Attendees at AWP’s 2015 conference will sometimes want to break out of the cavernous halls of the convention center. With Minneapolis’s excellent public transportation system (metrotransit.org), visiting bookstores and other landmarks is quite easy.
Home to Graywolf Press, Coffee House, and Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis isn’t just a hub of indie publishing—it’s also an indie bookstore paradise. It’s home to author Louise Erdrich’s store, Birchbark Books, as well as Magers & Quinn, Moon Palace, Once Upon a Crime, Ancestry, and Wild Rumpus. Radio personality Garrison Keillor’s store, Common Good Books, is in St. Paul, which is also home to Micawber’s, Subtext/Addendum, and Red Balloon Bookshop.
Of course, no writer should visit Minneapolis and not make a pilgrimage to Open Book (1011 Washington Avenue South), a 55,000-sq.-ft. building dedicated to the literary arts. Tenants include the Loft Literary Center, Milkweed Editions, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. These three, plus several other local organizations, are hosting a party for AWP on April 9. A few blocks in the other direction is one of the Mill City’s best hidden freebies: a stroll along the Endless Bridge, an observation deck overlooking the Mississippi that is accessed via the Guthrie Theater's fifth level (818 South 2nd Street). If all that natural beauty makes you hungry or thirsty, Sea Change, on the theater’s ground floor, is a delicious (and spendy) dining destination, while the Target Lounge bar, one level below the Endless Bridge, has similarly amazing views.
Minneapolis has plenty of great bars. Kieran’s Pub (85 North 6th Street) serves a lot more than beer: Kieran’s hosts Poetry SlamMN and Story SlamMN is held there. Nye’s Polonaise (112 East Hennepin Avenue), in the city’s “Nordeast” area, is beloved by Coffee House’s staff. Closer to the Convention Center, Brit’s (1110 Nicollet Mall) is a popular pub where the sun never sets on the British Empire. The Local (931 Nicollet Mall) is a gorgeous vintage Irish bar that will transport you to Dublin. And Prohibition is a 1920s-style speakeasy in the W Hotel in the famed Foshay Building (821 Marquette Avenue).
Minneapolis is renowned for its restaurants, including the primarily international and mostly affordable places on Nicollet Ave. S. between 14th and 30th streets. if one walks along Nicollet Mall, the News Room (990 Nicollet Mall), with a vintage newspapers theme, is highly recommended, as are Zelo (831 Nicollet Mall) and Hell’s Kitchen’s (80 South 9th Street). Or head toward the Stone Arch Bridge to St. Anthony Main. At the Wilde Roast Cafe (65 Main Street Southeast), named after Oscar Wilde, one can eat or drink while soaking in the updated Victorian mood.
The online version of this story corrects two editing errors in the print version.