Best of Summer Guide 2012

One hundred and five ways to do summer with a splash in the Twin Cities.

Best of Summer Guide 2012

Mississippi River

We know how to spell it, and we definitely know when we're driving over it, but our relationship with our little slice of the Might Mississippi can feel remote and impersonal. This summer, make it your mission to get to know both sides of the river that divides and—more important—connects our cities.



Psycho Suzi's
It’s still a poor man’s paradise, and the two-year-old riverside patio is a swinging place. Tiki torches, PBR cans, flaming drinks, and square-cut pizza make almost every night here a Nordeast kind of special. 1900 NE Marshall St., 612-788-9069

Aster Café
It has one of the most bucolic patios on the river, plus you get rocking live music when you step inside. Or dig into creative, light brunch offerings before heading on your Segway tour. 125 SE Main St., 612-379-3138

Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop
Get one-stop shopping for your picnic needs from the cheese shop and deli, or stock up on liquid fuel before hopping on the Pedal Pub. 303 Hennepin Ave. E., 612-379-3232

Even if you’ve snacked your way through Saturday’s Mill City Farmers Market, consider copping a squat on the nearby patio of Spoonriver for something more substantial and yet still farmy. 750 S. 2nd St., 612-436-2236

Longfellow Grill
This urban diner is the natural beginning or ending for a drive/walk/meander along West River Parkway. It has easy eating and locals galore. 2990 River Pkwy. W., 612-721-2711

Sea Salt Eatery
You’ll likely find a line snaking out of this park building in which salty clam fries, catfish po’boys, and scrumptious fish tacos are being built as fast as they can. For a fishy afternoon in the park with the falls as your backdrop, the wait is worth it. 4825 Minnehaha Ave., 612-721-8990


Tucked away in beautiful Irvine Park, this elegant old (haunted) house hosts a restaurant that delivers a more casual pub vibe on the ground floor, with a more formal scene upstairs. There’s even a rooftop veranda patio. 276 S. Exchange St., 651-224-5606

Flat Earth Brewing
Not a brewpub but an actual brewery. Stop by during tasting hours and sip some suds or take a tour. Pick up a growler (a refillable jug of beer) of the Element 115 Lager—it goes great with BBQ. 2035 Benson Ave., 651-698-1945

Mississippi Pub
With a two-tiered patio and a glassed-in porch, this little river joint loves the view. It’s all good pub fare, with burgers and sandwiches, and there’s a nice dose of fish tacos, shrimp po’boys, and the like. 4455 66th St., Inver Grove Heights, 651-455-4975

How can you have a picnic without fried chicken? You can’t, so zip through South St. Paul to this little charmer of a café for a bucket of crispy-skinned goodness. 157 3rd Ave. S., South St. Paul, 651-455-7566


Minnesota Centennial Showboat
(June 15–Aug. 25) That restored paddlewheeler docked at Harriet Island in St. Paul is home to a summer theater that never fails to entertain. This year’s play is The Vampire! by J. R. Planché, and audience interaction (booing, hissing, cheering) is encouraged. Harriet Island, St. Paul, 651-227-1100

Paddle-Wheeler Tours
One of the best ways to appreciate the Minneapolis skyline is from the water on an authentic paddle-wheeler. From Boom Island in Minneapolis, you can catch the Minneapolis Queen, and in St. Paul, the Jonathan Padelford leaves from Harriet Island for 90-minute tours of the riverfront. Great for out-of-town visitors. twincitiescruises.com, riverrides.com

River’s Edge Music Festival
(June 23–24) Live Nation, the largest producer of live music in the world, is trying to establish a major summer music festival in the Midwest and has chosen St. Paul’s Harriet Island as the place to do it. Headlining this year’s festival are Dave Matthews Band, Tool, The Flaming Lips, and 26 other bands. Harriet Island, St. Paul



Key North
Just steps from the river, Key North offers a tropical take on fashion, art, jewelry, and more. 515 1st Ave. NE, 612-455-6666

I Like You
You can’t help but smile once you step onto the turf carpet to check out all the locally made goods. 501 1st Ave. NE, 612-208-0249


Mill City Museum Store
Take home Minnesota-made pottery, cards, prints, cookbooks, and treats. 704 S. 2nd St., 612-341-7555


Weisman Art Museum
One of the most impressive views of downtown Minneapolis is from one of our most notable architectural landmarks: the Frank Gehry–designed museum perched on the east bank of the Mississippi. Check out the recently expanded galleries and the reimagined WAM Shop, featuring affordable design objects as well as pottery, books, and other items inspired by the museum collections. 333 River Rd. E., 612-625-9494


Just off West River Parkway in Longfellow, this shop is a destination for gifts, art, stationery, and more. Find an impressive assortment of locally made product lines. 4646 E. Lake St., 612-276-0198


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