9 to 12 July 2021
Vaccinated and ready to travel with few borders open, we decide to see more of the United States. Last year we spent three weeks in the Great Lakes Region and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This year we decided to continue across the northern midwest from Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior to Eastern Washington, through North Dakota, Montana and Northern Idaho. We started by flying into the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and exploring the surrounding areas for a few days.
Downtown Minneapolis is generally clean and walkable. We spent one day walking the city, starting and ending in Parade Park, near the Walker Art Center, through the city center, along the Mills District, across the Stone Arch Bridge to Dinkytown and the University of Minnesota, and back through the east side.
The next day, we spent the evening at Minnehaha Park in South Minneapolis along the Mississippi River.
Saint Paul is a much smaller city but worth visiting if for nothing else to see the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Minnesota State Capital Building. The State Capital Building, built 1896-1905, was designed by Cass Gilbert who also designed several other buildings we have visited including the West Virginia and Arkansas Capital Buildings, US Supreme Court and Saint Louis Art Museum.
Saint Paul, home of Charles Schulz (Peanuts), the State Capitol Building and Cathedral of Saint Paul
During our visit we stayed in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis adjacent to the MSP Airport, within walking distance of the Mall of America (MOA). MOA is a tourist stop in its own right and gave us an outlet in the evenings. It is the 7th largest mall in the world and the largest outside China and Thailand. The center of the mall features a Nickelodeon-themed amusement park. We continued our love affair with Shake Shack and had our first dinner of the trip there.
Mall of America
Prior to the murder of George Floyd, Minneapolis was perhaps best known for being home to the Purple One, Prince. Outside of their sports teams, Little House on the Prairie, and Prince, Minnesota’s distinguishing feature might be its lack of distinguishing features. After all, polite midwesterners generally do not demand the spotlight. This all changed on May 25th, 2020. I had not planned to go to the site of his death for fear of being disrespectful, but my daughter, our social warrior, insisted. It later occurred to me this was one of the first major news stories that resonated with our kids in their young lives. I’m glad we went. The neighborhood seems to have embraced their role in history. The makeshift memorials were somber but impactful. Fortunately visitors didn’t treat it like a selfie opportunity.
George Floyd Memorial
Anxious to get outside the city for awhile, we took the opportunity to canoe the St. Croix River along the Minnesota / Wisconsin border. We rented canoes in Interstate Park near Taylors Falls.
Canoeing the St. Croix River at Interstate Park