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Monday, May 30, 2016

Hiawatha and Minnehaha - Minneapolis, Part 3




After being introduced to Jucy Lucy and setting sail on the St. Croix…or would that set paddle?...we’re going to be seeing the city by train today. That train would be the Hiawatha light rail line that cuts a north/south swath through the city starting at Target Field in the north and ending at the massive Mall of America to the south.

We’re going to start at the bottom and work our way up to the top.

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Traveling south, we pass the airport…two stops on this line…and in the southern flatness of Bloomington a massive parking structure looms across a large parking lot and field. We don’t know it quite yet… I do have suspicions…but this is hiding the mall that sits inside of it.

The train pulls into the structure, which holds the end of the line station at Mall of America. An elevator ride takes us to an unlabeled floor (thanks to the kindness of strangers who told us which one) where an accessible bridge connects the parking lot to the mall and in we go.


The Mall of America is…well…a mall. A very big one, on four levels that go in a very big circle around the perimeter. What makes it unique is its position as the largest mall in the USA, and a couple of other things like having an aquarium in the basement and an amusement park in the center.


The amusement park is the big attraction.  Not some kiddy carnival, it features some heavy duty rides. Roller coasters that drop vertical into loops and barrel rolls. Flying NinjaTurtles that dive and loop as you ride them. A log ride. A scary ropes course. And much more.




Prepared to be disappointed in it, I admit I was impressed by the Nickelodeon themed fun zone.

Other than that, it’s pretty much like any other indoor shopping center you’ve been too…let’s head back to the train.

Pulling out of the mall, we pass the Veteran’s Cemetery and the airport to get to our next stop. We’re having lunch at Minnehaha Park.


This large area south of downtown is a verdant, green expanse of lawn and trails stretching over 193 acres from Hiawatha Avenue to the Mississippi River. After crossing over from the train station, it’s about a quarter mile hike to Sea Salt, our lunch destination.



Just before we get to the restaurant, we hear the roar then step onto a footbridge crossing the creek that plunges 53 feet into a gorgeous grotto. This is Minnehaha Falls.


We stop to take in the view and to find a good wheelchair accessible spot for Tim to see the deluge as well. Along the north side of the grotto are several good spots for chair users to get a good view, not so much on the south side.  The many stairs also means that wheelchairs stay on the top instead of hiking down into the canyon.


Sea Salt is just a few feet away with a large dining room but better is the outdoor areas where you can hear the roar of the falls and take in the scenery.

Ordering is at a counter and servers bring the food to your table. You seat yourself.


Letty has a crab cake sandwich which she devours and pronounces excellent. I’m not so much of a seafood lover and there is precious little of anything else on the menu. I take a chance and order a basket of calamari to share with Tim.  It is excellent and the dipping sauce, combined with a few varieties from the huge salsa bar, makes the fried squid go down easily and tasty.



A little meandering back through the park and then to the Hiawatha Line for the next stop…Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.


A farmer’s market is going on here in the few blocks of the mall where Mary Tyler Moore famously threw her hat in the air during the opening credits of the show.

A statue celebrates that particular moment in TV history on one of the corners.


Lined with top-tier stores such as Brooks Brothers and Neiman-Marcus, the mall is also home to the headquarters of Target. Their flagship store disappoints me by being as messy and understocked as any other Target I’ve been to.

The upscale shops and farmer’s market are also in contrast to a kind of hooliganism going on around us too. A group of guys rough-house on the corner, one being pushed into Tim’s chair (did him more harm than Tim). Ladies that can only be said to be “professional,”  and a half-dozen police officers pummeling a suspect on the sidewalk while pedestrians calmly walked by.

It should be a nice area, and there is good shopping, but the street scenes are disconcerting.


We take it upstairs to the skyway, a series of interconnecting bridges that link most of the buildings downtown. Made for the extreme cold winters so people don’t have to brave the elements, it also comes in handy to feel a little safer walking around downtown. We have some coffee and ice cream before heading back to the hotel.

One more thing to do while we’re here is to go to the baseball game that is the reason for the trip. That’ll be in our next and final chapter…see you then!

-Darryl
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2012 – Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

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