MSP: NCAA Championship edition

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Man, it seems like Minneapolis is getting all of the sporting events because of their fancy new stadium.  Of course, the NCAA tourney will be played there on Monday, April 8th.  For those of you heading to the game this upcoming week, here’s a little Minnesota refresher.

you’re gonna make it after all…

My favorite instagram wonderland is the Walker Museum of Art.   For one, it’s a great indoor activity for art lovers in the dead of winter, if sports aren’t your thing or if you want to escape the crowds in town for the game.  And if it’s nice out, there’s so much to see on the grounds of the museum.  There are works by Claes Oldenburg and Coojse van Bruggen of the Free Stamp and Shuttlecocks fame you’ve seen on this blog before (Spoonbridge and Cherry), Katarina Fritsch (Hahn/Cock), Robert Indiana (LOVE), Roy Lichtenstein (Salute to Painting), and Deborah Butterfield (Woodrow) in the sculpture garden.

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Museum is closed on Monday though, so take that into consideration.  You’ll probably be busy gearing up for the big game anyway.

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First Avenue is the famed Minneapolis music venue featured in Purple Rain.  It was a pilgrimage of sorts for me, as the majority of all my favorite acts have played in this legendary club during their careers.

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Driving through downtown, there’s a lot of construction happening.  But you’ll see the destination for so many, US Bank Stadium, the gorgeous state of the art venue for the big game!  More of a football stadium (home of the Vikings) it’ll be interesting to see how it’s all decked out for basketball.

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This is an architectural beauty.  I remember the metrodome being a huge eyesore of a stadium, but its replacement is instead a sight for sore eyes.  If people shouldn’t throw stones at glass houses, should they throw basketballs in them?

One of the most interesting features of this city is the network of skyways, indoor covered connections between downtown buildings to protect its citizens from the bitter cold winters.  There’s a path to the stadium from downtown, which should be very helpful (and very crowded) as temperatures will get as cold as 36 degrees F on Monday.

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Apparently, Minneapolis used to be one of the world’s top producers of flour, and there are the remnants of many of these mills still today in the Mill District.  There’s architectural ruins that have been converted to a park, and the other warehouses have been (of course) converted into high end condos as this area has prime real estate on the banks of the Mississippi.

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There’s also a Mill City Museum that’s supposed to have cool exhibits and a nice rooftop cafe.

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The stone arch pedestrian bridge connects this area with the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood of south Minneapolis.  The Northeast neighborhood is near the campus of U of M and although my beloved Kansas Jayhawks are not in the tourney (and were not expected to be this year), there is a restaurant that would’ve fit the bill perfectly to celebrate a Rockchalk win called PinKU.  It serves Japanese street food, so that’s reason enough to visit.  Minneapolis and St. Paul are towns fit for foodies, especially ethnic food on University.  You can find a piping hot pho-nomenal meal at any Vietnamese eatery, perfect for freezing temperatures.

And in the morning, a cup of joe at Penny’s Coffee is a great way to start your day.  This very open concept paradise of a coffee shop is located in the lobby of the 100 Washington office building which lends its echoing, marbled walls to the coolness of the cafe itself.  I had a honey latte and a salted honey crepe, the perfect breakfast.

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Minneapolis has a rich musical scene, with bands like the Replacements (still waiting to run into Paul Westerberg), Husker Du, Semisonic and obviously, the GOAT, Prince Rogers Nelson hailing from there.  Bob Dylan went to the University of Minnesota for a little while and played coffee shops in Dinkytown, which is why they also have a real claim to him here.

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The Mary Tyler Moore statue is also located downtown, and you should see her tossing that beret up in the air if you can track it down.  Construction thwarted my attempts to do so.  But, since I was already downtown, I took the Metro to the Mall of America, as the public transport in this city is very efficient and easy to use.

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I know, I know.  But I didn’t get to visit the last time I was here, and I feel like it’s just one of those things you need to see once.  Plus I was able to pick up some Panda Express before taking the metro straight to the airport (so convenient).  I have a weird thing where I eat Panda Express when I’m at malls and airports, so this converged nicely.  This PE was probably the nicest one I’ve ever seen. Plus, the line at Shake Shack was too long.

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What’s there to say, it’s a very large mall with a Nickelodeon theme park in the center of it, a Sea Life aquarium, and the usual mall stores found in any shopping area across the country.  It’s definitely a prime example of American consumerism, so I see how it lives up to its name.

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Don’t forget to check out all the good eats in the MSP airport as well, like Angel bakery above.

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RIP Prince

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