Minneapolis-based blogger Nicole Trigger is relatively new to the Twin Cities (she moved here in 2013), but she’s already adopted the attitude of a proud lifelong local. She admits she was reluctant to move to the area, but she started going out and exploring Minneapolis with her husband and kids, blogging about their activities and adventures. Now, Nicole has fallen so hard for this place that she’s started a small company called Live and Love MN, selling tees, mugs, totes + gifts expressing local love. (Yeah, that much.)
We asked Nicole to share some of her favorite places in the area. This wasn’t much of a challenge—she had a ton of suggestions at the ready, happy to show us around.
Best places to get some exercise:
Decades of community organizing + grassroots activism resulted—finally, in 2007—in the completion of the now well-used Greenway. The 5.5-mile long biking and walking trail in south Minneapolis was a former railroad corridor that was more or less covered in trash and avoided before it was converted into the beautiful pathway it is today. “My husband is big into cycling,” Nicole said, “so I got a bike this spring.” They bike sections of the Greenway often. “It’s my husband’s idea of a great date.”
The Chain of Lakes
Five lakes—Cedar Lake, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet and Brownie Lake—make up a central feature of Minneapolis and help shape its culture + personality. Year-round, they’re a draw for boating, fishing, ice skating, picnicking, biking, running—you name it. Nicole is an avid runner, so she runs the paths around Calhoun or Harriet often. “The chain of lakes is always our running path,” she said. “When I’m training, I run all three—Calhoun, Harriet and Lake of the Isles.” Her husband and kids love biking around the lakes as well. “In the summer, we ride our bikes to The Tin Fish or Bread & Pickle—weekly. It’s our favorite family activity.”
“This is where we take out-of-town guests,” Nicole said. The breathtaking 53-foot falls are beautiful year-round, which makes hiking around the falls and creek a great activity anytime. In the summer, the park’s Sea Salt Eatery serves up seafood, wine + beer, not to mention local favorite family-owned Sebastian Joe’s ice cream. “There’s something for everyone,” Nicole said, noting that her favorite is getting dinner, then taking a long walk along the falls. And though it’s technically verboten, one of Nicole’s wintertime musts is hiking behind the frozen falls. Because those stilled stalactites of frozen water are far too beautiful to resist.
This historic pedestrian bridge was originally built in 1883 as a railroad passageway spanning the Mississippi River. It’s now part of the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail and hosts music + arts festivals along with being just a gorgeous place to take a walk. “It’s iconic,” Nicole said. “It’s the best place to take photos in the cities.”
Best family restaurant:
“Our big thing that we love to do is go out to eat and go to different restaurants,” Nicole said. George and the Dragon is her favorite something-for-everyone place. “The food is great,” Nicole said. “And the kids love the book nook they have in the restaurant. They get seated and run over to get their books. We always swing over to Patina to shop if there is a little wait to be seated.”
“Best pizza in the city,” Nicole said. Chef + owner Pete Campbell learned to throw pizza dough from his Pop Pop and his mom—which probably helps account for the palpable family-and-friends feel of the restaurant. Nicole’s pick is the Red Wagon Pizza, a red-sauce based pie with crispy soppressata, banana peppers, house-made sausage, chili flakes + fig balsamic. (Pro tip: It’s Food Network chef Guy Fieri’s favorite, too.)
The several sprawling blocks centered around 50th Street and France Avenue on the edge of Minneapolis have long been a shopping destination. “They have everything! Athletic wear, restaurants, boutiques, gift shops and coffee shops,” Nicole said. Her top boutique pick: Burlap + Brass.
Another of Nicole’s favorite shopping areas is, luckily for her, very close to where she lives. “We can walk to this area,” Nicole said. “There are so many great places to eat: Rose Street Patisserie, Tilia, Upton 43. It has lovely stores, too. I love Lily and Violet. They have such cute stuff.”
Best coffee shop:
The Linden Hills outpost of baked goods by internationally renowned pastry chef John Kraus opened earlier this year; his original bakery is Patisserie 46 in south Minneapolis. “Everything here is just so good,” Nicole said. Among her top picks is the avocado toast, which is so much more than just another iteration of everyone’s favorite make-at-home breakfast.
Best date night restaurant:
“This is the best restaurant for a date night,” Nicole said. Known for its fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the ever-changing menu, and the relaxed atmosphere, Corner Table has been a Minneapolis staple since it opened over a decade ago. “We love the food pairings. Their sister restaurant, Revival, is to die for also.”