Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
August has got to be the most happening month in the northern hemisphere, with summer in full swing and holidays abounding, America makes for a great holiday destination away from the cold winters in Australia. Minnesota is usually known for two things, snow and musical genius Prince (or symbol, or the artist formally known as, or whatever he’s calling himself these days); however the twin cities makes for a great city break if you’re looking to head somewhere off the beaten track in the States. And yes, I know you’re thinking ‘Minnes-NO-ta’ to the idea of a holiday in the middle of SNO-where, and despite the main reason I visited Minnesota was because Siu On is from Minnesota, I actually found myself wondering why more tourists don’t add the Mid West to their USA itineraries! So if you’re looking to go somewhere other than the usual Los Angles-Los Vegas-New York tourist destinations then a visit to the Mid West during the summer will make for a unique change from where everyone else is going.
Enjoy the outdoors
Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and the city has it’s own urban chain of lakes where you can rent any kind of watercraft and get out on the water. The main ones are the Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun; where you can canoe, kayak or even SUP for nearly two miles all the way to Brownie Lake.
Minneapolis also consistently ranks in the top five bicycle town in the States, and has the second largest number of bike commuters of all the American cities. Nice Ride Minnesota is a non-profit bike sharing system that’s easy to use and located at more than 170 locations through the twin cities. Just look for the green bicycles and for as little as $6 you can be biking to your next destination. I found the routes with Nice Ride Minnesota to be easy and fun to do, and I highly recommend cycling the Bridges of Minneapolis route and cycling along the Midtown Greenway, which is a 5.5 mile long former railroad corridor in south Minneapolis.
Lastly, be sure to check the Minneapolis Music and Movies in the Parks schedule for music and movies under the stars. The program runs from June to August and also hosts a number of local food trucks to complete your Minneapolis outdoor experience.
Go to a Minnesota Twins game
Minnesotans are absolutely sports mad, and in the summer and fall baseball is the most popular sport. Head down to Target Field and pick up nosebleed seats for around $10, and watch the Minnesota Twins play some ball! And while you’re there be sure to munch on some classic American ballpark fare including the double patty goodness of the Hangover Burger and one that took my fancy, the Kramarczuk’s bratwurst with the lot, all washed down with some local microbrew beer which you can also buy on tap at the venue.
Visit a Microbrewery
Craft brewing has boomed in Minneapolis, with Minnesota being named the 10th craft beer state in America. Fulton Brewery and Surly Brewing Co both offer free tours where you can learn about their beer, history and also taste some of their mighty fine drops; my favorites are Fulton Brewery’s Randonneur (a summer draught) and the year round Bender by Surly Brewing. Summit Brewery had an especially lovely outdoor beer garden which made for an awesome afternoon of trying their brews and sitting in the warm sunshine. Check their websites for tour dates and times, and remember to bring your ID as you must be aged over 21 years of age to drink alcohol in the USA.
Get your shop on at the biggest Mall in America
Yes it’s cliche and touristy, but you simply can’t go to Minneapolis and not visit this shinning bastion of American consumer culture! With over 520 stores on four levels, the sheer scale of the Mall of America will put even the most seasoned shopper in a shopping induced daze. However, once you get over the dazzling array of options you be even happier to know that the State of Minnesota does not impose a sales tax on clothing. And if you need a break from the shops there’s always the Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, the LEGO Play Area, the Mall of America theaters, the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium or the many temporary exhibitions to keep you entertained and all under the one roof! The only problem you’ll have is making a choice…
Eat your weight in food on a stick at the State Fair
The Minnesota State Fair is the grandaddy of all American State Fairs and runs for 12 days from late August to the September labor day weekend. The State Fair serves up more deep-fried, in a bucket, on a stick and wrapped up foods than your stomach would even want to handle! Along with amusement rides, animals, competitions, art and music, your day and night will be filled with serious eating and a whole lot of fun. The state fair grounds are located in St. Paul and if you’re here during State Fair time, no trip to Minneapolis will be complete without this truly Minnesotan experience.
And if you still have a bit of time left while you’re there don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art which is a free entry non-profit museum that holds a collection of national and international art; or if contemporary art is more your thing, the Walker Art Centre in downtown Minneapolis will raise even the most abstract of eyebrows at $14 or free entry on Thursday nights and the first Saturday of each month. Also across the road is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden where you will see the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, which is free to enter.
Heading to the States soon? You can also check out my other posts and musings on my time traveling through America right here.
Third and second last photography by Auyeung Photography, all others by Jelena Stipanicev.