If you’re having trouble thinking beyond Starbucks and Caribou for your Minneapolis/St. Paul vina dates, it’s time to branch out! The Cities have a wealth of options for every vina, and I have far more beloved date sites than I could possible include here. Be inspired, and remember this is far from an exhaustive list.
GET YOUR ART ON
Minneapolis boasts a number of fantastic art museums to please your eye and stretch your mind with your vina. Of course the big ones are Mia and the Walker, but don’t forget the Weisman Museum at the University of MN or the Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) in south Minneapolis. Mia and Weisman have the benefit of being free, but I love the Russian museum’s atmosphere (it’s in a renovated church), and the Walker’s sculpture garden will be hard to beat come summer. If museums seem stuffy to you, plan a date around Minneapolis’s Art-A-Whirl or the St. Paul Art Crawl.
DRINKS FOR EVERYONE
Whether you like local brews, cocktails, or whiskey, MSP offers plenty of options. For a classy atmosphere, check out the Library Bar on Hennepin. Feeling UK? Brit’s Pub, Merlin’s Rest, and Emmett’s are just a few of many British or Irish pubs around (and the fare is excellent too). Craft beer abounds at stops like Indeed, Dangerous Man, The Happy Gnome, Surly, and The Freehouse – or if you like something stronger, check out Du Nord Craft Spirits in Uptown, a small batch, artisan distillery noted for its coffee liqueur that actually tastes like coffee.
GET SOME SUN
Minnesotans don’t waste time when the sun is shining. Explore your botanical interests at Chanhassen’s Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, walk along the river at Fort Snelling State Park or Minnehaha Falls, ogle at the the mansions on Summit Avenue, or catch some spray from St. Anthony Falls at the Stone Arch Bridge (not to mention great views of Minneapolis). And in the winter, there is really no better cure for the cold than the tropical forest room at Como Park Conservatory.
Beer is not the only quality beverage brewed in town. On the St. Paul side, Kopplin’s, Quixotic, and Nina’s Coffee Cafe are sure to please, while Urban Bean and Five Watt grace Minneapolis (Five Watt is especially interesting for its “coffee cocktails” using bitters and fancy simple syrups). Any of the four Spyhouse locations are an excellent choice. And, if you prefer tea to its stronger sister or are simply in the mood for something different, relax with chai or a pot of the best loose-leaf at Teasource.
EXPLORE THE MAGIC OF GRAND
With great food, fun shopping, quaint houses, and a variety of unexpected treasures, Grand Avenue is my go-to for vina dates. Take a walk along any portion of Grand (especially east of Snelling) and stop in whatever place catches your eye. Cheese lovers absolutely must visit The St. Paul Cheese Shop (free samples!), or if you want something sweeter, I’ve never had better than Just Truffles. Of course, Cafe Latte is a classic for lunch and cake, and it’s right across from Paper Source and a number of other cute shops. For knitters and crocheters, The Yarnery is a rare and valuable find, or maybe you and your vina want to reminisce over your favorite childhood books at Red Balloon Bookshop (for adult literature, try Common Good Books farther west). The cook in your life will love Cooks of Crocus Hill. Hungry after all that walking? Everest on Grand, Punch Pizza, and Shish are just a few of the many excellent ways to fill up.
Did I miss your favorite vina date? Are you inspired to visit MSP? Leave a comment!
(Feature image via Brandy Melville)