If you tend to pick coastal cities (Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Miami, etc.) when deciding on a place for a vacation, this travel guide will convince you to stop by “middle America” and hunker down for a stay in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In my personal opinion, it seems that the eastern half of the Twin Cities has climbed up travelers’ bucket lists for a while now as more and more shops, brands and hotels gain Insta-popularity, drawing national attention to the humble city. These days, I’m also not surprised when I pop into a curated boutique, turn over a home good and discover it’s made in Minnesota.
Although Minnesota is definitely “on the map” (it made the “best place to live” a few years ago), it still seems like the city still flies under the radar as somewhat of a best-kept secret which makes it the perfect place for your next travel destination.
WHERE TO STAY
Alma is a cafe, restaurant, and hotel all-in-one. Located directly above the cafe, Alma offers seven cozy rooms that will make you feel like you’re staying at your designy best friend’s home. The interiors, designed by Spring Finn & Co, includes custom furniture by Form Co., custom hand-woven throws, hardwood floors adorned with vintage rugs from Aubry Angelo, custom woven baskets by House of Talents, and curated art in every room.
In the North Loop, the Hewing Hotel is a red brick warehouse-turned-hotel that is a homey and cozy as a Minnesotan hotel gets. The 124 rooms, including a sizable George Henry Suite, feature exposed brick walls, high ceilings, woodsy motifs and local handcrafted goods like Louise Gray quilts. A cedar sauna and outdoor hot tub located on the rooftop is open year-round and the Tullibee, the on-site restaurant serving up rustic Nordic cuisine, is a local favorite.
WHERE TO VISIT
You can knock out a two-fer by visiting the Walker Art Center and then taking the one-minute walk across to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. More than just a museum, the center presents rotating exhibitions, dance/theater/music performances, and film screenings. The Walker Shop deserves a call out on its own, curating a selection of modern design both Minnesota-based and beyond.
Across the center, the famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was reopened last year after undergoing a two-year renovation and redevelopment. 16 new works was added to the garden, including Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE, Clae Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry, and Katharina Fritsch’s playful Hahn/Cock sculptures.
For the dual architecture- and art-lovers, the Weisman Art Museum will satisfy both your worlds. The stainless steel skin building designed by Frank Gehry glistens in sunlight, commanding your attention and propelling your hands to grab your phone to take a gratuitous photo.
There’s a plethora of art galleries in Minneapolis but Public Functionary has to be one of the more interesting ones. The crowd-funded, multi-disciplinary space does more than just provide a platform for artists to showcase their art exhibitions. Here, the realms of visual art, performance, and music collide with social, political and cultural issues so that visitors can pause, self-reflect, and inform themselves while experiencing art in a very real and raw way.
Studio 125 is an odd-ball recommendation but hear me out. The studio / creative space occasionally hosts pop-up shops, rotating galleries, and workshops that will pique your curiosity. The Sensory Series, for example, seeks to explore the five senses with guest presenters, speakers and instructors guiding the workshop. It’s worth the two minutes of Googling to see if there’s an event happening during your trip to Minneapolis. (The space is also gorgeous, by the way.)
WHERE TO SHOP
If you’re only going to have time to pop into one store, make it The Foundry Home Goods. It’s the kind of boutique shop you’ll spend a minimum 30 minutes in because you’ll want to peruse all the beautiful, one-of-a-kind objects that shop owner Anna has sourced and curated. The shop also has events and frequent mixers (stop by on a Thursday night for some casual fun that’s so quintessentially “Minnesota nice”!) and if all that doesn’t convince you to stop by, the two shop dogs Ruby and Turnip might (see here, here and here).
Golden Age Design is a vintage store that sells restored mid-century modern and Danish designs. Even if furniture shopping isn’t something you seek out during vacation, the store is filled with so much unique furniture and home decor that you might find yourself buying something to ship home.
Forage Modern Workshop has so much going on (in a good way!). Vintage objects, curated modern goods, rotating furniture for purchase (think Muuto, Menu, Modernica and more), exhibitions by local artists, design services if your home needs it – FMW has it all.
Need help outfitting your wardrobe or your home? Wilson & Willy’s carries such a wide selection of up-and-coming indie brands, going into the store is like going to your best friend and asking them “What’s the newest cool thing?” You’ll definitely discover a new-to-you brand of every type, whether it be in jewelry, home wares, fashion, apothecary & beauty, furniture, or books.
I’ll be honest. When I travel, I plan my itinerary around food first, then attractions and sites to see after, so here are a couple of recs for our fellow foodie readers:
With BRIM’s new opening, you don’t have to sacrifice your design fix in order to satiate your hunger. The new restaurant boasts a menu of mostly organic, plant-based entrees (though meat-lovers can still get their protein here too) and the Scandinavian-esque interiors of pink and teal (designed by Deuce Cities Hen House) will make you want to eat slowly and hang out. The Menu grinders and Le Creuset wares also add an impressive touch. Bravo, Brim.
If you ask a local for a favorite spot to eat, most likely you’ll hear the Bachelor Farmer at least once. This restaurant exudes comfort ]and creates dishes that are just as comforting, as the food here is Nordic-inspired cuisine made with fresh and local produce.
If you’ve traveled to the Twin Cities and have any travel recommendations, let us know below so we can check it out for the next trip!