Biking Minneapolis

Posted July 26, 2010 by blakewanger
Categories: Uncategorized

Hello again,

After reading that Minneapolis had been ranked the best biking city in the country by Bicycling Magazine I thought a post about biking in Minneapolis was mandatory. I don’t consider myself a serious biker. I don’t bike everyday, never in winter, and when I do bike it is usually no more than 5 – 10 miles and often shorter. But when I do bike around Minneapolis, I can’t help but notice how incredibly bikeable the city (and many suburbs) really are. And not only that, but it seems like everywhere you ride offers natural beauty, action and excitement, or both.

The best skyline view in Minneapolis is from Stone Arch Bridge, which can be accessed by foot or on a bicycle.

My favorite place to ride is downtown. I have discovered that a person can see Target Field, the Sculpture Garden/Walker Art Center, Loring Park, Nicollet Mall, the Hennepin Ave Bridge, Nicollet Island, St. Anthony Main, Stone Arch Bridge, the Milling Disctrict, Metrodome (AKA Mall of America Field) and more, in about two hours, and without riding on any city streets except Nicollet Mall (which only allows bus, taxi, police, and bike traffic) and Nicollet Island (cars are very few and far between here, except when De La Salle High School is dismissing for the day). I have even found this route to be fun, safe, and manageable for children as young as nine riding their own bike. More adventurous bikers can explore more of downtown by riding in the many bike lanes that crisscross the downtown grid.

The Minnehaha Creek Trail ends at the stunning, 57 foot Minnehaha Falls.

But of course, the great cycling is not limited to downtown. I also love to ride the paved trails around the chain of lakes, and particularly enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Calhoun that unfolds before you as you come through the tunnel under Lake Street from Lake of the Isles. The Mary Tyler Moore house and the stunning mansions on Lowry Hill are also easily accessible from these trails. In addition to the trails around the lakes, the cedar lake trail and kenilworth trail are also beautiful, easy rides (the Cedar Lake trail ends downtown right at Target Field). The other great thing about riding around the chain of lakes, besides the stunning beauty, is that there is no shortage of places to grab cool drinks, sweet treats, or even swim in the lakes. Lakes Calhoun, Cedar, and Harriet all feature multiple swimming beaches just steps from the bike trails. The lake harriet bike trail also connects to the Minneahaha creek trail which is an easy, beautiful ride that winds along the creek, past Lake Nokomis and Hiawatha, before ending at the spectacular Minnehaha park. The midtown greenway is another nice ride that should always include a stop at the Midtown Global Market.

For those of you who prefer more adventurous biking, Wirth Park now features miles of marked, official off road bike trails, which range in difficulty and offer riders the chance to navigate such obstacles as rocks, logs, sharp banked turns, and steep uphill and downhill slopes. I have ridden most of the trails, and found them to be quite fun and challenging, without feeling overly dangerous. Accessing the trails can be difficult if you have to drive to get there. If so, park at Wirth Beach and ride north to the trailhead at Highway 55 and Wirth Parkway on the northwest corner. There are other trailheads as well.

Whether you live in Minneapolis or are just coming for a visit, take the time to explore the city on a bike. Enjoy the beauty and serenity of the lakes and parks on the chain of lakes or Minnehaha Creek trails, or experience the excitement and energy of the city by riding downtown, to a Target Field for a Twins game, or on the Midtown Greenway. Most trails are easy rides for even young riders, and only those along the Mississippi river feature substantial uphill or downhill slopes. If you don’t own a bike, pick one up at the Nice Ride stands all over the city for a short trip, or rent one for a half or whole day from Freewheel, Calhoun Bike Rental (they also offer tours) or Erik’s (note: Erik’s at this time does not rent kids bikes). There are also limited bikes for rent from Wheel Fun Rentals at Lake Calhoun, and Minnehaha Park (lots of unique and fun bikes here). All of the buses and light rail trains are equipped to accommodate bikes to help you navigate areas that don’t have trails or bike lanes.

If you’d like to bike Minneapolis but aren’t sure where to start, or what to see, I would happy to recommend a route or even take you on a tour myself. The bottom line, find a bike, saddle up, check out these maps of bike trails, lanes and paths in Minneapolis, and find out why Minneapolis is so deserving of the title “Best Bike City in Minneapolis”.

