Travel: The real taste of America in Minneapolis
While I’m sure a real taste of America could be had in any one of its 50 states, I’m struggling to think of a reason why Minnesota wouldn’t be at the top of even the most prolific traveller’s recommendation list.
As I was constantly reminded, with the draw of New York, California and Florida, “Minneapolis probably isn’t the first place you’d think to visit when crossing the pond”.
But this alone strikes as the ideal reason to take advantage of the truly beautiful landscape and adventures the City of Lakes has to offer.
Away from the dawdling tourists and clusters of people spread throughout the hotspots of the country, along with St. Paul, the Twin Cities provide a place to unwind without fear of becoming just one in a cluster yourself.
The two cities provide an abundance of indoor and outdoor activities enriched with local and national culture including food, industrial heritage, sport and music.
Across the world locations can call themselves the birthplace of a prince, but only one can boast the birthplace of THE Prince.
Paisley Park, the manor home of Prince Rogers Nelson, along with the world-renowned First Avenue music venue where countless acts have paved their way, provide the perfect spots for music aficionados looking to scratch that itch, or visitors simply wanting to delve into the musical culture of Minneapolis.
Tales of the multi-instrumentalist were echoed throughout the Twin Cities and stories of residents frequently catching the icon playing with up-and-coming musicians at the back of a dive-bar’s stage further pushed the overall warm, friendly and down-to-earth feeling that surrounded the people of Minnesota.
Minneapolis is home to the Mall of America. Located in the city of Bloomington, it is the largest shopping and entertainment centre in the United States and proves to be the number-one tourist attraction in the whole of the Midwest, attracting more than 40 million visitors each year.
Spanning 4.2 million sq ft, the mall houses more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants, a number of nightclubs, hotels and North America’s largest indoor theme park.
While I can’t say I had time to pop into every shop, the state-of-the-art mall with its own reception desk and numerous navigational computers could be the ideal place to spend a few rainy hours, day, or even a week.
Thrill-seekers can hare their way around above fellow shoppers on roller coasters and zip lines, gamers can marvel over the very latest in virtual reality, foodies can nourish on everything imaginable, fashionistas can browse the latest trends from worldwide brands and with golf courses and other activities around every corner, sports people can enjoy what’s on offer. The mall has everything.
With countless waterfalls, lakes and parks winning awards for the state year-on-year, it really is a case of take your pick. The Minnehaha Falls was an idyllic, impressive place of natural beauty, while Lake Harriet Bandshell Park allowed visitors to take to the water via boat.
Food, food and a lot more food.
While it comes as no surprise that a trip to the states will involve consuming at least twice your bodyweight in deep fried cheese curds, deep fried gherkins and even deep fried green beans – all of which are surprisingly delicious – make no mistake in thinking cuisine is given a back-seat role in Minnesota’s four-wheel drive.
Whether it be tucking into the infamous Juicy Lucy, a jaw-dropping cheese-injected beef burger that bursts open upon the first bite, or fine-dining in top restaurants serving local foods, you can rest assured knowing a trip to Minneapolis will cater for the pallets of both fast-food lovers and those looking for a real taste of locally foraged dishes.
Currently home to the best performing baseball team in the USA, Target Field was an impressive spectacle that is without a doubt worth a visit.
The Minnesota Twins put on a fine performance in an equally fine stadium.
The 40,000-seater provided more than just a place to watch sport, but the opportunity for a family trip with great food and drink.
A night was spent in the luxurious Loews Hotel located opposite First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, before two more in the equally homely Hyatt Regency in Bloomington, just a short trip from the Mall of America. Both were a pleasure to stay at with friendly staff looking to help in any way they could.
Flying with Aer Lingus was as quick and painless as air travel can be.
With the airliner’s newly opened service to Minneapolis-St. Paul marking the start of its 16th transatlantic destination, the gateway to Midwest America has never been more open.
Long-haul flights can seem daunting but a comfortable flight was augmented by the best airliner food I have ever tasted.
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