“What if we went to Minneapolis instead of staying another night in South Dakota?” Matt asked.
Next thing I knew, my plans were out the window and I was frantically messaging Britta to ask if we could stay with her during our spur-of-the-moment detour.
Originally the idea stressed me out (I hate when plans change, especially those designed for efficiency), but as soon as Britta said yes I got excited to experience another big midwestern city’s culture.
We started off our day at a Minneapolis institution: Al’s Breakfast. It’s a tiny restaurant with 14 seats in a bar format. You’re not there for a formal, sit-down brunch–you sit, order, eat, and get out. And it’s charming as heck.
Regulars can start tabs, the hashbrowns are deliciously greasy, and every order has a nickname (“Wally Blues” for walnut blueberry pancakes).
If you’re claustrophobic, this isn’t the place for you. If you love hole-in-the-wall spots where your waiter has a hipster beard and majored in English, you’ll love it. As long as you don’t mind shifting one seat over mid-meal to make room for the next group.
After we were sufficiently full of pancakes and hashbrowns and bacon and coffee, Britta took Matt and me to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, another iconic city landmark.
The garden itself is peaceful, and some of the sculptures are interesting and thought-provoking. Art, of course, lends itself to anything, and I found a few of the pieces to be bizarre or uncreative. Overall, though, it’s a good collection and a worthwhile way to spend an hour.
A dome in the distance (you can see it in the top left photo above) caught my attention, so after Britta left for work we wandered out of the garden and onto the streets of downtown Minneapolis. The dome belonged to the Basilica of Saint Mary church–an absolutely gorgeous building. We didn’t go inside, but just appreciated the exterior and looked at the surrounding area.
I can’t really explain the vibe I got from the city, but I liked it a lot. It just felt comfortable to me. It felt right.
We wandered back through the garden to the car, ready to take on our next adventure: The Mall of America.
I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to go to the Mall of America, but I figured since we were right there I might as well see it for the first time (kind of like our feelings about Mount Rushmore).
The only thing that distinguishes the Mall of America from any other mall is the attractions. Namely, the rollercoasters in the middle of the friggin’ building. And the Peeps store. That’s a unique one.
But besides that, it’s the same department and standalone stores I’m used to. Just more of them. Many stores repeat themselves because the place is so darn huge that adding a second location is worth it to attract shoppers who don’t want to cross the whole building.
Our day in Minneapolis was a success, and one of our last big-city stops along the trip before powering through the final seven states. Friends, food, art, and shopping–what could be better?
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