Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Minneapolis. Promising to help you spend a perfect 24 hours in Minneapolis almost seems redundant. Of course you’re going to have a perfect 24 hours in Minneapolis! It’s one of the cutest little cities in the whole world!
Even if you did nothing all day but wander around listening to Prince tunes and meeting friendly locals, you’d still have an amazing time. But with just a little bit of help, I can get you to maximize your limited time. We’ll meet the Mayor of Minneapolis, the Mill City Beast, and possibly Joni Mitchell. Uff dah!
24 Hours in Minneapolis
Where to Stay?
What kind of hotel would you like for your 24 hours in Minneapolis? Would you choose something in a convenient location? Want a place with a friendly staff that will help you get to the airport? Need a large and yet cozy room complete with an ice machine so you can depuff your eyes with fresh cubes every morning? Then The Residence Inn in the Downtown/City Center is for you!
24 Hours in Minneapolis
What to Pack?
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
If the weather is rainy or snowy, which can happen in Minnesota, I recommend the Asgard Rain Boots. They are comfy/cozy and keep my feet dry all day. Plus they’re cute enough that I can wear them out without feeling like some gauche tourist with gross feet.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
24 Hours in Minneapolis
Morning: Historic Northeast Minneapolis Food Tour
When I ask you to picture a group of Minnesotans, you probably conjure up a group of tall, blond, Nordic types with almost-Canadian accents, eh? But Minneapolis is home to a wide variety of ethnic communities. And that means it’s home to a wide variety of delicious foods!
One of the best places to taste test these treats is in Northeast Minneapolis, aka “Nordeast”. At least, the website for Twin Cities Food Tours says it’s called Nordeast, but they could be lying to me so that I will use this made-up word and sound stupid. But I will trust them for the moment because I enjoyed their Northeast Minneapolis Food Tour so much. Now it’s time for our 24 hours in Minneapolis to start. Trust me and come see the…
approximately top 5: 24 hours in Minneapolis food edition
And we’re off on our international food tour of Minneapolis! Our first stop: Minne-Ukraine. Kramarczuk’s Deli was founded by Ukrainian immigrants back in the 1940s. They still make all their sausage and piroshky by scratch. One reason I like taking food tours is that you get more bang for your buck.
If I came to Kramarczuk’s on my own, I’d have to order a whole plate of piroshy and a whole plate of sausage. But on the food tour, I can sample each dish, and still have room for all the Tibetan food I’m going to eat later. Sometimes Eastern European food can be heavy, but all the food at Kramarczuk’s was as light as the shade of yellow on the Ukrainian flag.
2) Wilde Cafe
The Wilde Cafe is the only Oscar Wilde-themed cafe I have ever been to. I can’t quite tell if this stop is representing the Irish community (Wilde was an Irishman), the English community because Wilde lived in England, or the Italian community because our snack here was gelato. Wilde Cafe serves its own Oscar’s Gelato made in-house. Oscar’s has everything from typical flavors like vanilla to veddy British flavors like rose.
I chose bacon fluffernutter because I always get the craziest flavor I can find. When I arrive at the pearly gates, I don’t want to have to explain to St. Peter why I turned down the bacon fluffernutter. And yes, you could taste real pieces of bacon, which I assume means bacon fluffernutter ice cream would be a healthy breakfast food.
3) Punch Pizza
OK, now we’re at the real Italian stop on the tour: Punch Pizza. The owner spent time in Italy growing up. When he was an adult, he was able to realize his dream of opening up his own authentic Neapolitan pizza shop. (They fly in real buffalo mozzarella from Italy every week.) Speaking as someone from NYC, I have to say this was some of the best pizza I have had. You could really taste the attention to detail, down to the authentically slightly burned crust.
Once again I can demonstrate the benefit of taking a food tour because we all got to try one piece of eggplant and one of margherita pizza. On my own, I would have had to order a whole pie, feel obligated to take half of it to go, and then never actually get around to eating it.
4) Lunds & Byerlys
For me, this was the most exciting stop on the tour. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have a history with the Twin Cities just how wonderful Byerlys is. (It’s now called Lunds and Byerlys after a merger, but when I was a kid, Byerlys stood alone.) My grandparents lived an hour outside Minneapolis, and I used to go to Minnesota every year for summer camp.
The one treat I insisted on was being taken to Byerlys for Sample Day. On weekends, they would have chefs out all over the store preparing samples of everything from sausage to cookies for shoppers to try. It was like Disney World for a food-obsessed kid.
