Andrew and I spend a lot of time traveling through the Twin Cities. It’s a great halfway point between both of our hometowns and a nice pit stop when traveling from St. Louis to Bismarck, but we’ve never actually been tourists there aside from a few trips to the Mall of America. So since we had nothing but time this summer to travel, we thought we’d spend a day or so touring the city.
We arrived late in the afternoon on Monday July 11th and caught up with some friends of ours. Then we had our first bit of tourist time for dinner: A Juicy Lucy Battle. Andrew and I split Juicy Lucy’s at two local bars who claim to be the home of the Juicy Lucy (if you don’t know what this is, it’s a burger that has the cheese melted on the inside and is pretty much the most tasty thing ever.) Our first stop was Matt’s Bar which is quite the hole in the wall and about 10 things on the menu total. We ordered a Juicy Lucy to split. The waitress asked if we wanted onions, which was a big no from us, but failed to mention that pickles would also be included on this burger. Despite the pickle taste we still enjoyed our burger. Next we went over to the 5-8 Club, just down the road. Here we got to choose what cheese we wanted in the burger (pepperjack is always a good way to go). This one was far better than the first, but we both still agree that my dad’s are better. However the 5-8 Club had a delicious Doughboy dessert that I highly recommend.
We spent the night at Andrew’s aunt and uncle’s apartment and woke up early the next morning to get our sightseeing in. Our first stop would fulfill another spot in the National Park Passport: The Mississippi River National Recreation Area. Due to the fact that the science center downtown is being renovated, the Park Service set up a temporary visitor center at St. Anthony Falls. I’m so glad they had to move it there because it was neat to see the falls from the observation deck and these are the only falls located naturally along the Mississippi River.
Directly next to the river, is Mill Ruins Park and Mill City Museum. The old Gold Medal Flour Mill used to sit on this spot and the park sports ruins from that mill and a museum was built in another part of it. The museum was really interesting and even had a kitchen inside where they baked samples with their products. The best part was our ride in the Flour Tower, which showed us what life at the flour mill was like, and left us at the top floor where we could look out and see St. Anthony Falls from up above.
Anyone who knows us, knows that we are die-hard Green Bay Packer fans, but while in the city, since we were only a few blocks away, we walked past the new U.S. Bank Stadium that the Vikings will begin to play in this year. It’s not everyday that you get to see a brand new stadium!
Our next stop after lunch was Historic Fort Snelling. After visiting Fort Union earlier this summer, we were much more impressed with this one. Far more buildings were open for us to peek into and they had Living History people working there so you felt like you’d really stepped back in time. Our favorite was the blacksmith who taught us how to make a nail in “3 easy steps.”
We attempted to go see the state capitol building in St. Paul after Fort Snelling. We knew the inside was being renovated and wouldn’t be open to the public, but we were surprised to see that the outside was being revamped as well, so no good pictures to be had!
We journeyed out of the city for a little bit of time to Stillwater, MN. Stillwater is located right on the banks of the St. Croix River. It’s a quaint little tourist town with lots of neat shops to explore and tasty restaurants. After doing a little shopping, we opted to have dinner at Smalley’s Caribbean Barbecue. Andrew and I shared a brisket meal and then took a walk along the river where we got to watch a boat pass through the “drawbridge” area.
Following our dinner in Stillwater, we drove back into Minneapolis to Andrew’s aunt and uncle’s apartment. They took us for a nice 5 mile walk round trip to Centennial Lakes. It’s a lake surrounded by office buildings and restaurants, but provides a nice oasis away from city life all the same. You could rent paddleboats or play a fancy game of miniature golf (complete with flags that needed to be removed from the holes when you got close.)
All in all, we had a great time touring Minneapolis/St. Paul in just over 24 hours, but we still have a list of things we’d like to see next time since so much was being revamped this year!