bill and Kathy suggest you ride the light rail to:
Head downtown for high-quality dining and fun sports events. The Light Rail stops directly outside of the brand new US Bank Stadium (Vikings), the Target Field (Twins), and a short walk from the Light Rail to Target Center (Timberwolves). Parking can be over $20 during a game day, so the Light Rail is a much more affordable option.
There are tons of things to do at the Mall. There are over 500 stores and 50 restaurants for your shopping and dining needs. MOA also has activities for kids and kids-at-heart, like the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the Lego Store, and Mini-Golf.
Bill and Kathy also recommend taking the free Mystic Express Shuttle from the Mall of America to Mystic Lake Casino.
Transfer from the Blue line to the Green line to head to the other Twin City. Downtown St. Paul is home to the Science Museum, MN Wild hockey team, the architecturally ornate Minnesota Capital building, and will soon be the home of Minnesota's own soccer team.
Ride the train to the end of the Green line to get a true St. Paul local experience. Just blocks from the Union Depot Station, the Saint Paul Saints play a game of baseball that is truly fun and unique.
Bill and Kathy have seen a lot of what the Twin Cities have to offer, both from living here and coming back as tourists. If you are looking for a nice escape from the routine and rigmarole of the city, check out these day trips, including retreats inside the cities and a few short drives into greater Minnesota.
Located southeast of the airport, where the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers merge, Fort Snelling State park is a beautiful place to spend the day. Tour the military landmark for a bit of Minnesota history and take in the scenery on the walking/biking trails. Bill warns bikers to be ready for some hills, though. The ride to the park is smooth sailing, but the ride back is a challenging uphill ride, even for seasoned bicyclists.
One of the hidden gems of the cities is the beach at Fort Snelling. The nice, sandy beach is large, clean, and rarely busy
Visitors in the end of August must experience the Minnesota State Fair. With record-breaking attendance levels, this exposition is one of the largest and most attended in the world. Activities include agricultural and art exhibits, national and local music, and an expansive menu of delicacies on a stick.
Approximately a 30 minute drive southwest of Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota's Landscape Arboretum is a dreamy destination. This vast area of gardens, landscapes, and natural environments highlights the beauty of northern flora. There are a bunch of walking trails, a guided tram tour, and seasonal events. Check their calendar for additional programming.
Nature lovers should be sure to take a day trip to Taylors Falls, MN. Interstate State Park offers beautiful views and interesting geology, including glacial potholes. Activities include hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, camping, and soaking in the serene scenery of the St. Croix River.
For bargain hunters and savvy shoppers, Kathy suggests a quick 40 minute drive to Albertville Premium Outlets. With over 75 stores in this outdoor shopping mecca, this is one of the largest discount shopping areas around.
Nature, shopping, and dining combine in Stillwater, MN. Located further south on the same river as Taylors Fall, the St.Croix, Stillwater is a small town nestled into the cliffs overlooking the river. Bill and Kathy suggest that you check out the iconic paddlewheel ships parked along the river. Also, try a maple syrup beer at Maple Island Brewing, delicious and suprisingly, not too sweet.
As the clouds gathered over Minnehaha Park, threatening rain, we wrapped up our lunch at Sea Salt Eatery and turned to go our separate ways. Bill and Kathy are a wealth of knowledge of our state and we are extremely grateful that they shared it with us. We hope that you are inspired to explore next time you visit our fair Twin Cities!
Check out all of Bill and Kathy's travel reviews on their Tripadvisor accout HERE.
Rent the Minnehaha house for your next visit to Minneapolis HERE.
About the Author: Sarah Holm is a writer, artist, and designer. More of her work can be found at www.sarahmholm.com