This week I found myself for the first time in the City of Lakes, in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. While I didn’t actually see any lakes while there for a two-day work training, I did get the chance to explore Downtown Minneapolis during my free time.
In my head, Minneapolis was this happy, green, clean mecca of Midwestern ideals and accents. In reality, it wasn’t quite like that. The downtown area was a bit more industrial than I imagined. The outskirts were green and cute but overall, I got kind of a weird, unexpected vibe from the place.
I was impressed by how pedestrian-, bike- and mass transit-friendly the city was. There were bike shares everywhere, no shortage of areas easy to navigate on foot and I even caught a glimpse of the light rail system that was just extended beyond the downtown area.
Another thing that struck me was the high volume of apartment buildings and high rises throughout downtown. I saw young professionals left and right headed inside, decked out in business attire, with yoga mats strapped on their backs or lugging Target bags full of groceries. Take note, Jacksonville, take note.
At the airport, the TSA agents were the nicest I ever met. Even the lady who gave me a pat down was SUPER nice about it. They kept paging Greg Gunderson over the loudspeaker. And Joan and Roy Gunderson. And several other Gundersons (I’m sure none related). By the time I boarded my flight home I was starting to fear that I was stuck in some alternate Fargo universe.
But, back to the beginning:
It was only 6 pm by the time I got to my hotel and settled in, so I headed out to explore. I was staying at the Hyatt Regency on the south end of the Nicollet Mall, a long, mostly pedestrian strip of stores, restaurants, bars and more disected by a roadway only traveled by buses and taxis.
While wandering down, I saw the ever familiar Target bullseye and circled the block searching for the store entrance before realizing it was their corporate headquarters. The actual store was another block down and I of course spent a few minutes perusing the clearance racks before moving on.
I headed all the way down to the Mississippi River, in search of the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls. It was a warm, humid Sunday evening but there were tons of pedestrians and bike riders out. Minn
Mill Ruins Park was a lovely gateway to the river, complete with — you guessed it — mill ruins. It was rather lovely to see the crumbled leftovers of the once thriving flour industry. Rising above the ruins, the Gold Medal Flour sign shone bright, a lone survivor.
I strolled (or speedwalked, if we’re being honest, because I’m from New Jersey and damn sure don’t stroll) halfway across the stone bridge, a young 131 years old, to get a good look at the Mighty Mississippi. The water raged my way, violent from toppling over St. Anthony Falls.
I headed back to get a better look at the ruins before heading along the riverside through First Bridge Park to the Hennepin Ave bridge, a pretty suspension structure.
From there, I headed back to Nicollet Mall. I stopped to see Mary Tyler Moore (and snap a selfie with her). Then I headed over to Lund’s, where I grabbed a salad for dinner and headed back to my hotel to call it a night.
I spent the day in training — except for lunch, which I grabbed with my friend Sara who lives in Minneapolis — so I was ready to stretch my legs once 5pm hit. It felt like I brought the Florida heat with me, but at least it was weather I was used to.
I started off on the Loring Greenway, which began right next to the Hyatt. I have to say, I love a good greenway. This one was a cute swath of land sandwiched between hotels and apartments that led to Loring Park, complete with a playground and tables and chairs to hang out by.
Loring Park itself was a nice green space and relatively bustling, with yuppies walking and biking home, a raucous basketball game and other random scenes, like a shirtless old man with a long white beard who would throw bread to the ducks and geese and then photograph them with his expensive-looking Canon.
I decided to spend a few minutes taking a break in the Gardens of Seasons, admiring the pretty flowers and circling butterflies before heading to the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens.
The sculptures were exquisite. I’m no art expert or enthusiast, but I do enjoy sculptures. I utilized the Sculpture Garden’s mobile website to click on the different sculptures to learn more about them. I of course checked out the most famous piece of the garden, Spoonbridge and Cherry. I was pleasantly surprised to see the cherry was a fountain of sorts. My favorite piece, however, is the winter-themed Front of Snowwoman.
At that point, my feet were killing me. I often feel like my life is a series of poor shoe choices. I already had blisters from the night before and thought it a good idea to wear my wedges out. It seems all my shoes are super comfy until I decide to speedwalk five miles in them.
I gave them a rest on the way back at Loring Bar and Grill where I had a delicious hamburger topped off with a Fulton Beer Blonde. Yum. Then I headed back through the Greenway to my hotel.
By my third day there, I was tired and my feet sore, so I hung out in my hotel room for the evening. The weather that day was the most pleasant though — I sat outside for lunch, in ankle pants and a cardigan, and didn’t break a sweat. By the time I woke up Wednesday morning to leave, it was only 60 out — so beautiful, I almost didn’t want to leave. Unfortunately as soon as I stepped off the plane in Jacksonville, it was back to mid-90s and high humidity.
Scroll down for more pictures from the trip:
Stone Arch Bridge & St. Anthony Falls
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden