I’ve lived in the Minneapolis area for two-thirds of my life. Only a brief stint in Australia in my 20s and a few tiny Midwestern towns before I turned 10 break my Minnesota record, and there’s a reason for that: Minneapolis one of the best third-tier cities in the country.
I say “third-tier” lovingly. I’m actually a big fan of the mid-sized city. We have incredible art, culture, theater and dining (even for me, as someone with celiac disease), but we’re often overlooked because everyone assumes the movie “Fargo” applies to the whole state. Well, I’m here to tell you that not only do I have a outdoor pool in my apartment complex, but I also live a block from a chain of lakes where you can kayak, paddle-board, canoe and more. Yes, we’re snow-covered during the winter, but we love our hot, summer days!
We’re not the frigid locale of TV and movie yore—and we have a THRIVING wellness scene. We’re consistently ranked in the top 10 healthiest states in the country and we even topped the list from 2002 through 2006. I’ve even heard from my corporate HR recruitment friends that while it’s one of the hardest places to get people to transfer into, it’s also one of the hardest places to get people to transfer from. Translation? Once you’re here, you never want to leave.
In honor of our Minnesota-nice version of wellness, here’s where you can find me on my ideal Saturday in the Minneapolis area.
Homemade Chemix coffee with vanilla cinnamon cashew milk from Green Bee Juicery in hand, my husband and our 4-year-old miniature Schnauzer-terrier mix, Lou, can be found taking a long stroll on the Greenway, a 15-mile bike and walking path created by the city that runs from the far western suburbs of Minneapolis to the Mississippi River/the edge of St. Paul (we are the Twin Cities, after all). It’s near where we live by Lake Calhoun, and we often jump on it to get to other lakes (like Cedar Lake, where my husband proposed, or Lake of the Isles).
I head to my favorite spa, Spot Spa, for a facial from one of their talented, caring aestheticians (Laurel + Shayla, I’m looking at you!). The spa’s motto is #loveheals, and being in the spa is truly a healing experience. It’s also the best local place to shop for nontoxic, clean skincare. I’ve loved every service I’ve had there, from natural nails, Shiatsu and energy work to sugar waxing and gentle enzyme peels. They carry some amazing brands like ARCONA (one of my all-time favorite skincare lines), ILIA Beauty, RMS Beauty, Sun Potion, One Love Organics and Meow Meow Tweet.
Having celiac disease requires a strict gluten-free diet, and paying incredibly close attention to how often I eat and what I eat (especially in restaurants). Dining out can be stressful, since the possibility of cross contamination of my food is higher. But in the three years since I was diagnosed, I’ve found a plethora of local haunts that are caring and thoughtful about food prep and Tao Natural Foods is one of them. Nearly all of their menu can be made gluten-free, and they have lots of vegan options too. They also have kombucha on tap, make fresh-pressed juice and concoct Sun Potion tonics with names like Inspiration, Moon and Relaxation. You can find me here for lunch or happy hour often.
I’m probably napping. I nap a lot. #selfcareisntselfish
I’m not a huge fitness enthusiast, but as a former dancer, I love a good barre class. And a good hot yoga or restorative yoga class. Thankfully, I have more than three studios within walking distance from my house (thanks again to the Greenway!): Yoga Center of Minneapolis, Pure Barre and Modo Yoga. I love each place for a different reason and have frequented them all.
Happy hour time! I love the gluten-free brewery Burning Brothers Brewing in St. Paul because I can drink everything there with no worries about getting sick. But if I’m not feeling the beer, then Spoon and Stable in Northeast Minneapolis is one of the best places to get a cocktail in the cities (if you’re visiting on a Monday though, you have to hit up The Break Room—incredible service and atmosphere, and great drinks, but only open once a week). The Russian Spring Punch is delicious, if you need a recommendation.
Spoon and Stable is also great for dinner—they cater to celiacs! They have a separate GF menu and are careful about preparation because, I’ve heard, the chef is GF too. But its local fare with French-inspired techniques is a little pricey for a regular weekend. I save the splurge for anniversary dinners!
Pizza Luce, a Minnesota chain that accommodates GF and vegan customers, is one of my favorite places. They train their staff on celiac disease and have a separate preparation area for any gluten-free-requested fare. They also have a delicious vegan cheese that rivals anything I’ve ever had. It’s my go-to restaurant for easy, delicious, handmade pizza.
If pizza’s not my thing that night, I love a good meal at Brasa, Hola Arepa (get the Flaming Hot Cheetos Brittle, if you dare!)or Red Stag (all GF friendly, and super helpful with all my GF questions).
If I’m craving something sweet, I’ll head to French Meadow Bakery for their GF coconut cake. It’s the best dessert I’ve ever tasted, GF or not, and I’ve never had anyone be able to tell it’s GF when I bring it to an event.