I’m not unbiased: I’m married to a Minnesotan. But on a recent visit I discovered places I wish I would have known about when I was single. Consider this solid advice.
By Hope S. Philbrick
When you’re tired of swiping through online profiles and ready to mix and mingle face-to-face, plan a visit to the Twin Cities Gateway communities, located just minutes away from both downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
It’s where the guys are.
Grab your besties—to ensure good times regardless of who else you may meet, plus get second and third opinions on anyone you do—and plan a fun-filled escape.
From invigorating sports activities to beer tastings, daring challenges to live entertainment, tried-and-true pastimes to newfangled adventures, the Twin Cities Gateway has all the ingredients for a perfect group getaway no matter your gender or relationship status. If you just so happen to be a single gal, however, turn this region’s best-kept secret into an opportunity: Several venues around here offer genuine fun plus better-than-average odds that men will be on site when you arrive.
Of course the fundamental goal of any girlfriends’ getaway is to spend some quality time with your pals—sometimes, you just need to trade responsibilities for fun. But if you’re wishing that along the way you might bump into some men, it’s time to skip the boutique shops, pedicures and cosmos and get creative with your itinerary.
Ditch your heels and jump into the adrenaline-pumping kind of fun that can deliver the unexpected, perhaps even heat up cool hearts. Consider these compelling, guy-friendly hotspots an invitation to come get social this fall.
Whether you and your friends want to get sweaty playing a game or stand on the sidelines in cute outfits, check out the Four Seasons Curling Club at the Ice House in Blaine—the only year-round, Official Olympic Training Center curling ice facility in North America! Open since January 2013, it’s especially popular with men age 20 through 40+ (though women do comprise about a third of its members). Learn the basics of the sport at a two-hour “Learn to Curl” clinic where the emphasis is on hands-on engagement, so you’ll be throwing rocks and sweeping ice in no time. You can also watch and cheer during scheduled match-ups and meets. Or hang out at the bar that overlooks the ice and ask somebody who looks interesting to explain bonspiel regulations to you. After all, “Curlers love to talk about curling,” says John Benton, former Olympian and director of curling operations, so the topic is a sure-fire way to break the ice.
For a wider array of sport options head to the world’s largest amateur sports facility, the National Sports Center in Blaine. It’s home to soccer, football, cycling, golf, lacrosse, hockey, skating, ultimate disc, rugby, baseball, softball, broomball, volleyball, basketball and more—and lures a high ratio of men of all ages, shapes and day jobs to its playing fields and cheering audiences. NSC boasts two indoor field sport facilities and an impressive 52 fields for outdoor field sports. Its Victory Links Golf Course is Minnesota’s only PGA Tour-designed public golf course. Schwan Super Rink is the world’s largest ice arena complex with eight sheets of ice under one roof. The 250-meter, all-wood Velodrome hosts high-level cycling events as well as classes for first-timers who want to experience cycling around a track pitched 42-degrees in the corners.
What’s fun solo can be even more fun with a group. Metro Gun Club in Blaine offers a variety of indoor and outdoor shooting options, whether or not you own a gun, whether you’ve never shot before or are an experienced shooter. The 14-lane indoor shooting range accommodates pistols and rifles. Trap and skeet fields for shotguns include a duck tower, four different five-stand sporting clay courses, wobble trap and wobble skeet fields, plus offer areas to grill and relax between rounds—plan on doing that if your aim is to chat with other folks. Occasional ladies nights on the event calendar offer discounted shooting and free instruction with gun, ammo and targets included in the entry fee. Arcade games and pool tables keep the fun going when you step off the track.
Zero Gravity Trampoline Park in Mounds View invites you to leap, jump, bounce and flip as high as you dare. In addition to an open jump arena packed with trampoline surfaces, there’s a basketball slam dunk zone where guys like to live out their ball-sinking fantasies, a traverse-style climbing wall, an aerial court with net, rope and other challenges, a dodgeball zone, laser tag, plus an arcade. There’s no excuse to sit still.
