#MNMondays is back! Perhaps you’ve heard the news…the 2018 Big Game is happening February 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis! With just a few weeks left to go, I’m going to feature some special happenings around town in regards to the Super Bowl.
Currently, there’s a special insta-worthy NFL Helmet Display at the Mall of America. Located on the north side of the mall in the Central Parkway, the display includes larger-than-life helmets for every team in the NFL. So whether you’re a Vikings fan (Skol!) or a Titans fan, you can snap a pick with your favorite helmet, and share it on social media for a chance to win tickets to the Big Game or a Mall of America gift card…I think that’s a win-win!
As I sat in the Macy’s Oak Grill (formerly the Dayton’s Oak Grill) sipping my coffee and enjoying a slice of Frango Cheesecake, I tried to fight back the tears. For it would be the last time I’d ever sip coffee in that space as it was. It’s historic wood walls, the beautiful fireplace, the room that had been a place to celebrate, go to power lunches, it would soon be closing it’s doors.
I know that places aren’t people, but some places are just so special. Dayton’s was one of my favorite places to go as a child. We’d have lunch in the Skyroom, shop for school clothes, see the 8th Floor Holiday Display at Christmas where I’d get my annual Santa Bear, and in the spring it was time for the Bachman’s Spring Flower Show. As a child I loved the sound the “fancy lady’s” shoes made as the sauntered around on the wood floors on the first floor, I couldn’t wait to be old enough to get some heels and make that sound while I shopped at Dayton’s.
Fast forward to 2002, I was a “grownup” with my first corporate job at what was then Marshall Field’s Minneapolis. Every morning I’d walk in through the skyway from the IDS, admire the buildings facade, and remind myself I was really working at Dayton’s.
Sadly, the company was sold in 2004, and it was time for me to move on. I thought my beloved Dayton’s would always be there, it was part of my holidays, the place I loved to for something special.
But then the announcement came…Macy’s would close Dayton’s Minneapolis in early 2017. Such sad news. The beautiful department store where I’d gone my entire life for my most important dresses, the places I’d started my career…gone.
So today, January 24, 2017, will be my last salad bar lunch in the Skyroom, and my last cup of coffee at the Oak Grill.
Goodbye my dear friend, I will never forget you and all the special times I’ve had within these walls…
It’s officially that time of year…the Minnesota State Fair opens on Thursday!
Treasured by those around the state, this is a truly Minnesotan experience with bake-offs, farm animals, Grandstand concerts, tractors, and last but certainly not least, fried foods and everything on a stick!
Commonly referred to as “The Great Minnesota Get Together” this event draws people from all over the state (and the world) to come together to graze on buckets of cookies, while sipping all-you-can-drink cups of milk, then heading to the animal barns to see the largest swine, watch baby animals being born at the Miracle of Birth Center, nibbling on something fried or something on a stick, catching a live newscast by one of the local network affiliates, checking out the arts and crafts on display in the Creative Activities building, setting a spell at the bandshell for some live music, trying some MN Wines, eating some more fried foods or something on a stick, like a Pronto Pup, people watching, and maybe ending the day with a show by a favorite artist at the Grandstand, and capping off this year’s trip with fireworks. Or maybe checking out machinery, or going to the Midway, or taking the kids to ride the kiddie rides, or seeing the bees up close in the horticulture building, or checking out the 4-H displays. There really is something for everyone, and everyone really does seem to have a different favorite thing to do or experience at the Fair.
Sweet Martha’s Cookies
Entering the Fair!
MN Wine Flight
Watching Frank & Amelia on WCCO
The Local Favorite
Bunny on display
Personally, I have several favorites. I saw my first concert (Alabama) at the Grandstand when I was six, and nearly every year since then I’ve gone to a Grandstand Show. Of course I’m going again this year for the Dixie Chicks (and Alabama is back. As far as fair foods, I have several favorites including Fudge Puppies (Belgian waffle on a stick dipped in chocolate), several items at Mancini’s, the Reuben Bites at O’Gara’s and of course…corn on the cob! A trip to the Fair is not complete without it.
