Oct 01

Minneapolis Marriott AC Hotel Trip Review
Minneapolis Marriott Trip Review

Traveling to new cities on a budget can be done and sometimes along the way, discovering local foods, places to see and great experiences make trips memorable for a lifetime. As with most large cities, finding local fare is easy with various websites and restaurant review apps out there. Having only a few days to explore a city means narrowing down a list of unique places to see. Sometimes, traveling to those various destinations brings a unique understanding of how the locals live and where the hotspots are located.

Disclosure: Marriott provided a majority of my travel and accommodations to the AC Hotel by Marriott Downtown Minneapolis. I have not been compensated for the travel coverage or review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Food To Eat

Low Cost

Sizzling BBQ Wagon – The brisket sandwich with fries was delicious and filling. This is one of the only entrees from any of the food trucks in Downtown Minneapolis that come with side dish.

Sushi burritos and Greek food were also offered in the row of food trucks. I have enjoyed a few sushi burritos before that were tasty.

AC Hotel by Marriott Minneapolis Downtown – The buffet breakfast that is offered at this European inspired hotel is both priced right and an elevated experience. Various juices, flatbread breakfast dishes, freshly sliced prosciutto; cereals and more were enjoyed during my stay. When in town on business or for leisure, a decent breakfast is the key to having a successful day.

Elevated Experiences

Guthrie Theater Amber Box

Sea Change in The Guthrie Theater – Theatergoers and people in the Downtown Minneapolis area know where to go for seafood. Chef Tim McKee, who designed the core menu, won a James Beard award in 2009. They have a mix of menu items one would expect at a restaurant known for its seafood and then there are the gems I discovered. The first one was freshly prepared sturgeon. That is a fish I usually see on west coast menus. The kitchen is open and that is where I saw a chef preparing the sturgeon. The next menu item I was somewhat surprised to see was langoustine. I have only seen this large prawn on menus in fine Las Vegas and Seattle restaurants. I was happy I ordered it. Sea Changed prepared it perfectly. The restaurant focuses on buying sustainable seafood from fisheries that are environmentally responsible. If you want to taste some of the latest seafood cuisine also found in Las Vegas, this is the restaurant to visit.

Prohibition – W Minneapolis – Located on floor 27, Prohibition serves strong drinks and tasty appetizers, from Manny’s Steakhouse. This is a perfect way to begin an evening at the hip Downtown Minneapolis hotel. It was originally built to be Wilbur Foshay’s private retreat in the late 1920s. There are 360-degree views, which are wonderful to see on nice days.

Pouring ???? Chocolate & Caramel Over A Massive Brownie @MannysSteakhouse. #MinneapolisMarriott

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Manny’s Steakhouse – W Minneapolis – The Foshay Tower – Manny’s Steakhouse is a foodie experience that is truly unique. It all starts when you enter. They always have a full booking. The regulars know exactly what they will get for the money. That includes a live menu of food that is rolled tableside. My waitress was exceptional. She knew the menu and presented it in a fun way. When visiting this restaurant, go for the gold. That means a large portion of surf and turf. The first time I visited the restaurant was nearly 17 years ago. Back then, I ordered the salmon, which was very good, but I should have ordered something more substantial. My waitress listened to what I requested and made sure I choose their best ribeye. I was dining with a small group of people. She mentioned that sharing a large lobster tail would be an excellent appetizer. She was right; everything that night was cooked to perfection. Another person in the group asked to pair cheesecake and thick cut bacon. That ended up being a tasty combination. The restaurant’s master butchers hand trim USDA-certified, dry-aged, center-cut beef. When available, they also serve Alaskan King Crab legs and stone crab claws.

Places To See

Low Cost

Bob Dylan Mural Downtown Minneapolis

Bob Dylan Mural – On the corner of 5th and Hennepin, the Eduardo Kobra mural features the musician at three different stages during his life. Mr Kobra and a team of five painters created, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” over a two week period in 2015. The Brazilian artist depicts Dylan in a unique pattern spanning 160 feet wide and five stories high. Two of the painters on Kobra’s team were from Minnesota. Bob Dylan, who is from Minnesota, was recently awarded a Nobel Prize in literature.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – Directly across the street from the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden has several city blocks of art for everyone to enjoy. One of the most popular works of art for Downtown Minneapolis is a very large spoon, on a small pond, with a cherry on top. Water sprays out from the top of the cherry and flows down the front of the spoon. When taking photos of this sculpture, almost the entire Minneapolis skyline is behind it. This is the spot where one should take a few snaps and shots for Instagram. Read more about my experience.

