Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Meet Minneapolis: Where to Shop, Eat, and Sight See in the Host City

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Meet Minneapolis: Where to Shop, Eat, and Sight See in the Host City

Article excerpt

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WITH ONE OF THE NATION'S FINEST PARK SYSTEMS, comprised of more than 6,700 acres of land and water, Minneapolis is an ideal site for the NRPA's 2010 Congress & Exposition. Minneapolis is a city carved around its natural settings, including Minnehaha Falls, the Chain of Lakes and the mighty Mississippi River, which provides a backdrop for many of the city's landmarks. The banks of the Mississippi River, once the center of the flour milling boom, is now the cultural center for parks, pathways, restaurants and historical attractions.

While the City of Lakes, which hovers at a population around 370,000, may have been created with nature lovers in mind, visitors need not miss out on all the other wonderful experiences Minneapolis has to offer, from theater to art to architecture. The theater scene actually sells more tickets per capita than any other U.S. city. In fact, Conde Nast Traveler hailed the city as the "cultural capital of the Midwest" in April 2008.

The name of the city is attributed to being created by the city's first schoolmaster, who strung together the words "Minnehaha" and "min," the Dakota word for water, with "polis," the Greek word for city. There's no better time to take in the city than during fall. The city's crisp air turns the foliage into a fall wonderland of gold, orange and red leaves, an appropriate welcome for park enthusiasts from across the country.

Where to Eat

From casual burger joints to internationally-influenced cuisine, Minneapolis offers a wide array of dining choices. Within walking distance of the Minneapolis Convention Center is a string of establishments on the aptly named Eat Street such as Ichiban, Brit's Pub and Zelo.

A trip to Minneapolis wouldn't be complete without a sampling of the Juicy Lucy, the city's most famous culinary invention--a hamburger patty with a hidden burst of oozy cheese. They're found all over town, but serious burger aficionados can compare and contrast at long-time rivals 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar, which both stake claim to inventing the Lucy.

Looking for something a bit more refined? Then head to Restaurant Alma, where 2010 James Beard Award-winner Alex Roberts transforms artisanal ingredients and local produce into seasonal American cuisine. Another choice for foodies is the 112 Eatery, where Chef Isaac Becker presents creative, affordable cuisine, like the popular bacon, egg, and harissa sandwich.

And for those after-dinner drinks, Esquire magazine called Nye's Polonaise Room the best bar in America. The joint features classic cocktails, Polish specialties, and on weekend nights, the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band. The best jazz music in town can be heard at the Dakota Jazz Club. At this fashionable spot, you'll also find a surprisingly ambitious and successful dinner menu.

Where to Shop

The first stop for Minneapolis shopping should be the Nicollet Mall, located in the heart of downtown. This pedestrian mall features the corporate flagship of Target, as well as Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Saks Off Fifth, and a wide variety of national retailers and local boutiques. During the mall visit, an absolute must is checking out the statue depicting the iconic television scene of Mary Tyler Moore joyfully tossing her cap into the air, a moment that was filmed at Nicollet.

If that's not enough to meet your shopping needs, then hop on the light rail for a 40 minute ride to the Bloomington-based Mall of America, which contains more than four miles of store fronts. And for when you need a slight shopping break, the mall also houses an aquarium, the largest indoor theme park in the United States and a life-size maze of mirrors and glass. …

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