1. For two blocks right in front of the Valspar plant in downtown Minneapolis — on S. 3rd St., between S. 10th Ave. and S. 12th Ave. — there are magical meters that only cost a quarter an hour, for up to ten hours. This is the way to go if you’re seeing a play at the Guthrie.
2. The best place to take your parents for lunch in downtown St. Paul is the Four Inns, a diner accessible only from the skyway at 101 E. 5th St. It feels like it hasn’t changed since the Nixon Administration. (Pro tip: Listen very carefully when they explain how to get to the restroom.)
3. Every day of the week, from 9 PM to midnight, Ol’ Mexico in Roseville has a two-for-one special on enormous beers.
4. Always drive straight to the top in the Mall of America parking ramp.
5. You can choose cherry dip as one of your two “toppings” on a Dairy Queen waffle-bowl sundae.
6. Some of the cheapest oysters in the Twin Cities are at one of the most expensive seafood restaurants: Stella’s Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar has 69-cent oysters every Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 PM. If that’s not enough fish for you, you can cross the street and eat endless fish & chips for $9.99 all day Friday at the Uptown Tavern.
7. We’ll all tell you to bike or bus to the Minnesota State Fair, but then we just go pay the twenty bucks and park in someone’s front yard, because that’s the easiest way to transport all the crap you always end up bringing home with you.
8. The best museum in Minnesota is Ed’s Museum in Wykoff. A guy named Ed died and left his store and upstairs apartment to the city, and they opened the property as a museum. The museum of Ed. The only stuff in it is Ed’s stuff, because it’s Ed’s Museum. You usually have to make an appointment to get in, but it’s worth it.
9. The Science Museum of Minnesota has America’s only theater that converts from a domed Omni screen to a flat IMAX screen. They convert it before Omni screenings just to show it off, but the IMAX screen is almost never used.
10. It’s worth a road trip from the Twin Cities to Pipestone, in southwestern Minnesota, just to drive through the eerie wind farm on your way.
11. When you’re in Duluth, it’s worth driving over to Superior, Wisconsin just so you can say you crossed the Dick Bong Bridge.
12. Though liquor sales are illegal on Sundays, grocery stores can still sell “cooking” sherry.
13. If you’re seeing a show at the Jungle Theater in Uptown Minneapolis (and you should), try to get tickets for opening night: a lot of times, after the show there’s a free buffet with a huge spread of food and wine to celebrate.
14. On a good day, you can totally get buzzed on samples at Surdyk’s Liquor.
15. Zipp’s Liquors has the best free boxes in Minneapolis. Just grab some empty booze boxes off the mountain sitting inside the front door.
16. Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den is a bar that closes three hours before the legally-mandated bar close time of 2 AM, but it’s worth waiting until the 11 PM closing time for the nightly laser light show.
17. When we tell you what the “cool” coffee shops are, we won’t mention that those same coffee shops also have the shittiest wi-fi. If you actually want to get work done, go somewhere dorky.
18. Prince notwithstanding, the Grammy category where Minnesota was historically most dominant was the now-defunct Best Polka Album.
19. We constantly mock Wisconsin, but then we all go there on vacation.
20. The number one secret to happiness in Minnesota is finding a place to live where shoveling the snow is someone else’s job.
Buy Bright Lights, Twin Cities here.