On the food tour, our samples were all of local cheeses. Of course, most of them were from Minnesota’s cheese-tastic neighbor, Wisconsin. The cheesemonger here was the friendliest man I have ever met in my life. He basically made Santa Claus look like a serial killer. These tastings proved that it’s a lie when people say Americans don’t know how to make good cheeses. We do, damn it! We just CHOOSE not to eat the good stuff.
5) Gorkha Palace
Up next: the Southeast Asian community. Gorkha Palace specializes in Indian, Tibetan, and Nepali food. The food is all made to order, so we had a little time to sit and relax on a rainy Minnesota day. From the Indian menu, we had fried vegetable pakoras, and from the Tibetan menu we had momos. I was confused at first because I speak some Japanese and in Japanese momo means peach. But Tibetan momos are just joyful dumplings, generally filled with a mix of vegetables.
Both the pakora and the momo prove that if you take dough, fill it with fresh veggies, and then mix in some yummy seasonings, you get something delicious. I bet every country in the world has some sort of dough pocket. Like in the US, we have the Very Artisanal Hot Pocket.
6) Gardens of Salonica
Our final stop on the International tour of Minneapolis: Minne-Greece! This time we went to the Gardens of Salonica, a Greek, family run restaurant. This restaurant specializes in a little-known Greek pastry called bougatsa. It’s a puffed pastry dessert usually stuffed with custard. (I know there are savory bougatsas too. Do not email me to tell me about the savory bougatsa, Internet Stranger!)
We had two bougatsii: one with a more traditional lemon custard and the house specialty, a nontraditional chocolate bougatsa. But I guess on a day when I ate bacon fluffernutter ice cream, I can’t complain about non-trad bougatsa. (The chocolate was my favorite. Again, stuff some carbs with chocolate and it’s going to be delicious. That’s just science.) We also had some delicious, not-too-syrupy baklava. Fun fact: it’s actually against the law for a Greek restaurant to refuse to serve you baklava at the end of the meal.
24 Hour Tip: Mill City Farmers Market
There will probably be some time before the tour starts, since it doesn’t begin at 11. And you don’t want to waste any time in your 24 hours in Minneapolis, do you? If it’s a Saturday, why not head over to the Mill City Farmers Market. It runs May to October, and any one who’s anyone in the Twin Cities will be there. Don’t believe me? Well, once I went shopping here for some heirloom tomatoes with a friend of mine who was going to the University of Minneapolis. We began chatting with a handsome older gentleman and his wife.
When I mentioned I was visiting from New York City, the gentleman stuck out his hand and said, “Nice to meet you! I’m the Mayor of Minneapolis!” Of course, my first reaction was that he was a lunatic and maybe if I’d caught him on a different day he would have told me he was Napoleon. But the look on my friend Tori’s face quickly told me that he was for reals, the MoM (Mayor of Minneapolis). If this doesn’t prove that Minneapolis is the friendliest city in the United States, I don’t know what will.
24 Hours in Minneapolis
Afternoon: Mill City Museum
Minneapolis may be the largest city in Minnesota, but it is not the capital. That honor belongs to Minneapolis’s conjoined twin city, St. Paul. So if you’re looking for the Minnesota History Museum, St. Paul would be the better bet. (This also holds true if you’re looking for statues of Herb Ritts, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the characters from Peanuts.)
But if you’re looking for museums dedicated to mills, milling, and all things Pillsbury, head straight for the Mill City Museum. Minneapolis used to be the milling capital of the world, and the museum is located inside an old flour mill. If you think flour mills can’t be fascinating, you’re wrong. Dead wrong. Allow me to prove it to you with…
three fun facts: mill city museum
1) Who’s The Man with the Mill?
Allow me to introduce you to the man with the greatest name in history: Cadwallader Washburn. If I ever have a son, I’m definitely naming him Cadwallader. That way he’ll never have another person with his name in the same class and have to go by Cadwallader J.
Cadwallader Washburn, along with a dude with a way worse name, created the Washburn-Crosby Company. Their big brand was Gold Medal Flour. In the 1920s, the Washburn-Crosby Company merged with some other carb-based ventures to create a little outlet you may have heard of: General Mills. Now every time I see the General Mills logo, I will think of the name Cadwallader. In fact, I think they should change the name of the company to Cadwallader Mills.
2) Can flour kill?
