Minneapolis Travel Guide with Marriott Bonvoy
Last March I was invited to attend the Women’s NCAA Championships Final Four ® Basketball games in Minneapolis, Minnesota with Marriott Bonvoy. I was born and raised in Minnesota. Going back to my home state was a combination of visiting nostalgic locations combined with creating new memories. When the Marriott Bonvoy team reached out to me about partnering with them to experience the Women’s NCAA Champions I was ecstatic! It had been six years since I had been back. The last trip was in 2016 for my ten-year high school reunion and even those memories seem far away now.
Although known for its Scandinavian roots, Minnesota has a diverse population of nationalities and cuisines! Known as the “Twin” Cities with its sister city, and state capital, St. Paul right next door. It’s also called the “Mini Apple.” Say it out loud to hear the pun! This nickname refers to its sophisticated, skyscraper-spiked downtown and commitment to supporting the arts. Make sure to schedule a visit to the Walker Art Center, one of the country’s best contemporary art museums.
Arrival in the Twin Cities
It is only a quick three-and-a-half-hour flight from Los Angeles to Minneapolis. When you land you are almost immediately greeted by what many call “Minnesota nice.” Genuinely nice people with warm smiles. Happy to help at the drop of a hat and always look on the bright side of life. I checked into the Minneapolis Marriott City Center located just around the corner from the Target Center where the NCAA Final Four ® basketball games would take place. Thanks to my Marriott Bonvoy status I was upgraded to a corner suite with sweeping views of the city!
Our first stop of the weekend was a welcome reception hosted by the Marriott Bonvoy. Next, we headed to the Target Center to watch the first round of the Women’s NCAA Final Four ® games. The halftime shows were definitely memorable. The first halftime show featured ceremonial dances by local Native American dancers from Minnesota which shared a special tie to the state’s history and the indigenous people who are a part of it.
Fun Fact: Minneapolis along with the capital city, St. Paul, are nicknamed the “Twin Cities” because they share a border and share many of the same cultural, political, and educational institutions.
Places to Visit
A unique Marriott experience from the weekend was getting to see the behind-the-scenes of the Target Center. We even got to shoot a few hoops on the courts. Let’s just say, the ladies on the court make those 3 point shots look much easier than they actually are. We got to see the locker rooms, media rooms, and all the action that goes on behind the scenes.
What was once the tallest building in Minneapolis is now a W Hotel with historic significance. Take a tour to the top and get 360-degree unobstructed views of the city. (Just remember to bring a jacket as it can get a bit chilly all the way up there.) Afterward, grab a drink at the speakeasy and dinner at the lobby bar. Make sure to stay for dessert. Their ice cream sundae is Instagram-worthy. More on that below…
Growing up in Minnesota many places bring back very vivid memories of my childhood. One of those places is The Depot located as part of the Residence Inn in downtown Minneapolis. When I was a child, The Depot used to have the most amazing covered skating rink. My sister and I spent many long hours here training with the St. Paul Figure Skating Club. The Depot was once a train station built in the late 1800s and is now used as an event space.
Places to Eat
Breakfast: Take a quick drive to the Wesley Andrew coffee shop for a charming ambiance, great coffee, and baked goods.
If you are staying at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center, walk across the street to the Wood + Paddle, a locally inspired Minneapolis Eatery. Great for brunch or dinner.
Lunch: After touring the Depot and the river crossing, walk a few blocks to the Red Cow for delicious Minnesota famous cheese curds, Spicy Chicken with a “Minnesota nice” dipping sauce option, and plenty of healthy options, too.
Drinks: Grab drinks at the Living Room + Prohibition speakeasy bag at Foshay W Hotel.
Dinner: After cocktails, head downstairs to the hotel lobby, sit by the fire, watch the crowds and order anything you like. There is also a steakhouse in the lobby of the W Hotel.
Depending on the time of year you go, you can walk most places downtown or take a taxi. During the colder months, you are able to cross through a system of walkways that connect many of the buildings located above the street to take you across the city without ever having to step outside. Just note that the skyways close around 9 pm each night so if you are leaving dinner or the bar late and it is cold outside, make sure to call a ride. Taxis and Ubers are plentiful in Minneapolis so you should not have a problem.
The three hotels in this post are all part of Marriott Bonvoy. A loyalty membership that gives members perks such as:
- Free In-Room Wi-Fi
- Member Rates
- Mobile Check-In/Services
- Priority Late Checkout
I cannot wait to come back and explore more of this incredible city! As always, thank you for stopping by. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below and make sure to check out my other travel guides here!
Photos by Johnathan Lipking
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