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Trip Report A full Memorial Day Weekend in Minneapolis!

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We took a non-stop from New York to Minneapolis via Northwest/Delta. The flight was uneventful and just about the maximum length (about 2 and a half hours) we like to fly for a 3 night stay. We were impressed by the size and excellent condition of the Minneapolis Airport as compared to La Guardia (we waited 90 minutes on the security line in New York.)

Since we had only carry-on luggage, we went directly to the light rail that goes from the Airport to downtown Minneapolis. Fortunately it stopped less than a block from our hotel. It cost $1.75 and took just under 30 minutes, probably the least expensive we have ever spent getting from an airport to our hotel.

We stayed 3 nights at the Westin which is about 2 years old and in pristine condition. It was created out of the old Farmers and Mechanics bank and associated office building, a real architectural masterpiece in the art deco and art moderne styles of the 1940’s and 1960’s. Luckily there were no surprises and the hotel was up to Westin standards. The room was large and well appointed, with a flat screen TV, mini-bar, sofa, side chairs, desk and that “Heavenly Bed” that Westin is known for. We booked directly through the hotel website and got a great promotion for under $90 per night for an upgraded room.

We arrived in our room just before 3PM. After freshening up, we took a taxi to the Walker Art Center a quick 10 minute ride. We found the Walker a bit disappointing; it had a very vacant feel compared to the modern museums like the Whitney in New York. The sculpture garden and conservatory directly across the road were unique and enjoyable, particularly since the weather the entire weekend was sunny and about 70 degrees.

We called a taxi to take us back to our hotel and we relaxed for about an hour before heading out to the light rail for a 5 minute ride to the Metrodome. We had bought tickets for a 7:15PM game and we were very impress with the facility. It was our first indoor baseball game. We ate at the ballpark and the Twins had an impressive 11 to 2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. After the game, we treated ourselves to a taxi after a long day.

The next morning had a late breakfast at Keys Café in the Foshay Tower (now the W Hotel). It was a real old fashioned breakfast, in terms of huge portions and old-time décor. The place was packed and breakfast held us for the rest of the day.

We went inside the lobby of the W Hotel just to check out the restoration of the art deco 1930’s lobby. It looks like a mini version of the Chrysler Building in New York. If you are an art deco fan, be sure to check it out. We then continued on to check out Nicollet Mall and the Hennepin theater district, taking an obligatory photo at the Mary Tyler Moore statue.

We had a 1PM “Twin Cities Highlights Tour” given by MetroConnections. It was a great way to see the highlights of the area without a car. It covered downtown Minneapolis, Mary Tyler Moore’s house, the lake district of the city, Minnehaha Falls, Mall of America, Downtown St. Paul, St. Paul’s Cathedral, City Hall, the University of Minnesota, and the Guthrie.

We got back to our hotel around 5PM and relaxed for a couple of hours before heading off to dinner at Buca Di Beppo. Since we don’t have any of these restaurants in New York City, and Minneapolis is the home of the first Buca, we thought we would give it a try. It has real kitschy Italian décor and the food wasn’t bad for your typical Italian red sauce joint, and reasonably priced.

The next morning we checked out Hell’s Kitchen for Sunday brunch, but there was a 45 minute wait, so we had a buffet breakfast at the Marriott Hotel. It was a very good breakfast and okay priced.

Next we took a taxi to Boom Island Park on the other side of the Mississippi River for a 12 noon cruise on the river. The weather was perfect and 90 minutes was just enough since there isn’t much to see other than traversing the St. Anthony Locks. Having never gone through a lock before it was an interesting 10 minute process in each direction. Much like a mini version of the Panama Canal.

We called a taxi to take us back to our hotel and asked to ride past the Weisman Museum to view the stainless steel and brick architecture by Frank Gehry. It’s truly a masterpiece and much more interesting on the exterior than the Walker Art Center.

We freshened up at our hotel and proceeded to take the light rail out to the Mall of America, we bought a $6 - 24 hour pass - which was good for our round trip and out to the airport the next morning. The ride was about 30 minutes and the Mall is huge, really 4 malls connected by an indoor amusement park. We really didn’t do any shopping, just had a snack and took some pictures before heading back to our hotel via light rail. I guess being out to Minneapolis we felt we had to see the mall but it’s much like any other mall but on a grander scale.

On our way back to Minneapolis we ran into a crowed headed to a Twins game that evening and one major difference is that people talk to strangers on the train, a very different and pleasant experience from the subways of New York.

We relaxed a couple of hours at our hotel and than headed off to Brits Pub for dinner. Again since the weather was so nice, we ate on the roof deck where on some evenings that have lawn bowling tournaments. The place was packed, and the food was better than typical pub food, more of a fun experience and a good way to meet some of the locals. Surely not a place for gourmands.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Westin, good but on the expensive side. We than took the rail back to the airport, there were 5 security lines and we got through in 10 minutes a far better experience than the 90 wait at La Guardia. The flight was delayed an hour, but we arrived home, having thoroughly enjoyed a great weekend in Minneapolis.

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