Great finds in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Posted March 17, 2010 by Jamie Moore

Minneapolis You've gotta love a city with a sense of humor. When you're as metropolitan as Minneapolis/St. Paul, you could easily put on cosmopolitan airs. But that's not the case here. The Twin Cities deliver whimsical twists at every turn. Eat organic at a bowling alley, find kitschy home decor, and take in a show in one of the city's renowned theaters.

Bryant-Lake Bowl
: This hip retro-style bowling alley, restaurant, bar, and live theater venue in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood is a Minnesota institution. You'd never expect locally sourced organic menu items or a wine-and-beer list this good at a bowling alley. BLB is packed on weekends, but absolutely worth the wait. Try the bison hash ($9) or beans-and-guacamole breakfast burrito with jalapeno fries ($7.25). Monday is Cheap Date Night, when you get two special entrees, a bottle of wine, and a round of bowling for $28.

: Featured in oodles of national and local magazines, Patina defines Minneapolis style. Take one look at the unbelievably affordable handbags and jewelry at one of the six locations in the Twin Cities, and you can't help but say "cute!" in a must-have kind of way. Beware of getting sidetracked: The store also brims with fun gadgets, games, and kitschy home decor.

Guthrie Theater
: With more theater seats per capita than any other U.S. city outside New York, you're bound to find a play or musical that suits your tastes. Drop in at the Guthrie Theater, where plays from Shakespeare to modern classics are held on the three stages. After the show, you can take in the fantastic views of the Mississippi from the Guthrie's Endless Bridge, a cantilevered lobby that extends more than half a block from the building.

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(Photo: Photo: iStockphoto)

Nordic Fun in Grand Marais, Minnesota

Posted March 15, 2010 by Jamie Moore

Grand Marais Pull out that wool sweater you got last Christmas. The Grand Marais wild is calling, and it's not easily offended by knitted reindeer patterns. On the shores of Lake Superior, Grand Marais sits at the doorstep of Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Bundle up for Nordic adventures that will rosy your cheeks and give you chance encounters with wildlife. Stay in a woodsy lodge, explore the outdoors on skis or snowshoes, and warm up at a local java shop.

Gunflint Lodge
: When Gunflint Lake ices over and snow covers evergreen branches, Gunflint Lodge looks like a classic North Woods postcard scene. Wood-burning fireplaces made of stone and knotty pine walls and ceilings add to the rustic feel in each of the 23 cabins. Forest trails start right from the lodge, where you can go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing and join excursions under the Northern Lights. Follow moose tracks or gear up for dogsledding, skijoring, or ice fishing.

Bear Track Outfitting Co.
: Find everything you need for an outdoor adventure at Bear Track Outfitting Co. During the spring and summer months, you can rent canoes and sea kayaks, but winter months offer the chance to explore the wilderness on foot. Rent cross-country skis, poles, and boots for $20, or strap on snowshoes from $12.50. And if you plan on camping out beneath the stars, you can also rent an arctic sleeping bag that will keep you cozy down to 15 degrees below zero ($20).

Java Moose: Maybe the best place to eavesdrop on locals unraveling tales of 12-point bucks and 12-pound browns is at The Moose. You'll hear plenty of ya-sure-you-betchas in this cozy, den-like coffee shop, a local scene that visitors describe as "moosey." Sip lattes from a seat on the boardwalk overlooking Lake Superior or thaw out with soup and sandwiches inside. It's an ideal place to fuel up for backcountry adventures.

You can use our tool compare airfares to Thunder Bay, Canada, the nearest major airport, from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: Explore Minnesota Tourism/Paul Stafford)

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