Nicollet Project – A major renovation project is nearing completion in Downtown Minneapolis. The Nicollet Project is part of a larger multi-year revitalization of the downtown area. According to Biz Journals, over $2.7 billion will have be spent from 2016 and 2017. When it is done, Nicollet will be pedestrian friendly from the Chain of Lakes to the Mississippi River. It provides access to the light rail system and offers many nearby bus stops. From what I experienced, the Nicollet will become one of the most trafficked areas by visitors and residents.

Minnesota Twins Golden Glove Chris Rauschnot

Target Field – Target Field is the home of the Minnesota Twins. I have been a fan of theirs since they won the World Series in 1987. As a kid, I followed them and the A’s. It was great seeing them play the A’s in Northern California many years ago. Going to their home ball field a few blocks away from where I was staying, made for a fun visit. The Twins were playing a game against the White Sox on the day I visited the ballpark. I found many Peanuts characters by Charles Schulz, in Twins uniforms, around the park. A golden glove sculpture near the front entrance is big enough to sit in and is a perfect spot for photos. Tickets for Twins games at Target Field are about $20.

Elevated Experiences

Walker Art Center – Across the street from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is an art gallery that is home to works from both local artists and those around the world. Unlike some museums that I have been to before, the Walker Art Center included an interactive digital art exhibit. Called teamLab: Graffiti Nature, which is from Tokyo, it offers guests interactive technologies like scanners and motion sensors to explore the space. Several overhead projectors create a live overlay of graphics with sounds. Many of the other exhibits focus on art from the last several decades. The curators take a global approach to find and display societally important works. More about my experience.

Observation Deck Tour

Foshay Museum & Observation Deck – Going to the top of The Foshay Tower, which is where the W Minneapolis is located inside of, was my most elevated experience in the city. At 30 stories up, I felt like I was on the Empire State Building’s observation deck. The view of the city from this high was fantastic. I could see from Target Field to the U.S. Bank Stadium, the home of the Vikings NFL team. The Foshay Tower was the first skyscraper built in Minnesota and was the tallest in the state from 1929 until 1971. Tickets are $10.

Paisley Park Outside
Paisley Park Outside Credit: Paisley Park/NPG Records

Paisley Park Atrium
Paisley Park Atrium Credit: Paisley Park/NPG Records

Paisley Park – Prince, one of Minnesota’s most famous musicians and performers, lived and created in a place that was both home and a playground for the star. Many musicians and bands created music in several recording studios there. When I first entered, I knew that Prince created music and hosted small performances in Paisley Park, but I had no idea how amazing it was inside. Custom pianos priced at over $100,000 each, a 1950’s style diner and at the end of the tour, the guide talked about a fan art section. After Prince passed away, thousands of fans visited and many of them brought their art with them. Some of it was attached to a fence or was painted on the underside of a bridge nearby. Some of that art will be going on a traveling exhibition in memory of Prince. There is so much to Paisley Park that I highly recommend visiting to experience the unique ways they honor his life.

Purple Rain Motorcycle Paisley Park
Purple Rain Motorcycle in Paisley Park Credit: Paisley Park/NPG Records

Paisley Park Studio A
Paisley Park Studio A Credit: Paisley Park/NPG Records

U.S. Bank Stadium – Home to the Minnesota Vikings NFL football team, this will be the site of Super Bowl LII. This is the second time that Minneapolis will host the Super Bowl. The stadium is so advanced, it is one of 11 that incorporates Intel’s 360 video replay technology. The amount of wireless technology for cellular coverage and Wi-Fi was being expanded during the tour. The Super Bowl lands in Minneapolis at the start of February 2018 and preparing for 70,000 continuous connections takes an immense amount of work. During the tour, I saw antennas and wires being prepared to go online. Going inside of the media room where content is created and posted to various ginormous screens, reminded me of a modern news channel production studio. They had enough hardware in there to easily create and edit a feature length film while recording a live-streaming video podcast.


Low Cost

Nice Ride – This is a bike service like those that you may have seen or used in other large cities around the U.S. They are a station-based system, which means bikes are returned to designated bike stalls. While I did not use Nice Ride while in Minneapolis, it is very popular and rental fees are low. Currently, they charge $3 per 30-minute ride or $6 for 24 hours. The stations are open from April to November.

