A Single Girl’s Travel Guide to Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota

Welcome to Minnesota. A state typically written off for being comprised of entirely farmland and lakes save for the Mall of America. Contrary to the popular opinion on the coasts, Minneapolis and Saint Paul are actually filled with amazing restaurants, art, and culture. Growing up, I think I had some level of resentment for it as I lusted for bigger and better, but as an adult, I’ve come to love and appreciate it so much. I called Minnesota home for 18 years of my life, but I’ve never written anything travel related on it despite writing extensive articles on places I’ve visited for less than a week.

Working in the travel industry, I think it’s easy to get swept into the glamour and fast paced lifestyle of seeing some of the most beautiful and sought after places the world has to offer, but we lose sight of the place that we know best: home. Although Minnesota may not be my full time home anymore, I have a lot of love for the Twin Cities and I think you might be surprised at how much you end up loving them too. This travel guide may be titled A Single Girl’s Guide to Minneapolis and Saint Paul, but as someone who was a single girl in Minnesota for 18 years, it’s my version of a love letter from me to this state that gave me some of the best people and memories in my life. As a single girl, Minneapolis and Saint Paul are cities that will give you a little r&r with a taste of big city life surrounded by lush greenery, fresh air, and beautiful lakes.

a single girl's guide to minneapolis saint paul st paul minnesota mn where to go in minnesota midwest travel destination instagrammable spot mn where to take photos in msp lilly pulitzer franci dress travel blogger eva phan of eva darling solo female travel traveler travel guide minnesota state capitol



4944 Xerxes Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

This two story vintage store is packed full to the brim with treasures. My sister turned me onto it, and I’ve truthfully never been to a vintage store that I loved more. Prices were incredibly reasonable, and I came across vintage Lilly Pulitzer dresses, prom dresses from the ’50s, and some of the coolest furniture I’ve ever seen. A vintage wool pillbox hat for just $6 and a $3 botanical print of Minnesota’s state flower, the Lady Slipper, had to come home with me. Out back, Hunt & Gather also has an eclectic collection of letters leftover from old signs. Hunt & Gather is an absolute must. I’m so glad I came across it and plan on returning many more times.

hunt and gather minneapolis minnesota vintage shopping where to go in mn instagrammable spot minnesota instagram self portrait dress eva phan of eva darling travel blogger midwest travel destination


300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401

This library makes me emotional {nerdy, I know}. The modern Minneapolis Central Library might be the only library I’ve been to that gets amazing natural light, thanks to its all glass exterior. I’ve spent hours, HOURS, pouring through the stacks in this library. My phone’s camera roll has hundreds of images captured from vintage issues of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Better Homes and Gardens. I have images from these magazines from years back, spanning all the way to times before I even had an iPhone {hello iPod Touch 4 potato camera quality}. The stacks at this library are secluded and hidden, the balcony overlooking the rest of the library from the third floor. They became my happy place when I was going through some mentally challenging times, and to this day, they still are.

minneapolis central library magazine stacks vintage vogue harper's bazaar


This is one of the most iconic walls in all of Minneapolis! Located on 10th and Marquette at the location of the old Schmitt Music headquarters, this wall boasts the third movement, “Sarbo” of “Gaspard de la Nuit,” by French composer, Maurice Ravel. When Schmitt Music moved into the building, they asked their advertising manager to find a piece of music to be painted that was challenging and was aesthetically pleasing. Evidently, they delivered, as Minnesota icon, Prince, has been photographed in front of this wall. Although Schmitt moved out of the building a long time ago, the mural has never been painted over, and I, for one, am glad.

Eva Phan of Eva Darling instagrammable wall instagram mural mn schmitt music wall minnesota where to take photos in minneapolis
schmitt music wall minneapolis minnesota downtown
eva phan of eva darling ballet dance pose photo idea schmitt music wall downtown Minneapolis


2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404

The Minneapolis Institute of Art can only be described as small, but mighty. It’s nowhere near as overwhelming in size as the Met or the Louvre, in a good way. This museum is the perfect size to spend an afternoon perusing without feeling as though you’re missing something. It frequently boasts exhibitions from some of the top artists in the world such as Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh, and is rarely ever overly crowded. I personally really love the Chinese art collections at the museum. Even though I see them every time I visit the museum, I always find myself coming back to them! The Minneapolis Institute of Art is also incredibly affordable. Admission is free, always. The museum does have fairly limited hours, typically closing at 5pm, with the exception of Thursdays and Fridays, when the museum closes at 9pm.


