As an employee of the University of Minnesota, most years I am treated to a scheduled Floating Holiday in which the campus is closed. It's usually the Friday of Spring Break and this year was the day after St. Patrick's Day and during March Madness. Since I wasn't hung over from green beer consumption and I don't watch basketball, the day was wide open with possibility and made even more fun because Scott took the day off to join me. Despite the snow and cooler temperatures, we decided to take a long walk (pretty much our default on vacation days).
We walked on the Grand Rounds Trail along the Minnehaha Creek, eastern side of Lake Harriet and the western side of Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun). We left the Grand Rounds trail at W. Calhoun Boulevard and crossed Excelsior Boulevard and Lake Street to warm up at Rustica Bakery in the Calhoun Village Shopping Center. We continued our walk on the Midtown Greenway and exited at the Lake Street Transit Station where we hopped on a MetroTransit route 21 bus to Cedar Avenue. We then walked north on Cedar to 24th Street and used the pedestrian/bike bridge to cross Hiawatha Avenue. We stopped for lunch at United Noodle's Unideli and then picked up a Car2Go so we'd make it to the Mill City Museum by 2 p.m. to meet Janette Law, Director of Communications & Strategic Partnerships at the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. After a great conversation about our walk adventures around Minneapolis with Janette, we walked to Lakes & Legends Brewing Company in the Loring Park neighborhood. We returned home via MetroTransit bus route 156.
Caught my eye along the way
The start of our walk was too cold and dreary to snap photos so I didn't capture our walk along the creek and lakes (always beautiful no matter the weather conditions). After 5 miles, I was colder than I'd expected so I had the bright idea of stopping for a warm-up at Rustica Bakery. I had hot chai (Gray Duck) and a chocolate cherry scone and Scott had coffee and a yogurt parfait.
When driving on Cedar Avenue, I'm not sure I'd notice the Phillips Garden building and its quirky design (the chartreuse part in the back looks crooked and has a modern Pee Wee's playhouse vibe). I wish we could afford to hire this landscaping company to create an outdoor living space for our home. Just looking at their portfolio is therapeutic.
On Friday morning I asked my Facebook and Twitter pals about their favorite Twin Cities metro restaurants to help Scott and I select twleve to try this year (part of my 16 Things in 2016 list). They did not disappoint with their responses and I've captured them in this Google document. This list came in handy when Scott and I were trying to figure out where to have lunch. We decided the cold, dreary day called for an inaugural visit to United Noodle's Unideli. On foot, you have to overcome the fact that you're walking up to an industrial building that is made more for delivery trucks than for humans. After crossing a giant parking lot, we were greeted by a large United Noodles sign and awning indicating we were in the right spot. On this particular day, a patron with vanity license plate FLVRTWN which ended up being a pretty good restaurant review for Unideli.
The interior is a sharp contrast to the exterior. It's bright and colorful and the perfect place for a cold, gray day. Scott had the tantanmen ramen and I had the curry special ordered with tofu. While waiting for our food, I explored the grocery store and plan on returning to stock up on hard to find ingredients. Then I'd be able to buy fish from Coastal Seafoods which I've always wanted to do.
Back in November 2015, I exchanged tweets with the Minneapolis Parks Foundation on Give to the Max Day to let them know about my documented love of the Grand Rounds Trail. They expressed interest in connecting with me and we finally made it happen. Scott and I met Janette Law, the Director of Communications at Mill City Museum. We had planned on walking along the downtown riverfront--a segment of the trail that Scott and I didn't cover the day we walked the loop. We ended up sitting and chatting for so long that we ran out of time for a walk. It was fun meeting Janette as she is a native Minneapolitan and a kindred spirit when it comes to urban exploration. I'm happy to know someone like her is working to support the vitality of our parks.
The Mill City Museum is a must for residents and visitors alike. Even if you aren't going to view their exhibits, the cafe is a great meeting place and the Museum store is full of Minnesota books, cards, and artwork.
Anyone who likes street photography, Minneapolis, and/or history should buy Downtown: Minneapolis in the 1970s.
Scott and I recently learned about Lakes & Legends Brewery when we were dining at Red Wagon Pizza Company. When we searched for the brewery's location, we were shocked to learn it was in the Loring Park neighborhood of downtown Minneapolis. Why hadn't we heard of it before? Probably because it just opened a few months ago. It's a huge space filled with big tables and a bunch of outdoor furniture on shag carpeting. A fun touch for their lakes theme. I wasn't fooled into thinking I was sipping my "Oh Lait" milk chocolate porter on the north shore but it was a comfortable and playful. I could see meeting friends there after work since it's easily accessible by boot, bike, and bus (oh and they've probably figured out way for people to get there by car too).
After one beer each, we decided we should head home to be with Stewie since we were out of the house just about as long as we would have been if we were at work. The benefit of being downtown on a weekday is that we could cut down on our trip time by taking an express bus home. I guess this is Scott's bus face:
The day must have been just what the doctor ordered because that night I got 9 hours of sleep. I'll take more floating holidays, please!
Inspiration & Goals
The Nivens Family