When I found out I would be attending the Destination Marketing Association International’s Annual Convention in Minneapolis, the first thing I did was Google where it is. “Wow! That’s all the way up by the Dakotas!” was the first thing that ran through my mind. Growing up in the southernmost state, and then in one of the southernmost cities of that state, I didn’t have very many opportunities to travel that far north.
Upon arriving in Minneapolis, my Uber driver informed me that there are two seasons – winter, and construction. He was right, there was plenty of ongoing construction right outside of our hotel and the convention center. I later learned that this is because the city is seriously up and coming, though I was pleasantly surprised by how happening Minneapolis is today.
It’s often associated with the descriptions “naturally beautiful” and “with urban sophistication”. The city was very green. There are many lush parks where you can find families and young adults soaking up the sun and enjoying the outdoors.
There’s also many bodies of water to escape to. It sounds like people still find ways to be outside during the winter, too. I only thought ice skating happened indoors in man-made environments!
During the convention, the local destination marketing organization, Meet Minneapolis, put on a great presentation that showcased all of the hotels, apartment complexes, bars, restaurants, and parks to come. I’ve recently had some friends move to Minneapolis and they’ve loved how much there is to do. It sounds like it will only get better.
Because work brought me to Minneapolis, my colleague and I only had a few opportunities to get out and explore the area. Luckily, because the city itself isn’t nearly as big as a New York City or Washington, D.C., you can see some amazing attractions and hot spots even if you don’t have a ton of time.
If you happen to fly up to the area for work, or have a stopover and just want to grab a drink with a friend, here are 3 things to do in Minneapolis:
1. See the brand new US Bank Stadium
This stadium was HUGE. Upon walking in, you get overwhelmed by bright purple everywhere. There are multiple levels, and of course when you get the winters Minneapolis does, there’s a retractable cover over the top of the dome.
There is something really special about walking into a stadium and it smelling new; there has yet to be a beer spilled. It’s so much easier to get a picture with the mascot, too.
Tours of the stadium are offered beginning August 24th, but have been on sale since May so you can go ahead and reserve tickets.
Two days after we attended our convention’s event at the US Bank Stadium, A.C. Milan played Chelsea as a part of the International Champions Cup as the first-ever event held in the stadium. The streets were flooded with fans. To no surprise, this match broke the all-time record for a soccer match attendance not only in just Minneapolis, but all of Minnesota! The stadium is proving to draw in new crowds to the city.
2. Explore the Mall of America
First things first – this place is insane! Have you ever seen rollercoasters inside of a mall?! I think not.
This mall is absolutely enormous. My colleague and I didn’t have very much time to strategically plan where to enter, which you should set time aside to do since there is so much to see. It was my goal to see the indoor amusement park, though once I found out there was an aquarium downstairs I wanted to go more than anything!
We chose a fabulous restaurant for lunch, FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar. You walk in and instantly feel like you’re at a rustic chic ranch; the farm-to-table cuisine is mirrored in the decor. There are plenty of mixed textures as you look around, and the natural lighting is complimented by elegant light fixtures.
They have a selection of specialty cocktails (being a cocktail bar, too, it makes sense!) and so many options for appetizers, salads, and entrees. The restaurant closes after lunch around 2pm until dinner time at 5pm, with a different menu.
Their version of a moscow mule is a must-try!
3. Surly Brewing Co.
This is hands-down the coolest thing to do in Minneapolis. I have never been to a brewery of this size!
You know when you’re getting close because you see a long line of cars spiraling outside of the parking lot. The incredible beer Surly serves is well worth the wait.
Here’s a tip to getting a seat faster at Surly Brewing: put your name down with the hostess inside as well as outside. Both the inside and outdoor areas are so awesome, with yard games and string lighting over picnic tables outside, and some sweet views of all of the brew equipment and machinery indoors. Though you can just go up to the bar and order and find a seat at the standing tables or at the seating areas outside, getting a seat will allow you to order some of the best brussel sprouts of your life, as well as select from other amazing small plates.
Surly doesn’t serve flights per se, but you can order a couple of small sized brews to try some of their world-class beers, like their Russian Imperial Stout called Darkness. I loved their saison, belgian ales, and pale ales. Every beer we tried there was awesome.
Be warned that there are huge crowds every day, including weekdays. We went on a Wednesday and I expected to be the only people there. Little did I know that Surly Brewing Co. is overflowing with beer-lovers of all ages every day of the week.