Target Field – Field of Dreams

Posted May 24, 2010 by blakewanger
Categories: Uncategorized

Hi Everyone!

After a very long hiatus, I am back with a post about the new home of the Minnesota Twins. I visited Target Field yesterday afternoon to watch the Twins play my hometown Milwaukee Brewers, in what turned out to be one of the most exciting baseball games I have ever seen (won by the Twins in 12 innings). But the ridiculously crazy game aside, here are my thoughts on Target Field. On the whole, it is a spectacular place to watch a baseball game (especially when the weather is as glorious as it was yesterday). I believe Target Field is already worthy of place amongst the elite baseball parks like Fenway, Wrigley, AT&T Park (San Francisco), and PNC (Pittsburgh).

The unique architecture of Target Field seen from 7th Street facing Target Plaza.

Accessibility – Very Good

Target Field is located in downtown, between seventh and fifth streets, north of first avenue. I would say it’s location is pretty much ideal. It is almost unbelievable how many different, relatively easy ways there are to get to the stadium. The Twins website has more info on this. Here’s a list of the ways to get to Target Field:

Hiawatha light rail, numerous bus routes, car via I-394, I-94, 35W or city streets, bike, foot, Northstar,  commuter line.

The Hiawatha light rail and Northstar commuter line stop feet from the field.

The Experience in the Stands – Amazing

Actually finding my seat was a little frustrating (make sure you enter via the gate listed on your ticket, especially if you are in the upper deck of the main stands. If not you may have to hunt for a while to find a ramp or other way to get to the upper deck). However, all my frustration was forgotten the second I sat down and took in the ballpark from my seat. All can say is WOW! What a spectacular place to watch a baseball game! Just look at the pictures:

The view from the upper deck. I wish I had a wider angle lens.

The stunning skyline view!

I did walk around almost the entire stadium, and it seemed like almost all of the seats in the main stands offered great views of the ballpark and the city. The bleacher sections also offered good views, but only those in left field and the uppermost levels afford skyline views. Be forewarned that many outfield seats offer partially obstructed views of some parts of the outfield, particularly in right field. Also, know that anyone sitting in the upper outfield levels or in the lower level left field stands are liable to be baked to a crisp during day games, so bring a hat, and plenty of sunscreen, and scope out shady places to cool off.

Concessions – Good

Admittedly, I don’t usually buy much at baseball games because I find it way overpriced. Many items at Target Field seemed very expensive, but there were a lot of less expensive items as well. I was hoping they would sell 12 chocolate chip cookies for $5 as they did at the dome, but didn’t see them. The brat I had was decent, but far from spectacular. The only vendors that came by my section were selling beer and Mike’s hard lemonade, neither of which I drink.

The view through the right field gate on Target Plaza

Overall – Outstanding

I loved watching yesterday’s game at Target Field. The stadium feels like it has been there for 100 years, like it  was always meant to be there. I don’t mean that it feels old or worn, but that it has everything that makes classic stadiums like Fenway and Wrigely great – the cozy feel, the character and charm, the nooks and crannies, even the classic stadium smell of hotdogs and pretzels, beer and peanuts. However it also has the luxuries and amenities of the best new stadiums, including a skyline view to rival PNC park in Pittsburgh. The stadium may be new, but the team has a rich and storied tradition, and it is omnipresent at Target Field. Legends are honored inside and outside the park with statues, plaques and banners.

Legendary outfielder Kirby Puckett.  With a bat like that, it’s no wonder he hit so many homers!

Bottom Line – An absolute must for all baseball fans!

Go  to Target Field. Even if you can’t get a ticket, hang out at Target Plaza and share in the excitement, or peek in through the numerous “knotholes” around the park. Come when there is no game and just walk around the stadium. Bottom line, Target Field is a great, great place to watch a baseball game, and even at a mere two months of age, this beautiful ballpark already holds its own with the hallowed elysian fields of Wrigley and Fenway, and the sparkling newer yards in New York, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh. Target Field is a must-see for all baseball fans. Everything about watching a game at this spectacular stadium is a reminder of why people write poetry about baseball.

Have you been to Target Field? If so what did you think?

