5 Incredible Experiences In The Twin Cities

I am so excited to share Zen Life and Travel’s first ever guest post!  My friend, Carrie, writes about the Minneapolis/St. Paul Food, Beer and Wine scene (among other things) over at Season It Already!     Here, she shares with us some incredible things to try the next time you find yourself in the Twin Cities!  Enjoy!


Hello Zen Life and Travel Readers!

Katie and I met during our stints doing in-home wine tastings!  We were lucky enough to travel together on trips we earned to Puerto Vallarta and Tuscany.   She and I share a love of travel and getting there as inexpensively as possible – so we can do more of it!

Florence Italy
Katie and I in Florence, Italy
I’ve lived in the Midwest all of my life. While I’m originally from Green Bay, both my husband I have been living in Viking country for nearly 15 years. It is often joked that we have two seasons in Minnesota: Winter and Road Construction. The truth is that we do get to experience all four seasons in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Still, most people think that to live here, you need to love winter.
But my husband and I don’t. In fact, the past few years, we’ve been referring to the seasons as Spring, Summer, Fall and Netflix.  We find winters here generally depressing. That being said, we still love Minneapolis-St. Paul!


You might be surprised to find that the Twin Cities is a wonderful destination for foodies. I could go on about all of the options here, but I do that over on my blog Season It Already!   Instead, I’d like to offer up some other fun things to do in the Twin Cities, whenever you should visit… because there is more to us than just the Mall of America!


5 Incredible Experiences In The Twin Cities


1.  Enjoy the Lakes

In the land of 10,000+ lakes, you really need to take advantage of them – even in the metropolis of the Twin Cities! In the months not named Netflix winter, you’ll probably find my husband and I going for a leisurely walk around one of them.  Many of the lakefronts in the city of Minneapolis are public, so you’ll find throngs of people strolling, running, biking and rollerblading and walking their dogs along them on the most beautiful days. At locations such as Lake Calhoun and Lake Nokomis, you can rent canoes, kayaks, paddle boards or surreys for your active enjoyment. Still, one our favorite parks to take guests is known for not a lake, but Minnehaha Falls. When you visit, you’ll be amazed that you are still in the city!



2.  Take a Gangster Tour

Did you know the Volstead Act, which established Prohibition, was signed in St. Paul?  Did you also know that gangsters were harbored in this same city? Over in St. Paul, you can visit the Wabasha Caves, and then board a bus for a two-hour St. Paul Gangster Tour to learn about this fascinating history. Tours are available together or separately. Reservations are highly recommended in advance. We were introduced to this tour by friends and have since brought guests several times. We still love it!



3.  Create Your Own Brewery Tour

Thanks to the passing of the Surly Bill, we now have over 40 craft breweries in the Twin Cities metro!  There are a few formal tours out there. However, if you are able to designate a sober driver, you can take your own and go at your own pace! We have a certain tried and true circuit that we like to follow when we have guests in town (Dangerous Man – Indeed – Insight – Surly), but we keep our minds open and sometimes stray the course!


To create your own tour, check out this Minnnesota Brewery Map. Then pick a handful of breweries that are within a few miles of each other that have beer styles you think you’ll enjoy. {Alternatively, if you are staying near a light rail stop, pick only those on the line!} I always like to check the breweries’ websites for updates on what they are currently serving in their taprooms. You’ll find many breweries, especially on the weekends, will have food trucks parked outside. But if you want to give yourself a base before your tour or refuel yourself afterward, we highly recommend Surly. Because none of these breweries would be here otherwise. {We recommend the Hog Frites!}

4.  Visit Paisley Park

I do enjoy the music of Prince; but I am in no way a superfan. I must admit that the only reason I learned that there are now tours of Paisley Park was that a friend said it was something on her bucket list. Recently, the grounds where Prince lived, recorded and performed his art has been turned into not a just a museum, but a worthy tribute to his craft. We all decided to check it out despite the hefty $50 ticket charge. ($100 for VIP!) No photos or videos of any kind are allowed. All phones must be powered off and put into a case before entering. I’ve been around the world and never paid that much for a self-guided museum tour before!  Still, we found that our tour was indeed guided by admiring and knowledgeable staff. The four of us came out wowed. We couldn’t stop talking about it! What a tribute. Go now, because, who knows if this all will remain once his estate is settled.  I’d recommend this to anyone. Spoiler: I didn’t think this place was that big from the outside! {And we didn’t even see the living quarters!}

Paisley Park Prince

5.  Enjoy a Juicy Lucy

Minneapolis and St. Paul host a plethora of cuisines and styles of dining. If you want a taste of a little bit of everything, try a Twin Cities Food Tour, like we did when Katie and her husband were in Minnesota a couple years back. If you haven’t got much time and just want to try one thing that screams Minneapolis, you need to try a Juicy Lucy!


It is still debated today whether this cheese-stuffed burger originated at Matt’s Bar (recommended, but small with long lines) or the 5-8 Club (we weren’t fans). But you’ll find our favorite one – the Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy – at the Buffalo Tap in Savage, just a short drive over the Minnesota River. Still many restaurants carry their own versions. Another great alternative is the Blue Door Pub. They have a Juicy Blucy (stuffed with blue cheese)!

Just writing this makes me excited for my own city this Netflix winter!

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