10 Ways to Travel the World Without Leaving the Twin Cities

Try looking a little closer to home next time the travel bug bites. Here are 10 ways to satisfy a case of global wanderlust with art, food and cultural experiences found throughout the Twin Cities.

International destinations tempt adventurous travelers, but unique cultural experiences can often be found much closer to home, regardless of the size of your town. Here are 10 ways to travel the world without crossing the Twin Cities' borders.

American Swedish Institute
American Swedish Institute.


Minnesota is home to the largest population of Norwegians and Swedes outside of Scandinavia. Explore historical and contemporary aspects of these two cultures at the American Swedish Institute, housed in the 1908 Turnblad Mansion—which also happens to be Minneapolis' only castle. Be sure to stop at the museum's nationally acclaimed cafe FIKA for tartar and meatballs. The annual Midsommar Celebration (June 17, 2023), marking the longest day of the year, includes live music, dancing around the maypole, and making fresh-flower head wreaths.


Patisserie 46 brings France's renowned cafe culture to a quiet corner in South Minneapolis. The award-winning pastry shop serves exquisite treats like petit gateaux, tarts, éclairs, macaroons, bon bons and sorbet. Not to mention cappuccino, house chia latte and hot cocoa. The list goes on to include an array of breakfast and lunch items best enjoyed while dining in at this sunny cafe.

Japanese Garden
Courtesy of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum


Calm a "monkey mind" with a visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Japanese Garden. Enjoy natural seclusion from the outside world within the garden's walls while discovering traditional design elements from the Edo Period (1603-1869). If that's not enough Zen for you, explore Como Park Zoo and Conservatory's Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden, with a bonsai pavilion, meditative garden and pine grove walk. The garden's design was a gift from Nagasaki, St. Paul's sister city.

Germanic-American Institute
Courtesy of Germanic-American Institute


Learn how to speak the language, dance a waltz and bake the perfect lebkuchen at the Germanic-American Institute in Saint Paul. Various artists' series are presented throughout the year, as well as big annual celebrations like Deutsche Tage (German Days) held every summer (June 10-11, 2023) with music, dancing and German food as well as cultural presentations and exhibits. The institute's St. Paul Oktoberfest (September 8-9, 2023) spotlights German food, beer and culture.


Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States and the only museum dedicated to its culture in North America. The Somali Museum of Minnesota uses traditional artwork, artifacts and educational programs to connect young Somalis with their culture, as well as educate Minnesotans of other ethnic heritage.

Boca Chica Restaurante Mexicano y Cantina
Courtesy of Boca Chica Restaurante Mexicano y Cantina


Get a taste of Minnesota's large and lively Latin culture at Boca Chica Restaurante Mexicano y Cantina, the oldest Mexican restaurant in the Twin Cities. Come for the food, but stay to admire the hand-painted murals depicting the history of the Mexican people. These works of art by a Merida, Yucatan-based artist help preserve the community's cultural heritage.

Kramarczuk's Twin Cities


"Kramarczuk's" is nearly impossible to pronounce, yet synonymous with some of the best sausage in town. Since the 1950's, the deli and restaurant specializing in East European cuisine has turned out links, breads and piroshkies (filled pies) made by hand, from scratch, using local ingredients. It's a winner of the America's Classic Award from the James Beard Foundation.


The Minneapolis Institute of Art's global collection of more than 90,000 artworks can transport you to just about any country and time period. Its collection of Chinese art alone includes more than 7,000 objects both ancient (Neolithic jades) and modern (Liu Dan ink on paper). In particular, MIA's 200 ancient Chinese bronzes—ceremonial vessels with varied and intricate decoration—is considered one of the nation's top collections. What's on view rotates; get an idea of which Chinese pieces you can see now via the MIA website.

The Museum of Russian Art
The Museum of Russian Art. Courtesy of Don Wong


Visit The Museum of Russian Art for the simple fact that it's the only one of its kind in North America. Housed in a historic former church, the changing collection of exhibits and live performance art feels fresh and modern. Free-admission nights are held on the third Thursday of each month. Current exhibitions include Premonition of a Russian Dystopia (through July 9, 2023) and Ukraine Defiant: Paintings by Elena Kalman (through July 15, 2023).

After you visit, embrace the Russian tradition of "zakuski" (a bite and a shot) at Moscow on the Hill. Sample a vodka or two from their list of over 300 varieties. Then soak it up with some Russian favorites, such as caviar, spicy lamb kebabs with pomegranate sauce, and potato and mushroom pierogi. Pro tip: their patio is one of the best-kept secrets in town.


Films are a big part of the Italian cultural experience. The Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul presents both contemporary and classic cinema each spring during its Italian Film Festival. Check the calendar for other special events such as Beginning Italian for Travelers, Games in Italian and Italian Pop Music.

Love this idea but don't live in the Twin Cities? Challenge yourself to find expressions of global culture near your home. Check out museums, restaurants, nearby towns with a strong ethic heritage, local festivals and more.

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