Bits & Pieces Come Together… The Walker Art Center

Posted October 5, 2008 by blakewanger
Categories: Architecture Point of Interest, Arts and Entertainment, educational, Fun for All Ages, Great Photo Spot, Great Views, Inexpensive, Romantic Spots

Hello again,

            Today I visited the Walker Art Center, located at 1750 Hennepin Ave (map), just southwest of downtown Minneapolis. Unlike the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, whose collection features works of art hundreds to thousands of years old, the Walker Art Center showcases contemporary art. I guess it’s only fitting that a building full of modern contemporary art would look like this: 

 

The one-of-a-kind Walker Art Center. Note: this photo is a few years old and the construction area and dirt hill in the foreground are now a beautiful grassy knoll. (Photo courtesy of Matt Desmond).

 

The Experience

The most striking aspect of the Walker Art Center is the building itself. The spaces inside are every bit as dynamic, unique, and surprising as the exterior of the building (maybe more so). Hallways with walls of windows, uniquely angled walls, columns, stairs, doorways, and nooks all add to the stunning environment. 

 

The main hall just inside the entry. You might even see hair that is a work of art at the Walker Art Center. (Photo courtesy of Peter Fleck)

The Walker Art Center somehow manages to fit a seemingly impossible amount of gallery space into what appears to be a fairly small building, despite the fact that there is only one gallery in the entire large silver cube section (A.K.A. the “Theater Tower”)! The galleries house a large collection of modern artwork, from minimalist art to abstract art to photography to sculpture. The center also currently co-hosts an exhibit on the design and architecture of Eero Saarinen (he designed the St. Louis Arch and TWA terminal at JFK airport in New York). Part of that exhibit is displayed at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (the airports and other large buildings). The rest is at the Walker Art Center (residential and smaller buildings, and furniture and industrial designs). I was quite impressed with the Saarinen Exhibition and would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in Architecture.

In addition to the seemingly endless gallery space, the Walker also houses restaurants and cafes, (featuring Wolfgang Puck cuisine) a cinema, a performance hall, classrooms and workshops, and a store that sells numerous art books, art-related t-shirts and other unique artsy gifts for folks of all ages. For more info, check out the Walker’s website.

The “Great Ones” (Highlights) of the Walker Art Center:

  1. The building itself – It is a wonderfully unique building that surprised and amazed me throughout. 
  2. Free for all (sometimes) – Kids 12 and under always get in free, and the Walker Art Center offers free admission for all every Thursday night from 5pm – 9pm and all day on the first Saturday of each month. Many fun family programs are offered on these days, the Walker can be a very affordable and fun family outing on those days.
  3. The “Grassy Knoll” – That is my own term for the grassy hill on the west side of the building (the side shown in the first picture in the post). It is a good romantic spot and offers my favorite scenic view in Minneapolis, featuring three beautiful churches, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (more in a future post), Loring Park, and a spectacular view of the downtown skyline. The view is gorgeous daytime and nighttime, and the knoll is always open to the public (four people were grilling out there this afternoon). Towards the top of the knoll, near the building (and the gorilla sculpture) is an underground room with an open roof that is one of my favorite hidden gems in the city. If you’re at the Walker, be sure to check it out.
  4. Interactive Stations – The Walker has several unique interactive stations and activities. Just off the main lobby there is a listening station that allows users to hear selections from upcoming performances that will be held in the performance arena and a viewing station that allows users to view videos about current art topics. Directly across from the viewing station was one of the most fun interactive information stations I have seen:

Tiny virtual people meander amongst works of art. For more info, simply grab a person by pinching them between your thumb and fingers (as in the picture) and then drop them on a work of art by releasing them. For extra fun, try picking a person up, shaking them around a little, and then drop them back down anywhere. More detailed information is here. (Photo courtesy of Eric

Here is another great interactive station for kids:

Kids ask this dolphin questions by typing on a cordless keyboard, and the dolphin squeaks answers. Don’t worry – there are subtitles so you will know what the dolphin is saying. (Photo courtesy of Peter Fleck)

The “Not-so-Great Ones” (Lowlights) of the Walker Art Center:

