Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why Minneapolis is Great: Reason 2

Reason 1 was the lakes. Reason 2 is the riverfront. When I last lived here 10 years ago, the Whitney Hotel (now the Whitney Landmark Residences) was the only thing happening near the mills. We cyclists were overjoyed with the opening of the Stone Arch Bridge back in the early 90s to non-auto traffic. You could ride your bike on the parkway, but if I recall correctly it was incomplete (as you headed down river toward the U.) But otherwise, there wasn't a whole lot going on here.

Now this part of town is a true Minneapolis treasure.

There's the amazing mill architecture--and it's great that we've got the Mill City Museum to show and tell the story of the area, but you also get the bonus adaptive reuse of random mill buildings and warehouses into stunning lofts. The North Star Lofts are my favorite.
Second, this area has some of the most innovative and funky parkland in the city. Going to Mill Ruins Park is like embarking on an historical scavenger hunt or archeology dig.

Climbing to the top of Gold Medal Park is like being King of the Hill--where you preside over the Guthrie Theater, downtown, and the Mighty Miss.
As if these two parks weren't enough, the land along the river banks is all park too--complete with the aforementioned trails.

All of these things bring people to the river--which is in and of itself a remarkable asset. It's the Mississippi--the father of US waters--right here in MPLS! Standing on the Stone Arch Bridge, looking down at St. Anthony Falls or off at the skyline, it doesn't take long to realize that this is a pretty stellar place to live.

images: Riverfront @ U of MN; North Star Lofts homepage; Mill Ruins Park at wikipedia; Gold Medal Park @; Pedestrians on the Stone Arch Bridge @ MNDOT.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Save the Date: May 12 - 18 is Bike (and Walk) to Work Week

One other drawback of working at home is that I can't really participate fully in Bike to Work week. Here in the Twin Cities, May 14th is really the big day, but organizers have decided to spread out activities over the entire May 12 -18th week. So if you're new to bike commuting this week is made for you--lots of commuter convoys and resources to get you started. Just think, biking to work means you've got built in exercise, you have saved money on gas, and you are probably a lot more energized when you get to the office.

Get all of the information that you need to participate here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cool Churches: Volume 2

Jehovah Lutheran Church is right down the street from us and I love its pressed concrete forms and totally stylistic crosses. According to Larry Millett, the design mimics department stores of the early 1960s. In any event, it rocks.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Green being the new black and all

As some of my previous posts have suggested, I love free things. And if you're looking for something free to do next weekend (May 3-4) head on over to the Living Green Expo at the State Fair Grounds. Check out the exhibitors, workshops, and other demonstrations here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Common Roots Cafe--uncommonly delicious

Much has been made of the NY-style bagel at Common Roots Cafe in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood of Minneapolis--and much should. The crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside plain bagel with good old plain cream cheese is a weekend treat everyone should wake up to. A friend and I went in the evening a couple of weeks ago and we were totally impressed by the patatas bravas-- a typical find at a tapas restaurant--yet they were much better at Common Roots than they were at Solera.

So I'm hoping that the good folks at Common Roots aren't anti-expansion, because with their super eco-ethos and their totally treatsy food, we'd love to see them in St. Paul. In particular on Snelling Avenue north of University where there is a sandwich and bagel wasteland. Come East oh Common Roots!!

images: Common Roots Cafe website.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Looking for stuff to do in the Twin Cities? Event calendar links are here

A lot of people get to my blog by searching for things like "Cool Things to Do in the Twin Cities this weekend" and "Plays in Minneapolis." And I'm sure that they end up leaving disappointed since my posts are typically musings about random things that I think are cool that aren't geared toward a specific weekend or venue. So for all of you party animals, thespians, groupies, and others looking for calendar-specific things to do in the Twin Cities, I'm going to include links to some of the major event calendars in the area.

City Pages calendar (you specify the date range and the kind of event). (the homepage has featured events for the day and you can select for the week or month.)
Craigslist (I just discovered that good, old Craig has an events calendar. It seems sweet for finding some really random things to do.)
Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine (the place to go to find fundraising events)
Minnesota Public Radio (the calendar lists their own events and others submitted by "listeners"--or I guess "readers.)
The Rake (same as City Pages concept)
Last FM (has listings of concerts and event in Minneapolis--you could change search term and find things going on in St. Paul too.)
Thrifty Hipster (for the drinkers out there, this interactive guide has happy hours and bar and nightclub events.)

You can also sign up for e-mails to get the latest scoop on events.
Meet Minneapolis' e-newsletter sign up is here.
Minnie Indie weekly e-newsletter sign up is here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

From Hopps to Houses

I am totally stoked to read of the redevelopment plans for St. Paul's two breweries (Schmidt's and Hamms.) I've been cruising the area of West Seventh near the Schmidt's brewery and have found some of the renovations on that street really exciting. Some funky restaurants, the 1000 Friends of Minnesota office, plus some of Mayor Coleman's favorite old school bars. A great eclectic mix!

There are some interesting posts at the St. Paul Real Estate blog about the existing neighborhood and the brewery.

For more info on the area, see the website of the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation/District 9 Community Council.

Map: St. Paul Pioneer Press

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Why We Dine: Installment 4

Sometimes I don't buck any trends and I choose to eat somewhere based on recent hype. Maybe not even hype, but a steady media presence that gives a place priority in my mental list. That said, after reading several reviews of The Strip Club in St. Paul, I do believe we've found our next child-free dining excursion. Doubtless, part of the allure is in the off-the-wall location in Dayton's Bluff and its home in a beautifully restored building. The Strip Club also wins points for its role in bringing commercial activity to a neighborhood that's predominantly residential and institutional (i.e. Metro State). It also doesn't hurt that I have a hankering for some good red meat and I always enjoy a good view of a city skyline.

image: Aaron Landry (for more of his stuff, go here.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Midwest Threads

Sadly, I don't sew and I'm not crafty, but I can appreciate cool fabric designs when I see them. I'm totally loving this Midwest Modern collection by Amy Butler. Available at Treadle Yard Goods in St. Paul on Grand Avenue.


The office shed

In the Spring 2008 NYT magazine Real Estate supplement, there's a feature on "office outbuildings." These small pre-fab buildings are generally bigger than a toolshed and have windows and electricity and are meant to be added to one's backyard. The article lists several different companies--check out their designs here: Modern-Shed, MetroShed, Modern Cabana, and Shelter-Kit. How lovely it would be to work at home in a sun-drenched, totally separate office space, that is just a stone's throw from the kitchen, yet isn't the basement?

images: Top: Dwight Eschliman in the NYT. Bottom:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

If the Mayor thinks it's cool...

Have you ever wondered what the Mayors of our fair Twin Cities like best about their cities? Well, you can get a glimpse in the new Insider Guides that Meet Minneapolis has developed. Here you'll learn that R.T. likes to eat dinner at Solera and swim in the city's lakes 3x/week in the summer. You'll also discover that Mayor Coleman lists 15 different locales for his favorite bar/restaurant and likes to buy men's clothing at Heimie's Haberdashery.

If you care less what the politicos think and more what other interesting locals think about the cities, check out the full range of guides here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

To the moon

If you head west on Lake Street and turn right at the Blue Moon coffee shop...and then go a few blocks til' the street dead ends, you'll hit one of my favorite, little neighborhood parks. Brackett Park is in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis and is home to a gorgeous rec. center, a kiddie pool, mature trees, a playground, and this awesome rocket sculpture. Ahhh, summer awaits.