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A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

Seattle
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A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

My in-laws, husband, daughter and I are headed to Minneapolis for a special birthday (my husband's) weekend in late May. It's the first time there for all of us, and we chose it because of its location (we live on opposite coasts), and we've heard great things about it. But we're not sure where to stay or what to do during our 48+ hours there. We'll be there from Saturday morning through Monday afternoon, and we'd like to stay someplace that has some fun things to do (and maybe a coffee shop or two) in walking distance. Any suggestions about places to stay, things to do and restaurants would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

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1. Re: A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

It always depends on what type of things you really like to do.

I would always (for the sake of a vibrant area with lots of dining options, including coffee shops -- although the best ones are found in Uptown, where there are no hotels) suggest people stay downtown, preferably downtown. Hotel selection depends a lot on taste -- do you like traditional, historic or modern style? I never hesitate to tell people to look into staying at the Marquette. I don't think there's a better hotel down there. Newer hotels, yes. But not better. It's a traditional hotel decor, but classy and comfortable. In a wonderful location with a back entrance/exit onto Nicollet Mall.

Nicollet Mall is the downtown shopping and dining area. It's a pedestrian mall/avenue. Not a mall in the suburban shopping center sense.

Lined with stores and eateries. Central to many things and nearby a train station (light rail) to take you down to the ballpark in one direction, or the airport and the Mall of America in the other). Safe and cheap.

Get out to see Minneapolis' proudest piece: its parks system. It has two crown jewels: the Chain of Lakes in Uptown -- a vibrant, younger area with some of the more hip bars and restaurants. Lots of people milling about. And a chain of beautiful, parkway-lined lakes surrounded by magnificently old mansions. Great walking area. Or you could rent a bike to see them all. The prettiest is Lake Harriet. The most vibrant -- Calhoun.

The other jewel is Minnehaha Park, which you can reach via light rail from the Nicollet Mall station. Exit the 50th Street/Minnehaha Park station and cross the main street and enter the park through the gap in the big tan wall. Head left, then right. You'll find the water fall and the pavilion, where you can get a fantastic and well-priced seafood lunch with wine and beer. Casual. Fantastic outdoor patio seating near the falls. In May, they should still be passing lots of water.

Also, check out the riverfront downtown and stroll the Stone Arch Bridge, maybe have lunch across the river from downtown in St. Anthony Main. See the old brick street and view the only naturally ocurring waterfall in the Mississippi River (though it no longer looks manmade -- it was originally a natural waterfall).

While visiting the riverfront, peek into the Guthrie Theater and check out the endless bridge. Even check for productions during your visit. Minneapolis is well known for its many MANY theaters.

Get reservations for dinner at 112 Eatery. Its buzz has worn off a bit but it's still the best place downtown at a reasonable price to me. 18-23 a plate. Good wine pours.

Hope that gets ya started.

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2. Re: A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

Consider staying at one of the two Marriotts at the Depot complex. It has a waterparc in the middle, and a big 2 story Dunn Brothers Coffee, a Minneapolis based coffee chain. They roast their own beans on site.

http://www.thedepotminneapolis.com/

www.dunnbros.com/locate_results.asp…

Some things to do is walk the Mississippi Mile, along both banks of the river, onto Nicollet Island, historic St. Anthony Main, out to WaterPower Park, and across the Stone Arch Bridge.

http://www.minneapolis-riverfront.com/

Maybe take a paddleboat cruise, up and out on the new Guthrie Theater ledge (free), and Mill City Museum, and the weekend a.m. farmer's market nextdoor.

http://www.millcitymuseum.org/

Seattle
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3. Re: A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

Thanks so much for the information. I didn't realize Minneapolis has a light rail system. Are the shops/cafes in the downtown area open on weekends? Some downtowns really lose their vibrancy Saturday and Sunday with the business people away.

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4. Re: A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

Minneapolis' downtown remains open on weekends. It's a relatively vibrant downtown with people coming into the area for shopping, theater, ball games etc. In fact, if the Twins are playing at home one, the downtown will be very vibrant. Unfortunately can't say the same for neighboring St. Paul. That downtown really shuts down on weekends.

Shopping gets going pretty good Saturday and Sunday and holds people all the way through, until the nightlife starts up at about 8.

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5. Re: A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

By the way, calling it a light rail system might be too generous. It's expanding soon, but right now it's one line that runs from the Mall of America through the airport terminals and up to downtown. Pay at the teller machines on the platform and have ticket before you board. Full ride takes about 45 minutes.

I just didn't want to leave you with visiions that there is a network of train lines that will take you anywhere in the metro area you want to go. Just one line for now, though the bus system is very good in Minneapolis proper.

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6. Re: A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

Minneapolis really thrives, especially on weekends & game days for the Twins.

The light rail can take you from the airport, til about 3 blocks for your hotel.

Get off on Govt. Center Station, and walk up Third Avenue to the Depot Marriott complex, if you stay there.

metrotransit.org/hiawatha-line-route-55.aspx

7. Re: A weekend visit - Where to stay? What to do?

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