You may have noticed I missed posting to my blog a couple of weeks ago. That’s because I was at a business conference in Minneapolis. Because I was there for work, I can’t give you a comprehensive review of all the touristy things to see and do in Minneapolis, but I will give you my limited impressions of the city. Let’s start with the story about why I didn’t do anything touristy while I was there:
I only had evenings to do sightseeing, so I had just a short list of things to do. I wanted to see the Stone Arch Bridge/St. Anthony Falls, the Orpheum Theater and the Walker Art Center sculpture garden–all within easy walking distance of my hotel. Or at least, they would have been within easy walking distance if it had not been over 90 fricking degrees every day.
On Wednesday night, I tried walking from the Hilton to the Stone Arch Bridge but fell shy of it by a few blocks when I realized I was feeling heat-sick. A few years ago, I was rushed to the hospital with heat exhaustion and dehydration when I tried to walk 2 miles home from an appointment; the heat index that day was over 100 degrees. Oops.
I remember vividly what I felt like that day (I thought I was going to die). So I recognized it when I started to feel that way during my walk to the Bridge. Being in a strange neighborhood in a strange city, I quickly decided seeing the Bridge and Falls wasn’t worth it, and focused my attention on getting back to my hotel.
I stopped at a coffee shop to cool off and have a cold drink. Back outside, I started heading back to the hotel, but I wasn’t confident I’d make it. So I tried calling 3 different cab company numbers I found using my smartphone. I couldn’t get through to any of them. (It’s possible I wasn’t thinking straight by this point and did something wrong when dialing the numbers.) I had no idea if there was a bus that would take me back to the Hilton from where I was. I tried the nearest Skywalk (interior walkways, supposedly climate controlled) – through a parking garage – but it was hotter than HELL, so I went back out to the street and looked for the first open business to ask them to call me a cab.
It was 7:30 at night, and this particular street wasn’t exactly a hotbed of activity. I passed a closed bail bondsman’s office before finally seeing people in the reception area of a place on the corner. I walked in the front door, relieved. When the blonde behind the front desk saw me, her eyes widened and her eyebrows shot up. Was it because in my overheated state, I looked like I was on death’s door? No.
It was because I’d just walked into a strip club. Apparently, they aren’t used to seeing women who don’t work there walking in the front door.
But hey, beggars can’t be choosers. I asked her to please call me a cab, and she did. It arrived within minutes. Fifteen minutes later, I was back in my nice air-conditioned hotel room tossing back some cold water and feeling much better. (Thank you, blonde receptionist at Rick’s Cabaret! You really saved me that night.)
So after that, I pretty much said “Screw sightseeing.” Public transportation in Minneapolis is decent, but I was so done with 90-degree temperatures. And honestly, I was pretty tired every night after being in conference sessions all day, anyway.
So what can I tell you about Minneapolis?
- I highly recommend taking the light rail (Hiawatha) Downtown from the airport, but if you do, make sure you pack light, as the train can get crowded during rush hour or when there’s a ballgame at Target field. It’s between $1.75-$2.25 each way, which is a lot better than $60 cab fare (one-way!) or even a $30 shuttle.
- Downtown Minneapolis, especially Nicollet Mall, has some fantastic restaurants. (More on that in another post.)
- The Hilton Minneapolis on Marquette, if you can afford it, is a very nice hotel in a great location, around the corner from Nicolett Mall. It has a beautiful lobby, comfy beds, and fluffy towels; housekeeping kept things very clean. My room on the 8th floor facing the entrance on Marquette was quieter than my own bedroom at home! The hotel restaurant and lounge (Skywater) had good food, but a limited menu, and it wasn’t cheap. The elevators were very slow. Otherwise, the facilities and service were great.
- As first appearances go, the Nicollet Mall, a shopping and dining street, offers a very clean and attractive presentation of downtown. I loved seeing public art everywhere, and was very pleased to see recycling bins on every corner.
- But my most overwhelming impression of Minneapolis was just how nice the people are. I mean, they were nicer than the average nice person.Über-nice.
- I did manage to enjoy most of the limited free time I had. On Friday night, I had dinner with my favorite Las Vegas podcasters, which was a blast. I enjoyed some great restaurants. And I got to watch some of the Olympics, which wouldn’t have happened at home, since I don’t have TV. Someday, I’ll return to Minneapolis as a tourist to see the Stone Arch Bridge. I’ll just make sure it’s in the fall or the spring when the temperatures are a bit more reasonable.