A huge welcome to Kayla Hollatz who brings an amazing Minneapolis travel guide to my Hidden Gems series.
I’ve lived in a suburb of Minneapolis for most of my life but have become more intimately familiar with the city after accepting a job right in the heart of downtown earlier this year. You will often hear of Minneapolis in pairing with St. Paul as they make up the Twin Cities, or TC for short.
If you like biking, there is no better city than Minneapolis. We have been named the most bike-friendly city in America with the most amount of trails. It’s a very popular way of transportation, even in the snow surprisingly.
Although Minneapolis like many cities is a concrete jungle, it also has many nature scenes that allow you to take a step back from the hustle and bustle. These pockets of nature are my favorite parts of the city.
Here are a few hidden gems in my grand city:
Click through to see Kayla’s Minneapolis travel guide.
Eat + Drink
- Black Coffee and Waffle Bar: Located in North Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota, this trendy breakfast bar knows its specialty and only sells coffee and waffles. They don’t need anything else on the menu to attract their Millennial customer base. All coffee is local and for fellow chocolate lovers, I recommend their s’mores waffle.
- Lyon’s Pub: This hole-in-the-wall pub is just a block away from Target Field. They have really affordable happy hour and appetizer deals with an enthusiastic, welcoming staff. They are also major fans of the Nebraska Huskers so if you come down during football season, you’re sure to have a blast.
- Fine Line Music Cafe: This intimate music cafe is my favorite spot for indie and alternative live shows. I saw my favorite band, Daughter, here two years ago for an insanely affordable price and it was the most perfect night.
- Avant Garden: This tea garden is 30 minutes north of the Twin Cities in Anoka which is very close to where I grew up. What’s remarkable about this tea garden is the hidden patio space in the back. Just walk through a small alley-way of wall-to-floor graffiti and you’ll see a large canoe standing upright with patio furniture spread across the deck. Vines and lights surround the perimeter for a zen aesthetic.
- The Oceanaire: This is the really nice, ritzy spot executives go to after a long day at work. Along with being a happy hour hot spot, it also has quite possibly the best seafood in the city. If you’re looking to have a fancy dinner downtown, this is the spot.
- J Arthurs Coffeehouse: Before you even step in the door, you hear jazz music playing through the outdoor speakers and throughout the coffeshop when you enter. It features different rooms with intimate event spaces which is great for small workshops. They also make a mean hot chocolate.
- Pyscho Suzi’s Motor Lounge: This is a must for anyone who comes to Minneapolis. I try to grab brunch here with friends whenever I can. If you like Led Zepplin and Def Leppard, this will become an instant favorite. If a mimosa doesn’t wake you up, this restaurant’s charm will. I highly recommend their Cinnamon Chevelle – a caramel drizzled cinnamon roll.
- Stone Arch Bridge: This bridge is my personal favorite way to see the city, especially at night when it’s all lit up. I recently stumbled upon the Stone Arch Bridge Festival a few weeks ago and had an absolute blast. Fresh lemonade, local artists and musicians, hiking, and mini-donuts? That makes for a great day.
- Lake George: This is my absolute favorite lake I’ve been to in Minnesota and I’ve been to a lot of lakes. It’s very shallow which allows you to spread out in the swimming area and feel like you have a large piece of the lake to yourself. Although this beautiful lake is about a 40 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis, it’s well worth the trip.
- Minnehaha Falls: Who knew in the middle of Minneapolis there was a gorgeous waterfall? There’s even a small spot at the basin to dip your toes into. It’s the perfect scenery for a day picnic.
- Lake Calhoun: This is a crowd favorite in Minneapolis and for good reason. There are plenty of restaurants, trails, and beaches that are great for either relaxing on a boat or being active and running around the lake.
- Orpheum: Minneapolis is known for their incredible art and theater community. The Orpheum theater features iconic broadway shows and the architecture is as breathtaking as the performances it holds.
- Valleyfair: This amusement park was made for adrenaline junkies. My favorite ride is the Wild Thing which has the highest drop of any ride at the park, but Steel Venom with its 360 degree spiral turns is their most popular attraction. They also have many water rides which are great in the humid summer months.
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: More than likely, you’ve seen photos of the big spoon and cherry sculpture. This among many other sculptures is part of the Walker Art Center which spans across 11 acres in downtown Minneapolis. It’s also near Lowry Hill, one of my favorite Minneapolis neighborhoods for indie coffeeshops and thrift stores.
- Minnesota State Fair: Whether you want to see faces carved into butter or try fried alligator, the “Great Minnesota Get Together” has a little something for everyone. One of my favorite features is the Lumberjack competition they host. Several men get together to cut down trees in record time and roll on logs floating in the water. It has a really impressive art gallery and the Grandstand, a large outdoor arena on the fairground.
- Nicollet Mall: This 12-block road runs through the heart of downtown Minneapolis and is the best place for eating food truck meals while shopping during your lunch break. There is a local Farmer’s Market along this road every Thursday and they always have the best produce.
- Once Upon a Crime: I found this bookstore by happenstance when I was walking to find a cafe in Uptown. It takes the phrase “hole in the wall” to a whole new meaning. Like the name suggests, it is a purely mystery bookstore for those who love suspense. It even has a shelf dedicated to local authors, which I love as an (almost) author.
- Treehouse Records: Like Once Upon a Crime above, I found this on the same block before meeting friends at a cafe. They have a variety of vinyl records in just about every genre, but underground punk is what they are known for. I’ve been meaning to purchase a record player for a while and this store gives me extra motivation to.
- Pharmacie: If home decor is your thing and you love HGTV, this will be your heaven. Their beautifully styled windows draw you in. While spendy, everything is of extremely high quality.
- Room No. 3: This small lingerie boutique has completely stolen my heart. It is worth the 15 minute drive to Edina. I can’t even put into words how beautiful this shop is. The closest word I can find is “swoon-worthy.”
- Mall of America: I wouldn’t be doing Minnesota justice if I didn’t recommend one of the biggest things we are known for: the biggest mall in the country. With four floors and 500+ stores, you’re sure to find something you like. My favorite stores inside the mall are Everything but Water (an adorable swimsuit shop), Free People, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and Garage (an affordable but trendy store for wardrobe essentials).
- Heartbreaker: This store is only in Minnesota with locations sprinkled around the Twin Cities area. Scarves, jewelry, maxi dresses, they have it all for a very reasonable price. The Uptown location is my favorite, but they all are stocked with great finds.
- 2.75 hours: Duluth, Minn. — The view of Lake Superior is always worth the trip up north. There are also quaint, mom and pop restaurants along the harbor and lighthouses that are open to exploring. To make your time there worth it, this would mostly likely be a weekend trip.
- 45 minutes: Taylors Falls, Minn. — If you’re looking for a day trip filled with off-trail hiking, rock climbing, and beautiful sights, this is the place. It also has cute local museums and ice cream shops to check out before heading back home.
Kayla Hollatz is a multi-passionate twenty-something PR professional and blogger from Minneapolis. She helps creative bloggers and entrepreneurs make a killer impression online with seriously actionable content. Half of her wardrobe is leather and she never leaves the house without her combat boots. She can commonly be found drinking hot chocolate while writing poetry.