A travel guide to Minnesota would hardly be complete without a suggesting to get yourself on a boat in one of Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes! I personally love paddleboarding or kayaking when I’m traveling solo, I find it really peaceful. The lakes of Minnesota are gorgeous, I miss them all the time. Paddle board and kayak rentals are relatively inexpensive at Minnesota’s public lakes – I personally suggest Bryant Lake, Hyland Lake, Lake Bde Maka Ska {formerly Lake Calhoun}, and Lake Harriet.


1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108

A Minneapolis institution if I’ve ever heard of one. I don’t even know where to start with this if I’m being entirely honest. Nicknamed “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the Minnesota State Fair is expansive, to say the least. It’s the best state fair in the country. No, I’ve never been to another state fair in the States. Yes, it’s still the best. Fight me. The Minnesota State Fair gets a surprising caliber of performers every year to the Grandstand Performances. Previous performers have included Logic, Earth Wind & Fire, the Dixie Chicks, G-Eazy, and Usher.

A bucket {yes, a bucket} of Sweet Martha’s cookies at the fair is a must. Sweet Martha’s has such a cult following in Minnesota that they now have premade cookie dough stocked in grocery stores in Minnesota year round, so people can get their Sweet Martha’s fix when the fair isn’t in season. So you can fully grasp what Sweet Martha’s hold on Minnesotans is, I had not one, but multiple friends have Sweet Martha’s cookies from the Minnesota State Fair brought to them in college out of state. One friend drove them across the MN border to North Dakota, another had them shipped to him all the way in Arizona. Honestly? I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t considered trying to find someone in MN to ship them to me. At that point, it isn’t because the cookies are phenomenal, it’s because Sweet Martha’s Cookies from the State Fair are one of those creature comforts that just feel like home.

After getting your bucket of cookies, head over to the Got Milk barn for all-you-can-drink fresh milk. Cookies aside, everything at the Minnesota State Fair comes fried and on a stick and you should probably eat…all of it. Fried vegetables on a stick, fried pie on a stick, fried candy bars on a stick, fried ice cream on a stick, you name it, we probably have it. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the fried alligator or fried butter on a stick. The fair also has great french fries, from a stand literally called “World’s Best French Fries.” You know you’ve found the right one when you see the giant french fries spinning at the top of it. The International Bazaar at the fair also has an assortment of multicultural foods. My father always goes for the roasted cinnamon nuts, which are a favorite of mine as well. Head to the Dairy Barn for some fresh milkshakes, or to the Horticulture building for fresh apple cider or my favorite, apple cider pops. While you’re there, take a peek at the gorgeous flower show happening. I could ramble on about the Minnesota State Fair much longer, but that’s another post.


120 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102

As a kid, this was one of my favorite places to go to. As an adult, the sense of wonder and excitement is still there. The Science Museum of Minnesota has a solid collection of permanent exhibitions, but the crown jewel of this museum is their 90-foot domed screen, the Omnitheater. In this theater, I’ve seen some truly incredible and fascinating documentaries at a proportion that’s out of the ordinary and thoroughly impressive. The Science Museum also attracts a high caliber of temporary exhibitions, some of the most interesting being the Dead Sea Scrolls, the only known surviving Biblical writing before the second century; and Pompeii, featuring hundreds of artifacts from the ash city that had rarely traveled outside of Italy. The Science Museum of Minnesota is actually one of the leading institutions in the US for creating traveling exhibitions.

