It's finally the weekend. You're ready to hit the town, but your friends are all prepping for their thesis defense, or being a bridesmaid in their sister's wedding, or backpacking through Europe, or some other poor excuse for not being at your beck and call.
Don't let a perfectly good day go to waste. There are plenty of things to do solo in the Twin Cities area.
Indulge your sweet tooth at Patisserie 46
Where: Kingfield (South Minneapolis)
This award-winning French bakery really gives Paris a run for its money. If you appreciate the occasional (or the frequent) sweet treat, you'll fall in love with this place and its enticing selection of macarons, bon bons, tarts, petit fours and more. They're almost too beautiful to eat. (Almost.)
The only downside? Making a decision. You may find yourself staring at the bakery case for an embarrassing amount of time.
If you're feeling generous, get a box of macarons to share with your friends later. They'll love you forever!
Go for a jog around the lake
Where: Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun)
There's nothing like a good workout to feel a little less bored and lonely. Plus, then you can go home and binge-watch old seasons of Gilmore Girls, guilt-free! So put on your running shoes and hit the pavement. The reflection of the Minneapolis skyline shimmering in the water will keep you going strong.
Not a runner? Take your pup out for some fresh air and a splash in the lake. You're bound to run into fellow dog-mamas (or papas) and - who knows? - maybe make some new friends.
Pamper yourself with a massage and mud bath
Where: Ivy Spa Club
If you're anything like me, you're probably long overdue for some "me time." This luxury retreat in downtown Minneapolis will make you feel like the queen for a day. Get a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage (the perfect midwinter escape!), sip some herbal tea, try a rejuvenating head-to-toe mud mask and soak in the hydrotherapy tub. You'll leave feeling like a whole new person.
Get some Italian takeout from Cosetta
Where: West 7th (Saint Paul)
Cannolis, pasta, and pizza - what more could you need in life? This place has some seriously delicious eats. Choose from an endless array of antipasti, panini and pasta for the main course. Then stop in the pasticceria for goodies galore.
Don't forget to grab a box of cannolis to go. Trust me, they're to die for.
Hop aboard a water taxi at Boom Island
Where: Boom Island Park Boat Launch (upriver from St. Anthony)
Wait, Minneapolis has a water taxi? If this is the first you've heard of it, you're not alone. The solar-powered service just started last summer. It's not actually a taxi - just as Boom Island isn't actually an island - but still, it's a great opportunity to see St. Anthony Falls up close.
Order a picture-perfect latte at Cafê Astoria
Where: Saint Paul (Grand and West 7th)
Coffee has never been so pretty. Here, each cup is practically a work of art. Their signature creations include a sumptuous crème brûlée latte and "Leah's Happy Place" (lavender, matcha, pistachio and espresso).
Up for some adventure? Try my personal favorite - the "Bee Sting" - honey, bee pollen, espresso and enough cayenne to make you go "oooh!" (in a good way.).
Stroll through the sunken garden at Como Park Conservatory
Where: Saint Paul
So much beauty under one roof! This place feels like a life-sized fairy garden. Sniff the sunflowers, take a whimsical photo by the fountain and breathe in the lush tropical air.
Come back again when it's the middle of February and you need to remind your eyes what color looks like. The sights and smells will awaken all your senses!
Try an outside-the-box donut from Mojo Monkey
Where: West 7th (Saint Paul)
Forget Dunkin'. Forget Tim Hortons. Head on over to Saint Paul for a State Fair-esque selection of delectable donuts. After eating here, you'll never go elsewhere for breakfast again.
These aren't your plain ol' donuts. Instead of a frosted cake or chocolate glazed, you'll find a mocha mousse, mango-coconut glazed, crème brûlée, s'mores, tres leches, maple bacon and even a root beer float donut (comes with a straw!)
Each donut is like a delicately handcrafted dessert. You won't be able to resist taking a few photos for your Insta feed (and making your friends' mouths water!) before digging in.
