Twin Cities Staycation: There’s No Place Like Home


Arts, Entertainment, and More in the Twin Cities

I hate it when that happens!

Summer’s over, and the vacation you promised yourself in the Lake District (England, Italy, or, hey, Brainerd) failed to materialize, what with time and discretionary dollars in short supply this year.

So, curse your luck and suck your thumb. Or (clearly better), treat yourself to a stay-cation: no frequent flier miles, hotel reservation or language gap to cope with here at home. Instead, dedicate a weekend—or more, if you’re lucky—to exploring some less-familiar jewels of our Twin Cities, hiding in plain sight. We’ll set out a scavenger hunt based on your particular fascination. Feel free to mix and match.


You’re a culture vulture? Then you’re probably already on a first-name basis with Vincent and Claude at the (always free) Minneapolis Institute of Art. But how about the snazzy, Gehry-designed Weisman on the University campus? The Museum of Russian Art? Galleries lining 13th NE, St. Paul’s Lowertown, and the artists’ collective in Nordeast’s California Building?

Oh, you prefer your arts of the livelier sort, not on the wall, but also not off the budget? Try the Minnesota Orchestra’s rush line half an hour before the band strikes up. Take advantage of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s new policy of $5 tickets for first-timers (many locations). Or savor top musical talent in performances at MacPhail Center and the U of M’s Ferguson Hall (many free).

Be one of the first to invade the new Cowles Center for Dance, with a line-up of over two dozen troupes, or spy on the student talent at the West Bank’s Barbara Barker Center showcasing emerging choreographers.

Sure, the big G offers rush lines for its theater productions, but, chances are, you’ve been there, done that. This is your chance to experience the fun and funk of dozens (literally) of fringe-y acting troupes, where the material pushes the envelope, and you’re within inches of the stage at smaller venues such as Theatre Garage, Gremlin, Pillsbury House and more. Check to see what’s on and where. Many a company offers a pay-what-you-can-night to help your pocketbook. More theater discounts at

History hound? Betcha never toured our fab State Capitol (free), Then head to the nearby Minnesota History Center to fill in the blanks. Just down the road, see how the other half lived in the grand Hill House mansion of a former lumber baron. Across the river back in Minneapolis, trace your ancestors’ travails in the new land at the Mill City Museum—or, even earlier, at Fort Snelling.

Oh, you’re the outdoors type? Chances are, you’ve already enjoyed a Twins game at our new ballpark, so time to try some DIY athletics. Rent one of those lime popsicle bikes from one of the new stands scattered around the city and tour the chain of lakes and beyond. Rent a canoe. And new this season, rent a kayak to cruise the Mississippi, or even navigate it via a paddleboard (also new). Those guided tours include history and trivia info declaimed along the way. Rival Twin Cities Jogging Tours and City Running Tours companies offer themed jogging runs. Also new: foodie tours of our town via Taste Twin Cities Food Tours and also Twin Cities Food Tours (stroll and sample as you go).

Speaking of eats: This is the perfect excuse to venture to our towns’ rich stretches of storefront ethnic restaurants. With low, low prices, friendly service and new taste treats, what’s to lose? (Okay your waistline.) St. Paul’s University Avenue stretch approaching the State Capitol is especially rich in Asian flavors. Nordeast’s Central Avenue spans the globe from Latin to Moroccan, and Eat Street hosts a true U.N. of culinary treats. Even easier: a stop at Lake Street’s Global Market, which delivers on its promise and often hosts free live music, too. A bit more established, Lyn-Lake traces flavors from Greece to Japan, Italy to the Middle East and more. Lots more.

And here’s the best plan of all: Choose an unfamiliar neighborhood, park the car, and spend the afternoon exploring what it has to salute, in offering that showcase all of the above. Stroll down St. Paul’s Grand Avenue for grand shopping, eating, and listening. Hit 50th & France for everything from a day spa to cooking classes, with an indie movie and chic bars, cafes, and designer shops as a bonus. Sashay along East Hennepin to discover more of the same—spa, glam wear by local designers, offbeat eats.

See, Dorothy was right: There’s no place like home. To get started, find addresses and hours by visiting and

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