What I Can Tell You About Minneapolis

by Gray Cargill on August 22, 2012

Post image for What I Can Tell You About Minneapolis

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.

Minneapolis

Minneapolis

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.

Skyway

Minneapolis has an extensive (supposedly) climate-controlled Skyway system

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?

Light rail train

The light rail in Minneapolis is a great way to get around.

  • 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.
Nicollet Mall

Nicollet Mall

  • 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.
Dave August 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I lived in Minneapolis for 4 years (when I was in high school), and the temperature extremes both on the high side in the summer and the low side in the winter were, well, extreme. I do miss the Twin Cities, but I most definitely don’t miss the weather.

My single most favorite thing to do (weather permitting) was go for a walk or run around the lakes. Gorgeous!

Gray August 27, 2012 at 6:04 am

I wish I’d had time to make it out to the lakes, Dave. Or any number of other sites. Minneapolis seems like a great place to live, that’s for sure.

Margie Miklas August 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Great post, Gray! I appreciate your sense of humor!

Gray August 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Thanks, Margie. Great to hear from you, by the way! Planning your next trip to Italy already?

Gray August 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm

It has been a hotter than usual summer everywhere, I agree, Sere. Here in Vermont, too. I’m thinking fall in Minneapolis would be nice.

Jeannie August 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Sounds like you made the best of the little time (and hot weather) you had in Minneapolis! Looking forward to that restaurant post!

Gray August 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Look for it next week, Jeannie!

Jason August 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I love seeing the pictures of my old hometown. I can’t wait to get back there. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, not that I’m saying I’ve been to Rick’s before or anything. πŸ˜›

Gray August 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm

LOL! Oh no of course not, Jason. See, now I know why I like you–you’re a Minnesotan. You’re NICE. πŸ™‚

Sere August 22, 2012 at 11:51 am

I don’t think that the hot, hot weather is normal for Minneapolis. This has been a very hot and dry summer for most of the midwest. Minneapolis is supposed to have a large Winter Carnival in late January, early February that is supposed to be a lot of fun if you are interested in that kind of thing. I keep wanting to hit it since I am not that far from Minneapolis, but it hasn’t happened yet. So sorry you felt so yucky while you were there. Heat stroke/exhaution is not fun.

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