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36 Hours in Minneapolis On a Budget

October 27, 2016
visit minneapolis in fall

by Rebecca Holland

When my brother decided to go to school in Minneapolis I was annoyed. Why wouldn’t he want to go to Wisconsin, where I went, and where we have a way cuter mascot and better colors? Who wants to wear maroon and yellow?

Something good has come out of it though: I now have a free place to stay and a tour guide when I visit. Even if that free place is a dorm room floor.

uw minnesota dorm

Dorm Life – I was happy to see this in the hall!

I always happen to visit in winter, when Minneapolis is frigid and it’s almost impossible to leave with a great impression of the city. This year I was determined to visit at a prettier time, and early October was as pretty as it good get.

twin cities fall colors

The leaves were deeply saturated with color, and for the most part still on the trees. It was sunny and not too cold. Perfect sweater weather. And the entire city emanated the feeling of fall and everything that goes with it–the sweet scent and crunch of leaves, perfectly ripe apples, lots of plaid.

It was a short trip, but full of highlights. If you only have a brief amount of time in Minneapolis and a limited (aka college student) budget, try these favorites, brought to you by my 20-year-old brother (so maybe add in a few bars) who has really great taste. As for my thoughts on Minneapolis, I now think it’s a beautiful city. There’s a lot to do, great food, and tons of green space. I’ve been swayed. But I still maintain a badger is a better mascot than a gopher any day.

The Itinerary

Saturday morning: We started our day with coffee and doughnuts from Sssdud-Nutz. Here, we witnessed an interaction I think should be an SNL skit. You had to be there, but it consisted of a hungover student asking a stoned out of his mind employee (also a student) about an order he had placed previously. Neither of them could find the order. Neither knew what to do. It was awkward and slow moving and hilarious. Eventually, someone realized they should take our order, as we had been watching the debacle for ten minutes while another employee sat switching between Kanye and Drake on Spotify and not looking up. Sound terrible? It wasn’t, actually. It was oddly endearing and the doughnuts were fantastic, and cheap. If you’re in the area, go and please comment with any SNL-worthy situations you run into.

minneapolis on a budget

Next we walked across the Stone Arch Bridge to the Mill City Farmer’s Market. The market has a lot of prepared foods, which is nice for travelers. We ended up with a beautiful bag of apples that we ate and lugged around the rest of the day.

minnehaha falls in the fall

minnehaha falls autumn

visit twin cities on a budget

From there, we hopped on the bus to Minnehaha Falls, a highlight of the weekend. We spent some time walking around the surrounding trails marveling at the colors of the leaves. This seemed like the ideal time to visit, but Rick assured me the falls are equally beautiful in the summer, and even in the winter when they freeze over.

Next, we took a bus way across town to Hamdi for Somali food. It was far, but well worth the trip. The restaurant is simple and the food is heartily portioned. We feasted on rice, chicken and goat, hummus and chapati, and mango juice and sweetened tea. We left happy and very, very full.

It was such a pretty day we decided to walk it off, taking a loop around Lake Calhoun. Eventually, our walk took us to Sebastian Joe’s for the best ice cream in Minneapolis.

By now it was late in the day, so we headed back so Rick could get to work, and I could do some work as well. The end of the night was spent watching movies, but there are plenty of wonderful restaurants and bars you should go to if you visit (see below).

minneapolis fall color walk

Sunday: We woke up early to get in line at Al’s, the popular, counter service brunch spot that fills up fast and stays full all morning. We were there 20 minutes before the door opened and still waited another 20 minutes after, but it’s an entertaining place to wait and the coffee is bottomless. The food, once seated, is some of the best diner food you’ve ever had. I can’t decide if it’s the atmosphere or hefty amounts of butter that make it so good. Probably both. Either way, it’s an experience you should have on at least one Minneapolis trip.

Sadly, I had to leave for the airport after breakfast. The trip was short but full. 36 hours well spent!

Highlights from other trips that you could add:

Punch Pizza–Naples-style pizza that I blogged about here.

Varsity Theater–Intimate, fun music venue.

Hola Arepa–Sustainable Latin cuisine and awesome cocktails. (Get an arepa, duh).

Minneapolis is a fantastic food city, with plenty of local chefs you probably wish to try instead of watching movies in a dorm room. The Bachelor Farmer, Corner Table, and Gardens of Salonica are wonderful options. On this trip though, hanging out with my brother while snacking on digestives (our mutual guilty pleasure) and laughing at Schmidt’s antics was exactly what I needed.

*Bonus Tip: The bus and metro system gets you everywhere I referenced here. Google Map it for exact routes!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Sneha Shah September 3, 2017 at 4:05 am

    Congrats, your story tells how you enjoyed your trip to Minneapolis. Thanks for sharing

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