An Insider's Guide to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Summer is the perfect time to plan a Minneapolis weekend getaway, so we asked The Scout Guide Minneapolis editor and local tastemaker Kerry Ciardelli, a fashion visionary and esteemed interior designer who knows her town inside and out, to share the perfect weekend itinerary for a trip to her area.

Kerry wants visitors to her hometown to experience one thing over all else: Its enterprising and adventurous spirit. “Some of the oldest Minneapolis stories began with the logging industry, and the exciting days when the railroad first made its way out west beyond Chicago,” she says. That excitement and pioneering tradition is captured to this day in Minneapolis—from its staid steakhouses to the newest art galleries. It can be seen in the new neighborhoods springing up all over the place (think Brooklyn with an evergreen scent), in local startup successes like local spirits maker BĒT Vodka, and in its population’s unwavering devotion to the outdoors.

There are direct flights to St. Paul International Airport from more than 150 cities, and its central location makes a quick weekend getaway perfectly do-able! All you need to do is book the flight and secure the reservations. Kerry has planned the rest.


Today is all about arriving in style and easing your way into Minneapolis with beautiful views, classic cocktails, and a delicious meal.

Getting Around: Kerry thinks one of the best ways to see the city is from the driver’s seat in a vintage outdoorsman’s car. So rather than head over to the typical rent-a-car desk, she suggests making reservations ahead of time with Morrie’s Heritage Car Connection, a Maserati and Bentley dealership that also rents out vintage cars. Her vehicle of choice for a weekend cruising around Minneapolis? The Jeep Wagoneer. (You know the type, with the classic wood paneling and supple leather interior.) “It’s a car that just totally fits our city,” says Kerry. Here’s the best part: Morrie’s will arrange for you to be picked up at the airport and help familiarize you with the car, so you can skip the Hertz line and head out sightseeing.

Pre-dinner Drinks: Celebrate your arrival by heading directly to Bar Lurcat (1624 Harmon Place), which overlooks Loring Park. From the bar’s sweeping picture windows, you can enjoy the view of the park and its quaint pond. The atmosphere is charming, and their spicy tequila drink, called “The Spice Market,” will kick-start your weekend.

Prohibition Bar at W Minneapolis

Where to Stay: Kerry has plenty of hotel recommendations, and each option offers a different vibe. Romantic getaway? Try Nicollet Island Inn (95 Merriam Street), an intimate spot housed in a charming brick building in the heart of downtown, right on the river. Planning more of a sophisticated girls weekend? Then there’s Hotel Ivy (201 South Eleventh Street), which has a renowned spa and a great restaurant called Monello. Architecture aficionados will want to stay at The W Hotel (821 Marquette Avenue) housed in the Foshay Tower, one of Minneapolis’s oldest and most famous buildings. Even if you don’t stay there, Kerry says you’ll have to stop at Prohibition at the very top of the tower for sweeping city and lake views and a quintessential tourist moment.

Dinner Options: Post-cocktail and check-in, you’ll probably be ready for dinner. Manny’s (825 Marquette Avenue) is a locally famous steakhouse steeped in tradition. Think: checkered tablecloths and gorgeously rendered bulls on the wall. “Everyone’s been to Manny’s,” says Kerry. “And everyone has a story about a celebration there.” Come hungry, because portions are generous.

Spoon and Stable

For a more modern spot—or if you’re feeling like a culinary adventure rather than a full-on steakhouse experience—Kerry recommends Spoon and Stable (211 North First Street). According to Kerry, James Beard Award-winning chef Gavin Kaysen’s restaurant, which is located right downtown in the up-and-coming North Loop neighborhood, is great for people-watching. In addition to the delicious cuisine and bustling scene, Kerry loves the restaurant’s clean, crisp, and inspired decor. You need to save room for dessert, she advises—especially the cotton candy, which is a beautifully presented treat.

The Monte Carlo

Late Night Drink: Still not ready to hit the hay? Kerry recommends wandering over to the landmark Monte Carlo (219 Third Avenue North), the late-night watering hole of choice for locals. There, you can get a real taste of the city without the rush hour crowd that sometimes mobs its 100-year-old copper-topped bar, which boasts an extensive classic cocktail list that includes a dynamite sidecar. If you’re staying at Hotel Ivy, consider checking out their new subterranean cocktail bar, Constantine. Late-night is also a great time to hit Prohibition at the top of The W.


Kerry advises starting out early to get in a full day of art, the outdoors, and a cruise over to St. Paul for shopping and dinner.

Breakfast: Start out at The Copper Hen (2515 Nicollet Avenue) for strong coffee and farm-to-table fare. It’s centrally located, and their farmhouse brunch starts at 8 a.m., which gives you plenty of time to finish up before the museums open.

Art Gazing: If you have limited time, Kerry recommends going to the Minneapolis Institute of Art first. “And if you don’t have time for anything else, one of my favorite spots inside is the view you get right as you come up the main staircase, which overlooks the whole city.” Have your phone ready, because Kerry calls this your “Instagrammable moment” for the day. She describes the Institute as a small-scale Met, featuring the same kind of grand architecture but at a size that feels intimate.

If you’re feeling inspired to shop for your own collection, pay a visit to CityWide Artists (1506 Nicollet Avenue), a fantastic gallery close by where you might discover the next Basquiat. Note: CityWide Artists opens to the public at 3 on Saturdays.

