Minneapolis is half of the famous Twin Cities (along with neighboring state capitol, St. Paul), and is a small urban city brimming with culture that extends way beyond the Mall of America. Along with beautiful nature, Minneapolis boasts thriving arts and cuisine scenes and proves Minnesota has much more to offer than a multitude of lakes and shopping. If you only have two days to explore the "Mini Apple," here's how to maximize your time -- that doesn't involve stepping one foot in a mall.
9:30 AM - BIRCHWOOD CAFE
311 E. 25TH ST. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55406
Diners at Birchwood Cafe will immediately feel at home as the restaurant is a community staple, serving up locally sourced breakfast for all to enjoy. You won't be disappointed if you order the Savory Waffle, which is made with a slew of healthy ingredients including kale, brown rice, sweet potato, and grapefruit preserves. If your sweet tooth needs a fix, try the French Toast, served with berry marmalade and pecans.
11 AM - MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART
2400 3RD AVE. S. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55404While a smaller city compared to Chicago, New York, and LA, Minneapolis boasts a fine art museum that can keep up with the big dogs. Featuring a permanent collection of works from Matisse, van Gogh, and a very popular mummy, the Minneapolis Institute of Art is well worth the trip. Of special interest during is the upcoming Beyond The Selfie exhibit, which explores contemporary self-portraiture.
2 PM - COMMON ROOTS CAFE
2558 LYNDALE AVE. S. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55405Take a seat at the counter of Common Roots Cafe for classic farm-to-table fare. The cafe has a full lunch menu and a nice list of cocktails if you're feeling parched. The meatball gyro will hit the spot, while vegetarians will be delighted by the savory winter squash torta. The bustling but rarely overcrowded restaurant supports local Minnesota farmers, so everyone wins when you order lunch.
5 PM - MOVIE AT LAGOON CINEMA
1320 LAGOON AVE. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55408Built in the mid-1990s, the Lagoon is a favorite of Twin Cities locals with architecture to remind you of the good 'ole days. The theater plays current blockbusters, along with foreign and art films, and if you hit up an afternoon showing, you won't have to worry about the long lines and crowds at night.
9 PM - DINNER AT CHINO LATINO
2916 HENNEPIN AVE. S. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55408
From empanadas to pad Thai and Chinese spare ribs, the quirky Asian/Latin fusioncuisine at Chino Latino is spicy, savory, and mouth-wateringly tasty. Make sure you arrive hungry, because the dishes are sizable and made to share. Start with plantains and spicy green beans, then dive right into steamed mussels, potato sopes, and tacos. You may face a bit of a wait to get in, but it's well worth it.
11 PM - DRINKS AT MARVEL BAR
50 N. 2ND AVE. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55401
Located in the warehouse district, Marvel Bar has a groovy purple door leading to the inner-sanctum. Best described as hipster chic, it's dark, not too loud, and offers strong, creative cocktails. If you find yourself craving a little salty snack with your drinks, the food on offer is Cheetos for $1, classed up in a glass bowl.
10 AM - THE MILL NORTHEAST
1851 CENTRAL AVE. NE. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55418With brunch items like Ecuadorian baked eggs and cinnamon wild rice pancakes, it’s hard to go wrong with breakfast at The Mill Northeast. The bright, friendly restaurant is always buzzing in the morning, so you may have to wait a bit while you savor the menu. Sandwiches, soups, and salads are served all day, so never fear if you prefer savory dishes in the a.m.
11:30 AM - MAGERS AND QUINN BOOKSELLERS
3038 HENNEPIN AVE. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55408The independent bookstore Magers and Quinn Booksellers is full of literary gold, and a great place to pickup a souvenir from your time in Minneapolis. With a collection of rare and antique books, scouring the collection for your favorite authors and rare editions is the perfect treasure hunt for bibliophiles.
1:30 PM - PICNIC AT LAKE OF THE ISLES
DOUGLAS AVE. & LOGAN AVE. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55405A trip to Minneapolis without visiting at least one of the 10,000 lakes would be a sad trip indeed. In the warmer months, do what many Twin Cities natives do, and take your lunch to beautiful Lake of the Isles. You can rent a bike to ride around or bring roller blades to enjoy a full view of the different beaches.
3:30 PM - SHOPPING IN UPTOWN
3001 HENNEPIN AVE. S. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55408Sure you can go to the Mall if you like chains, but Uptown Minneapolis is where the chic and trendy boutiques are. Check out Calhoun Square and wander around the neighboring streets to find your style. Shops like Heartbreaker and Bobian Hat Shop will suit the trendsetters, and there are plenty of coffee shops for when you need a break from exercising your debit card.
7 PM - SHOW AT THE GUTHRIE THEATER
818 S. 2ND ST. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55415The Guthrie is a world famous theater that has been running productions since 1963. Showing everything from comedies, dramas, and concerts from Shakespeare through the modern day, the award-winning company always wows. Check the schedule to see what'll be playing during your visit.
9 PM - DINNER AT CAFE LURCAT
1624 HARMON PL. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55403
The upscale but not over-the-top New American food at Cafe Lurcat will please both foodies and people who are just plain hungry alike. Lurcat is always hopping, but it's quite spacious so you needn't wait long. The mini-burgers and fries are mouthwatering, but the impressive dessert menu will entice you to save room for just a little bit more. Private dining is also available if you want to keep your dinner an extra low-key affair.
11 PM - REPUBLIC
221 CEDAR AVE. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55454
One of the top 100 beer bars in the U.S. according to Draft Magazine for three years running, Republic is the place to go if you're looking to find your perfect beer. Featuring plenty of ales, lagers, and stouts from local breweries (don't miss Summit) and global favorites, you'll want to belly-up to the bar and try something new including the beer of the day, which is just three bucks.
WHERE TO STAY: THE HOTEL MINNEAPOLIS
215 FOURTH ST. S. MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55401
Fancy, but not stuffy, the rooms at Hotel Minneapolis are spacious, and if you book the Signature King, you're guaranteed a great view of downtown. The hotel (like the city) is popular in the summer months, so if you plan on visiting while fairer temperatures are with us, be sure to call ahead with plenty of advanced notice.