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Trip Report Trip Report for Minneapolis/St Paul Area (Keane concert trip)

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Warning: This trip report will be a long one (especially for just a weekend) but the reason is we found Minneapolis and Saint Paul to be really great and enjoyed our weekend thoroughly so wanted to be detailed to help whoever may be researching a trip to the area.

Friday, May 15:

Arrived to a balmy 70 degrees in Minneapolis on Friday, May 15 around 4:30. We picked up car and was on our way on the highway to Maplewood by 5:20pm. Got to restaurant (Bambu) in Maplewood at 5:45 and had a leisurely dinner. The food there was fantastic and inexpensive. Got to Myth (the venue) at exactly 7pm only to find that the doors were still closed (they said doors opened at 7pm) and the line was wrapped around the building. It also started to rain so we drove to the nearby Khol's dept store to buy an umbrella. Once the umbrella was bought, we came out of the building only to find that the rain had stopped (it was POURING before) but that the temperature had dropped dramatically too. I swear we were only there for 10-15 minutes or so! Oh well. The venue was nice, drinks not at all expensive (compared to Houston prices). The first band that came on was Helios Sequence (very nice), followed by Mat Kearney (I really like him too), and then Keane. Keane was remarkable! After shouting and screaming my whoohoos ensuring a sore throat, the concert ended at around midnight. We drove back and checked in to our hotel (The Hotel Minneapolis).

What a lovely hotel! Brand new at 6 months old, everything was really nice and modern and the beds - OMG, the most comfortable! I had a hard time waking up the two mornings we were there, it was just that comfortable!

Sat, May 16:

Despite the struggle to wake up, I managed and we made it out the door by 9:30. We drove to the Del Sol neighborhood opposite the Mississippi river to Saint Paul to have breakfast at El Burrito Mercado (my maiden name is Mercado so my husband thought it would be "fun" to have breakfast there). Had really nice breakfast burritos, cafe con canela (cinnamon), goofed around the area then headed back to Minneapolis to hit the Walker Art Center. We originally thought we would stay at WAC for a couple of hours but ended up staying for a little more. It reminded me of the DAM (Denver Art Museum) because they had alot of hand on exhibit. I especially like the Elemental exhibit, Tomas Saraceno's Lighter than Air (WOW), and the Quick and the Dead. (tip) We got a coupon at seeminneapolis dot com for $5 off. We had lunch at Wolfgang Puck's 20.21. We did the tasting (so cheap for $20.21 each)! There were 2 selections for each 3 tier tasting so we were able to try all of it. So after 2 ginger martinis for my husband and a glass of wine later, we thought we should walk off our lunch at the sculpture garden.

We headed to The Lake Street area (Lake and Hennepin), walked around. Made it all the way to the lake and decided we didn't really have time to walk around it and instead decided to take the advice of our waiter (from 20.21) to drive around all the lakes in the area (calhoun, harriet, islands). We stopped by Figlio for a drink before heading out to do so and found that Figlio had a really great happy hour! $3 drinks and appetisers. Not wanting to ruin our appetite for Restaurant Alma dinner, we had just one small appetizer pizza between us with local beer for DH (he loves the Surly IPA!!!) and I had a bloody mary - which I came to realize is served differently in the north than the south!!! First of all, this bloody mary was a meal all on it's own. It came with pickled green beans (the way I like it served), a piece of cheese, an olive, a pepperoncini, a sausage stick (like a slim jim) and a pickle!!! I didn't know if I should be relieved or disappointed the the typical celery was excluded - and all at a bargain of $8!!! After this, we drove around the lakes stopping at Calhoun marina (by the fish stand place) and at Lake Harriet.

Went "home" to the hotel to take a quick nap and get ready for our 9:30 pm dinner at Rest. Alma. I tried to get reservations at LA Belle Vie (chef was winner of the James Beard award) but the restaurant was closed that evening so decided to try Rest Alma instead (chef was a nominee of the James Beard award - it's like the oscars for the foodie world). So we taxied it over and I was a little disappointed by Rest Alma. The food wasn't bad, it just wasn't unforgetable. After dinner, as tired as we were, we wanted to try The Local which was recommended by fodorites. It was ok. It would be better if we were going with a group of friends to the place but I guess we were wanting a nice quiet drink somewhere. So needless to say we didn't stay long and called it a night.

Saturday was a very good day (and night). I sleep the sleep of the dead.

Woke up at 9:30 (much needed sleep in) with vague intentions of the day. We had so many choices (Lyn Lake festival being one of them) so decided to see where the day took us instead. First in order was brunch. Asked the concierge a breakfast place close by because we wanted to check out the Nicollete mall area and he recommended a place called Hell's kitchen - which was about a 7-8 block walk from the hotel. We absolutely LOVED this place and decided it was perhaps the BEST breakfast/brunch we've ever had. The food, as they say, was DAMN GOOD!!!! We had to wait for an hour as we were walk ins and the place was packed with people. It's downstairs and has an angels and demons type of motif. The waiters and waitress, bartenders, all wear pajamas. We tried and bought 2 loaves of the bison sausage bread home along with a jar of the homemade peanut butter (and an apron for the kitchen). The wait wasn't so bad (we had their pepper infused finlandia vodka bloody marys). They had a jazz band and singers on hand to lend just the right atmosphere that we quickly decided it's exactly where we wanted to be (we could see Nicolette Mall area next time???).

We had a late check out at the hotel (2pm) so we headed back at about 1:30 walking through the mall area quickly, checked out, and headed to see St Paul Cathedral. There was a service so we didn't get to really see the place and instead of going to the festival or walk at the summit or grand area, we decided to check out Mall of America (I found out that there are NO SALES TAX there!!!). A "little bit" of shopping then headed back to the airport by 5pm to return the car and check in for our 7pm flight. Believe it or not, brunch took us all the way to dinner (and all we had for that was a slice of pizza - I didn't even finish mine!).

Watched the sun set on the plane ride home and realized how much we loved our trip.

Some impressions of Minneapolis, it's people, etc.:

-What a BEAUTIFUL place! There's so much to see and do! I can imagine the lakes really opens up the possibilities for a summer visit!

-Everything is soooooo green! I'm sure not so much in winter but wow, spring time there is AWESOME! (We had wonderful weather and all the flowers were in bloom!)

-It's not an expensive city. We get this distinct feeling that the cities (MN and SP) both are very forward thinking and instead of nickle and dime-ing their citizens, instead charges things at a decent rate and therefore encourages them to come often, not come only on special occasions!

-Minnesotans (is that the proper word?) are really nice, helpful, and friendly folks! There was so many instances of their kindness throughout our weekend stay there.

Ok, that's it. I've rambled on long enough. I was telling my sister of our weekend trip and she commented that I "sounded like I was in love with the cities" and she is very right. We will DEFINTELY be back! To all you Minnesotans, thanks for the hospitality!

I'll post pics soon and include a link here. For all you fodorites who helped, many many thanks!

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