  1. Where am I? – I found the museum’s layout to be somewhat confusing and disorienting, and the museum map that was available was kind of vague and confusing and only actually showed one floor.
  2. Slow Elevators – I know that’s a really minor inconvenience, but I was unable to visit several galleries, because I spent about 5 minutes waiting for an elevator that never came and by the time I got up to the galleries via the stairs the galleries were closed (it was 5 o’clock).
  3. Stairs Everywhere – There are stairs seemingly everywhere in the Walker Art Center. Everything is wheelchair accessible, but some long detours may be required in order to get from one gallery to another.
  4. What is art? – I found myself asking that question many times at the Walker Center today. I don’t profess to be an expert or lover of modern art, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what qualified some of the pieces at the Walker as art. Some examples: a piece consisting of a long lit fluorescent light tube with a short unlit fluorescent tube directly on top of it, a small child’s chair with a box of kleenex on it, or this bizarre piece by none other than Yoko Ono (yes that Yoko Ono):

Ono’s piece is entitled, “Painting to Hammer a Nail in”. The photographer’s reflection is not part of the piece. (Photo courtesy of ThunderChild tm)

If you go:

The Walker Art Center is open Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm (9pm on Thurs). Admission is always free for children 12 and under, and is is free for all on Thursdays from 5 – 9pm and all day the first Saturday of each month. Otherwise admission is $10 for adults, $8 seniors 65 and up, and $6 dollars for teens and students with IDs. There are also a few other ways to get free admission to the Walker Art Center.

The Walker Art Center is located at 1750 Hennepin Ave (map). There is ample parking in the attached City of Minneapolis underground parking ramp (On Vineland Place near Bryant Ave) and in the Parade Grounds parking lot adjacent to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Both of those are pay lots, but free street parking is often available (especially on Mount Curve Ave at the top of the hill). The Walker is also accessible by bus, and is only a few blocks off of the Cedar Lake Bike Trail.

 

…And now I am going to go stretch out on the “grassy knoll” and enjoy the beautiful views. Stay tuned for the next installment: Farmers Markets in St. Paul… coming soon!

 

 

 

 

Travel the World for Free at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Posted October 2, 2008 by blakewanger
Categories: Architecture Point of Interest, Arts and Entertainment, educational, Fun for All Ages, Inexpensive

Grab your brushes and palette! Put on your smock and beret!  We’re off to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts! 

Minneapolis and St. Paul have a vibrant and thriving arts community that celebrates talented local artists as well as nationally and internationally reknowned artists. One of the largest organizations within the Twin Cities arts community is the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, located at 2400 3rd Ave. S. just a mile south of downtown (map). The M.I.A., which is free and open to the public six days a week, is housed in a sprawling building which combines beautiful classical features with streamlined modern elements: 

The classically styled central building (1915) is flanked modern additions in 1974 (left) and 2006 (right). (Photo courtesy of MeetMinneapolis)

Behold… the Amazing Technicolor Art Museum (Photo courtesy of LeAnn Crowe)

This M.I.A. has a collection of over 80,000 pieces including paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and some things you might not normally think of as art:

Very few museums allow you to actually park in the galleries. The M.I.A. is not one of them. This 1948 Tatra T87 Sedan is actually part of the M.I.A.’s entertaining collection of modern and contemporary artifacts. (Photo courtesy of Honey Bunny)

The Experience

I have visited the M.I.A. four times in the last two years. Somehow, even though I know the M.I.A. is an enormous place, every time I’ve gone there I’ve found myself thinking that the museum was bigger than I remembered it. Upon entering the lobby, a long, tall, and narrow space with walls of windows on either end, it impossible to tell just how large the M.I.A. actually is:

The M.I.A.’s small, modern lobby belies the vast, classically inspired gallery spaces within the museum. (Photo courtesy of Trista B.)

I always grab a map at the desk in the lobby before I head into the galleries. This is especially important if there is a specific exhibit or gallery you want to see (you may even need to ask for directions to a gallery). The galleries are on the second and third floors.

The second floor features galleries housing art and artifacts from the following geographic regions/historical eras:

  • Asia – emphasis on China and Japan, also includes Himalayan kingdoms, Southeast Asia & Islamic art.
  • Americas
  • Pacific Islands
  • Africa
  • Ancient Art – emphasis on classical Greece and Rome
  • Textiles
  • Modern and Contemporary – The Tatra Sedan (take note car buffs), unique furniture and household accessories (Art Deco Etc.). Half of this fun gallery is on the third floor).
  • Special Exhibitions – Currently on the groundbreaking architecture of Eero Saarinen, who designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and TWA terminal in New York among other notable buildings.

