A Tale of Twin Cities [Minnesota]

Summer Road Trip 2014

Day #4 and 5: June 15-16, 2014
Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota

South Dakota/Minnesota state line

The Twin Cities were our next stop after Mount Rushmore. Because of its geographic proximity (merely 10 miles apart), we were able to  explore both cities easily.

Our first day in Minnesota was spent in strolling around Downtown Minneapolis. Sports arenas are always on the itinerary every time we visit a new city, so we walked around Target Field and Target Center, two nearby venues where the Minnesota Twins and Timberwolves play respectively.

The weather was warm, yet gloomy and windy. Oh man, we sure got a taste of those Midwest wind gusts.

Perhaps one of the coolest features I found in their downtown is how their bike lanes are positioned. Cars do not park next to the curb, but rather 8 feet away from it, leaving a pocket of road for cyclists to ride more safely on (and tourists like me to pose on).

Posing on the bike lane

Minneapolis doesn’t really have a lot of attractions for us to explore, so we played it by ear most of the day. We then came across a charming bridge that sported views of the Mississippi River.

Given the large Vietnamese population in Minneapolis, it was only fitting to eat Vietnamese cuisine for lunch. With the help of Yelp, we discovered a local favorite, Lotus Restaurant. Situated just a few miles outside downtown Minneapolis in Loring Park, Lotus has been a family-owned business for over 25 years. We arrived at the restaurant just before the rain started pouring, making it all the more appropriate to indulge in a hot steamy bowl of pho.

One of the owner’s sons (whose name I cannot recall, forgive me!) seated us immediately. He noticed my cousin holding a kendama, and after watching him play a few tricks, he offered us a free plate of fried chicken wings and egg rolls! The chicken was cooked just the way we like it: crispy while moist, juicy, and tender on the inside. Finger lickin’ good!  The service was superb; our server knew what we needed even before we had to ask, from extra utensils to additional pho broth. The rest of the food we ordered were fresh, delicious, and reasonably priced.

With happy hearts and full stomachs, we made a quick stop to Mall of America! The name was definitely appropriate. Never before have I been to a mall with a theme park inside!

The following day we headed to Minnesota’s capital of St. Paul, which was a convenient 20 minute drive away from Minneapolis.

Home to American cartoonist Charles Schulz, St. Paul boasts numerous statues of Peanuts characters such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

One of my favorite stops in St. Paul was Candyland, a local St. Paul establishment that has been offering high-quality popcorn, candy, and chocolate for the past 82 years. A trip to Candyland feels like traveling back in time. The aroma of fresh popcorn and chocolate combined with the old-fashioned decor and vintage typography brings customers back to a place when men wore hats, women wore dresses, and everything was simple and sweet.

Sidenote: Their Chicago Mix popcorn is addicting. Consume at your own risk.

Our last stop in Minnesota was Harriet Island. We spent our lunch on a picnic table under a tree next to the Mississippi river while overlooking the St. Paul skyline. Pretty cool, right?

Thanks for the memories, Minnesota! We’re off to America’s Dairyland [Wisconsin]!

Anicka Nadine

Lotus Restaurant
113 W. Grant Street
Minneapolis, MN 55403
T: 612.870.1218

435 Wabasha Street North
St. Paul, MN 55102
T: 651.292.1191

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