Eva Phan Eva Darling travel blogger a single girls guide to minneapolis st paul saint paul twin cities minnesota capitol building quadriga lilly pulitzer franci dress multi hot on the scene travel guide travel tips midwest travel destination

Pictured outside of the Minnesota State Capitol, known for the gold Quadriga statue. This statue is also known as “The Progress of the State” and boasts five pounds of 23.5k gold foil.


1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103

These might be the only plants that survive the icy cold Minnesotan winters {outside of our abundance of pine trees}. I used to love going to the Como Conservatory, the glass atrium is filled with beautiful, exotic flowers, even in the dead of winter. If you go here, you may be best sticking to iPhone photography. The Conservatory is very strict about photography permits and bans any “posed” or professional photography.


Stillwater is a charming little town, only about a 45 minute drive from Minneapolis. Grab a bite at Leo’s Grill and Malt Shop then stroll down the waterfront, for a scenic view of the St. Croix River. If you have a sweet tooth, Tremblay’s Sweet Shop {Old Tyme Candies} is where you need to be. My sisters and I would beg my parents to take us there when we were growing up! The salt water taffy wall is what sweet dreams are made of. If you’re crafty, darn. knit. {anyway} is a yarn store that B can’t get enough of {she’s a knitting fiend}. Art n Soul/Stillwater Beads is a cozy spot offering everything from basic glass beads to semi-precious gemstones. They get some of the cutest lampwork beads I’ve seen, my favorite being floral bunnies.


Minneapolis is definitely a hidden FOODIE CITY. Oh my goodness, this guide could be entirely composed of restaurants and you wouldn’t even be missing anything. There’s so much amazing food in Minneapolis and what’s even better, is that it comes at incredibly reasonable prices. Whenever I come back from NYC I’m always in shock at what the bill in Minnesota is compared to Manhattan prices!

Please note: several of these restaurants have more than one location. The address listed here is my favorite location.


211 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102

My parents have been taking my sisters and I to Cossetta’s for as long as I can remember, and to this day, the addiction to their amazing, inexpensive, Italian food runs deep. My sisters and I love this place so much, that once my younger sister, B, and I went to dinner here and ran into our youngest sister, G, and her friends dining at the next table over. Cossetta’s is absolutely a can’t-miss in the Twin Cities, especially if you’re on a budget. Be sure to try the mostaccioli.


3070 Excelsior Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55416

Wakame Sushi and Asian Bistro is home to some of the best sushi and one of the best happy hours in Minnesota, and the wait time attests to that. During happy hour, rolls are typically just $4-6 a piece, and appetizers such as crab cheese wontons and gyoza are priced similarly. I always end up here at least once every time I’m back in Minnesota, and trust me, it’s no mistake.


1323 4th St. SE, Minneapolis, MN {Uptown location also just opened}

There aren’t many late night food spots in Minnesota aside from your favorite fast food chains, but Mesa Pizza is one that’s worth going to. My Mesa favorite is the Mac and Cheese slice. Macaroni noodles and a cheese blend top this late night must have.


2811 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410 {multiple locations}

The younger sister of Minneapolis staple Patisserie 46, Rose Street Patisserie is where you’ll find some of the most authentic French pastries in Minnesota. Rose Street is just as pretty and pleasing to the eye as it is delectable, the original location boasting tons of natural light, and perfectly polished desserts. I’ve never once had something here that I haven’t liked. Rose Street does keep very limited hours, so if you’re looking to visit, schedule it in for the morning.

rose street patisserie minneapolis minnesota french bakery pastry shop patisserie 46


3421 W 44th St, Minneapolis, MN 55410 {multiple locations

Turtle Bread is always going to hold a special little place in my heart. My dad used to take me there Saturday mornings when I was growing up to get the Asiago Bread and Chocolate Bread, my two favorites. There’s nothing like Turtle Bread’s Chocolate Bread anywhere in the world, lemme tell ya. I may not be able to go visit the bakery with my father anymore, but every time I visit Minnesota he sends me back to NYC with a loaf of chocolate bread, my own little slice of Minnesota.


