Minneapolis The City by Nature

Known as one-half of the “Twin Cities,” Minneapolis is one of the most welcoming, culturally rich places to visit as a family in the country. With growing numbers of gorgeous parks, beautiful lakes, hiking trails, bike paths and verdant green spaces, this city is also home to a vibrant arts scene (think world-class museums and progressive galleries), inspired dining, destination shopping and the “Minnesota Nicest” people.

Walker Art Center + Sculpture Garden

Tour the Walker Art Center and get your fill of edgy contemporary works, or stroll through the Sculpture Garden – home to Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Bruggen’s iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry installation – and take in more than 40 different works from artists around the world. Prince fans can take a pilgrimage to Paisley Park, a half hour from city center.

Lowry Avenue Bridge

Where to stay

One of the most recognized names in luxury hotel brands, Loews properties across North America operate with the philosophy that “hospitality comes from the heart.” Situated near the Mississippi River in the heart of downtown, Loews Minneapolis (LoewsHotels.com) is no exception – this chic, modern 22-story hotel features 251 elegantly appointed, newly renovated guest rooms and suites, abundant family-friendly signature services and amenities, innovative dining and a location that literally can’t be beat (Target Field is just 1,500 feet away – a quick walk to watch baseball in a gorgeous open-air stadium). This property proved to be the perfect “home base” from which to experience the city and its recreation and attractions.

Staff here has thoughtfully compiled a local line-up of family activities whether you’re looking to explore the environs or staying comfy indoors – they even offer assorted games for all ages which was particularly great from a parent perspective to keep our teens engaged and off their electronics.

My husband and I consider ourselves to be fledgling foodies so we were thrilled to sample the fare at Cosmos – New American cuisine inspired by the Pacific Regions. My Yellow Thai curry with shrimp and fragrant jasmine rice was super flavorful, while his Gerber Amish roasted half chicken was equally delicious, enhanced with lemon tyme pan jus and accompanied by mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.

The Apothecary Bar & Lounge is a sophisticated space showcasing a restaurant of its own, 20-seat Library and chef’s table and specializes in small shareable plates, handcrafted cocktails, local microbrews and a Build Your Own Old Fashioned.

Cosmos – New American cuisine

What to do

If you’re seeking a thrill, take a spin around Minnehaha Falls: summer or winter, and gape at the iced majesty even Queen Elsa would be jealous of. For our part, our teens couldn’t wait for our much-anticipated visit to the Mall of America (MallofAmerica.com). Mind you, an entire day spent in a shopping mall wasn’t my first thought when planning this weekend away, but for a truly unique, most memorable vacation – this ginormous space offers endless entertainment, dining, attraction and retail experiences.

Nickelodeon Universe is a seven-acre indoor amusement park featuring over two dozen rides with something for everyone. Purchase an unlimited ride wristband for all-day access to carousels and crazy cars for junior enthusiasts to twisting, turning rollercoasters for our thrill-seeking teens. We were already fans of the animated series so another favorite was the Avatar Airbender – where the kids rode a “wave of air” rocking back and forth to reach heights of 70 feet as air and fire forces raged around them.

The state’s largest aquarium is also housed under roof here – explore 1.3 million gallons of awesome – sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and even a 14-foot-long sawfish. For an immersive adventure – the Escape Game allows you crack codes, uncover clues, solve puzzles and complete a mission as a family.

A stunning skyline, delectable food, and more Midwest charm than you can shake a stick at round out the long list of reasons why it should be the next place on your list.

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