Corn on the Cob
Keith Urban at the Grandstand 2015
Keith Urban at the Grand Stand 2015
Another favorite thing of mine is the baking contests. Last year, I entered an original recipe for the first time, and I took second place in the Gold Medal Flour Cookie Contest. It was so exciting! I’m currently finalizing this year’s entry…stay tuned….
What’s your favorite State Fair food or experience?
Held every Saturday from May to October, between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., the market features a variety of freshly-picked fruits and veggies, along with local honey, fresh-roasted coffee, handmade soaps, jams, and Minnesota-made items.
There’s live music, along with demonstrations and theme days (this Saturday, August 20 is Pollinator Day). It’s the perfect spot to stroll around, sipping a cup of locally roasted coffee, get some delicious produce, and do some people watching.
If you’re feeling like adding to your adventure, you can stroll over to Mill Ruins Park, walk over the Stone Arch Bridge to watch the roaring Mississippi River, relax in Gold Medal Park, learn about the history of Minneapolis’ flour industry at the Mill City Museum, or take in a theatrical production at the Guthrie.
What’s your favorite stand at the Mill City Farmer’s Market?
If you like strolling along the street, looking at art by a variety of artists, then the Uptown Art Fair is the place to be.
Typically held in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis on the first weekend in August, the fair draws more than 340 artists from around the world specializing in everything from printmaking to glass blowing.
This year, attendees were treated to especially perfect weather. With highs in the low 80s, soft breezes and plenty of sunshine, there was something even more magical about checking out the booths along Hennepin Avenue. I especially loved Adam Turman’s prints, Dogfish Media, and Greta Sandquist’s colorful paintings-especially her squirrel art!
Adam Turman’s Booth
Even the garbage cans were turned into works of art for the event!
In addition to art, there were a variety of local food trucks, including Bridgeman’s Ice Cream and the Kitchen Window had a paella stand that pretty much was its own art form.
When it was time for a break (and some dinner), we decided to head to the rooftop patio of Libertine. What a view of the festival, and the bustling Uptown neighborhood. And I must say…the Fried Chicken Sandwich was pretty fantastic.
To top it off, the drive around Lake Calhoun leaving the Art Fair was a picture perfect Saturday evening with cool lake breezes, the Minneapolis skyline in the background, and a gorgeous sunset.
Did you attend the Uptown Art Fair? Who were your favorite artists?
If you didn’t go this year, mark your calendar for next year…there’s really nothing like it.
Getting in touch with your creative side is always a good idea, and the growing number of paint-your-own-canvas options in the Twin Cities makes it easy.
If you’re looking for a fun experience, head over to Brush Studio in the the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. Offering public paint nights most Wednesday to Saturday evenings, along with Sunday afternoons, Brush Studio is locally owned and operated. There’s also options for private group events as well (I highly recommend, as I organized an alumni event at Brush Studio and it was a great success).
First, you must check out the calendar to decide the date you want to go based on the painting design. When you arrive, you’ll put on an apron, select your spot with an easel and canvas, then get your supplies. Adults will want to make a visit to the bar to get a beer or wine to enjoy while you paint, and then the fun really begins.
An artist/instructor will walk you through the painting process step-by-step. Along the way, everyone’s artistic skills will be revealed, likely providing some fun and comedic moments. In the end, you’ll have a completed masterpiece to take home and proudly display, along with the pride of knowing you’re pretty good with the paintbrush after all.
Is looking at finished art more your thing? Be sure to check out the Uptown Art Fair, August 5 to 7, 2016. Featuring 350 artists from around the world, 22 food vendors, culinary competitions, youth art fair, and a family imagination station, there really is something for everyone.
Talked about for years, and under construction since 2014, the new U.S. Bank Stadium opened its doors to the public on Saturday, July 23 for an open house.
The highly anticipated stadium is the new home of the Minnesota Vikings and is set to host the 2018 Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four in 2019. Located on the former site of the Metrodome, and surrounded by a $400-million redeveloped area that includes a two-block community park, offices, access to the light rail, condos, and apartments, the shiny new building is a sight to behold.
U.S. Bank Stadium offers a climate-controlled, glassed-in environment, allowing fans to enjoy natural sunlight, while keeping the frigid temperatures away. On mild days, the stadium’s large glass doors that open toward the downtown corridor will allow comfortable Minnesota breezes. Guests will be able to select from a variety of local food offerings including Ike’s Food and Cocktails, Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen, Murray’s Steaks and more.
Throughout the stadium there are nods to the team’s heritage, including a special bar designed to invoke the feel of Viking ships from long ago. There’s also an art museum with Minnesota and football focused art, and of course, there is plenty of purple, including all of the stadium seats.
In addition to football games, the stadium is set to host a variety of events including the Chelsea vs. A.C.Milan soccer game as part of the International Champions Cup. The inaugural concert is set for Friday, August 19 when Luke Bryan and Little Big Town will take the stage.
Stay tuned for more later this month…as I will be attending the inaugural concert!
Completed in 1931, the historic aerial lift bridge is an iconic landmark in Stillwater. Spanning over the St. Croix River, and connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin, the famous bridge is crossed by about 18,000 vehicles daily.
Throughout the years, visitors young and old have enjoyed hearing the horn notifying everyone the bridge will be going up, then watching the bridge lift into the air to allow boats of all kinds from large yachts to paddle boats pass through. From the shore, you can stand and wave at the boats as they go, with the passengers usually waving as if they are on parade.
There’s something so simple, yet so fascinating about it that it has continued to lure a crowd for generations. When the river rises too high, the bridge has to close, causing all of the traffic to reroute miles down the road to make the river crossing.
Later in 2016, the construction of a new bridge will be complete, and the famous icon will be converted into a bicycle and pedestrian bridge. While it’ll be nice to have a higher bridge that will always be crossable, it’s sad to see the end of an era in historic downtown Stillwater…
If you’re like me, perhaps you grew up watching reruns of the “Little House On The Prairie” series with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, and reading the classic collection of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder—including “On the Banks of Plum Creek” which accounts Laura’s experiences living in a dugout home in southern Minnesota.
A while back I finally made the trek to Walnut Grove to check out the Laura-related sites—which I highly recommend if you’re a fan of the books.
The museum has a series of outdoor buildings including a dugout home, school house, covered wagon, 1898 chapel and an early settler home—all of which visitors can step inside and learn about life on the prairie in the 1800s. Plus there’s a museum building with some of Laura’s personal items, as well as scale models and memorabilia from the TV show, and a gift shop with books and Laura-focused items.
If you grew up reading the books, you must head out of town to the Ingalls Dugout Site. While the dugout home has long ago caved in, you can still see the depression on the banks of Plum Creek where the home once was, and the very spot Laura describes in her book, “On The Banks of Plum Creek.” Standing there, you can just imagine Laura playing in the creek and hear the sounds of the prairie grasses flowing in the breeze.
Serious fans will want to plan their visit on weekends in July for the Wilder Pageant, which is an outdoor family-friendly drama about Laura’s life in Walnut Grove during the 1970s. In 2016, there are shows July 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23.
To me, the Fourth of July isn’t complete without fireworks, and in my eyes, the best place to watch fireworks in Minnesota is at Red, White and Boom! Ideally, I like to grab some ice cream at Izzy’s and then find a great spot along the riverfront, just behind the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum. The fireworks show over the Stone Arch Bridge, Mississippi River and the city really is a sight to behold.
But this year, there’s something new and very Minnesota–fireworks will be set to Prince tunes. The show is being sponsored by The Current, a local radio station and onlookers will see the sky lit up with breathtaking fireworks as they hear songs like Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette and most likely–Purple Rain.
So if you’re in the area, be sure to check out this year’s special fireworks show. Earlier in the day there will be the Red, White and Boom! TC Half Marathon, Relay and 5K, plus live music in Mill Ruins Park and Father Hennepin Bluffs Park.
Where’s your favorite spot to watch fireworks on the 4th?
Happy Fourth of July everyone! Have a safe and happy Independence Day!