Travel For Two
From Classy to Quirky, Budget-Friendly Ideas for a Romantic Weekend in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
Want to plan a special weekend away, but don’t want to break the bank? You’re in luck!
The Twin Cities metro region offers a wealth of options for a couple’s vacation, no matter your budget. Here is the definitive guide to a memorable romantic weekend getaway that will be fun for you and your special someone — and easy on your wallet.
1. Look for Free Admission
Bundle up and take a stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with its iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry and its giant blue rooster. Or warm up in the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, which has free admission to see its collection of modern art on Thursday nights and the first Saturday of each month. The Minneapolis Institute of Art — with a collection that spans from Monet to Matisse, Africa to Asia — is always free, including its themed Third Thursdays each month.
Admission to see the antics of resident polar bears, gorillas and more at Saint Paul’s Como Park Zoo and to the Como Park Conservatory, where you can wander among orchids and palm trees or catch a concert, is always free (with a suggested donation of just $3). The University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum, an eye-catching architectural work designed by Frank Gehry, is also complimentary, offering a friendly art experience with rotating exhibitions of early 20th century American art, ceramics and contemporary works.
2. Play a Little (Indoor) Golf
You don’t need to bundle up (or even have golf-course experience) to enjoy sending microchipped golf balls soaring toward targets at Topgolf. Up to six people can play in each heated bay (plus two people watching) at this new three-story golf facility on the border of Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center. It’s a bit like golf-meets-bowling, with plenty of drinks plus food — from flatbreads to inject-your-own-filling doughnut holes. The more players you have and the earlier in the day you go, the better the price. (Hint: Pick a snowy night for a snow-globe-like atmosphere).
3. Trade Tablecloths for Food Trucks and Markets
Keep meals affordable by keeping them casual. The Twin Cities has many options that aren’t only affordable, but also offer variety. Here are a few places to try:
- Saint Paul’s Keg and Case Market, which opened in 2018 on the historic Schmidt Brewery campus, brings together artisans such as Revival Smoked Meats, Sweet Science Ice Cream and Hobby Farmer Canning Company with its lineup of switchels and pickles. Ever had freshly made lemon cardamom or rum-and-Coke cotton candy? Split a cloudy puff of sweetness at Spinning Wylde.
- Saint Paul’s Seventh Street Truck Park serves up a taste of the State Fair all year long with several food trucks, a main bar and additional vendors. Pork carnitas? Yep. Pizza? Uh-huh. Sebastian Joe’s ice cream? Don’t miss the raspberry chip. A bonus: You can try your hand at ring toss, shoot hoops or catch a live music act while kicking back at the picnic tables.
- For everything from shawarma to Thai noodles to barbecue to microbrews, wander the fragrant aisles of Minneapolis’s Midtown Global Market.
4. Take a Hike (Or Find A Sledding Hill)
Minneapolis and Saint Paul parks rank among the top in the nation, and there are more in the outer-rim suburbs. That means you’re never far from a skating rink, sledding hills or trails for fat-tire biking, hiking, snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing. Even better: Many parks provide equipment for a small fee, so there’s no need to worry if you didn’t pack your gear. Among the best picks: Minneapolis’s Theodore Wirth Park and Como Park Ski Center in Saint Paul. In the suburbs, look for regional parks such as Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area, Eagan’s Lebanon Hills and Cleary Lake Park.
5. Act Like a Kid Again
There’s no reason kids should have all the fun. Play vintage pinball games or a round of funky, artsy mini golf, order one of the Twin Cities’ most whimsical drinks or catch some live entertainment at Can Can Wonderland in a former Saint Paul canning company. Jump into a game of WhirlyBall in Maple Grove (think: bumper cars meet lacrosse and basketball). Take the stage for a little karaoke or go bowling at Punch Bowl Social in St. Louis Park or try the cutting-edge virtual challenges and go-carts at Mall of America’s Smaaash.
6. Take Advantage of Cheap Deals and Luxe Perks
Winter can provide some of the best hotel deals all year with many rates dipping below $100 a night and high-end, luxury and boutique hotels going for less than $150 a night. Newer boutique hotels include Stillwater’s historic Hotel Lora and Minneapolis’s Hewing Hotel in the North Loop and Hotel Alma— both ideal for a cozy weekend of hygge. Take advantage of various hotel perks such as business lounges with snacks and beverages; airport and Mall of America shuttles; proximity to the light rail train stations (such as Bloomington’s South Loop); or using downtown skyways to reach theaters, event centers and museums. JW Marriott and Radisson Blu are both connected to Mall of America.