Get some wardrobe inspiration at The Galleria
Let's face it - your wardrobe probably needs updating anyway. And even if you can't afford to do it here (Louis Vuitton not in your budget?), you'll find plenty of ideas strolling through the shops. There's never a better excuse than "I'm bored" to hit up this high-class shopping center.
Bonus: You'll find an Insta-worthy photo op around every corner!
Go window shopping along Grand Avenue
Where: Saint Paul
Why fight traffic downtown when you can come here instead? Okay, parking might still be a headache, but it'll be worth the walk. (Consider it your exercise.)
Here, you'll find perennial favorites like Pottery Barn, Anthropologie and Loft. Just for fun, check out some of the eclectic, hole-in-the-wall boutiques like Irish on Grand ("Your source for all things Irish"), Northern Brewer (a home-brewing supply depot) and Mischief Toy Store (where you can stock up on gag gifts for your friends).
Dig into a bowl of pho at The Lotus
Where: Loring Park and Maple Grove
There's nothing like a hearty bowl of pho to cheer you up when you're feeling down. (Or tired. Or hungry. Or anything else, for that matter.) You'll find many varieties of the Vietnamese noodle soup at The Lotus, a family-run Minneapolis mainstay since the 1980s. They also serve the usual assortment of spring rolls, wontons, lo mein, curry and fried rice - including vegetarian options.
In case you missed it, their Uptown location is closing, but you can still visit their other two locations.
Bust out your watercolors for an art outing with Metro Sketchers
Where: Various locations around town - check their Facebook group for the latest info
This grassroots art group meets at rotating locations around town on the first Sunday of every month for some plein air. Their mission is simple: to provide a supportive atmosphere for artists both new and accomplished. It's always open to anyone who wants to join; all you have to do is grab your sketchpad (or your watercolors) and show up!
Snap some selfies at the Endless Bridge
Where: Guthrie Theater (Downtown Minneapolis)
More of an observation deck than a bridge (okay, it's not a bridge at all), this is the perfect backdrop for a photo op. Here you'll find breathtaking views of the Mississippi River, the Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Main and more.
Don't have the nerve to ask a stranger to take your pic? No worries; you can really get creative with selfies in front of the mirrorored walls of the Guthrie.
Learn to "fly" at The Aviary
Where: St. Anthony Main
Aerial workouts are all the rage - and for good reason. Why not use gravity instead of dumbbells? And why not look beautiful doing it?
Part ballet, part yoga and all Cirque du Soleil, learning this skill, you'll feel like a goddess twirling through the air with elegance and grace.
Okay, it's harder than it looks, and you might look more like an awkward goose than a soaring swan in the beginning. Still, it's a good time and a good workout.
Curl up with a book at the James J. Hill Library
Where: Downtown Saint Paul
Now this is a library. With its imposing stone columns, vaulted ceiling and three-story shelves of books, it's sure to put anyone in the mood to cozy up with the latest Liane Moriarty novel.
As a reference library, it houses archaic texts that only the most dedicated of scholars could plod through, so bring your own book. Or head across the hallway to the St. Paul Public Library, which occupies the other wing of the building.
Go for a bike ride on the Greenway
We MSPers are lucky to have one of the most bike-friendly cities in America at our doorstep. Minneapolis has biking opportunities galore, and the Midtown Greenway is a favorite among avid cyclists and leisurely riders alike. The two-way paved path runs from just west of Lake Calhoun east to the Mississippi.
Don't have a bike? Grab a Nice Ride - you'll find these convenient docked and dockless bikes available to rent all along the Greenway's 5.7 miles.
Catch some live music at the Aster Cafe
Where: St. Anthony Main
This place has it all: unique eats, fantastic views, a picturesque setting and a solid lineup of live music. It's a favorite among tourists and locals alike. And you don't have to feel weird about coming here alone; plenty of college students find it the perfect study setting, so you're in good company.
Treat yourself to a mani-pedi at Little Luxuries Nail Lounge
Don't feel guilty about giving your nails some love. Glam it up with a new set of acrylics, or go more natural with a buff, massage and gel polish. Here, you'll feel like a princess. (The chairs even look like thrones!)