The Doryphoros is one of the highlights of the Ancient Art gallery. (Photo courtesy of Jerry)

The M.I.A. has an extensive collection of Asian art, sculptures and textiles. (Photo courtesy of Jerry)

 

The third floor features art and artifacts from these geographic regions/historical regions:

Family Fun

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers an array of fun, educational programs for adults and children, giving participants the opportunity to learn about, experience, and create art in a variety of media.

 

The “Masterpieces” (Highlights) of the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts:

  1. The Price is Right – Museum admission (and parking) is FREE for everyone … always!
  2. Huge Collections – There is sure to be art that will appeal to everyone in the M.I.A.’s vast collection.
  3. Not Just Paintings – In addition to typical art museum fare of paintings and sculpture, the M.I.A. is full of textiles, artifacts (suits of armor, Native American shields, etc), and even furniture, household objects, and of course cars. These other artifacts inspire me to see the art all around me in my everyday life.
  4. Period Rooms – Don’t miss the recreated/restored period rooms on the second and third floors. Walk through a recreated Charleston, SC drawing room circa 1792, or the Grand Salon of a French luxury hotel circa 1735, among many, many others. These are a must for anyone with an interest in design, architecture, or history. Here’s some more info.

The elegant Grand Salon from the Hôtel Gaillard de La Bouëxière c. 1735. (Photo Courtesy of Lori Erickson)

 

The “Eyesores” (Lowlights of the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts):

  1. Lost in the Laybrinth – The museum is an extensive maze of galleries, most of which do not have windows. This means it can be very easy to lose track of yourself (and the time). Make sure you take a map, a timepiece, and don’t be afraid to ask a museum employee for directions within the galleries.
  2. Secret Service? – The countless museum guards made me a little uneasy as they eyed my every movement and sometimes followed me from one gallery to another. It’s good to have security, but several of the M.I.A.’s guards, clad in suits, and equipped with walkie-talkies and stern faces, seemed unapproachable and suspicious of everyone in the galleries. 
  3. Look Ma, No Hands! – Very few things in the museum are hands-on, meaning that many kids, and even some adults, may get bored long before they have seen all there is to see (I bet the M.I.A.. could single- handedly keep the that company makes those “Please do not touch” signs in the black). There are interactive computer stations throughout the museum which are kind of fun, but other than that, there’s not much to do with your hands.
  4. Small Special Exhibits Gallery – I was really excited to see the Eero Saarinen exhibit, but was disappointed by how small the special exhibit gallery containing it was. It was still neat to see, I just wish there had been more room for more models, blueprints, etc.

Just ‘Cause it’s Art Doesn’t Mean You Have to Be Starving:

There is food available at several venues in and around the M.I.A.

Don’t forget about the Performing Arts:

Come visit the M.I.A. for free and take in a wonderful show at the adjacent Children’s Theater Company.

If You Go:

The museum is located 2400 3rd Ave S. (map). Hours are 10am – 5pm Tues. – Sat. (open until 9pm Thurs.), and 11am – 5pm Sunday. Closed Mondays. There is a free parking ramp adjacent to the museum. Here is some info on parking and driving directions to the M.I.A.

The museum is also accessible by bus.

 

And now its time to put the finishing touches on this artistic post. See you next time! Thanks for reading!

Coming Soon… the Walker Art Center!

The Most Scenic Urban Marathon in America: The Twin Cities Marathon

Posted October 1, 2008 by blakewanger
Categories: Fun for All Ages, Inexpensive, Sports & Recreation

Tags:

What do Boston, New York, the Twin Cities, and the Olympics have in common? That’s right, they all have marathons. And the 2008 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon will be run this Sunday, October 5. Unlike those “other” marathons, the Twins Cities Marathon takes a uniquely scenic course (pdf) through downtown Minneapolis, the “Chain of Lakes” in western Minneapolis, down beautiful Minneahaha Parakway, and across the Mississippi River before ending at the Capitol Building in St. Paul. I’ve heard it called “The most scenic urban marathon in America.”

Marathoners running on one of the scenic parkways in Minneapolis. Lake Calhoun is in the background. (Photo courtesy of Brian Roberts)

Something for Everyone

The marathon is only one part of a larger weekend “Celebration of Fitness,” including other running events and activities for adults and kids of all ages. Many participants receive free t-shirts and medals for finishing their events. These events are all held around the Capitol Building in St. Paul, a beautifully scenic area adjacent to downtown St. Paul. Most of the family and kid-oriented events will be held on Saturday, October 4. To get a feel for what the family events are all about check out the videos in the menu on the right side of the events page which include:

  • Medtronic TC Family Events & TC5K
  • Diaper Dash (a race for infants who can’t yet walk)
  • Harry & Shelly’s Mascot Invitational
  • Toddler Trot
  • Pioneer Press Family Activities Tent. 

