Urban Explorer

Living rurally has it’s perks, but I’ve always been a bit of a city girl. While I hate the traffic, I love the combination of cultures, staring up at skyscrapers, and having the world’s amenities at your fingertips. Making your home in the Midwest means you’re often battling the elements. Recently, we’ve been slammed with snow, and my five minute drive to the office leaves me with my fingers numb (although that might be because my car was made in 1998…).

Anyway, for the first time in forever, I was finally able to pay a visit home, and at the same time, make some stops in the Twin Cities.

My sister and I fueled up at Noodles & Co and headed towards Minneapolis. With my camera secured in my backpack, our first stop was at the Weisman Art Museum. (It was free, so…) The building towered above the University of Minnesota campus, it’s stainless steel outside gleaming in the winter sun. I managed to grab a shot that almost did it justice (check out my instagram @thetokenmillennial).

At first, the museum was quiet, but soon it began to fill with visitors. Many of the exhibits were lovely, but my favorite by far was called, “What Needs to be Said.” It allowed visits to pick up a piece of paper and write something they wanted to say and put it on display.

"What Needs to be Said" exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum

"What Needs to be Said" exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum

The Weisman Art Museum is small, so after an hour-long visit, my sister and I decided to head to one of my favorite locations in St Paul--the Como Park Conservatory. Once upon a time, I had a first date there. It was on a scorching hot summer day, and we sought the air conditioned sanctuary provided by the shade of towering palms.

While nothing ever came of that relationship, the Conservatory has remained one of my favorite places that I want to visit time and time again (hell, I’d get married there!). It's not just the warmth (I'm a cold baby...oops), it's also the towering palm trees, the ferns, and flowers that are the size of your face. The whole thing is just beautiful.

Today, it was crowded with people; my sister and I were shoulder to shoulder with strollers, families, and students as we made our way through the glass buildings. Still, the beauty was breathtaking--winding paths shrouded with exotic ferns and palms.

The ceiling of the Como Zoo Conservatory

The ceiling of the Como Zoo Conservatory

We’d made our visit in the Golden Hour--the hour of the day right before the sun sets below the horizon. The last rays of daylight shone through the mist of the greenhouses, casting everyone in a beautiful light.

The Como Zoo Conservatory

The Como Zoo Conservatory

The afternoon was brief, but it reminded me about how easy it is to forget the cool things we have in our own backyards. While I love the Conservatory, I’d never before been to the Weisman Art Museum (and my sister had never seen the Conservatory!).

My sister!

My sister!

My sister loves plants, and it was cool to see the look on her face as we explored the nooks and crannies of the Conservatory. We so often take for granted what our cities offer, sometimes we just need to pack up our cameras and become urban explorers.

What are your favorite places in your city?