Voices: Be a Downtown tourist

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September 28, 2009 // UPDATED 10:36 am - September 28, 2009
By: Sarah harris
Sarah harris
Recently I was having lunch with a business colleague and he was telling me about the many wonderful things he did when showing his out-of-town visitors our fine city. They took a Segway tour of the Mississippi River, ate at a Downtown restaurant and then went to the theater. We weren’t sure who had more fun exploring.

So why don’t we all visit our city on a regular basis?

Downtown Minneapolis has so much to offer. Each day take time to explore. Find a new route to walk, a new activity or event to attend, and a new retailer or restaurant to patronize. Why not go to live theater or a sporting event? There’s nothing quite like being part of the audience. And, in addition to the full time activities, let’s not forget about the peppering of activities that happen at different times of the year: Aquatennial, Holidazzle, Alive After 5 concerts, Sommerfest, Farmers Markets, marathons and the list goes on.

Minneapolis has the best of the best, and, unlike most major cities, we are compact enough that the best is available without extra effort. Downtown opportunities abound:

Art and performances.Attend music and other performances at the Hennepin Avenue theatres, Guthrie, Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden, Orchestra Hall, The Lab, Hennepin Center for the Arts (and the Shubert breaks ground this year!). In addition to the numerous indoor galleries in Downtown remember there are astounding outdoor exhibits as well, including the artist designed utility boxes along Hennepin Avenue or the various sculptures and public art along Nicollet Mall.

Sports. Be a true fan and attend games of the Lynx, Wolves, Vikes and Twins.

Explore. Nature and history abound along the Mississippi River (ever been to the Observation Deck at the Lock and Dam?), Stone Arch Bridge, Mill City Museum.  Segway tour anyone?

Fitness. Get your exercise ice skating or playing in the water park at the Depot, bike riding and walking along the river, kayaking on the river or working out at one of the many Downtown fitness clubs.  

Learning. Attend courses at MCTC, Metro State, the University of St. Thomas, Globe School of Business, Art Institutes International, the Guthrie or MacPhail Center for Music. And, of course the Central Library in Downtown offers a world of learning and imagination for all ages.

Retail & entertainment. Shop along the Nicollet Mall. Eat food from all nations and price points. Hear live music while you eat at the Dakota Jazz Club, Fine Line Music Cafe or numerous other venues.

To the Dogs. Even our four-legged friends will love Downtown with not one, but two, off-leash dog-parks ready for running and fetching.

While you’re out enjoying Downtown, I encourage you to take note of the Downtown Improvement District and what we’re doing well and what we can improve upon. You can comment at MinneapolisDID.com.

Ambassador Profile
Marty, Safe Ambassador

Question most frequently asked of Marty: Who pays for the Downtown Improvement District?

When people ask Marty who supports the Ambassador program, he is proud to answer.  The Downtown Business Community supports the work the Ambassadors do so that Downtown can be welcoming to everyone — and everyone can take advantage of the many wonderful things Downtown has to offer.

Marty was born in Phoenix, Ariz., but has lived all over the country. In 1995, when he was ready for a change, he saw a video about all 50 states narrated by Hal Holbrooke. Marty had no connection to Minnesota, but the video made a compelling case for the high quality of life offered here. When he came to investigate, he was awestruck by the abundance of arts and culture. Since moving here, he practically lives at the Guthrie Theater and has joined the Playwright Center. He’s also a fan of Theater in the Round, the Penumbra and Frank Theater. And, on top of it all, he discovered that “Minnesota Nice is 100 percent true — it is not just PR.”

When Marty was looking for employment, he walked up to a green-shirted Ambassador to learn more about the program. The Ambassador was so effusive and positive, that Marty applied for the position. Now, as an Ambassador himself, he loves the program. “It’s not just a job to make a living, its making a substantive difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Marty said that his core belief is that every person in Downtown — resident, worker or visitor “has the right to a safe, clean environment — no one should be afraid to walk Downtown — that’s why most of the Ambassadors are doing this job.”

And, since he has lived elsewhere, he can say with confidence that “other cities don’t offer the arts, diversity, livability, cleanliness and natural amenities that we have right here in Minneapolis.” Well said, Marty.

Sarah Harris is the Chief Operating Officer of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Downtown a clean, safe, green and vibrant place to be.