Travel: Won't you take me to Funkytown?

Matthew Brace visits Minneapolis, the city that is tipped to become America's next music capital

The classic disco anthem of 1980, "Funkytown", was not written about Detroit or New York City, as is popularly believed, but about little old Minneapolis (even though the writer has since confessed that this American city whose skyscrapers rise like giant silos among miles of swaying corn was far from funky at the time). His tune was ahead of its time, for Minneapolis soon went on to spawn the singer Prince and is now a serious contender for America's music capital, with countless live shows nightly and a summer festival that draws big names and closes downtown streets.

Minneapolis is joined at the hip with St Paul, the Minnesota state capital across the Mississippi river, and together they are known as the Twin Cities. North of Minneapolis lies Lake Itasca National Park, the source of the Mississippi river, and beyond that, the Canadian border is less than 100 miles. Until recently, Minneapolis has been overlooked by tourists, who merely changed planes. But, increasingly, word is getting out.

When to go

Minneapolis has a continental climate, which means hot and humid summers, when temperatures can reach 29C to 31C, followed by thunderstorms and cold crisp winters, when the mercury drops to well below zero and can stay there for days. The city also gets its share of tornadoes off the plains to the west.

Getting there

Northwest Airlines (tel: 0870 507 4074) flies direct from Gatwick for pounds 329 until 14 December and pounds 319 from 1 January to 12 April. British Airways (tel: 0345 222111) flies via Chicago and onward with American Airlines (tel: 0345 789789) for pounds 418. American Airlines offers flights for pounds 270 until 14 December. Next spring, all flights will cost roughly pounds 50 more.

Getting around

The airport is 15-minutes from the centre of Minneapolis. Taxis charge about pounds 20, but ask for an estimate from the driver first. Shuttle buses are cheaper, at about pounds 6 to pounds 12, and drop at specific hotels.

The skyscrapers of Minneapolis are laced together by several miles of glass walkways (air-conditioned in summer, heated in winter), which criss- cross the city centre.

Where to stay

The Nicollet Island Inn, 95 Merriam Street (tel: 001 612 331 1800), is a 19th-century building on an island in the middle of the Mississippi, which once housed the Island Door and Sash Company and later a Salvation Army shelter. Double rooms cost from pounds 90 to pounds 125.

Regency Plaza, 41 North 10th Street (tel: 001 612 339 9311), opposite the Greyhound bus station, is good for medium-budget travellers. It is central and there is a courtesy bus that will take you anywhere. Doubles from pounds 50 to pounds 70.

The Best Western Downtown, 405 South 8th Street (tel: 001 612 370 1400), offers double rooms for pounds 45 to pounds 70. The Holiday Inn Express, 225 South 11th Street (tel: 001 612 341 3300), rents double rooms for pounds 45 to pounds 100.

What to see and do

If you love shopping you will love the Mall of America in Bloomington on the outskirts of the city. It is vast - big enough to house 32 Boeing 747s - and contains more than 500 shops, 52 restaurants and nine nightclubs. You will also find Underwater World here, an aquarium you can walk through via a glass tunnel 14ft below the water's surface (call free in the US: 1 888 DIVE TIME).

The Walker Art Centre, Vineland Place (tel: 001 612 375 7600), is home to one of America's leading collections of contemporary art, hosting exhibitions, theatre, music, dance and film. Next door is a Sculpture Garden.

Follow a walking tour along the Mississippi Mile through the St Anthony Falls Heritage Zone, 125 Main Street SE (tel: 001 612 627 5433), stopping off at historic buildings, bridges and architectural ruins. Or take a more leisurely hour's tour on the RiverCity Trolley Bus (tel: 001 612 204 0000). Sports fans can catch a baseball game at the Metrodome, home to the Twins (tel: 001 612 338 9467).

Food and drink

Minneapolis is not known as a culinary capital, but Minnesota has been named the healthiest state in the nation six times in the past decade, so the chefs must be doing something right.

The Loon Cafe, 550 First Avenue North (tel: 001 612 332 0673), adds to the Minnesotans' health and sense of well-being with bowls of delicious chilli. Beef and vegetable varieties should be tasted. The wild rice soup is also hard to beat.

For giant sandwiches that need to be eaten with a knife and fork, Pracna on 117 SE Main Street (tel: 001 612 379 3200), is a popular hangout. The Minneapolis Cafe, 1110 Hennepin Avenue South (tel: 001 612 672 9100), is a friendly modern restaurant on the edge of theatreland which serves good, healthy food and a wicked creme brulee.

Italian-food addicts should try Linguini and Bob, Butler Square Building, 100 North 6th Street (tel: 001 612 332 1600), where main meals cost about pounds 8 to pounds 12. And vegetarians should head for Cafe Brenda, 300 1st Avenue N (tel: 001 612 342 9230), for wholesome food, with main meals costing pounds 6 to pounds 10, and a laid-back atmosphere.

Nightlife

Minneapolis is bursting with new bands playing all manner of music in clubs, pubs and cafes nightly. Check the listings in the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press.

Nye's Polonaise Room, 112 East Hennepin Avenue (tel: 001 612 332 1600), is a Polish restaurant and bar full of atmosphere which has regular polka nights. For some of the best live music, it is hard to beat the Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 First Avenue North (tel: 001 612 338 8100). Come early if you want a seat, but expect to be on your feet most of the night as the bands are good. Come back for Sunday brunch which is accompanied by a gospel choir.

The Gay 90s, 410 Hennepin Avenue (tel: 001 612 333 7755), is the longest- established gay bar in Minneapolis and renowned throughout the region. There are nine bars, dance floors and a live drag act.

Up near the university is the Whiskey Junction, 901 Cedar Avenue South (tel: 001 612 338 9550), with a crowd of ageing bikers and their girlfriends.

The plushest club in town is South Beach, 4th Street and 1st Avenue - all ultraviolet lights, cashmere-soft carpets and tuxedoed bouncers, and astronomical bar prices to match.

Out of town

Lake Itasca National Park (tel: 001 651 296 9223) is a day's drive north- west of Minneapolis. This magical lake is the source of the Mississippi river, which flows 2,500 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico. You can visit the headwaters in the park. It is strange to sit beside this tiny trickle and imagine the mighty force it becomes further downstream. En route, you will pass the pretty town of Bemidji, famous for the fictitious giant, Paul Bunyan.

Deals and packages

There is a "Cool Dates-Warm Rates" programme between 15 November and 31 March when hotels offer good deals. Consult www.minneapolis.org, or contact Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, 4000 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis MN 55402, USA (tel: 001 888 676 6757).

Travelbag (tel: 0171-287 5559) offers a five-night break at the Regal Minneapolis for pounds 646 per person, based on two sharing and including return flights, taxes and accommodation between 1 January and 7 April 2000.

Further information

Contact the Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, as above, and the Minnesota Office of Tourism (tel: 001 612 296 5029; www. exploreminnesota.com).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker