I was again sent to Minnesota to learn some things for work. This trip, though, I promised myself that I would actually venture out and do things. I am super proud of myself for overcoming multiple fears on this trip – eating alone, maneuvering a downtown I knew nothing about, and street parking. Here’s a rundown of what I did, and what I ate.
what I did:
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: I was dying to see the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, so there was no way I was going to MN and NOT seeing that damn thing. The stem of the cherry spouts water, and you can see the beautiful skyline. The sculpture garden is located directly across from the Walker Art Museum, that also has a miniature golf course on its roof – however, on every night except for Thursday, they close at 5 – so I didn’t get a chance to see the gallery or play mini-golf. The sculpture garden, however, was beautiful.
Target Field: I went to a baseball game all by myself! I figured out game-day traffic and parking. AND I had a blast discovering a new MLB stadium. It really was a beautiful field. I enjoyed a hot dog and a 312 beer and about 4 innings of baseball before I called it a night. Bonus points for me for not even getting lost on the way to my car OR back to the hotel.
Mall of America: The Mall is literally only eight minutes from my company’s corporate headquarters. I headed straight there after work and moseyed around. I went into the Lego Store to get Sheff some presents, and then walked through the amusement park that is right smack in the middle of the place. I got some popcorn, saw the giant Crayola store where you can build your own pack, and walked into a few more stores. It was pretty overwhelming, and I was terrified I would forget where I had parked. You could definitely spend a half a day there just exploring and eating.
Orangetheory Eagan: You didn’t think I’d give up my favorite obsession just because I was traveling did you? I’ve been to this location before, and they are always so welcoming. They are also more member focused than the one down here – always having fun photo ops and competitions going. I went to the 5AM classes while I was there, and was pleasantly surprised on how easy it was to get into – it is basically impossible to get into the early morning classes at the Vestavia location, so it was really nice to go and get my work out knocked out before my day.
Hy-Vee; I was hesitant to put a grocery store on here, but this was the coolest grocery store I had ever been in. They had a giant wall of self-serve candy, spices, dried fruit, nuts – pretty much anything you could imagine. They have a happy hour where you can get sushi and wine. They have a deli, a Mexican almost restaurant in there, plus a little place like they do in Fresh Market where you can get your pasta salads and twice baked potatoes. They had enormous sections for ethnic foods, a liquor store attached, and even a little clothing store in there. I was in heaven, and wished I would have packed a bigger bag so I could have brought home a 5 pound bag of self-serve candy.
what I ate:
Granite City Brewing: This place is about three minutes from the hotel, and has always been delicious. I got their meat lover’s flatbed and a beer this time around, and also got a wrap and the best Asian salad ever when a co-worker took me there for lunch that week as well. It’s a fun little sports bar feeling place – and it felt that way even more so, because the Vikings training camp was right up the road as well, and there were tons of football fans.
Rusty’s Tacos: Because, tacos. They have the best grilled shrimp taco, and delicious queso and margaritas. I will never NOT go here when I’m forced to go to corporate.
Spoon & Stable: One of my coworkers recommended this place, as it is very popular and trendy. So I made my little reservation for one at 830pm (the earliest I could get in there!), and had myself a nice little meal. I ordered myself a glass of pinot noir, and enjoyed oysters, housemade sourdough bread and cream cheese, and a delicious braised veal belly. It was only a little awkward having such a nice meal to myself, but I’m glad I did it, because it was freaking delicious.
Izzy’s Ice Cream: I drove into St. Paul my first night for this ice cream that I had heard such great things about. When I first walked in, it smelled like waffle cone heaven. I ordered a single scoop of honey ice cream with an “Izzy” (a tiny scoop of another flavor on top of your scoop) of brown sugar bourbon. It was such a good combination of flavors and the perfect way to end a pretty day.
Revival: For my last night there, I convinced the two other people in my department to join me for dinner. They decided to take me to a Southern flair (of all things) restaurant known for their fried chicken. We had chicken livers (I got those Northern boys to try them!) and pork rinds for an appetizer, and they were both delicious. One co-worker got the chicken and waffles (the waffle looked incredible), the other co-worker got a two piece fried chicken with mac n cheese (delicious mac n cheese), and I got the Tennessee hot chicken thigh sandwich with collard greens. It was so good, and a really great way to end my trip in Minnesota.
I was really proud for forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I thought multiple times that I should just go back to the hotel, get in my pajamas and order take-out, but I’m really glad that I didn’t. It really is pretty cool to be able to still surprise yourself.