I’ve lived in Chicago my entire life, but surprisingly I haven’t had much opportunity to explore the Midwest. Last May, I decided to book a last minute, three-day trip up to the Twin Cities and visit a friend. While, I spent most of my time in Minneapolis, but I’m sure that St Paul has plenty to do and see, as well.
These two cities are much smaller than Chicago and have such a different feel to them. Just 45-minutes from Chicago, lies a city of skyscrapers, lakes, and beautiful landscapes to explore. Ten thousand lakes and numerous hikes surround the nature-filled Twin Cities.
I threw together a perfect itinerary for three days in the Twin Cities, and have included an additional set of activities to do if time permits. I did have access to a car during my time in Minneapolis, but Uber or a transit pass would work well too!
Day 1 in the Twin Cities: Minnehaha Falls and Lake Harriet
Straight from the airport, my friend Alex took me to Minnehaha Park. After a quick pit-stop at Caribou Coffee, I was energized and ready for a little hike. (We don’t have Caribou here in Illinois anymore, so it was absolutely a MUST on my list!) Minnehaha Falls was definitely the highlight of this journey!
From there, we headed to downtown Minneapolis to see the Stone Arch Bridge and a brief view of the city. At the time, a huge portion of Minneapolis was under construction in preparation for the Superbowl. I got to see the new stadium that was built, and what Minnesotan’s consider traffic (it’s nothing compared to Chicago!)
We drove past Minnesota Sculpture Garden, which unfortunately was under construction. This was super disappointing; I had been dying to see the Spoon and Cherry. I guess that will be my reason for coming back to the Twin Cities again!
To top off a perfect, outdoorsy day, Alex and his mom took me to Lake Harriet. Here we walked around one of Minnesota’s thousand lakes, and enjoyed some live music. The lake seemed huge, but I was surprised to find out it was even smaller than the one I usually walk my dog around at home.
After this, we headed to Sebastian Joe’s for some AMAZING ice cream. I highly, highly recommend it. I got the Salty Carmel flavor and my mouth is watering as I think about it today. Quite honestly, all of their flavors that I sampled were delicious. No choice is a bad choice.
Day 2 in the Twin Cities: Stillwater and Mall of America
On my second day in the Twin Cities, we woke up and headed straight for Stillwater. Stillwater is a small town, located along the still waters of the St. Croix river, across the riverbank from Wisconsin.
In Stillwater, my friend Alex and I walked around a few antique stores. There were so many cool antiques, including a bunch of Russian memorabilia that reminded me of my grandparents. From there, we hiked up the Historic Stairs of Stillwater. I tried to count them on the way up, but lost count (there were approximately a hundred). The views from up top were well worth the hike. After working up an appetite, we had a delicious lunch at LoLo American Kitchen.
In the afternoon, we drove back to the Twin Cities to visit the place I was most excited to see: The Mall of America. While I could spend hours reviewing all of my purchases, let me just say this. Mall of America is huge and overwhelming. There are hundreds of stores. As you walk around and you finally feel like you’ve gotten to the end of one floor, you realize there are two more to go. Rollercoasters, hotels, and IKEA all add to the size of the gigantic mall. Its worth a visit once, but I would much rather prefer to be at a smaller sized mall.
Day 3 in the Twin Cities: Brunch
In the morning, I went to brunch at near Alex’s sisters apartment at a cute and yummy cafe called Hazel’s. Hazel’s comes highly recommended by locals and does not disappoint. I ordered Jean’s Mean Fried Egg Sandwich, and would recommend it in a heartbeat. If your in the mood for brunch in the Twin Cities, I would recommend any of the following places based on a ton of research: Hen’s House Eatery, Blackbird, or Birchwood Cafe.
From brunch, Alex drove me around to the sites I had yet to see. These included downtown Minneapolis, the Mississippi River, and a small outlet mall near the airport.
In the airport, I ate a delicious donut from Angel Food Bakery, a hipster looking donut shop filled with colorful creations and Edison bulbs. I wish I had brought more delicacies home for my family, because they were memorably yummy.
My Twin Cities Food Recommendations
Sebastian Joe’s: It’s mentioned above, but I’ll say it again: get some ice cream here, you will not regret it…
Pizzeria Lola: This was on my itinerary but we didn’t make it there.
Glam Doll Donuts: Every city has its own must-try donut shop. Glam Doll is the donut you must try in the Twin Cities.
Hola Arepa: This food heaven has been on EVERY list of Top 5/10/15 Brunch/Dinner Spots in Minneapolis that I looked at.
Have you ever traveled to the Twin Cities? Do you have any favorite cities in the Midwest that you think I should visit? Let me know in the comments below!