It’s not a secret that we have cold winters here in Minnesota. When the frigid temperatures inevitably hit the Twin Cities each year, we throw on our snow boots (or ice skates, if you live on one of the many lakes), and face the icy air without missing a stride. There is a great deal of pride associated with the mental toughness demanded to make it through Minnesota winters. To those who wonder if this smugness is earned, I have a simple answer for you: you betcha.
While Minnesotans have invented or perfected a number of outdoor activities that help us get through the colder months without becoming complete shut-ins, I always have to get a little creative when it comes to entertainment at this point in the semester. Enter: Mia.
Known as the Minneapolis Institute of Art to the non-locals, Mia is a sprawling museum nestled in an idyllic vine-covered district, just blocks from the bustling heart of downtown Minneapolis. It’s eclectic and diverse; with more than 80,000 pieces of art spanning 5,000 years, there is something for everyone.
While maintaining a massive permanent collection, Mia also attracts impressive visiting exhibits. If you had visited them this past summer, you could have seen Irises by Vincent Van Gogh before walking up a floor to see the Codex Leicester – Leonardo da Vinci’s original notebooks used to jot down ideas, observations, and inventive designs. If you’re uncertain of where to look first, Mia offers up a bevy of daily tours, tailored towards your specific artistic interests.
It may seem a little strange, but it pays to come hungry to Mia. You can grab a locally-sourced lunch from the Agra Culture restaurant located on the mezzanine level. For a croissant or a hit of caffeine, Agra Culture also has a coffee shop and café on the main floor. Each time I pop in for a latte, I strain my neck peering in the back storage room behind the bar. I am absolutely convinced there must be a dairy cow living back there; the drinks taste that deliciously fresh.The Store at Mia is also a wonderful added bonus to your visit. This isn’t your typical museum gift shop. There are sassy printed t-shirts, one-of-a-kind mugs, coffee table books your travel-loving aunt would love, and exquisite jewelry hand-curated from far-off continents.
You can easily wander around Mia for entire afternoons; it’s quite likely you still won’t see everything in that time frame. Thankfully, admission is always free, so you can come back again tomorrow to turn every last stone. Regardless, a visit to Mia is certain to make you forget about the raging Minnesota blizzard outside.
Visit Mia yourself by booking a trip to Minneapolis on Wanderu.com or by downloading the Wanderu app! Minneapolis is an easy bus or train ride from many Midwestern cities like Milwaukee & Chicago, and you’ll find plenty more to do in Minneapolis, too!
About the author: Emily Hest is a college student in the Twin Cities. She is a farm-turned-city girl who loves to read memoirs and drink way too much coffee. She loves learning about the world and occasionally indulging in trashy reality television. You can find her over on Instagram at @emilyhest!