There are so many places around the Twin Cities that make me happy to live here.
Here are just a few that you may want to explore if you are coming to the conference from out of town.
Books and Comics
Children's Book Stores
Minneapolis and St Paul are known as the Twin Cities, and we are so lucky to have an amazing children's bookstore in each one.
St Paul: http://www.redballoonbookshop.com/
Minneapolis: http://www.wildrumpusbooks.com/ (around the corner from a Sebastian Joe's location and next to Linden Hills Yarn shop - see below)
Big Brain Comics
I cannot tell you enough how much I love this shop. The owner Michael Drivas is so wonderfully knowledgeable and helpful. He was instrumental in helping me develop a core collection of comics and graphic novels in my library back when reviews were scarce and it seemed like uncharted territory for an elementary library. Don't let the lack of online presence fool you - this is an amazing store.
Future site: http://bigbraincomics.com/
While you are there, be sure to stop next door to the Open Book: http://www.openbookmn.org/
And if the weather is nice... take a walk over the river on the Stone Arch Bridge: http://stonearchbridge.com/
Pizza, Beer & Ice Cream
Three very important parts of life!
Multiple locations around town - until recently only available in the Twin Cites (a new site just opened in Duluth).
Favorite Pizza: Ruby Rae - a delicious upside down pizza pie with the red sauce on top. Spinach, bruschetta tomatoes, Italian sausage, and extra mozzarella cheese. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spicy crushed red pepper.
Great local beer on tap: Surly - http://www.surlybrewing.com/
My new local favorite brewery.
Sample the beers when they are open - check their website to see when they are open for growler sales.
Or visit http://www.thefourfirkins.com/ for an unbelievable selection of craft beers, both local (Steel Toe & Surly) and from around the world.
Ice Cream flavors change daily!
A few local favorites, like Pavaroti (Caramel, bananas, and chocolate chips), are always available.
So many interestingly wonderful flavors like Roasted Garlic Almond Chip.
Ask for samples!
The Spoon Bridge and Cherry has become a symbol of Minneapolis.
Included in the same sculpture park are many other fabulous sculptures along with the amazing http://www.walkerart.org/ right next door.
A bit out of the city, but totally worth the drive for fans of outdoor sculpture.
I play viola with a wonderful group of string players called the Roseville String Ensemble.
If you are still in town Sunday at 3:30, I cordially invite you to join us for an afternoon of Handel, Britten, and Bartok.
Some of you may know me not only as LibLaura5, but also as my alter ego Orinda5, knitter and lapsed knit-blogger (http://orinda5.blogspot.com). I can't post this list without mentioning the many fabulous yarn shops around the Twin Cities.
If you are a fiber enthusiast, search ravelry (http://www.ravelry.com/yarns) for yarn shops near Minneapolis for a list. (When I search my zip code, there are 14 shops within 10 miles of my house!)
This is my go to yarn store - great selection of all types of yarns and notions.
The closest to walking distance from the Convention Center.
Simple and beautiful store - filled with lovely, luxurious yarns displayed to make a yarn lover sigh upon entering.
Next Door to Wild Rumpus (Children's Bookstore from above), and around the corner from Sebastian Joe's (Ice Cream from above)
That Really Big Mall
The Mall of America seems to be a big draw for many who visit... if you go, bring your school badge. The Aquarium (http://www.visitsealife.com/Minnesota/) is free for teachers (technically your badge gets you a free single membership for the year). From downtown you are able to take the light rail all the way there: http://metrotransit.org/light-rail.aspx
Google Map of all the places mentioned above: Liblaura5's Favorites for AASL 2011
I know I am leaving out all sorts of fabulous local places.
Locals, I would love to know your favorite haunts that you would recommend.
Out of towners, I hope to get a chance to say hello next week!