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The Twin Cities’ Ultimate Staycation

I loved spending summer afternoons sitting at my Grandparents’ dining room table, looking through faded photographs of their trips to the Grand Canyon, the Gulf Coast and a vintage Las Vegas strip. I once asked my Grandma why she never traveled abroad. Her answer was simple: “Why leave when there’s so much to see here?”

This profound statement reversed my point-of-view that unique cultural experiences were found solely in the exotic, far-flung corners of the Earth. They can often be found much closer to home, regardless of the size of your town.

Here are 10 ways to travel the world without crossing the Twin Cities’ borders.


Minnesota is home to the largest population of Norwegians and Swedes outside of Scandinavia. Historical and contemporary aspects of these two cultures are on spectacular display at the American Swedish Institute. This vibrant museum and event space is housed in the 1908 Turnblad Mansion, which also happens to be Minneapolis’ only castle. No visit is complete without a stop at the museum’s nationally acclaimed café FIKA for their beet tartar and meatballs.


Patisserie 46 brings France’s renowned café culture to a quiet corner in South Minneapolis. This world-class pastry shop has earned numerous awards and titles for serving exquisite treats like their petit gateaux, tarts and éclairs. Let’s not forget the macaroons, bon bons and sorbet. Or, the cappuccino, house chia latte and hot cocoa. The list goes on to include an array of breakfast and lunch items best enjoyed while dining in at this sunny neighborhood cafe.


Tame a “monkey mind” with a visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Japanese Garden. Enjoy natural seclusion from the outside world within the garden’s walls while discovering traditional design elements from the Edo Period (1603-1869).


Get a taste of Minnesota’s large and lively Latin culture at Boca Chica Restaurante Mexicano y Cantina, the oldest Mexican restaurant in the Twin Cities. Come for the food, but stay to admire the hand-painted murals depicting the history and essence of the Mexican people. These works of art were completed by a Merida Yucatan-based artist and contribute to preserving the community’s cultural heritage.


Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States and the only museum dedicated to its culture in North America. The Somali Museum of Minnesota uses traditional artwork, artifacts and educational programs to connect young Somalis with their culture, as well as educate Minnesotans of other ethnic heritage.


Kramarczuk’s” is a word that’s nearly impossible to pronounce, yet synonymous with the best Polish sausage in town. Since the 1940’s, the Polish deli and restaurant specializing in East European cuisine has been turning out links, breads and piroshkies made by hand, from scratch, using local ingredients.


Films are a big part of the Italian cultural experience and are deeply woven into the country’s fabric. The Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul presents free screenings of outstanding contemporary films in their CineForum series. Check the listings often for new additions to the lineup.


Learn how to speak the language, dance the waltz and bake the perfect lebkuchen at the Germanic-American Institute in St. Paul. The public is welcome to attend various artists’ series held throughout the year, as well as big annual celebrations like Deutsche Tage (German Days) held every June for the past 60 years.


Like many cultures throughout Asia, Miao artists from China use textiles, clothing and accessories to express their age, marital status, history and beliefs. Check out Minneapolis Institute of Art’s current collection of more than 1,200 textiles and 450 pieces of jewelry made by contemporary Miao artists. On display through July 1, 2018.


Pay a visit to The Museum of Russian Art for the simple fact that it’s the only one of its kind in North America. Housed within a historic former church, there’s an ever-changing collection of exhibits and live performance art that is surprisingly fresh and modern.

Afterwards, embrace the Russian tradition of “zakuski” (a bite and a shot) at Moscow on the Hill. Sample a vodka or two from their list of over 300 varieties. Then soak it up with some Russian favorites, like caviar, spicy lamb kebabs with pomegranate sauce and potato and mushroom pierogi. Pro tip: their patio is one of the best-kept secrets in town.,

Happy travels!


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