As the Nebraska volleyball team heads to Minneapolis in search of another national championship, legions of Husker devotees are bound to make their own pilgrimage to the north country. And while Minneapolis and its twin city, St. Paul, may be far from unfamiliar territory to most Nebraskans, many know them and the surrounding area for their summer activities.
But with temperatures in the 30s predicted this weekend, the lakes, beaches and trails will have been vacated in favor of heated skyways. That’s no reason to spend a jaunt in one of the Midwest’s most beautiful cities hunkered under a coat, though, marching from the hotel to the arena.
This weekend, in addition to the volleyball action, take a trip to one of Minneapolis’ great museums or grab a beer and a bite at some of its premier restaurants. There’s also holiday festivals, concerts and even a few wintertime outdoor activities to get you out of the hotel room.
-- Compiled by Chris Bowling, For the Lincoln Journal Star
While they might utter its name in begrudgingly, the Mall of America also stirs a slight sense of pride in any northerner’s heart. Yes, the nation’s largest mall located in the suburb of Bloomington might be overwhelming and a little tacky, but where else are you going to find more than 500 stores spread across nearly 5 million square feet?
For those who’ve never been, this four-story monument to the endless pursuit of deals is a must-see, especially for those trying to pick up last-minute gifts.
For interested thrifters or vintage shoppers, Ragstock has locations across the city. With an eclectic selection bordering the tasteful and the strange, this has been a favorite spot for generations of Minnesotans.
From Impressionism to the history of milling along the Mississippi waterfront, the Twin Cities offer an array of museums to explore culture and history.
At the Walker Art Center, visitors can view a 60-year retrospective of local artist Siah Armajani in “Siah Armajani: Follow the Line” that includes work spanning everything from computer programming to gorgeous architecture. After an amble through Dinkytown, visitors can also see the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota campus. Its current exhibits include 1970s anti-war screenprinting and art from India’s indigenous people. Entrance is free to the public. And if you prefer history, take a walk across Stone Arch Bridge to the Mill City Museum, which details the Twin Cities’ rise to the milling capital of the world.
In the heart of downtown Minneapolis, Nicollet Mall offers 12 square blocks of some of the city’s best restaurants, shops and bars. The pedestrian walkway is also home to many of Minnesota’s largest companies and significant buildings including the Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis’ CBS affiliate WCCO and the flagship department store owned by Twin Cities royalty, the Dayton family.
The famed Mary Tyler Moore statue, which captures the iconic moment Mary throws her tam in the air during the opening credits of the 1970s hit TV show, is at Nicollet and Seventh Street.
While it’s name may seem univiting, the Surly Brewing Co. is a great place to stop for beer and food. With staple beers and a rotating cast of new additions on tap, Surly’s reputation precedes itself as a place where any beer drinker can find something to like.
Minneapolis is also home to a swath of microbreweries, bars and interesting nightlife spots. Whether you want a quiet booth and a glass or red wine or a pint of beer and a twirl on a mechanical bull, the Twin Cities have you covered this weekend.
This year the Loring Park neighborhood will host Holidazzle, Minneapolis’ annual holiday celebration that offers food, drinks, crafts and other family fun.
Visitors can escape the cold at this event, traveling from heated tent to heated tent from Thursday to Sunday. There they can sample hot cider, cold beer, Korean street tacos, gooey cheese curds and more.
Along the Mississippi River are a number of historic buildings, beautiful public works and scenic parks, but chief among the riverside attractions for theater-goers is the Guthrie Theater.
Since 1963 the theater has brought world-class productions and actors to Minneapolis. It continues that tradition today in its new building, a three-theater, 285,000-square-foot building completed in 2006. Over the weekend visitors can buy tickets to "Noises Off" or the holiday classic "A Christmas Carol." But even if you skip the show, the Guthrie is open to the public and offers stunning views of the Mississippi River from its cantilevered “Endless Bridge.”
For the record collector, concert enthusiast or music historian, the Twin Cities offer great ways to experience music and its musical auteurs.
First Avenue, located downtown near the Target Center, is the stage where acts like Husker Du, Prince and the Replacements strived to play in the ‘80s. This iconic space still attracts big-name acts who draw crowds to bask in new and old music tradition.
If you want something to take home, head to Electric Fetus, right off Interstate 35. Rows upon rows of records greet shoppers as the turn the corner from the entrance, offering extensive choices in genres, including soundtracks, world music, country and rock.
And if you’re willing to make the drive, tickets are available to Prince’s estate, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen. There visitors can see where the "Purple Rain" creator recorded much of his music and get a glimpse behind the curtain at one of the country’s greatest songwriters and performers.
If you can muster the strength of a true Minnesotan and find access to a bike with snow tires, the Cities offer virtually endless miles of trails to utilize year round.
For easy city biking, check out the Midtown Greenway, a railroad corridor converted into a 5.5-mile trail near downtown that connects to Uptown, Lake of the Isles and several other trails.
If you follow the trails further south along Minnehaha Creek you’ll find Minnehaha Falls. Usually a torrent of rushing water, if it’s cold enough in the winter, Minnehaha Falls freezes and allows visitors views from behind the ice.
Any trip to the Twin Cities would be woefully misguided without biting into one of the Cities’ greasiest and greatest creations — the Jucy Lucy. The inverted cheeseburger, that is a patty with cheese on the inside, is a favorite of every child and late night snacker.
While there’s many places to try it around town, it’s best to trace it straight to the source and get to Matt’s Bar in the Powderhorn neighborhood.
For vegetarian options, or just some great food outside a burger and fries, check out the Hard Times Cafe. A punk rock vegetarian cafe not far from the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, this place offers amazing food at cheap prices that can convert any red-meat devotee.
If two nights of volleyball isn't enough, sports fans can check out the action on the ice and on the field this weekend.
The Minnesota Wild of the NHL skate against Calgary on Saturday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
On Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings face Miami in NFL action at U.S. Bank Stadium, site of last season's Super Bowl.
The stadium offers tours most days.
The volleyball tournament will be played at the Target Center, the home courts of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves. Next door is Target Field, home of baseball's Minnesota Twins.