If you or your kids are interested in participating in these events, there are several ways to register.

The beautiful Minnesota State Capitol Building in St. Paul is the hub of the activity on marathon weekend.  (Photo courtesy of Tim Wilson)

If you go:

All events start and finish at the Capitol Building (map), except for the marathon itself and the ten mile race, which both start at the Metrodome and end at the Capitol Building. Registration is closed for the Marathon and 10 mile race, but it is possible to register for the family events on the day of the event up to 15 minutes before the event starts. For more information, check out the official website.

 Spectators:

Spectators are welcome to watch any of the races from anywhere along the courses free of charge. A helpful guide for spectators (pdf) offers a lot of information on how to enjoy these events without breaking a sweat.

Road Closings/ Traffic Changes

Because the marathon and other races are run on city streets, they will affect traffic in the Twin Cities during the weekend in the form of road closures and detours.

 

These drained but determined marathoners have almost reached the finish line… and so has this post. (Photo courtesy of Drew Geraets)

Whew! All this blogging about marathons has left me virtually exhausted! But have no fear, I shall doggedly press on to give you more of the best attractions and entertainment the Twin Cities have to offer. Stay tuned for upcoming post stops at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center…

Farmers Markets in Minneapolis

Posted September 26, 2008 by blakewanger
Categories: Fun for All Ages, Inexpensive

Tags:

Hello again!

          Today’s post is going to give you 11, that’s right, 11 spots for the price of one … which incidentally is zero dollars. Anyway, I wanted to share some info about farmers markets in Minneapolis. There’s no easier, (or more delicious) way to show support for local farmers and help protect the environment than shopping at farmers markets, and Minneapolis is a great place to do just that. Below is some info about twelve farmers markets in Minneapolis. I have also created a map showing the locations of all of the farmers markets mentioned here.

The Farmer in the Mall: The Nicollet Mall Minneapolis Farmers Market offers fresh local produce amongst the hustle and bustle of downtown Minneapolis. (Photo courtesy of Ry Tweedie-Cullen

Elliott Park Farmers Market: 1000 E. 14th St., Wednesdays 10:30 am – 2pm,  June 25 – September. Located about six blocks away from the Metrodome light rail stop.

Kingfield Farmers Market: Nicollett Ave. & 43rd St. Sundays 9am – 1:30 pm, June 1 – October 12. Accessible via public transportation.

Midtown Exchange Farmers Market: 920 E. Lake Street (in the Midtown Exchange building) Thursdays 11am – 3pm, June 28 – Oct 25th. This market is easily accessible by bike via the Midtown Greenway (trail map) and by  public transportation. There is also plenty of parking for cars.

Midtown Farmers Market: E. Lake st. & 22nd Ave S. (next to WMCA). Tues. 3:30 – 7:30pm, July 8 – Oct 21, Saturdays 8am – 1pm May 3 – Oct 25. Just steps off of the light rail line. Also accessible by bus, and bike.

Mill City Farmers Market: 704 2nd St. S. (between Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater – see previous posts). Saturdays 8am – 1pm, May 10 – October 18. Easily the most scenic location of any MInneapolis Farmers market – right on the Mississippi river bluffs overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge, “The most romantic spot in Minneapolis” (see an earlier post on this). It is nestled between a gorgeous old building (Mill City Museum), and an amazing new one (The Guthrie Theater). Mill City Farmers market is easily accessible via public transportation, and bike. Parking is available nearby but may be limited due to events at the Guthrie Theater and or Metrodome. 

Minneapolis Farmers Market (2 locations – Two of the largest farmers markets in the city):

Lyndale N312 E. Lyndale Ave N. Daily 6am – 2pm. April 21 – Mid November.