8251 Flying Cloud Dr #1206, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

I’d be the world’s worst niece if I failed to mention The Great Mandarin. My aunt and uncle own this staple Chinese restaurant, which I’ve been going to since before I could walk. This restaurant goes so far back into my family’s history that my parents actually held their wedding reception there. For years, we’ve hosted huge family dinners here, my cousins and I drinking endless Shirley Temples for hours. I may be biased, but the Great Mandarin is the best Chinese food I’ve had. I actually typically refuse to eat Chiniese if it’s not from the Great Mandarin. A former favorite and frequent by the Minnesota Vikings, you can’t miss the cream cheese wontons, lo mein, or tiger pork {in my experience, if you don’t know what a cream cheese wonton is it probably means you’re from one of the coasts and you, my friend, are missing out}. Insider secret: on Wednesdays, the Great Mandarin has some of the best Vietnamese phở in the Twin Cities. It’s not on the menu, so be sure to ask.


313 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

Just like Cosetta’s, Turtle Bread, or Sebastian Joe’s, Annie’s Parlour is one of those places that I’ve been going to for as long as I can remember. Growing up, Annie’s Parlour was just down the street from my church, which naturally made it our go-to Sunday lunch spot. Annie’s Parlour is located in Dinkytown, on the University of Minnesota Campus, which is why it makes perfect sense as to why my parents keep coming back to this establishment as UMN grads themselves. That being said, this isn’t your typical college diner. Annie’s Parlour has one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the United States. As someone who has had multiple grilled cheese sandwiches in almost half the states in this country, I say that with certainty. Other honorable mentions include Little Goat Diner, Stax Cafe, and Au Cheval, all of which are in Chicago. Annie’s also does a great malted milkshake. Their best flavor is a heated debate in my family. My father would tell you blueberry, my sisters would likely say Death by Chocolate or Butterfinger, and I’m going to go for Reese’s or Butterfinger.


4321 Upton Ave S. Minneapolis, MN 55410 {multiple locations}

When I was young, my parents would take my sisters and I to Sebastian Joe’s as a very special treat. Even after those days ended, I find myself coming back to it as a creature comfort type of thing. Much like Sweet Martha’s Cookies, Sebastian Joe’s is one of those places that everyone in the Twin Cities knows about, and everybody frequents.

In the summer, lines for their ice cream span down the sidewalk and around the corner. In true Minnesota fashion, Sebastian Joe’s does not close down in the winter, and instead offers a percentage discount equivalent to the degrees the outside temperature is below zero. Example: on a -12 degree day, Sebastian Joe’s offered a 12% discount. This isn’t theoretical, it actually happened. Minnesota winters are no joke. Bottom line: this Minneapolis staple gets the stamp of approval from Stacy, my mother and a true dessert aficionado, which might be the greatest accolade of all.


827 Maryland Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55106

A relatively new arrival to the bubble tea scene in the Cities, Boba & Tea has quickly became Insta-ntly recognizable in the Twin Cities thanks to their brightly colored, aesthetically pleasing bubble tea in bottles. Despite being photographed all over Instagram, this bubble tea establishment has surprisingly minimal social presence, with no known website or Instagram profile. Boba & Tea drinks are high customizable – choose from one of their premade drink recipes or create your own. As far as bubble tea in the Twin Cities goes, this is becoming the crown jewel.


80 S 9th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402

Descend down into Hell’s Kitchen for their weekend brunch that’s been the buzz of Minneapolis and St. Paul for as long as I can remember. This restaurant has no affiliation with Gordon Ramsay’s show of the same name, but that doesn’t mean that this restaurant isn’t serving Ramsay-worthy food. Their weekend brunch features live music from 10am-1pm and a “Jacked Up Bloody Mary Bar” from 9am-2am.


3460 W 70th St, Edina, MN 55435 {multiple locations}

The Good Earth has been one of my favorite restaurants from the days that I was in elementary school eating the Tito Burrito off the kids’ menu, to my days of working retail at the Galleria when the Good Earth’s lemonade and veggie wrap were the only things getting me through an eight hour shift.

