If you looked outside my window for the past few weeks, you would think that climate change has no pattern or mercy.
If you believed the meteorologists across the Twin Cities (that is Minneapolis-St. Paul to those of you keeping score) throughout this month, it was supposed to be worse. They predicted up to a foot of snow in mid-April. Instead, we got a few inches of slush and another couple of coatings afterwards. The following week, a prediction of six inches of snow turned into a simply damp period.
Despite the weather, the Twin Cities has plenty to offer. Plenty may be a bit modest, but, seriously, the region where Victory & Reseda calls home has more than enough to keep locals and visitors on our toes. Between its arts scene, sports activities, community involvement and corporate interaction, V&R's home base is abuzz with activity all year round.
To augment the combined chambers of commerce efforts to promote the Twin Cities, V&R decided to put a twist on the Five Favorites formula somewhat. On occasion, we will take a metropolitan area and give you Five Favorite things to do there. This time, we figured to categorize them – dining, arts, recreation, people watching/meeting and a local driving spot. Even in public transportation-heavy communities, there is always some driving spot for enthusiasts or Sunday drivers to enjoy.
From the place where almost every vehicle review is executed, our Five Faves for the Twin Cities…
[TOO MANY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS TO LIST HERE]: Every city and metropolitan area has a slew of great restaurants to dine at. The Twin Cities is no exception. The problem is choosing one above all. That is exactly my problem, too. I can rattle off about a couple dozen restaurants in the Twin Cities – both national and local – that are worth dining at. Around Loring Park is Joe's Garage and Loring Kitchen and Bar, down Hennepin is The Lowry and Roat Osha. Out by V&R HQ is Nonna Rosa, Victory 44…and so forth. There are just too many damn good places to eat in the Twin Cities. I am certain your hometown is exactly like this.
THE WALKER OR THE MIA? This poses a good question, as these two great halls for the visual arts are titans in the region's cultural scene. By Loring Park, the Walker Art Center is the region's home for "modern art." For works that challenge the mind and your senses, the Walker has a multi-story exhibition space along with the sculpture garden across the street. If you are looking for the big spoon with the cherry, that is where it is located. However, cut across Uptown past Nicollet and 24th and you reach the largest visual art exhibition place in the region – the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The MIA's collection ranges from the antiquities to modern exhibits. You can certainly find everything – including a 1930s Tatra – under the MIA's roof. If you had to flip a coin between the Walker and the MIA, consider that the latter is free (except for special exhibits, which admission is still less than the Walker). However, the Walker opens its doors at no admission on Thursday nights and the first Saturday of each month.
LAKE CALHOUN: No matter where you live in the Twin Cities, you come to the lake to…um, fill in the blank. Every day, the lake has plenty of joggers, walkers, fishers, light boaters and many, many others. According to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the lake is part of a chain of three (Lake of The Isles to the north, Harriet to the south) that draw the second largest visitor draw in the region – behind the Mall of America in Bloomington. Calhoun is in the center of the chain, with over 3 miles of bicycle and walk/run paths each. No matter the time of year, there is always time to simply chill and people watch. There is plenty to see – from winter runners and ice fishers to people with minimal clothing when the temps hit summer peak. Plus, the summer means the beach – which there are plenty of beachfront to soak in the rays. When you are done with the lake, Uptown is ready for some coffee, a meal – even a spot of shopping.
MALL OF AMERICA: This huge paean to consumerism is the most visited location in the Twin Cities – by visitors and locals alike. Out of state tourists will enjoy tax-free clothing purchases, while the rest of us just visit once a year to get our holiday shopping done. However, the main attraction for some of us is the people watching. Walk around the three levels of the mall and you will see all sorts of people you may never see anywhere – unless you live in their communities. The question of "do these people exist" is answered as soon as you reach the East Rotunda. Would you meet any of them? Unless you pre-arranged to meet old friends, former colleagues and such, that answer is "no." The place is a literal Babel – and we would not have it any other way.
THE GRAND ROUNDS: The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board maintains a combined two-lane roadway connecting several parks around the city's boundaries. Originally conceived as a way to conserve some of the area's natural wonders, the parkway system, along with its associated bicycle and hiking trails, was given National Scenic Byway status by the Federal Highway Administration in 1998. Starting near the North Loop, the parkway runs along the Mississippi River down to Minnehaha Falls, then it cuts westward towards Lake Nokomis before reaching the Chain of Lakes. Continuing north, the parkway swings by V&R headquarters and turns eastward over the Mississippi to its terminus in Nordeast Minneapolis. Speed limits hover around 25-30MPH, but who's in any hurry when you have sweet turns, elevations and scenery along with the ride. It might get a bit bumpy, but once the potholes are fixed, it is always a nice run along the city's limits.