A Pet's Guide to Minneapolis

Big-city barker or country canine? Minneapolis is the place to be your doggone self! Let's check out the city from a pooch's perspective.

By: Carrie Hamblin
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Photo By: Suzie Brockman for Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

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Photo By: Carrie Hamblin

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Photo By: Tim and Maddie Photography / Courtesy of In the Loop Coffee Company

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Photo By: KME Photography / Courtesy of Sidewalk Dog Media

Welcome to Minneapolis

Minneapolis is a furry favorite for HGTV Urban Oasis 2019. It's the delicately seasoned, organic rawhide treat of American cities. With acres and acres of green space, seven city parks just for pups, shops with open- (dog-) door policies and paw-friendly restaurant and brewery patios, it's a city that truly appreciates all that bowwow buddies bring under the table. We'll take a look at some specific places favored by residents and inviting to visitors of all stripes — and spots.

Sit, Stay and Lie Down

Visiting the Mill City and need a place to stay? You'll want to lie down for this part but in a good way, because dozens of Minneapolis hotels are happy to accommodate tails and whiskers. There's generally some fine print about number, type, size and disposition of animals but there are a few standout places that treat the four-legged as well as the two. (Better, really, since they aren't asking pups to "paw" the bill.) Cases in point: Radisson Red and the Grand Hotel. Both have generous pet policies that welcome feline friends, providing animal-specific bed-and-water-bowl accommodations, treats and swag. You know what all this means? A visit to Minneapolis lets you "ruff it" instead of rough it!

Patio Feasts

Minneapolis is also full of fantastic eateries with outdoor patios that welcome canine companions. Only a couple minutes' walk from HGTV Urban Oasis 2019, the Sea Salt Eatery is the place to refresh after a high-speed frolic in the city's most popular dog park (more about that later). The restaurant is located in Minnehaha Regional Park and is open only for the fair-weather part of the year. Sebastian Joe's ice cream — a local favorite — is served here and human friends will love Sea Salt's Crabcake Sandwich. Another good choice is Hi-Lo Diner, a short drive from the home and featuring a really comfy patio. I'm told the Hashed Stuffed Hash for breakfast can keep a person going until dinner.

Everyone Eats

For a special treat, we drag the humans to Stanley's Northeast Bar Room or the Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar, close to HGTV Urban Oasis 2019. Both restaurants feature year-round, climate-controlled "paw-tios" and pup patrons are given a water dish and yoga mat to use. (They must have heard how great we are at downward-facing dog.) Nothing to complain about there, for sure, but we really came for the Craft & Crew dog menu: a three-course selection for the four-legged. The fido-favorite dish is Nala's Turkey Muttloaf, and our feline friend absolutely demands a to-go order of Salmon Cakes every time we visit. "Yappy Hour" coincides with the human Happy Hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., meaning a dollar off entrees for us and a dollar off drinks for them. It's weird: Visiting during Yappy Hour seems to translate to a better chance of my getting dessert.

Barkworthy Breweries

Breweries tend to be the most inviting type of business for canines. Maybe it's because taprooms tend to attract animal-loving, outdoorsy types — like us! Minneapolis has a full complement of breweries on tap, and the majority welcome dogs, some in the taproom too. Leashed pups with well-behaved humans can land inside and out at Venn Brewing Company, just a 10-minute walk from HGTV Urban Oasis 2019. My human friends love the Solarising white stout and the Dreamsicle golden ale. A couple other notables: Modist Brewing Co. in the North Loop with its great food trucks, and Lakes & Legends in Loring Park as the first brewery in Minneapolis to allow doggos inside. Feelin' the love.

Treats

When your human has been a good girl, she needs to be rewarded. Luckily, Minneapolis has some great "treateries." The ever-trendy Glam Doll Donuts isn't just a pretty face. The gals make artisanal donuts, fritters and crullers in a huge variety of fun flavor combos; my friend says the Femme Fatale is to die for. Another human favorite is the ice cream joint Milkjam Creamery, with its creatively named and delicious flavors that they'll put in anything — sundaes, sandwiches, cakes and pies, boozy floats and shakes. Guiding your friend here is not a totally altruistic endeavor: They have yummy ice cream bones! The original Glam Doll Donuts (this doll is popular enough to have two outfits in town) and Milkjam Creamery are both conveniently close to Lake of the Isles Dog Park. Just sayin'.

