A journey to Minneapolis was inspired after the city announced that it entered Phase 3 in July. A reasonable round-trip ticket ($228 via United) and deals throughout the city led to a sojourn east.
There is plenty to experience outdoors in the land of lakes. It’s a much bigger body of water than a lake, but make a pilgrimage to the Mississippi River. One of the most storied bodies of water in the country, which is the second-longest river in North America, is tranquil in Minneapolis.
Paddle Bridge Guiding Collective (612-423-3838; paddlebridge.com) offers tours of the Mississippi. Book your trek and meet at Boom Island Park (724 Sibley St. NE) for a 2½ hour run, which goes for $65. However, our guide was so laid-back and obviously having fun providing details of the city and river that the jaunt lasted more than 3 hours on the sun-splashed river. It was so pleasant that it was difficult to believe so much time passed.
The water is warm throughout the summer into the fall. There’s a point at which you can stop at an island at the southern end of town and grab a rope from a tree and propel yourself into the refreshing drink. A great blue heron, white pelican and even a bald eagle were around the aforementioned island, which has an array of nests.
It’s a nice little workout combined with a view of the aesthetically pleasing Minneapolis skyline.
Paisley Park (952-495-6750, 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassan, paisleypark.com) isn’t in Minneapolis proper, but the studio/home of the late iconic superstar Prince is worth the drive to the suburbs. Pundits have had issues with the sterility of Paisley Park, but the studio perfectly represents who the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was during his unparalleled career.
After experiencing a pair of shows of Prince’s “Purple Rain” tour as a teenager in Philadelphia in 1984, I was disappointed since the shows were eerily perfect. Prince and his infallible band, the Revolution, seemed to be performing under glass nailing everything without any sonic enhancements.
At the time, I didn’t know Prince was a perfectionist and an enigma. Prince was detached and sober, unlike most debaucherous recording artists of that era. Prince was obviously cut from another cloth. The history of Prince is on display during a visit to the 65,000-square-foot Paisley Park, where you learn about Prince the musician and a bit about who the complex person was who decided to remain in his native Minnesota when he vaulted into the pop stratosphere.
Phones are collected before guests enter the atrium and not returned until the end of the tour when fans have the opportunity to snap photos inside the building’s concert hall, the NPG Music Club, which hosted a number of impressive private events since it was erected in 1987.
Don’t arrive early. The request is that guests show up within 20 minutes of the scheduled appointment. The VIP appointment, which is $85, is worth it. The VIP option is 30 minutes longer than the basic tour. The bonus includes access to additional rooms and archival content.
Guests are privy to Prince’s array of costumes – the long coat from “Purple Rain,” the aqua suit from Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance – rare videos and interviews and other memorabilia. But what’s most impacting is the little, by the standard of the immense structure, kitchen where Prince used to hang out to watch the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Timberwolves and catch film favorites such as the sublime “Some Like It Hot.”
There’s a microwave, a coffee table and a television. Prince for once was not living large. A candy bar machine gifted to Prince by his crew reveals his favorite treats. Who doesn’t love Twix? Where Prince snacked offers a bit of humanity and shines a light on the diminutive figure who was one of the most larger-than-life recording artists in pop music history.
The Paisley Park security is as serious as the Secret Service. There is no admittance to where Prince actually lived. The bedrooms and elevator where his body was found four years ago are off limits. The small gift shop at the end of the tour sells expensive items. I bought a $45 “Purple Rain” shirt as a gift since it is unique and beautiful.
Despite all that, it’s a blast to visit Graceland North if you travel to Minneapolis. Even though Prince by all accounts didn’t have a big appetite – that’s evident by glancing at any photo – you’ll be famished after the two-hour VIP tour concludes. Minneapolis is full of culinary delights.
The Juicy Lucy, a burger with the cheese inside the beef, is the most bandied about sandwich. You can go that route or take the extra step and order the Blucy, bleu cheese in the patty. The Blue Door Pub (651-493-1865, 1811 Selby Ave., St. Paul, thebdp.com) is at the top of its game. A Blucy, bleu cheese and garlic in the burger ($9.25, $3.50 more for fries) at the Blue Door is a delicious gut buster. A side order of cheese curds ($9.95) or Nacho Tachos ($10.25), tater tots, queso, lettuce, tomato, red onion and crema, will make for a memorable meal.
Try the fish and chips at Anchor Fish and Chips (612-676-1300, 302 13th Ave. NE, catchfood.com) or tasty beer-battered fried fish ($13.50).
Another can’t miss on the Minneapolis tour is the First Avenue Club (612-338-8388, 701 N. First Ave., first-avenue.com). The legendary venue isn’t open, but check out the stars painted on the side of the club. Recording artists from around the world range from Prince and his gold star to Minneapolis’ scruffy, besotted but brilliant Replacements, who were the opposite of Prince in so many ways.
The stunning home of U.S. Bank Stadium (612-777-8700, 401 Chicago Ave., usbankstadium.com) also is closed to the public, but the massive structure, which looks like a spaceship out of “Star Wars,” is a sight to behold. The Minnesota Vikings’ gleaming crib is unlike any other venue.
Just a block from the stadium is Moxy Minneapolis (612-400-1810, 237 Chicago Ave., marriott.com/moxyhotels/minneapolis). The stylish boutique hotel offered a room with a king bed and a twin bed loft for $107. The hotel is centrally located with a Trader Joe’s across the street and within walking distance of restaurants and a mall.
One bonus is the bubble hockey game. Hold on to your quarters since it’s free of charge, and it is just off a vibrant bar scene.
Since this is the land of lakes, try your luck fishing. There are a number of lakes, but give Snail Lake (4191 Snail Lake Blvd.) a chance. It’s a relaxing spot. Fishing from the shore is allowed. Kids should be content to fish from the dock since that’s where fish like to hide.
There’s more than enough to choose from in Minneapolis for an action-packed weekend. Minneapolis is a vibrant, diverse city that deserves notice.
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