The lemonade here is like no other, trust me, I’ve gone out into the world and trying to find another restaurant that does it. The Good Earth juices the entire lemon, including the rind, for a very tart, straightforward lemonade. The Go Green lemonade here is also great, adding ginger into the mix for a little kick (highly recommend this if you’re under the weather).

Their veggie wrap may be simple, but as I sit here writing about it from NYC, I wish I had one in front of me. I wouldn’t say the Good Earth is a must-go for a sit down meal, however if you’re looking for a healthy grab and go lunch, their a la carte menu can’t be beat. Or just go for the lemonade. Seriously.


2605 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408 {multiple locations}

Let’s be clear: you don’t go to Glam Doll because it has the best donuts the Cities has to offer. It doesn’t (not that they’re bad. Donut competition in the Twin Cities is just surprisingly fierce). You go because this pink, ’50s rockabilly inspired bakery is exactly as cute as it sounds. An Eat Street hotspot, I originally discovered this darling bakery because it was just down the street from some of the Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis my family frequented. Since, I’ve been there numerous times with friends and family. The bakery has a selection of board games and vintage arcade games that make it easy to stay a while. If you go, try my go-to order, the Femme Fatale: a raspberry curd filled donut with vanilla icing.


2624 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408 {multiple locations}

If you’re looking for some authentic Vietnamese in the city, look no further. Lu’s Sandwiches is basically the authority in Minneapolis on bánh mì. My family and I have been going to Lu’s ever since it was a classic Eat Street hole in the wall type of place around the corner from my aunt’s optometry shop. Even though it’s spruced and polished itself up over the years, Lu’s still serves the same great food.


200 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Located in the trendy North Loop neighborhood in Minneapolis, Edward’s Dessert Kitchen is one of my favorite newcomers to the Minneapolis food scene. One of the few spots open late night, Edward’s casual glam, trendy decor makes it a must for a late night bite. Edward’s menu features a hybrid of fusion desserts and classic sweet tooth indulgences. Their open dining area makes it easy to catch up with a group of friends, however their lounge seating makes it a cozy spot for a solo female traveler, as well.



711 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Skyway Theatre is the leading EDM venue in Minneapolis, and it’s always going to be a special place for my friends and I. My senior year of high school, my best friend and I went for the first time and had one of the best nights seeing Cashmere Cat, and have since returned many times. I joined a friend of mine when he played Skyway on his tour, and got to experience the venue behind the scenes, including the organ that still remains in the green room of the theater. Everyone I’ve met or encountered at a Skyway show has always been about having a good time, and being kind and welcoming, which keeps me coming back.


701 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

First Avenue is absolutely legendary not only in the Minneapolis music scene, but in general. Arguably made most notable when Prince debuted “Purple Rain” at the club, First Avenue has a long history of being Prince’s venue of choice. After Prince’s passing, his star on First Avenue’s iconic star wall was painted gold by a graffiti artist overnight, and remains gold to this day. Today, First Avenue attracts the likes of everyone from homegrown Minneapolis favorite, Hippo Campus, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Adele. One thing remains the same: First Avenue’s dedication to throwing a dance party.

eva phan eva darling first avenue theatre theater minneapolis instagrammable wall minneapolis instagram mural forever 21 inexpensive clothing where to go in minnesota travel blogger


1514 Como Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414 {multiple locations}

The Blue Door Pub has become a favorite of my friends and I for one reason, and one reason only: their Monday night trivia games. Despite going to their UMN location, even during the summers the Blue Door was bustling for trivia. Although we’ve never won, this pub is worth a stop if you’re looking to test your knowledge. Trivia at the Blue Door Pub happens both Monday and Tuesday night at 9pm and 10pm, each night.



601 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

The Loews Hotel in downtown Minneapolis is a great hotel if you’re looking for something that’s central in downtown Minneapolis with a higher end feel.


1121 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

The Moxy Minneapolis Uptown is definitely one of the trendiest hotels Minneapolis has to offer. If you’re younger and looking to be around the restaurants and nightlife Uptown has to offer, I would definitely recommend staying here rather than in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul.