Working in a flour mill seems a lot less dangerous than other 19th century factory jobs. But flour…can be deadly. Back in 1878, there was an explosion at the Washburn A Mill because a spark set some flour dust on fire. 18 people were killed. I don’t like this story because now on top of all the other things I need to worry about, apparently flour dust can kill me. Why hasn’t Dateline done a special on that?
After the explosion, Cadwallader Washburn went to work installing flour dust collectors. This way the flour dust could not kill again. Well, always count on a man named Cadwallader to fix a problem, as my grandmother used to say.
3) Um, what is this?
General Mills wasn’t the only major flour company that operated out of Minneapolis. Pillsbury also had a major presence here. Of course General Mills and Pillsbury merged back in 2001 because the world is just going to be ruled by one giant omni-competent corporation one day. Nowadays, there are no operational mills on the riverfront in Minneapolis. (Pillsbury was the last to leave.) But you can still explore the ruins of the Mill.
As you can see, the ruins look like a desolated city that has since been overrun by wild beasts. I highly recommend exploring here and pretending to be on a hunt for the Mill City Beast. It’s especially fun to whisper aloud comments like, “We believe the beast may be arachnid in nature,” and frighten the other tourists.
24 Hour Tip
For those who are looking for something more interactive, get a ticket to the Flour Tower. This show takes place in a giant elevator and shows you scenes from the mill’s past. Just make sure to buy a timed ticket. You might even one to pick one up in the morning before the food tour starts.
There’s also a short film called Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat about the city’s history. You’ll learn how St. Anthony Falls, which is definitely not actually a waterfall, got its name. You’ll also hear a lot of jokes about Lutherans, if that’s your jam. (And if you’re spending even 24 hours in Minneapolis, try to make it your jam.)
24 Hours in Minneapolis
Evening: Dinner at Young Joni
How do you feel about restaurants that have won crazy amounts of awards? Do you feel pumped? Then Young Joni is the restaurant for you. Its owner/executive chef Ann Kim just won a James Beard Award for the best chef in the Midwest. (The James Beard Awards are like the Oscars for restaurants. So I guess that’s like Ann Kim just won Best Supporting Actress.)
Despite the awards, Young Joni serves fun, unpretentious food. It’s famous for pizza, Korean influences, and Korean-influenced pizza. My only complaint was that Young Joni Mitchell never showed up because I feel like that was promised by the name of the restaurant.
24 Hour Treat: Bibim Grain
I recommend starting with the bibim grain salad, which has the longest list of ingredients that I have ever seen in a salad. Don’t believe me? We’ve got: Job’s tears, farro, brussels sprouts, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, pickled vegetables, daikon, nori, mixed seeds, soft egg, and gochujang vinaigrette. Job’s tears sounds like something God would smite me for eating, but it’s actually a type of South-East Asian grain. Gochujang is a kind of chili paste, so the vinaigrette has a little kick to it. When you have this many grains in a salad, you’re going to need some spice to balance things out.
Everything about this dish was beautifully composed, from the colors to the flavors to the textures. But my favorite part was the soft egg on top that you get to squish into the salad. It was almost like I got to finish cooking the dish myself.
24 Hour Treat; Young Joni Pizza
So you don’t have to order pizza at Young Joni, but I’ll be over here silently judging you if you don’t. (Being gluten-free isn’t an excuse because they make a gluten-free crust.) I had the Korean BBQ pizza made with beef short rib, mozzarella, and lots of arugula. I’m no pizza purist. If a topping tastes good, I’m happy to put it on a slice. And this beef short rib with the soy chili vinaigrette was so moist, I didn’t need a knife to cut it. This is my idea of what a Meat Lovers Pizza should be.
After a carb salad and an entire pizza, I wasn’t in the mood for a giant dessert. Fortunately Young Joni was there for me with some light soft serve ice cream. Nothing gives me that nostalgic ache like soft serve. It brings me back to my childhood memories of running away from the Mister Softee Truck because I was convinced that a serial killer was hiding inside. But I’m pretty sure this soft serve is serial killer free.
For an even lighter treat, get the vanilla mixed with whatever the fruit sorbet of the day is. I always say that eating fruit is healthy, so it cancels out whatever other calories I ate that day. That’s just science.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Minneapolis!
What would you do with 24 hours in Minneapolis? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Minneapolis right now? Have you ever met the mayor of a major American city? And how much therapy will my son need if I name him Cadwallader? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Minneapolis. If you have time for an extra 24 hours in Minneapolis, click here.