Nicollet Mall – 5th – 12th Sts. Nicollet Mall (Nicollet Ave.) Thursdays 6am – 6pm, May 1 – Mid Oct. This market is located on a pleasant pedestrian and bus-only mall, in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Shop for your produce in the shadow of Orchestra Hall, the IDS Tower, and other beautiful buildings, sculptures, and public art. NIcollet mall is accessible by bike and is itself bike friendly. It is also accessible via the Light Rail, and any number of buses. Cars are not allowed on Nicollet Ave., and parking can sometimes be difficult given the location in the middle of downtown. 

 

You say tomato, I say tomah-to at the Lyndale Minneapolis Farmers Market (Photo courtesy of Mary)

Northeast Minneapolis Farmers Market: University Ave. & 7th Ave E. (Boniface Church parking lot) Saturdays 9am – 1pm, early June – Mid Oct. This market is located a few blocks east of the Mississippi river and few blocks north of the historic St. Anthony Main area. Accessible via public transportation.

Healthy Powderhorn Farmers Market: 2930 13th Ave. S. Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ. Saturdays 9am – 1pm. (612) 872-4226. Located only blocks from the Midtown Global Market near Lake St. & 13th Ave. S. Find out how to get there by bike, bus, or light rail.

University of MN Farmers Market: Church Street Mall, East Bank Campus. Wednesdays 11am -2pm, July 9 – Oct 8. Accessible via public transportation. Park in the church street parking ramp, 1 block south of Pillsbury Dr. SE on Church St.

VA Medical Center Farmers Market: One Veterans Drive. Tuesdays 2-6 pm, mid June – Mid Sept. Call (612) 467-1789. This market is located in south Minneapolis, just north of Fort Snelling and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, near the Hwy 62 and Hiawatha Ave. Interchange. It is steps away from the light rail and also accessible by bus and bike. Plenty of car parking is available.

Still hungry? Here’s a site with a lot’s of juicy information on Minneapolis farmers markets.

Bon Appetit!

The Metrodome: Minneapolis’ Metro Multitasker

Posted September 24, 2008 by blakewanger
Categories: Fun for All Ages, Sports & Recreation

Onward we go…

 Our next stop is the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, located about three blocks straight southwest of the Guthrie Theater (map). This one-size-fits-all (though not very comfortably) arena is home to the Minnesota Twins baseball team (not for long), and two football teams: the Minnesota Vikings (possibly not for long) and University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (definitely not for long). Both the Twins and Gophers will be moving into new stadiums in the next few years, and there is speculation that if the Vikings cannot reach a deal on a new stadium soon (and that looks likely) the franchise may be moved elsewhere. For now though, all of those teams call “The Dome” their home:

“The Dome” with its iconic white, cloud-like roof. (Photo courtesy of Chris B.)

The dome also hosts some high school tournaments, monster truck rallies, and other events.

The Experience:

I have been to “The Dome” for several Twins games and a Vikings game, and although they were both played in the same building, the experiences were quite different. At the Twins games I’ve been to, the atmosphere was light and fairly relaxed – a fun, family friendly environment. Also Twins tickets are relatively affordable, even the left field “Homerun porch”. Click here for more Twins ticket info. Here’s what the stadium looks like when it is in baseball mode:

The tall blue wall in right field is actually rows of folded up seats, which are unfolded for Vikings games. (Photo courtesy of jasonandrewlayne).

During the Viking game I attended, the atmosphere was much more tense and frenzied (it probably didn’t help matters that the Vikings were playing (and losing to) the Packers). It was also much louder at the Vikings game (don’t plan on carrying on any conversations if you go see the Vikes in the dome). Vikings tickets are more expensive than Twins tickets, and can be harder to get. For more info on Vikings tickets, click here. For info on Golden Gophers football tickets, click here. Here’s a photo of the stadium in football mode:

This was for a Golden Gophers game, but it’s basically the same for the Vikings. (Photo courtsey of NVJ)

WARNING: The Metrodome Will Blow You Away! (literally)

I think my favorite part of the experience was actually leaving the Dome, and not because I think the dome is bad. The real reason I like leaving the dome is because, as I warned above, it quite literally blows visitors away. This is due to the fact that the roof is partially supported by air pressure. This means that the air pressure inside the dome is higher than the air pressure outside the dome. Thus when you leave the dome, you are literally blown out by a surprisingly powerful blast of air in what is essentially a fully immersive lesson in the laws of physics. I take it as the Metrodome’s subtle way of saying “The game’s over, now get out!”. 

