You betcha! Home to Minnesota

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My trips back home to Minneapolis usually don’t break new ground. I tend to revisit old favorites, local restaurants and neighborhood cafes that hold little interest to travelers only in town for a short time. (Plus, there’s all those hours I waste by the pool). Still, there were a few highlights that are worth noting:

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The Aveda Institute. Few know that the Horst Rechelbacher’s Aveda empire started in Minneapolis. In junior high, I actually got my hair cut at Horst’s signature salon that was then in an Edina mall near Southdale and the Galleria. I had begged my mother to let me go there, as it was decidedly more expensive than my usual haircut at what was then Daytons. The oh-so-hip stylist there took one look at my overpermed mid-length hair and decided to give me something more modern: an asymetrical bilevel cut with a shaved nape. Needless to say, my mom flipped when I came home, and I was forbidden to go there again.

From this tiny salon sprang an empire. There are now Aveda Institutes all over the country, turning out young stylists, masseuses and estheticians. Nearly all of the Institutes have student clinics, where you can offer yourself as a guinea pig for a below-market-value fee. The facials offer the most value, in my opinion – the products are great and often a small massage is included in the treatment, which runs between $35-$50. The Minneapolis Institute has the extra bonus of being housed in a gorgeous historic building – think high ceilings, intricate woodwork – in the trendy Northeast Minneapolis area. If you are a spa junkie like me, don’t miss it.

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 Red Stag Supperclub.  This restaurant is right around the corner from the Aveda Institute, right next door to the excellent City Salvage architectural remnants store, (which sadly looked like it was going out of business.)  I met a friend here for lunch who I hadn’t seen in 20 years – the type of meal where it honestly doesn’t matter what you eat because you are so busy chattering away. That being said, my lobster egg salad sandwich was delicious, as was the side of Minnesota grits (topped with Wisconsin cheddar – sorry, Southerners, quality cheese grits can be found up North!) The drinks were also exceptionally good. I would come back here for dinner.

Lake Living. It goes without saying that Minnesotans love their summers. Their time in the sun is so limited that as soon as temperatures get above 60 degrees, they swarm outside to run, walk, bike, sail, rollerblade – and they all do it on the Chain of Lakes scattered throughout Minneapolis. What tourists don’t know is that each lake has its own personality and draws it own crowd. While I love Calhoun for its Uptown vibe (and lunch at Tin Fish), my home base is Lake Harriet. I spent countless hours with friends here in high school, dissecting our love lives on long walks and occasionally skipping class to sit on its (very small) beach. When I’m home visiting, it’s heaven to call up my best friend and go on a daily walk. New this year: a statue of “Nessie” has popped up on the lake’s east side.

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The State Fair. It hasn’t started yet, but the Minnesota State Fair is not to be missed. I went over to the Fairgrounds for a story and talked to some of the vendors setting up their booths. Many have been coming to the Fair for 30 years or more. It was a little eerie walking around the Fairgrounds without the crowds – many of the booths are permanent fixtures, and with so many foods advertised (Pronto pups! Martha’s cookies! Cheese on a stick!) it felt like an abandoned monument to gluttonry. I so wish I could go. If you are in town from Aug. 28 through Labor Day, don’t miss it.

I might go back to Minneapolis in October for a short weekend. Where should I go next time? Tell me here.

Often, going home is an “obligcation,” albeit a pleasant one. Read about obligcations.