Curated City Guides by Your Favorite Designers and Tastemakers.
Bars & Restaurants
There are several Punch locations throughout Minneapolis, but the one on the U of M campus is one of the newest, and has one of the most interesting décors (specifically worth noting is the Post-it Note wall). Once you’re done admiring the atmosphere, you’ll eventually want to make your way through the queue to order some of the finest pizza in the Midwest. How good is the pizza you ask? So good that there was a line out the door and around the block until 10p the night of their grand opening…in January. Can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I also recommend buying one of their awesome branded jerseys. And the large table to the right of the door has an iPhone jack so you can play music through the restaurant’s speaker system.
3226 West Lake Street
Cossetta’s Italian Market
It’s technically located in St. Paul, but since the cities are practically twins (or so I hear), it’s close enough that it still feels like home. Though you can credit that sensation to the inviting warmth Cossetta’s has to offer, including vintage photography of the restaurant’s history on the walls, as well as Italian opera music radiating throughout both floors. Best experienced in the winter, Cossetta’s is a dine-in / take out restaurant that offers some of the best Italian food in the cities. Not just pizza, but lasagna, mostaccioli, and spaghetti ‘n meatballs. And if you’re not interested in buying your food from the buffet, you can always shop the attached market for assorted ingredients such as cheese and homemade sauces.
120 Kellogg Blvd W, St. Paul
It’s a campus bar located just a few blocks from TCF Bank Stadium, but you wouldn’t know it by the crowd it attracts. With flashier joints just down the street drawing the majority of rowdy college students, Stub and Herb’s is best suited for those looking for a smaller, quieter setting to enjoy one of the best beer selections in town. There’s only one pool table and one dart board, but you don’t have to wait long—if at all—for them to free up. The food selection is decent, but it makes for an excellent one-two punch being that it’s directly across the street from Punch Pizza.
227 Southeast Oak St
Located on Grand Avenue between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis, Café Latté is home to quite possibly some of the best cake you’ll ever have the pleasure of introducing your taste buds to. They’re known for their Turtle Cake, but you really can’t go wrong with any of their countless options. Though if you don’t feel like spoiling your appetite, you can always eat dinner from their bountiful buffet menu before moving on to dessert. Assuming you can stand up afterward, you can head up and down Grand and hit up tons of great shops along the way.
850 Grand Ave, St. Paul
The drinks and eats at Aster aren’t really anything to write home about, but there’s no better place to get a cup of coffee than on what is easily the most beautiful street in all of Minneapolis. Directly across from the Stone Arch Bridge in historic St. Anthony Main, Aster Café rests just a few feet from a cobblestone road and offers some of the best views around. Not only that, but Aster is flanked by a vintage movie theatre and an outdoor concert stage that is home to an incalculable amount of spring and summer performances. Not to mention it’s directly next door to the Segway Magical History Tours office, just in case you feel like going on a Segway tour of Minneapolis after a cup of joe.
125 Main St
Located just off the U of M West Bank campus, Midwest Mountaineering and the Hub Bike Co-Op share a retail space worthy of heavenly status for anyone who enjoys riding or the outdoors. Sure you can go to Dick’s or REI, but you won’t find a bouldering cave or climbing wall like the one at Midwest Mountaineering. Just sign a waiver, and the wall is free to climb on. It’s a great place to break in new climbing gear, purchase a kayak, or take your bike in for a tuneup. The prices are a little steep, but it feels nice to support a homegrown business with employees who are incredibly passionate about their work.
309 Cedar Ave S
301 Cedar Ave S
Not just a liquor store with one of the best selections in town, Surdyk’s is home to a fantastic deli and sandwich shop great for anyone working near Northeast Minneapolis, or even just across the river, who happens to be looking for an alternative to fast food, or restaurant meals for lunch. However, I recommend going for the alcohol. They don’t just stock great local brews, but they sell an incredible amount of imports, and of course, one of the widest array of whiskeys you’ll ever lay eyes on.
303 East Hennepin Avenue
An old school bookstore located on the same block as an Apple Store, making for one of the most contrasting experiences if leaving one and entering the other. Not much more to say about M&Q other than the fact that you can get stuck in that place for hours. Friendly staff, a shit ton of books, and a surprising art and design selection that’s sure to satisfy the creative in you. Also, one of the owners is an Anthropology instructor at the U of M with incredible stories to tell, fiction and nonfiction alike.
3038 Hennepin Avenue South
What can I say about Ax-Man? Oh, I know. It’s the coolest fucking place in town. Located on what can only be described as the purgatory between Minneapolis and St. Paul on University Avenue, Ax-Man is probably reminiscent of your usual hardware / surplus store, but on crack. If you’re looking for Halloween costumes, you’re in luck. If you’re looking for spare parts to fix your car, you’re in luck. If you’re looking for reading glasses, you’re in luck. If you’re looking for shells of non-functioning tube television sets, you’re in luck. Basically if you’re looking for anything, you’re in luck. Except live animals and produce.
