(Minneapolis-St. Paul is hosting the Republican National Convention Sept. 1-4. Here’s a look at what visitors can see and do in the Twin Cities.)
By Jeff Stern
Minnesota, known as "the land of 10,000 lakes," actually has almost 12,000 lakes throughout the state. In the winter, these lakes make for a wonderful place to cross
country ski and ice skate. In the summer months, people who like to be in the water can be found boating,
canoeing, windsurfing and swimming right in the heart of Minneapolis.
The Mississippi River, which starts in Minnesota and splits the Twin
Cities — Minneapolis and St. Paul — is another body of water that attracts
a crowd during the summer months.
Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet — my three favorite lakes — are connected by a bike/pedestrian path. If you like to walk or run, be sure to check out these lakes, because you can do almost a 10-mile loop without even crossing the street. If you like to bike or Rollerblade, and you were unable to pack those bulky belongings because you didn’t want to pay for the extra luggage, no worries. Calhoun Rental, down the street from Lake Calhoun, has a wide assortment of bikes and Rollerblades to choose from.
If you decide to just have a casual bike ride, walk or Rollerblade, be sure to check out the Lake Harriet Bandshell, as is has lively concerts and great ice cream at the concession stand. But if you want the best ice cream in Minnesota, I recommend that you head to Hennepin Avenue to try Sebastian Joe’s. I would highly suggest the raspberry chocolate chunk, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of their flavors, especially when it’s scooped into a hand-dipped cone. Just down the road (and all over the Twin Cities) you can find my favorite fast-food Chinese restaurant, Leeann Chin, and if I were you, I would be sure to get an order of the oyster wings (also known as chicken drummies).
While Minnesota is known for the Mall of America, I prefer to shop in the art museums’ gift shops at the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. While there is a fee to enter the Walker Art Center, the sculpture garden is free. My favorite, and the most noticeable sculpture, is the Spoonbridge and Cherry (which is also a water fountain) created by the husband-and-wife team of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. If you are looking for a high-quality museum with no entrance fee, check out the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where admission and parking are always free.
And if you do decide to go in the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes
for ice skating (Lake of the Isles is my favorite place to skate) and
cross country skiing. Additionally, to stay warm, check out the skyway
system in downtown Minneapolis. It’s an indoor pedestrian
walkway that connects many of the downtown buildings and covers 69 full
city blocks (making it the largest continuous system in the U.S.).
As Minnesota is in America’s heartland and MSP is a major airport,
mostly likely, there are non-stop flights to/from your local airport. Remember that Minnesota is a great
place to visit year-round for all the outdoor sports, cultural
activities, shopping and restaurants.
Jeff Stern works in Finance at Orbitz and is always on the lookout for interesting travel destinations (especially if they involve a sporting event).