What to do on a Long Layover in Minneapolis
(The following ideas can be done separately if you have less time than I had. Downtown Minneapolis is a 20-minute ride on the light rail from the airport, while Mall of America is only 10 minutes away. And the food and drinks are a lot cheaper when you go off airport property.)
The Long Layover in Minneapolis started with a mechanical delay
I was running through four terminals at the Minneapolis airport, knocking over countless children and business travelers, without concerns or cares. (Kidding! I was only knocking over the little old ladies and puppies.) I arrived at my designated gate, only to find the door to the aircraft shut mere seconds before. It was painful watching my connecting flight to Billings, Montana pulling away from the gate. Under my breath I cursed the pilots on my first flight for not wanting to take off out of Orlando missing a wing, or an engine, or something mechanical like that.
No worries though, the gate agent assured my I was re-booked on the next flight to Billings……which was scheduled to leave in nine hours. NINE HOURS. Nine hours and 22 minutes to be exact. What does one do with faced with a massively long layover in Minneapolis?
Jump on the Minneapolis light rail
I learned that the Minneapolis light rail can take you from the airport to the city center in 20 minutes, and the famous Mall of America is accessible via a short ten minute ride in the opposite direction. The trains leave the airport station every 10-15 minutes and costs between $2 – 2.50 depending on the time of day (there are reduced fares for seniors, children, and those riding with disabilities.)
Visit Mary Tyler Moore
It is no secret that one of my most favorite television programs of all time is The Mary Tyler Moore Show so I decided to hop the train down to the Nicollet Mall stop where many of the famous Minneapolis landmarks from the series are located.
The Mary Tyler Moore statue stands along Nicollet and 7th Street. Last year I bought a look-alike Mary Tyler Moore beret from Etsy and planned on throwing it up in the air by the statue like every other Minneapolis tourist when I finally visited the statue. Of course, I didn’t have it with me on this day as my time in the city was unexpected. However, that didn’t stop me from taking a selfie with my favorite TV character! (Note: always travel with your Mary Tyler Moore beret in the event you find yourself on a very long layover in Minneapolis.)
Have a leisurely lunch downtown
I found a great spot for lunch at a restaurant just down the street from the MTM statue called Barrio.
The Macho Camacho Blood Orange Margarita was just what the doctor ordered paired with the Soft Shell Crab Tortas.
Visit the Target Corporation Headquarters
Just across the street is the flagship store and corporate headquarters of the Target Corporation.
Go sightseeing downtown
As I walked off my lunch, I admired the sky scrapers and even stopped to listen to some street musicians.
With many hours still to spare before my flight, I jumped back on the light rail and headed back towards the airport. Along the way we passed Riverside Plaza, the apartments made famous when Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) moved into when she left her first tiny studio apartment. Today the high rise structure serves as subsidized housing for urban Minneapolis.
Take the light rail to Mall of America
I passed the airport and continued a few stops south to the Mall of America. It’s a pretty wild place with an amusement park in the middle of stores and restaurants. It’s a Theme restaurant utopia with the likes of Margaritaville, Rainforest Cafe, Dick’s Last Resort, Sugar Factory, and Hard Rock Cafe, among others.
Go to Happy Hour at Mall of America
Many of the restaurants have great happy hour specials, definitely way cheaper than grabbing drinks at the airport. I found a deliciously strong blue margarita at Cantina Laredo, complete with a table with a view.
Visit Nickelodeon Universe
I walked through the Nickelodeon Universe and watched the multiple indoor roller coasters and thrill rides throw people up towards the very large overhead glass roof. This is an especially fun and easy to access activity if you are stuck on a long layover with children.
Have a local brew at the airport
I was finally running out of time so I headed back to the airport and within 15 minutes I was back at the airport and through security (thank you Pre TSA). It was time to pass the last hour grabbing a bite within the airport and I settled at the Stone Arch Brewpub. They had an extensive list of local draft beers.
I loved my Waconia Brewing Lunchbox Peanut Butter and Jelly Porter.
Eat the Spam Fritters at Stone Arch Brewing Company
I also ordered the Spam Fritters with Sweet Grape Chile Sauce off the menu. If you haven’t had spam fritters, have you really been to Minnesota?
Shop at the Prince Store
On the walk towards my gate I passed the newly opened Prince store – all things Purple Rain and raspberry berets.
I picked up the cutest Funko Pop Prince.
Making Spam Fritters out of Spam
So, the moral of the story is when life hands you Spam, make Spam Fritters. Or something like that.
How do you pass the time when you have an outrageously long layover?
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