8100 Minnetonka Boulevard, St. Louis Park
Galleries & Art Spaces
The exhibits, installations, and individual pieces in the Walker Art Center are mostly bullshit excuses for art that barely qualify as mistakes and will only serve to boil your blood to the point where your body overheats and you basically burn to death from the inside-out leaving your rotting corpse blending in perfectly with the results of art school dropouts’ misguided attempts at being noticed by their parents, but the architecture of the building itself is enough to warrant a place on my list. If you must go on a night when they charge admission, fine, but I recommend going on either on the first Saturday of every month, or on Thursday nights when it’s free. At the very least, the gift shop has a pretty interesting selection of knick-knacks that make nice, albeit expensive, gifts for the creative loved one in your life.
1750 Hennepin Avenue
The University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum (also known as WAM), was designed by Frank Gehry, and is yet another example of a museum being more interesting than the work inside. However, the Weisman is usually home to traveling exhibits that are less about art, and more about the history of Minnesota viewed through an artistic lens, and are almost always worth seeing. Since it’s an academic museum, admission is free at all times making for a quiet escape from the bustling campus, but access may be limited due to private events.
333 East River Parkway
Built in the 1930s, the Uptown Theatre is an official Landmark Theatre and is the Twin Cities’ premiere venue for seeing independent, classic, and foreign films. The building, while aging and slowly falling apart in places, is still a thing of beauty with balcony seating and a fifty-foot tower sign originally built to mark the Uptown area. It’s often ranked amongst the best theatres in the nation, and houses films for one or two week stints.
2906 Hennepin Avenue
Nestled between the Mississippi riverfront and the cusp of downtown Minneapolis, the Mill City Museum rests in what was once the world’s largest flour mill. From a distance it might appear as though the entire mill has been abandoned and left for dead, but as you make your way closer (possibly via Segway), you’ll notice that the entire museum has been renovated and features some of the most stellar architecture in town. Huge glass walls allow for optimal views from the inside where you can learn about the history of Minneapolis, and how the river affected the flour industry.
704 South 2nd Street
Having never seen a show at the Guthrie, this recommendation is simply for the building itself and the sights and sounds in the areas open to the public. I’m not typically wowed by colossal solid blue buildings with blinding marquees that can be seen for miles, but there’s something about the Guthrie and its enormous cantilever known as the Endless Bridge which stretches, unsupported, the equivalent of twelve stories out to the edge of the Mississippi River, as well as the Dowling Studio observation lobby which offers some of the best views of downtown Minneapolis.
818 South 2nd Street
Nothing beats dinner at Cossetta’s followed by a night of ice skating at Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. It’s a small rink, but it couldn’t be located in a more charming part of town. White lights weaved into barren tree branches at the foot of some of the most historic buildings in the area. Be sure to dress warm, because even though the surrounding buildings do quite a bit to block the wind, it’s still winter in Minnesota, and the hot cocoa they serve at the rink only does so much.
W 5th St and N Market St
The Stone Arch Bridge
The Mississippi river is pretty dirty, but you tend to forget about such things when strolling along the pedestrian Stone Arch Bridge located just outside Mill Ruins Park and the Mill City Museum. The Stone Arch Bridge has been home to some incredible installations including the Red Bull Illume project. The bridge is well lit, and heavily populated by joggers, cyclists, and families, all being serenaded by violin and accordion players peppered throughout the length of the bridge. With views of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, St. Anthony Falls, St. Anthony Main, and the I-35 Bridge, the Stone Arch Bridge makes for an amazing walk.
Portland Ave to SE 6th Ave
If you’re into cycling, running, kayaking, sailing, or swimming, the Chain of Lakes (consisting of Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake), make for some of the most scenic recreational spots in all of Minneapolis, if not the entire state of Minnesota. Located mere minutes from Uptown, the Chain of Lakes have impeccably clean beaches, and miles of sidewalks and bike paths perfect for early morning or late night strolls. The area is home to mostly upper class neighborhoods, but people of every background can be seen enjoying grillouts, picnics, and the like throughout the summer.
Seven Mile Ride
Technically it’s fourteen miles round trip, but the ride down East River Pkwy (eventually turning into Mississippi River Blvd) from the U of M campus down to Fort Snelling is easily one of the most peaceful rides in town. Waking up early while the sun is still low in the sky can help since you’ll be riding pretty much east for the first half, but there are plenty of parks and scenic overlooks along the way for you to stop and cool off in the shade as you stare out across the rushing river. Once you hit 7th St and Minnesota Highway 5, the bikeable road ends and you’re forced to turn around or forge your own path. This trip is perfect if you ever need to clear your head or are looking for some stunning scenery.