48 HOURS: Lakes & loons – Travel tips for Minnesota’s Twin Cities

A view of the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones/file photo

By Chris Taylor

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, helps children in 190 countries and territories all over the planet.

But as president and CEO of its American branch, UNICEF USA, Michael Nyenhuis has a favorite spot closer to home: Minnesota’s Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The longtime philanthropy executive (and Minnesota native) shares these insider tips on the best way to spend 48 hours in the Twin Cities.

This interview is edited and condensed.

WHAT I LOVE MOST

The idea of “Minnesota Nice” is generally true, a passion for the outdoors (despite the cold of winter and searing heat of summer) balances well with the thriving arts scene and the increasing diversity of the population.

WHERE TO GO FIRST

Grand Avenue in St. Paul has so many great local eateries to choose from, including Emmett’s Public House or the Red Rabbit.

WHERE TO STAY

The Marriott City Center in Minneapolis (S. 7th St.) is close to Nicollet Mall (12-block portion of Nicollet Ave.), the stadiums and plenty of good food.

michael nyenhuis
Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO of UNICEF USA, poses in an undated photo.Courtesy UNICEF USA/Handout via REUTERS
BEST PLACE FOR TEAM MEETINGS

We met with a group of colleagues for a dinner event last year on a warm evening overlooking Lake Minnetonka’s Wayzata Bay at COV Wayzata (Lake St. E.)

Even with a train rumbling by, it was a great way to enjoy getting some business done.

FUN LOCALE FOR TEAM OUTINGS

“The Lakes.” By that I mean the connected lakes and parks that make Minneapolis so special — from Wirth Lake to Lake Harriet and everything in between. A picnic, a bike ride or a paddle is a great way to build a team.

TOURIST TRAP THAT’S ACTUALLY WORTH IT

Life isn’t complete without eating your way through the Minnesota State Fair (Snelling Ave. N.)

BEST WAY TO GET AROUND

Sorry to say this, but by car — hopefully a fuel-efficient one. Wish I had a different answer in this era of climate change, but with a large metro area that offers so much, it is still the best way to get to so many different locations.

IDEAL COFFEE SPOT

Dunn Brothers (various locations) is a chain, but it’s a local one that began in one neighborhood in St. Paul and spread from there.

For years, my father would allow himself one apple fritter at his local Dunn Brothers every three months. Such discipline!

FAVORITE AREA TO SHOP

Hoigaard’s in St. Louis Park (Excelsior Blvd.), mostly because my friends and I would sneak out of school early to get to the Hoigaard’s pre-season ski sale each year. It was a pilgrimage.

SOMETHING ONLY INSIDERS KNOW

Why the words “Up North” are so important for the soul. 

CANNOT-MISS TREATS

Who can resist the chocolates at St. Croix Chocolate Co. in Marine on St. Croix (Parker St.)? People stand outside in a long line to get in there now.

BEST DINNER SPLURGE

A burger and beer at Meister’s Bar & Grill in Stillwater (4th St. S.)

More of a calorie splurge than a dollar one, but a splurge, nonetheless. It is the way corner bars used to be — and probably still should be.

BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT MINNEAPOLIS OR ST PAUL

It’s too cold. Yes, it can be. But, as they say, there’s no such thing as cold weather — only bad clothing.

FAVORITE SOUVENIR

Anything related to the Loons — and I mean Minnesota United FC, the soccer club. So much fun to sing Wonderwall after a win in their great stadium in St. Paul (Allianz Field, Snelling Ave. N.) 

BEST MEMORY THERE

Tow ropes and T-bars. Back in the day, before high-speed quad chairlifts, they were the best way to get up the hill fast to get in as many runs in as possible at local ski hills Buck Hill, Welch Village and Afton Alps.

WHAT PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW

Minneapolis is the second city in the nation to receive the designation as a “Child-Friendly City” from UNICEF, which means the city is putting the needs of its children at the center of all its development plans.

—Reuters

Related Stories

Get your free copy of Global Heroes, jam-packed with positive news, straight in your inbox.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Global Heroes Podcast

GET YOUR FREE COPY OF GLOBAL HEROES’ POSITIVE NEWS

Subscribe to our Newsletter and Access all issues of Global Heroes News straight in your inbox. 100% free, no purchase necessary, for life. Uplifting stories, highlighting the inspirational efforts of everyday people, celebrities, and organizations, who are diligently working together towards practical solutions to global problems.

FOLLOW US