Welcome to Minnesota.

At this very moment visitors to the great state where I live are climbing into their cars, boarding a train, or flying toward my location. Many of them are coming for the big game (I’d use the name, but the league that controls pointy-ball soccer gets ugly and wants money for the honor of promoting their event) or to see the mirthful glee that is the Winter Carnival.

As a courtesy, and a service, to those visitors, I’m offering this welcome guide. Not the usual tourist stuff that the chamber of commerce types would spout, but a real guide to the metro area and all the wonder that is Minnesota. Yes, I’m including some out-state information as well. Picture it as a guide to survival and fun for our visitors. Locals, hopefully, already know all this stuff.

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Let’s do the basics right away and save visitors a wealth of agony.

1. That clear stuff on every flat outdoor surface is ice. If you don’t have good tread on your shoes, or even if you do, you will likely fall on your backside. If you’re lucky. Don’t try to break your fall with your out-stretched arms. That usually results in a broken wrist. Instead, attempt to fall sideways and settle for a broken rib.

2. If you experience #1, don’t attempt to fall gently into a snowbank. Snowbanks currently have the fluffiness of cement blocks. They are composed of road debris, shards of cars that crashed during the last blizzard, and ice. Lots of dirt as well. They probably will hurt as much as the sidewalk they cover. Which leads me to our next item.

3. Do not attempt to hurdle a snowbank unless you are from a snowy climate. You will find them solid as a rock unless you jump on top to attempt to scramble down the other side. Once on top, it will give way under your weak ankle, and take you sliding into the roadway. Being crushed by a slush-spewing bus is a bad thing.

4. Do not attempt to buy drugs while in Minnesota. I am quite confident that you will stick out in some of the drug neighborhoods as a lovely target with your out of town plates. Besides, you do not have the local accent. If you insist, be advised that you will probably be buying ditch weed at best, something made in a mobile home at worst. Here is the map of places you shouldn’t go to buy drugs. Crime Map

5. Same goes for hookers as for drugs. Really good chance that you just got lucky with an undercover cop. Probably not the way you want your family to envision your weekend with the boys. But if you insist, here’s a list of bail bond companies at the link.

Lest you think all is a hazard in our fine state, I should probably throw in some entertainment kind of stuff for you to enjoy. Yes, I probably should.

Instead, I’ll tell you what’s out there on the “must-see” side, and then what you’d actually enjoy.

If you go to the link for the big game, there are all sorts of sanctioned events.

If you go to the link for the Winter Carnival, there are all sorts of sanctioned events.

Nice, eh? Lots of places to spend lots of money. But you could do all that big-game stuff in almost any city. The Winter Carnival you can do almost every year. This year, for a change, we’re blessed with snow. So go do some snow stuff. If you’re not interested, that’s cool (pun completely intended). But there’s all sorts of activities around here where you can go snow shoeing, cross country skiing, and have some real fun ice fishing. I’d suggest you run a search with winter activities & snow & minnesota & 2018 . Because, if you’re not in the mood for a raging-alcohol-fueled week, that’s the fun stuff around here this time of year. Things like the Luminary Loppet. You don’t have to participate, but being out on the lake after dark and watching the racers is going to be beautiful and fun.

Find yourself a great ethnic restaurant. We (*all Minnesotans who live in the Twin Cities*) have this fabulous idea that we’re a big city. No, we’re not. We’re a larger city on the prairie with some serious suburbs. There is world-class entertainment and dining in the area without a doubt. But, frankly, we’ve milked the Prince and lutefisk things about as far as we can. I hope you find some of our local gems and take a memory home.

If you’re looking for superior food from the Asian side of the planet, there’s a bunch of restaurants in Saint Paul along University Avenue. From about Snelling to the State Capitol, you will be amazed at the variety of cool stuff to eat. Don’t wander more than a few blocks off University unless you’re dead-set (pun intended) on searching out numbers 4 and 5 above. I live here and so I get to make fun of my neighborhood. Keep the “we don’t belong here” scene from Vacation in mind and you’ll do just fine (lANGUAGE WARNING).

During the day you should get a rental car and drive up north of the Twin Cities. I couldn’t even tell you why, but the natives all seem to “go up north” about 40 weeks a year. It is a biological imperative. Don’t do it at night, or you’ll find out why deer are our mortal enemy. Hard on the rental car. Deer, it seems, feel a need to play “Frogger” with cars on the roads once the sun sets.

Last, but not least, ignore any local imbeciles who want to “get even with Philly.” As noted above, we have pretensions of being a big city. I’ve been to Philly. We aren’t even the cheese on their steak.

Enjoy your stay in Minnesota. And then leave. It’s too danged cold for sensible people. Come back in the summer when you can enjoy the swamp-like heat and mosquitoes.

Skol. (That’s old Norse for “next year, maybe.”)

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