I love traveling with my kids, it is so fun to experience new places and old stomping grounds through their eyes. I love those rare trips with just my husband, but the other type of travel I love – girlfriend trips. I will admit, sometimes I feel guilty that I hold this group in such high regard- but I’ve been with them, and traveling with them, longer than with the other travel companions.
I went to college in Washington, DC. Which, for better or worse, attracts students from all over the country, and world. It was a great experience as an 18-year old sheltered Long Island girl, to roll up on campus and make friends with people who were very different from myself. But the downside of attending college far from home, and in such a transient city like DC, is that after college most graduates eventually move away.
My true group of friends stemmed from my time playing collegiate rugby. These are the group of girls I started playing with some 20+ years ago. As we moved on through our college years, new students joined the team, and hence our group of friends. Immediately after graduating, we started taking trips to get together, usually in one girl’s hometown. On New Year’s 2002, we started an annual trip, with the first host city being Las Vegas. Subsequent NYE trips included Tampa, New York City, Hawaii, San Diego and Chicago.
During our twenties, there was at least one wedding a year, prompting large get-togethers with our expanding clan. We came to add in significant others, spouses and eventually kids, so we now have quite a contingent. In fact we have 15 kids between us!
Our alma mater women’s rugby team hosts alumnae events each year. As a group we traveled back to campus for the 10 year anniversary of the team’s founding, and in 2016, its 20th. Basically we find any excuse, or none to get together! And the fun usually involves some mix of activity, sightseeing, eating, drinking and dancing.
With weddings behind us, we have now entered the next phase of get-togethers- 40th birthdays. We celebrated our first one last September, in the birthday girl’s hometown of Minneapolis.
48 Hours in… Minneapolis
This trip was a little over 48 hours in actual length (for me at least). But as the second post in this series, a reminder that most of my traveling seems to be in short bursts so I like to highlight where to stay, what to eat, and fun stuff to do in that short-ish period of time.
Where to Stay: Minneapolis
On this trip, we stayed at said friends house. She lives in an awesome Minneapolis neighborhood near Lake Harriet. The houses are all gorgeous, I loved walking around this neighborhood. This is definitely a family friendly part of town, with that suburban feel, but in close proximity to “stuff.” I would definitely recommend this part of town if you are looking into a home rental (or for longer term real estate purposes). But since this trip did not involve actually booking accommodations, I am going to skip to the fun stuff.
Where to Eat: Minneapolis
So my group is like me, we like to eat. We always look for restaurants with good food, that is not too expensive, and just overall fun! We definitely had some memorable meals in Minneapolis.
Red Cow– We ate here for a late lunch one day. I think this was the only sit down restaurant we attempted with a group of 15+ friends. They were very accommodating to our large party. We started the meal with the quintessential Minnesota appetizer- cheese curds. Honestly, I am not even sure what cheese curds are, but they are deep fried cheesy deliciousness served with a sweet dipping sauce. And the cheese curds at Red Cow did not disappoint.
For entrees most of us had burgers, or veggie burgers. This place was great for a large group and we saw several families happily dining here as well. Casual atmosphere, good food, large menu (we have vegetarians, and gluten free eaters in our group and there were plenty of choices for all) and reasonable prices. I actually wish we had more than one meal here.
SotaRol– when my friends kept talking about this place, I thought they were calling it “Soda Roll” so of course I was like, WTH? But the ‘sota comes from Minnesota and the Rol is for rolls, as in sushi rolls. But not just regular sushi rolls, they make sushi roll burritos here.
This is a fast casual restaurant that again offers plenty of vegetarian and gluten free choices. The restaurant considers themselves pan-Asian and their signature dish is the sotaritos (sushi burritos). I will admit, I chickened out on the Asian burritos, but did order a bowl, which was amazing.
Agra Culture Kitchen– We ordered breakfast from here one day. You can order online, which I am always a fan of. Their breakfast menu has traditional breakfast type items, or you can get some funky dishes such as the arugula and bacon sandwich (a favorite among my group) or breakfast bowls such as “the chicken and the egg” or a Mediterranean themed breakfast which is what I opted for. Everybody loved their breakfast from here, and again a good option for groups with varied dietary preferences (we even have one guy who doesn’t eat cheese!)
The next two were snacky stops along the way, both of which I highly recommend!
Bread and Pickle Pavilion at Lake Harriet – we stopped here after a morning of biking to have some grown-up beverages (beer, wine and prosecco) and some delicious appetizers. As the name suggests, they had amazing dill pickles, which we devoured. We also had some fancy popcorn and a hummus platter. We sat overlooking the lake on a beautiful fall morning. This place was awesome, but I have to imagine the opening of this snack shack is seasonal, so check for hours in the warmer months.
Bogart’s Doughnut Co.– we stopped in here for a treat on our scavenger hunt (see below). They had an interesting selection of donuts and we opted for a chocolate cake doughnut and a brown butter glazed. My friends also bought boxes of water, which I thought were interesting and apparently the new “thing.” NOTE: this place closes early, or when they are out of goodies. Our scavenger hunt rivals rolled up too late, and there were no more doughnuts.
Fun Stuff to Do: Minneapolis
Since I have been to visit said friend several times in our post-college days, I know that a trip to Minneapolis is always full of fun and often outdoor activities. I have also been to the Mall of America several times and did not make it there on this trip. Here is a glimpse of what we did do:
Rent Nice Ride bikes. So my friend’s husband set up a scavenger hunt for us, to complete on rental bikes. We have these in New York (and I am sure in other cities) and they are a great way to get around, especially in Minneapolis where there are bike lanes along almost every street.
We rented at the Lake Harriet location. With a credit card, you pay to unlock the bikes and then you are on your way. When you return the bikes, you are charged for how long you use them. I think we paid about $8 a bike and rode for two hours. We were able to bike around Lake Harriet, down to the doughnut shop and then over to Lake Calhoun to complete our scavenger hunt.
Surly Brewery– so I guess technically this could also fall under “where to eat.” We made this the first stop on our Friday night bar crawl (complete with party van). We arrived here around 5pm and it was very packed, mainly because it was raining, and the outdoor space was closed. We managed to find a few stools at the bar and sample some different beers. We also had a delicious hot chaat appetizer that I am still dreaming about! I am not a huge beer fan, but the space here is gorgeous and this seemed like a great family friendly place that both kids and grown ups would enjoy.
Betty Danger’s Country Club– This was literally my favorite stop of the weekend. I mean where else can you visit a restaurant, bar, country club AND ride a full size Ferris wheel all in one place! There is even mini-golf, but it was raining the night we visited so we did not get to play. Seriously, this place is a good time and worth visiting whenever you are near the twin cities. The margaritas were amazing (maybe a little too good if you know what I mean) and riding the Ferris wheel was not only just good fun, but a great way to see beautiful views of downtown.
The 1029 Bar (Karaoke) – as you may recall from my Las Vegas post, I love karaoke. And thankfully my friends do too. Our party bus tour ended here, and honestly this place was so much fun. It was packed, and the karaoke was great. We sang several songs into the wee hours.
PRO-TIP: Be sure to tip the MC, and your name will magically move up the karaoke list.
Well this was another great trip with #thegirlfriends and set the bar pretty high for future fortieth birthday celebrations. Have you ever been to Minneapolis? What are you favorite Minnesota eats and activities?