A Caffeinated City

The human obsession with coffee has always mystified me but I understand now, thanks to In the Loop Coffee Company in the North Loop area of downtown. This independent outfit uses organic, Fair Trade and locally roasted coffee in its human coffee drinks and offers yummy breakfast and lunch items too. But it's the "pupuccinos" — a specialty whip-based doggie drink — and the delicious treats on the counter that will make your butt sit and stay, my friend. The coffee shop owners and staff are so "fur-iendly" and you've got to love a place with photos of all your downtown buddies on the wall.

Or "Get Catfinated"

Let's "paws" here and get a plug in for the feline aficionados. Minneapolis has a coffee shop just for you! And, boy, is the Café Meow an interesting place to look in the window. (Canines are not allowed on the lounge side for obvious reasons.) Landlord doesn’t allow cats? Roommate or spouse allergic? Traveling on business and need to get your whisker fix? The Café Meow has you covered. The coffee shop side offers organic and Fair Trade coffee and tea, along with snacks and treats. Pay the admission and take your drink to the lounge side where you can enjoy your beverage in the company of a dozen suitably ambivalent felines, just like the cats you know and love. The kitties are potential adoptees from local shelters, reclining in style while they screen potential adopters (they just seem aloof). Online reservations for the lounge are recommended but a certain number of walk-ins are welcome every hour. Monthly gatherings include fundraising events, Catgo (bingo with cats), Paint Your Cat (not quite how it sounds) and Yoga With Cats (exactly how it sounds).

Shopping Around

Minneapolis has scores of stores that invite hounds in to sample the scents while humans spend their cents, including two highlights near HGTV Urban Oasis 2019. If your friend prefers her tunes spinning, SolSta Records in Longfellow has thousands of new and vintage records to flip through. Need the perfect gift? Homespun Décor & Gifts is a family-owned gift shop that sells creations from Minnesota artists: soaps, pottery, candles, woodwork, wall art, plants and more. Homespun hosts Meet the Maker events and classes too.

Fur Festivals

Get your party dress on because the city has a bunch of animal-centric events throughout the year. Homespun Décor & Gifts hosts the (hopefully) annual Minnehaha Falls Art Fair. Okay, it has some stuff that isn't fur-focused but with dog accessories, artisan dog treats and dog art (by hand and paw), local guide Sidewalk Dog calls it the dog-friendliest art fair in the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board hosts occasional events like Canine Carnival and Paint Your Own Pet. And then there's Woofstock: the annual block party put on by the Linden Hills Business Association and the largest dog party in town. It's the place to learn about local animal nonprofits, shop for dog gear and dog-themed art, participate in a fashion show, grab some food-truck grub and enjoy live music, together with thousands of your friends and their best friends.

The Great Outdoors

You know there isn’t such a thing as an inside dog. Fresh air is as necessary as a good dinner and a tummy scratch. Lucky for us, Minneapolis is a city that appreciates the great outdoors, with 180 parks in the city alone. That amounts to plenty of room to roam! All pets in Minneapolis need licensing — well, not Bubbles the fish — and as a "fur-iendly" city, vaccinated and leashed dogs are welcome in city parks and green spaces, on greenways and trails. We can even find inspiration for the next dog art event by contemplating human artistic endeavors at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (insert doggie head tilt here). Visit the city's Park & Recreation site for all the options for exploration; we're going to focus on the off-leash dog parks next. Yep, you heard me right: it's off the chain, my friend.

Parks for Pups

Can't you just feel the cool breeze whipping through your coat? Heck yeah, you can. So, first things first: a special off-leash permit required to play in the seven Minneapolis dog parks. It's easily available from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and can be purchased online. This permit is worth begging for because there are ACRES of space in this city to run free in with the proper pup passport. The parks are distributed equitably around the city, so wherever you find yourself, you won't have to drag your human far to hear that sound we all wait for: the click of the leash coming off. All that said, the most amazing park in the city is Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park in Minnehaha Regional Park. A 6-acre woodland wonderland with trails to keep the humans entertained and water-frolicking opps in the Mississippi River for the rest of us. Oh, my!

Local Fire Hydrants

As bowwow-welcoming as Minneapolis is, we couldn’t cover everything. Local resources abound, however, between the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, city info and local dog-enthusiast groups. One of the most comprehensive resources for the city is the online guide Sidewalk Dog — invaluable for hanging out in Minneapolis with your best friend. From shops, restaurants and parks to events, clubs and places to live and stay, the site is updated regularly with details not just of where to go, but what you'll find when you get there. Sidewalk Dog also has cool passes to purchase for free beer (Dog-Friendly Brewery Pass) or treats (Dog-Friendly Treat Pass) at dozens of local businesses. Sales support local nonprofits working with animals, like Pause 4 Paws and Secondhand Hounds. My tail's wagging. Is yours?