Lunch and Lakes: After your art excursion, it’s time to grab lunch and experience the outdoor beauty Minneapolis is known for—which means getting closer to the lakes. The three lakes Kerry describes as must-sees are Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet. Each is only three miles around, so seeing them all (especially by bike) can be done rather quickly. “Each lake is so different in its own way,” she says. “They have their own little subcultures.” Rent a bike from one of the many rental racks around town or stroll at a more leisurely pace to observe the gorgeous old homes around the lakes.

For lunch, Kerry recommends The Tin Fish Restaurant (3000 East Calhoun Parkway) on Lake Calhoun. It gets crowded, so you might want to try to hit it at an off-hour to avoid long lines. “Whatever you do, you have to order the fish tacos,” Kerry says.

Cruising Grand Avenue: If you’re up for more adventure in the evening, take the Wagoneer for a cruise along Grand Avenue out to dinner in St. Paul, and pick up some gifts to bring home along the way. Cooks of Crocus Hill (877 Grand Avenue) is a destination for local foodies that offers specialty cookware and a wonderful selection of hostess gifts. If you’re on the lookout for a present for little ones, the colorful toy shop Creative KidsStuff (1074 Grand Avenue) is famous for gift wrapping purchases with wild wrapping paper and elaborate tissue paper arrangements.

If you’re shopping for yourself, Kerry recommends visiting Flirt Boutique (177 Snelling Avenue North), where you can pick up some classic lingerie with the help of your very own personalized shopper in a quiet, refined atmosphere. Then head over to Stephanie’s (758 Cleveland Avenue South) in the Highland Park neighborhood for fabulous jeans and exquisite dresses.

Dinner and Dessert in St. Paul: After a day of sightseeing, surrender your car to the valet and treat yourself to a dozen oysters at the oyster bar at Meritage (410 St. Peter Street). As a rule you’ll want to order seafood from Chef Desta Maree Klein’s fresh and inspired menu steeped in the French classics. “They do moules frites perfectly,” says Kerry, who prefers to sit at an outdoor table in the summer, and at a cozy banquette inside during the rest of the year.

Craving something sweet after dinner? Don’t leave St. Paul without stopping at Cafe Latte (850 Grand Avenue), a cafeteria-style bakery where Kerry says you must try a slice of the famous Turtle Cake.


The Bachelor Farmer Cafe

For your last day in town, Kerry recommends experiencing three completely distinct Minneapolis neighborhoods: The North Loop, Northeast, and Linden Hills.

A Nordic Start to the Day: Kick off Sunday with a bite from The Bachelor Farmer Cafe (200 North First Street). This brand-new spot in the uber-hip North Loop neighborhood comes courtesy of “the Dayton boys,” scions of one of Minneapolis’s most famous department-store families. Come for the coffee (they roast their own), Nordic-inspired light fare, and the eclectic decor featuring beautiful Swedish wallpaper and gorgeous tilework.

Martin Patrick 3

North Loop Shopping: After brunch, visit another Dayton boys enterprise: their retail shop Askov Finlayson (204 North First Street), which features local Minnesota products, including an authentic line of “Keep the North Cold” T-shirts and hats. Next, stop by Martin Patrick 3 (212 Third Avenue North, Suite 106), a fabulous men’s store located in an old warehouse, for beautiful, handmade goods like handcrafted leather belts, denim, and a true apothecary. (A corner of the store, cheekily called Apology, is the perfect spot to pick up a gift for your wife when you owe her something special.) While you’re in the North Loop, you won’t want to miss D.Nolo (219 North Second Street), a co-op featuring eight retailers featuring womenswear, home décor, and more.

Picture Perfect: Gold Medal Park in the heart of the North Loop is another one of Kerry’s favorite scenic spots that’s perfect for a photo op. From this park you can see the Mississippi River, the historic Stone Arch Bridge, Guthrie Theater, and the historic milling district. Choose from a variety of gorgeous backdrops and smile!

Pronounce it “Nordeast”: From the North Loop, Kerry recommends driving up to Northeast. “The farther up into the Northeast you go, the hipper it gets,” she says. “It’s famous for art crawls, galleries, and studio spaces, so you’ll want to check ahead of time to see what’s open when.” In addition to art, there are great options for stopping in somewhere for a beverage. If you’re in the mood for a beer, there’s BauHaus Brew Labs (1315 Tyler Street Northeast); if you want a delicious cup of coffee, then SpyHouse (945 Broadway Street Northeast) is the place to stop. While you’re in the area, remember to pronounce it like the locals. That’s “Nordeast” to you.

One Last Meal in Minneapolis: On your way to the airport, Kerry offers two options for a final meal. For something quick but divine, grab a porchetta from the window at Terzo’s Porchetteria (221 West 50th Street). If you have time for a special and leisurely lunch or early dinner, go to Upton 43 (4312 Upton Avenue South) in the beautiful lakeside neighborhood of Linden Hills (conveniently located on your way out of town). This is gourmet Scandinavian food at its finest in a beautifully restored old hardware store. It’s hard to get in, but if you’re going early enough you might be able to get a table without a reservation. Kerry loves their fried goat gouda, kale, and lingonberry appetizer and the traditional gravlax platter. As an added bonus, the surrounding neighborhood is picture-perfect and incredibly walkable.

One Last Tip: Before you board that plane, Kerry recommends doing something a bit unconventional: Shop the airport stores. “The gift stores at our airport are full of great Minnesota goods, like Sota clothing’s mugs, apparel and totes.” Board the plane with your new souvenir, and be sure to come back soon!

Text by Nicole Bowman. Photography by John Wagner Photography.

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