Meet Me In Minnesota
Amazing outdoor beauty, pro sports, history, a one-of-a-kind shopping experience and more await as the PVA annual convention visits Minnesota.
There’s always plenty of work and activities going on during the annual Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) national convention, but with this event taking place next to one of the largest shopping malls in the world and in a state with lots of natural beauty, you’re going to want to save some time for fun. The 72nd Annual PVA National Convention visits the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America in Minnesota May 22–25. It’s the first time in 18 years the convention has returned to the Twin Cities area and while the metropolitan area has grown and changed plenty in that time, the area’s natural outdoor beauty and activities remain amazing. Of course the old adage “business before pleasure” has to come into play here because there’s work to be done at the convention. The business at hand for attendees includes electing the PVA Executive Commitee (candidate statements were featured in the April issue of PN), hearing from guest speakers, handing out awards and considering various resolutions. It’s easy to see that the days will be filled with important business, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to explore and enjoy the area. There’s far more to see and do than any single article could describe, but here are a few ideas to help get you started.
You can’t have an article of things to do in the Minneapolis area without talking about Mall of America, especially when the convention hotel is connected to it. Just roll out of the hotel and into one of the largest shopping centers in the world. Mall of America covers as much ground as nine Yankee Stadiums and features more than 500 stores and over 50 restaurants. As if being a shopping mecca wasn’t enough, Mall of America also has some unique attractions. Kids and probably many adults will love Nickelodeon Universe, located in the center of the mall. The nation’s largest indoor theme park has 7 acres of entertainment and more than 25 rides, including a roller coaster. If you’re looking for something a bit more subdued and maybe even educational, check out Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. The aquarium features roughly 10,000 sea creatures and a 300-foot glass underwater tunnel that was named “the best shark exhibit on the planet” by TV’s Animal Planet channel. As if that wasn’t enough to keep you busy, take a step back to your childhood drawing days at Crayola Experience + Store. The experience features 25 hands-on activities dedicated to one of the world’s favorite drawing instruments.
For more information on the mall or its attractions, visit mallofamerica.com.
Ride The Light Rail
As easy as it is to get to Mall of America from the convention hotel, it’ll be just as easy to explore other areas of town when you’re ready. The Metro Transit Blue Line offers fast, quiet light-rail service to 19 stations between downtown Minneapolis and Mall of America. This includes easy travel from the hotel to the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport and the Minneapolis Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System. Light-rail trains offer step-free boarding and are equipped with designated sections for people using wheelchairs. In addition, all station platforms are fully accessible. Fares range from $1 to $5, but veterans with a disability ride free by showing a Veterans Identification Card issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs with the words “Service Connected” or “SC” below the photo.
For more information, call 612-373-3333 or visit metrotransit.org.
The last stop on the Metro Transit Blue Line from Mall of America is Target Field, which is home to the three-time World Series champion Minnesota Twins baseball team. The Twins will be toward the end of an eight-game homestand as people begin arriving and the convention gets started. The Milwaukee Brewers visit Minnesota May 18–20, and the Detroit Tigers are in town May 21–23. The Twins vs. Tigers game on May 23 is an early afternoon contest with a 12:10 p.m. local start time. Ranked as the best stadium experience among all North American professional sports teams by ESPN The Magazine in 2010, Target Field is an open-air ballpark with fantastic views of the Minneapolis skyline. The ballpark features almost 800 accessible seats, including some along the baselines, and each row has a power outlet to charge electric wheelchairs. Accessibility is also kept in mind when it’s time to eat. All concession stand counters are 8 inches lower than usual in order to help customers who use wheelchairs.
For more information, call 612-659-3654 or visit twinsbaseball.com.
Art Is All Around
After a game or even if you just want to get away from the convention site, check out the Nicollet Mall shopping and dining district in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. The 12-block long, pedestrian-friendly area is just a few blocks south of Target Field and is easily accessible from the Nicollet Mall Station on the Metro Transit Blue Line. The street is lined by bars, restaurants with outdoor seating and shops surrounded by art and greenery. The mall area just underwent a $50 million, 28-month renovation that added more greenery, sculptures, other artwork and pedestrian amenities. The area’s most recognized sculpture is the Mary Tyler Moore statue from the TV show located at the corner of Nicollet Mall and 7th Street.
For more information, visit minneapolis.org.
Meander The Mississippi
Besides transporting you to ball games, dining and shopping, the Metro Transit Blue Line can also take you to a unique blend of urban and natural beauty along the mighty Mississippi River. Take the light rail to U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, and roll about a half-mile east along Portland Avenue to Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls. One of the most iconic places in Minneapolis, the pedestrian and bicycle bridge provides dramatic sights and sounds of the 49-foot waterfall, Mississippi River and Minneapolis skyline. Originally built as a railroad passage in the 1880s, the bridge has easy access between Father Hennepin Bluff Park on the east side and Mill Ruins Park on the west. The river lock on the west side of the falls is no longer in operation, but free guided tours are offered three times a day from the St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center located on the west side of the river in Mill Ruins Park.
For more information, visit minneapolisparks.org.
If you’d like to get away from the city core but want to take in more of the magnificent Mississippi River, then take the Metro Transit Blue Line to Minnehaha Regional Park. Only 7 miles from the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America, Minnehaha Regional Park is one of the area’s oldest and most popular parks. The more than 160-acre park located along the banks of the Mississippi River features limestone bluffs, river overlooks and the iconic 53-foot tall Minnehaha Falls. Watch the water from the falls crash into the pool below, then take paths through trees and flowers to see the Minnehaha Creek take the water to the Mississippi River. Minnehaha Regional Park also has a seasonal restaurant and ice cream stand. Additionally, the Minnesota Veterans Home-Minneapolis is on a 53-acre wooded campus overlooking the Mississippi River toward the southern end of the park (mn.gov/mdva/homes/minneapolis).
For more information, visit minneapolisparks.org.
Ask The Locals
Obviously, the Twin Cities area is a big place and there’s plenty more it has to offer, but that is best left for you to discover. If you’re looking for more things to do, places to see or just want a good place to eat, be sure to check with members of the PVA Minnesota Chapter or PVA Publications Editor and Minnesota native Tom Fjerstad. They should have plenty of great ideas.
Meet Me In Minnesota
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