See This, Skip That: Minneapolis

PHOTO: The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum stretches 1,100 acres and features 32 specialty gardens that house more than 5,000 plant varieties.

Minneapolis may be the largest city in Minnesota, but it’s got plenty of small-town charm. It’s pedestrian-friendly, steeped in cultural activities and a buzzing culinary haven. Water also plays a prominent role here, with a myriad of lakes and creeks, and the mighty Mississippi River that rumbles through town. Whether it is business or pleasure that brings you, here are some of our favorite things to do.

Visit the Park, Skip the River Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is no ordinary park. This natural wonderland stretches 1,100 acres and features 32 specialty gardens that house more than 5,000 plant varieties. You’ll find tree and shrub collections here, too, and you’ll get to see a variety of native northern animals in their natural habitats. Original artwork is on display in the new Sculpture Garden. Worried about getting around this vast natural preserve? Don’t worry; the new visitor circulation tour carts will whisk you around the property and make multiple stops. And winter means the cross-country trails are open for all to use; what’s more, entrance to the arboretum is free in January.

Hit the Spa, Gentlemen Who said brow tinting was just for women? Men’s Spa doesn’t mince words: they cater to men and all their grooming needs. Located in the Mill City district, their menu of men’s services runs the gamut, from massages to facials to waxing. Dry skin? The antioxidant blast will revive it. On the go? A 30-minute full body massage will only cost you $45. Prefer smooth? Ask about the Guy-zilian. The Men’s Spa has a wide range of hair services, too, and offers professional styling consultation.

Play Artist, Skip the Museum Rather than just admire art, why not become an artist yourself? Malcolm Potek, who’s been a celebrated glass artist for more than 20 years, runs Potekglass, where artists of all skill levels come to learn the fascinating techniques of using the flame to manipulate glass into beautiful shapes. There are thee beginner courses, including the Kiln Mosaic class, where students learn to cut patterns out of sheet glass and combine them inside a kiln to make pendants and tiles. Classes last about three hours and include all the materials you’ll need. Potekglass also features a shop – everything from original works to used-glass blowing equipment for sale – and features regular artist exhibits and lectures.

Ride a Bike, Skip the Cab Over just the past couple of years, Minneapolis has doubled the miles of on-street bikeways throughout the city. In fact, a concerted push to promote biking as a healthy and cost-effective way to get around has helped make this one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country. Nice Ride Minnesota is a non-profit group that runs a public bike-sharing program, allowing anyone to borrow a bike when they need one and simply return it to any other station in the system. Residents have to register for a yearly membership, but visitors can take advantage of their 24-hour subscriptions; just $6 gets you bike access and you pay trip fees based on how long you ride between returns (rides that last 30 minutes or less are free).

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