Bus – Minneapolis has a wonderful bus system as I found out while connecting to various other forms of transportation downtown and beyond. Several buses make loops around the downtown area that are free or cost under a dollar to ride. Yes, there are two free bus lines downtown. They may not have Wi-Fi onboard, but the price is right. Dozens of bus routes connect with Blue Line light rail trains, which make it easy to get around the city.

Light Rail – Minneapolis is known for their highly efficient light rail system. I have used it over the years when visiting the Mall of America from the airport. To make it from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2, or back again, riding the light rail between them is free. It also connects to Downtown Minneapolis. The Blue Line services 19 stations between Downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America. There are a few tiers of ticket prices; pre rush hour during the week, rush hour after 3pm on weekdays and weekends is another. This mode of transportation made it easy to visit extended family in a city close by and get back to the airport on time.

Elevated Experiences

Ride Share Black – Several of the ride share services offer a black option similar to a limo. The small group that I was with opted for one of these rides, from the Walker Art Center, to the downtown area for lunch. Vehicles in this tier are typically larger, have more comfortable chairs and drivers that know the area better. This is also a great option if you are going out for the evening with a few friends.

Delta Takeoff From Las Vegas

Flying Premium Economy or Comfort+ – Finding a flight to Minneapolis is easy with Delta, as it is a hub for them. The airline offers a second tier of seats with more legroom and on some flights, power plugs to charge everything from laptops, to smartphones. Traveling with Delta in Comfort+ also gives passengers the option to board sooner. Some of the jets that Delta has, like the Boeing 737-900ER, have gate-to-gate Gogo 2ku satellite Wi-Fi. This translates to broadband speeds in-flight that I have found to provide nearly 40Mbps for downloads. It is available to everyone on the airplane and is great for flights longer than an hour.

Landing in Minneapolis

Places To Stay

AC Hotel Room Tour

AC Hotel by Marriott Minneapolis Downtown – Located in an up and coming part of Downtown Minneapolis, this hotel has a welcoming lobby that is accessible with an RFID wireless keycard. Coffee shops, a Whole Foods and several locally owned restaurants are within a few blocks. Across the street is the large and modern Hennepin County Library. The nice people at the front desk were helpful at various points during my stay. One of them asked me how my day went and provided a chilled bottle of water. When was the last time someone at a hotel asked you that question and followed it up with a cool drink? I usually returned to the hotel in the late evening. The folks at the front desk offered returning guests a small bag of lavender. A calming scent in the room helped me to relax after several busy days. Many bus stops are located across the street and the light rail stop is about a block away.

W Minneapolis – The Foshay – The W is one of Marriott’s more hip hotels and is located inside of the late 1920s Art Deco era tower downtown. The large bar near the lobby turns into a nightclub type venue, during the weekends. A proper observation deck elevated my experience at the hotel along with touring one of the king bedrooms. While enjoying drinks on the 27th floor in the Prohibition bar, I was able to see various points of interest around the city. The cool vibe of the hotel extends to this bar as well as into the evening.

Final Thoughts

The food scene in Minneapolis incorporates everything from award winning food trucks to fine seafood dining, like what I experienced at Sea Change. Beef and dairy that I tried was flavorful and fresh. The ribeye steak from Manny’s Steakhouse and cheese from a local food truck proved that to be true. Some of the seafood dishes that I tasted in Minneapolis were of the same quality that I tried in Las Vegas and Shanghai.

Finding my way around via light rail was easy and the bus system in and around the city is even better than where I live. Visiting nearby cities was a breeze with multiple transportation options from the downtown area. The Midwest vibe there felt more relaxed than what I found in Chicago. Catching a Vikings or Twins game, learning about international and local artists or touring Paisley Park were wonderful places to see while in Minneapolis.

Greetings from Minnesota State Fair

Visiting Minneapolis in late September gave me the opportunity to experience the largest state fair in the U.S., in terms of visitors. Touring the observation deck of The Foshay Tower provided a unique spot to see downtown in 360 and learn about who built it in the late 1920s. If time allows, take 45 minutes and visit the Mall of America. The light rail Blue Line ends at the mall. Four stories of shopping, dining and a very large amusement park is a great place to find things to do for many hours.

My experiences in Downtown Minneapolis were fun, enriching and educational. I had fun staying at the AC Hotel by Marriott Downtown Minneapolis, as it was conveniently located to everywhere I was going during my trip. During breakfast, I was able to charge my phone at the table with convenient USB and standard power ports. The staff was helpful and provided guidance when I needed it to make my daily excursions successful.

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