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Not a football fan? Five things to see in Minneapolis besides the Super Bowl

Shirley McMarlin
| Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, 3:33 p.m.
While the Super Bowl will bring thousands of people  to Minneapolis in February, there’s a wealth of other things to do way up there in the midwinter.
While the Super Bowl will bring thousands of people to Minneapolis in February, there’s a wealth of other things to do way up there in the midwinter.

The Super Bowl might be the only thing that would convince thousands of people to head north to Minneapolis in February. But if you're not going to the big game, there's still plenty to do way up there in the midwinter.

Taking part in snow and ice sports is almost a given in Minneapolis, where residents hew to the Norwegian belief that there's no bad weather, just bad clothing. The city's active outdoor lifestyle is a big reason why it regularly pops up on many "best places" lists.

Minneapolis actually has earned the nickname the "Mini Apple," due to a wealth of cultural offerings and other interesting attractions. It has a lively restaurant and craft brewery and distillery scene. Residents even say the skyline looks a little like that of the Big Apple.

Here are five places and things that make Minneapolis worth a visit, football or no football:

Art Shanty Projects

Step onto the frozen surface of Lake Harriet for an art scene inspired by the unique ice fishing houses and their inhabitants seen every winter on Minnesota's frozen lakes. The creative community space is "part art gallery, part art residency and part social experiment."

Founders sought to create an artists' happening in an extreme environment, to embrace and reinvent the beloved cultural practice of ice fishing; and to encourage personal expression and community engagement through temporary structures and performances. Annual programming has featured pedal-powered polar bear puppet rides, snowga (yoga in snowsuits), spontaneous a cappella singing and art car parades. This year, there's a human hamster wheel.


Can Can Wonderland

The building housing the arts nonprofit Can Can Wonderland dates back to 1889, when it was home to the American Can Co., providing containers for Carnation, Campbell's Soup, Del Monte and others. Now it's a riot of sight and sound, fun and food, art and more. There's mini golf, arcade games, bingo, live entertainment and space for private parties. You can chow down on carnival-style foods or charcuterie, washed down with a soft drink or a boozy slushie or malt.

Each hole on the mini golf course was created out of a contest asking people to describe a hole that they always wanted to play. Guaranteed it's the only place you can "(sink) a putt up a pink mastodon's butt."


Mall of America

The rise of online shopping is leading to the demise of malls across the country. So if the enclosed shopping mall is a modern-day dinosaur, the Mall of America would be the titanosaur Argentinosaurus huinculensis, the largest of the species. Located in suburban Bloomington, the mammoth four-level mall contains almost 5 million square feet and boasts more than 500 stores, plus restaurants, a 25-ride theme park, a cinema, a wedding chapel and a 1.2 million-gallon aquarium. There's a mirror maze, bowling alley, ropes course, zipline and the FlyOver America flight simulation attraction. With about 40 million visitors annually, this mall will probably be around for a while.


Minneapolis Institute of Art

Most big cities have an art museum, so what's special about this one? For one thing, admission is free to the general exhibitions and public tours (fees apply for special exhibitions, classes and some talks and special events). Along with the expected American and European art, the museum's galleries also include collections of art from Africa and Native America; China, South and Southeast Asia; and Japan and Korea.


Paisley Park

If you're a Prince fan or just a music-lover in general, a short trek southwestward to suburban Chanhassen is in order to visit the private estate and production complex of the late-lamented Purple One. The site offers guided tours and exhibits of artifacts from Prince's life. Upcoming is Celebration 2018, from April 19-22, featuring live music, rare concert screenings, panel discussions and special presentations highlighting Prince's talent and influence.


When you finish your other visits, treat yourself to a bonus:

Craft distilleries

Where craft breweries flourish these days, craft distilleries are now sure to follow. A quick scan of reveals nine craft distilleries in and around the Twin Cities, with more in the surrounding area. Skaalvenn Distillery uses unrefined, non-GMO products to produce its vodka, rum and aquavit, including a habenero rum and vodka with hints of caramel.

Copperwing Distillery has a 45 seat, aquarium-like cocktail room with a direct view into the workings of the distillery. Twin Spirits Distillery is working on Mama's Moonshine, distilled monthly on the full moon using Minnesota honey. That'll get you howling.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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