The “Homeruns” (Highlights) of the Metrodome:

  1. No “Rain outs” – The Dome’s white teflon roof assures that no matter what the weather, the game will go on.
  2. Easy Access Part I – A gently sloping ramp outside of the dome allows visitors to enter and exit the stadium on the level they are sitting on.
  3. Easy Access Part II – The Metrodome is in downtown Minneapolis and easily accessible by public transportation, and only a short walk from the U of M campus.
  4. It “Blows you away” – Quite literally too. When you open a door to leave the dome, the higher air pressure inside literally blows you out of the building. I personally find this to be a very fun way to leave a game. 

The “Errors” (Lowlights) of the Metrodome:

  1. Tiny Concourses – The narrow concourses in the dome make it hard to navigate through throngs of people. This was especially problematic at the Vikings game, when it took me ten minutes to even get to the bathroom.
  2. Boring Food – The food selection is fairly standard and boring. However you can avoid spending too much money if you go on a “Dollar Dome Dog Day” (any Wednesday this season), hot dogs (or “Dome Dogs”) are only $1. You could also invest (as I did) in 12 chocolate chip cookies for $5 (the cookies were actually pretty good).
  3. Bring Earplugs – Especially for Vikings games. MInnesotans cheer their teams on loudly and proudly! Inside the dome, the noise can become uncomfortably loud for some. 
  4. Traffic Nightmare! – Do not drive or take a bus anywhere near the Metrodome immdeiately before or after an event.  It took me well over an hour just to leave downtown on a bus after a Vikings game! For tips on the easiest ways to get to and from the Dome, read the “If you go” section.

Just For Fun: Memorable Metrodome Moments:

  1. World Series Champions – The Twins won the World Series in 1987 and 1991. The 1991 series has been labeled by ESPN as “The Greatest World Series Ever Played”. 5 games were decided by 1 run or less, four were decided in the final at-bat, and three went into extra innings.
  2. Perfect 10 – Jack Morris pitches 10 brilliant shutout innings to win game seven of the 1991 World Series and give the Twins the Championship. Morris allowed just 7 hits in what was unquestionably one of the greatest pitching performances in World Series history. Morris was also named series MVP.
  3. What Goes Up Must Come Down, Right? – 1984 mediocre baseball player Dave Kingman of the Oakland A’s hit a towering pop fly in the dome that never came back down – the ball went through a small hole in the roof (that was supposed to be there) and left the stadium completely (I guess it is possible to hit a ball out of a domed stadium). Kingman was awarded a ground rule double.
  4. The Player Currently Known as Prince Hits an Inside-the-Park homer – Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder hit a towering popup in the ninth inning of a game at the dome against the Twins in 2007, with his team trailing by two. Twins outfielder Lew Ford lost sight of the ball against the white roof. The ball fell near the outfield wall and by the time Ford retrieved it, Prince had become the heaviest baseball player to ever hit an inside-the-park home run (270 pounds). The Brewers later tied the game, but the Twins went on to win on a traditional homerun by Justin Morneau.
  5. The Best By Favre – Brett Favre sets the all time career NFL passing touchdown record in a game against the Vikings in 2007 with his 421st career touchdown.

If You Go:

By Car: Don’t. But if you have to, I would recommend parking in the parking ramps just northwest of downtown, which are accessible via I-394 and I-94. Parking here will save you a little money and allow you to get out faster. From the ramps walk southeast on 4th, 5th or 6th street about 8 blocks, or hop on the light rail train at the Hennepin/Warehouse District Stop at 5th and Hennepin Ave. and get off at the Metrodome stop (map). The new Twins stadium will be directly adjacent to the “A” and “B” ramps. 

By Light Rail: The best way to go, though the trains do get extremely crowded. There are a number of places to park along the light rail line, including the Mall of America (which is free), and several park and ride lots. Click here for more info. The light rail stops right outside the dome, and it will allow you to avoid the heinous traffic after games.

By Bus: Buses are also available, though I don’t recommend them because they tend to get stuck in traffic with all of the cars. A good way to avoid traffic would be to walk northeast towards the Guthrie theater (the big blue cube-ish building, and then walk across the Stone Arch Bridge (it’s made of stone with a lot of arches – I know, so helpful, right?), and catch a bus in St. Anthony. For more bus info click here.

Now that we have seen the dome and it has blasted us back out onto the street, let’s head to our next stop. See you there!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.