Local Life and Lore in Minneapolis

Here, get all the insider info on the local lingo and traditions.
By: Erin Peterson
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This much-maligned highway has helped Minneapolis residents cross the city for decades, but frequent construction and bumper-to-bumper traffic make this an artery most rush hour drivers try to avoid.

Up to the Lake/The Lakes 
Minneapolis residents heading to “the lakes” are heading to the Chain of Lakes in southwest Minneapolis consisting of Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. Heading up to the lake means a two-hour drive to one of the state’s many northern lakes, where nearly everyone has (or knows someone who has) a lakefront cabin.

Once two separate papers -- the Minneapolis Star and the Minneapolis Tribune -- the two papers long ago merged to become the Star and Tribune, then simply the Star Tribune. Minneapolis residents have shortened the name even further, calling it simply “The Strib.”

The U. 
The Twin Cities area has more than a dozen institutions of higher education, but the granddaddy of them all is the University of Minnesota, known by locals as the U.

Minneapolis is home to thousands of people of Norwegian descent so during holidays, you’ll find plenty of lefse, a soft Scandinavian flatbread, in grocery stores and on dinner tables. Many add butter, cinnamon and sugar to the somewhat bland treats before rolling them up like tortillas.

Liquor Laws 
A throwback to an earlier era, the liquor laws on the books can seem pretty draconian to new residents: nothing stronger than 3.2 beer may be sold at grocery stores or convenience stores, and no alcohol at all is allowed to be sold on Sundays outside of bars and restaurants. Liquor stores are closed.

Because of its thriving cultural and theater scene (an oft-cited statistic notes that the town has more theater seats per capita than any city outside of New York), Minneapolis is often compared to the Big Apple -- hence the Minneapple moniker.

When the mercury drops, everyone downtown heads up to the skyway, a network of glass-enclosed, heated pedestrian walkways that go just about everywhere downtown. So if the streets seem deserted on a cold afternoon, just look up and you’ll likely see where everyone has gone.

The Fair 
The State Fair is technically hosted by Minneapolis’ twin city, St. Paul, but Minneapolis residents love it no less. Come August, everyone’s talking about the great Minnesota get-together, the largest in North America. Some 1.6 million visit during the 12-day run, and you’ll hear everyone talking about what “food on a stick” they’ll be sampling. (Walleye, macaroni and cheese, and key lime pie have all been skewered and served up as treats.)

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