Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still near home. Hence our series, The 4-Hour Rule, dedicated to revealing the best destinations that are far away, yet still close to home.
In this installment, you’ll need to take to the skies to meet the hour limits — we’re heading north, to the Twin Cities.
Summer in Chicago often means soul-crushing humidity and body-crushing crowds. Those in need of some fresher, cooler air should head north, to Minneapolis. Like now. Seriously: the clock is ticking before this Midwestern gem turns back into an ensconced snow globe.
A sub-90-minute flight lands you at MSP, the best airport in North America three years running. (The urinals have privacy dividers and coat hooks!) Getting from the airport to downtown is a breeze because there’s room, idyllic scenery and one third of the people.
Your base camp in the land of Prince, Target and lake life should be the hopping North Loop neighborhood. The Minneapolis version of Fulton Market is the perfect spot for a city-goer’s weekend off: think fewer crowds, more converted factory space and the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
STAY: The Hewing Hotel
Minnesotan and Nordic traditions are the centerpiece at this hip, independent, 124-room (and 14-suite) hotel, voted the #1 Hotel in The Midwest last year. Housed in a former farm-implement showroom/warehouse built in 1897, trains once rolled directly into the building’s basement. Now the basement has a yoga room, spacious gym and free Handsome bikes for guests to tool around town. Original brick and timber is showcased throughout, and some guests will even have to navigate around 100-plus-year-old beams in their sleeping quarters.
From the food (in-house restaurant Tullibee has Norwegian waffles and Lefse on the brunch menu) to the decor (bears and ducks on the wallpaper, Prince albums scattered in the bookcases) to the year-round rooftop sauna, this is authentic, modern Minnesota.
Pro tips: the rooftop pool and bar has a great view of the city and good cocktails. And if you’re a bit claustrophobic, make sure to call ahead and request an exterior-facing room; since it’s an old factory, some of the rooms have interior atrium-like views.
300 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Also check out: Hotel Alma
EAT: Spoon and Stable
The North Loop is home to many great restaurants, but Spoon and Stable is THE ticket to get the vibe of the neighborhood. James Beard Award-winning chef Gavin Kaysen fuses Midwestern seasonality with French-inspired cooking to yield an all-around favorite. The name is pretty on the nose, as the restaurant is located in a former horse stable from 1906. Today, it’s the upbeat home to charming interiors and delicious eats
If you’re in town on a Saturday, hit their semi-secret, late-night ramen menu.
211 N 1st St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Also check out: The Bachelor Farmer
DRINK: Marvel Bar
Marvel Bar is the rare place that has managed to generate hype from tourists, residents, food reporters and food-service professionals. Everyone recommends Marvel Bar. It’s practically whispered in reverent tones when you ask for a recommendation on where to grab a drink.
Located beneath The Bachelor Farmer (you can make it a combo dinner and drinks kind of night, but Marvel Bar is also worth its own trip), the speakeasy-style bar opens at 5 p.m. and gets busy. Be prepared to wait for your cocktail, but rest assured, the production time will be worth it. As everyone recommending this hot spot will tell you, these are very well-made cocktails. Perhaps the drinks are top notch because Marvel Bar maintains a singular focus — the only food in sight is Cheetos.
50 N 2nd Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Also check out: Surly Brewing Co.
SHOP: Martin Patrick 3
This 22,000-square-foot space will make men understand why people like shopping. Step in with a high credit limit and you can step out booted, custom suited and with a brand new living room. They’ve got all seasons of menswear, a sparkling selection of watches and jewelry, a fragrant “apothecary” for your grooming regime, contemporary furnishings, artwork, trinkets and everything you could ever need, really. It’s the ultimate one-stop shop.
We overheard one satisfied customer excitedly proclaim, “There is no place like this…and I’m from New York!”
212 3rd Ave N #106, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Also check out: Mall of America (duh)
EXPLORE: River Parkway
The Land of 10,000 lakes also has 200+ miles of bike trails and they are scenic as all hell. Minneapolis is one of America’s greatest biking cities, so pick your mode: leisurely summer ride, 50-mile speed trek or off-roading waterfall explorer. They are each legit options.
If you’re staying at the Hewing. take out their bikes (with locks and helmets) for free and in four short blocks you’ll be on a paved path along the Mississippi River. On this route you’ll get a great view of the massive river dam erected by European settlers, Mill Ruins Park, the futuristic Guthrie Theatre and the city skyline. Six more miles west and you’ll hit Minnehaha Falls, keep going and you’ll run into the Chain of Lakes circuit. Pack your bike shorts.
Also check out (for the ‘gram): Spoonbridge and Cherry
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