Overall, the Twin Cities are very safe for solo female travelers if you’re sticking to popular areas such as Linden Hills, downtown, and uptown. Like many major cities, there are certain areas I tend to avoid, such as North Minneapolis. If you’re going out late at night, I recommend finding someone to walk around with as downtown Minneapolis has become increasingly dangerous for women walking alone. Saint Paul is slightly sketchier in my opinion as it is quieter, however is also safe during daylight hours. Suburbs of Minneapolis and Saint Paul such as Edina, Wayzata, and West Bloomington, remain very safe all hours of the day.

Eva Phan of Eva Darling xoxo clothing trendy summer outfit inexpensive college girl style white lace bodysuit red white and blue striped mini skort lake minnetonka wayzata minnesota comfortable summer brown wedge sandals style travel blogger


There’s no beating around it – public transportation in Minneapolis is subpar, to say it politely. While yes, there’s train lines and bus routes, the public transit system in Minneapolis leaves a lot to be desired, by which I mean a lot of dead zones where it’s nonexistent. Metro Transit is still eons behind Minneapolis’ only competition city in the midwest, Chicago. If you’re a solo female traveler, I also would not recommend taking Minneapolis’ public transportation system after dark, as I have had friends experience harassment and been witness to fights breaking out on trains, even during the day, in the downtown Minneapolis Metro Transit stations and trains.

Car is absolutely the way to travel through the Twin Cities, especially if you’re looking to go to any restaurants, stores, or attractions in the suburbs. Although Minneapolis and St. Paul doesn’t have a ton of free parking, street parking and parking lots do tend to be much less expensive than in other major US cities such as NYC, Miami, and Chicago. Several hotels in the suburbs of the Twin Cities do have free parking.

eva phan of eva darling lake minnetonka wayzata

Uber through the Twin Cities is a little hit or miss. When traveling short distances through uptown or downtown Minneapolis, it’s really inexpensive when compared to major cities. That being said, the downside to Uber in Minneapolis or St. Paul is that things are so spread out that oftentimes I find myself paying more than I would in NYC, Chicago, Boston, or Miami, for shorter rides. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are also quite limited in rideshare services compared to other major cities, only offering Uber or Lyft. You can receive a discount on Uber by using code “evap1241ue” or on Lyft by using code “EVA07711” if you’re a new user.

If you find yourself going a short distance in the Cities, Nice Ride is a Minneapolis focused bikeshare service that is a fun way to see the city! There’s 400 Nice Ride stations in Minneapolis which make finding a renting a bike easy. It’s also incredibly affordable. A single ride is just $2, a day pass is $6, and an annual membership is just $75. When I used to commute to downtown Minneapolis in the mornings for rehearsals, I’d see tons of corporate businessmen on Nice Ride bikes to get to work! If you’re a tourist to Minneapolis, I highly recommend a ride around Lake Bde Maka Ska {Calhoun}, Lake Harriet, or down the Mississippi River.

Looking for more of the best things to do in Minneapolis and Saint Paul? Click here, or on the links below:

14 Best Trendy Date Night Restaurants in the Twin Cities

16 Best Places for Late Night Food in Minneapolis and Saint Paul




Pin one of the images below to save this travel guide as inspiration for your future trips!

a single girl's guide to minneapolis saint paul st paul minnesota mn where to go in minnesota midwest travel destination instagrammable spot mn where to take photos in msp lilly pulitzer franci dress travel blogger eva phan of eva darling solo female travel traveler travel guide minnesota state capitol schmitt music wall hunt and gather linden hills first avenue stars
a single girl's guide to minneapolis saint paul st paul minnesota mn where to go in minnesota midwest travel destination instagrammable spot mn where to take photos in msp lilly pulitzer franci dress travel blogger eva phan of eva darling solo female travel traveler travel guide minnesota state capitol
a single girl's guide to minneapolis saint paul st paul minnesota mn where to go in minnesota midwest travel destination instagrammable spot mn where to take photos in msp lilly pulitzer franci dress travel blogger eva phan of eva darling solo female travel traveler travel guide minnesota state capitol lake minnetonka wayzata hunt and gather linden hills first avenue stars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.