If dating feels like you’ve hit a series of strikes, head to where that’s a good thing. Bowlero in Blaine boasts 38 black-light bowling lanes flanked by massive HD video walls and plush lane-side lounge seating—where you might strike up conversations and get tips from fellow bowlers. There’s also a giant arcade with more than 50 games, a state-of-the-art laser tag arena equipped with cutting-edge technology to ensure each blast is accurate, billiards and balladium—a fast-paced, interactive ball-blasting game played in an eye-popping black light arena: Load your air cannons with soft foam balls and race to outscore the other team before time runs out.
Mermaid Entertainment Center in Mounds View is the largest entertainment and event center in the upper Midwest. Its state-of-the-art bowling center offers 32 HPL synthetic lanes—a surface described by bowling aficionados as harder than wood to facilitate higher scores…perhaps you’ll set a new personal high-score record or catch someone’s eye while you take aim at the pins. In the game center, try your skill at dozens of arcade games including pinball, plus darts and billiards.
On foot or bike, there are dozens of different trails to explore in Twin Cities Gateway. The newest trail option is the Mississippi River Regional Trail, a 16-mile asphalt track in Anoka County that links from Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park to the City of Anoka through Fridley into the Minneapolis parkway system. Get your heart pumping as you walk or pedal any distance you like, or at least until you cross paths with someone you’d like to know more about. Over at Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, three miles of hiking trails meander through oak and aspen forest, past prairies and through wetlands with floating boardwalks; each environment offers a different glimpse of native plants and wildlife. “At an urban park you can see a higher concentration of wildlife,” says Mike Maher, director. “It’s not uncommon to see 40 different species in an hour.” Programs that celebrate nature, wildlife and environmentalism are offered for all ages. An adult photo club meets once a month.
Tap into the potential social scene at any of the Twin Cities Gateway’s breweries, taprooms and/or wine tasting rooms. Invictus Brewing Co. in Blaine combines art and science with the aim to produce high quality beers while also being good stewards of the earth and natural resources. The beers on tap rotate often and cover a range of styles. The rustic yet homey taproom at HammerHeart Brewing in Lino Lakes feels like a Scandinavian outpost. The poured brews celebrate Norse and Celtic history, lore and the wilderness and include some of the region’s best barrel-aged beers. 10K Brewing in Anoka aims to make the nicest beer possible, in keeping with “Minnesota Nice” values. All beers use as many local ingredients and resources as possible and a new beer is produced each week. Enjoy live musical performances alongside the tasty sips. Alloy Brewing Company, Coon Rapids’ first brewery and taproom, produces a variety of beer styles from stouts to IPAs, European lagers and even fruit beer. Willow Tree Winery in Ham Lake offers a park-like setting on a family farm. The tasting room pours wines made from cold-climate grapes and local produce like rhubarb and strawberry and seasonal sips like pumpkin spice.
When it’s time to slow down the pace of your girlfriends’ getaway, head to Crooners Lounge and Supper Club. Inspired by the entertaining and dining options of The Great Depression and World War II eras, this award-winning place gives the dinner-and-a-show tradition a modern spin while nodding to the past. Named “Best Jazz Club of the Twin Cities 2018” by City Pages plus “Great Jazz Venue 2018” by DownBeat, Crooners features singers that range from soloists to trios, local talent to top national performers on its stage in Fridley every night. The range of musical styles performed includes Jazz, R&B, Funk, Soul, Gospel and others, attracting a different crowd each night.
Twin Cities Gateway has 22 lodging options, so you can book a room or suite that fits you and your friends’ budgets, amenity requirements, and brand preferences. Get separate rooms, double up, or plan on one head for each available pillow like it’s a slumber party.
No matter what type of cuisine and dining experience you crave, there’s a restaurant to satisfy.
– Photo Credits: girlfriends courtesy Mall of America, curling © HSP Media LLC, remainder courtesy Twin Cities Gateway
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion. Thanks to Twin Cities Gateway for hosting my visit.