HOME > Chowhound > Minneapolis-St. Paul >


4 hour early morning stopover

Hi all,

I have a stopover from 6am-10am Saturday morning. Instead of sitting at airport, I am thinking of taking a taxi for one or two hours and check out the city. Assuming the flight arrives on time, I guess I'll have to be back at the airport by 9am. Does that seem feasible? I have never been to Minneapolis. Also if I do get out, are there an great places for breakfast (greasy, savory)? I am not much into pancake type breakfasts. But if there is something unique to the minneapolis, I absolutely want to try it.

Thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I haven't flown anywhere recently, but I'm sure others will be able to advise you. I know this was in the news recently; airport officials were recommending arriving 2.5 hours before your flight time. http://m.startribune.com/?id=252444311

    If you do decide to venture out, Al's Breakfast is the quintessential Minneapolis greasy spoon. They have the James Beard award to prove it.

    In Saint Paul, it's got to be Mickey's Diner. The downtown one. It's an authentic dining car.

    You can't go wrong with either one.

    1. Surdyks is in the airport and a favorite. You can get surly's and Bloodies with beer backs. Barrio in the airport is good too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: stepawayfromthetable

        Just a caution that Surdyk Flights, at least in Terminal 1, doesn't open until 8 on Saturdays. I've begged to buy a yogurt while they were setting up and have been turned away.

        If you have precheck or can figure out how to get to the "secret" skyway security checkpoint, I'd say it is doable, but really not worth the expense of the cabs.

      2. French Meadow Bakery has a location at the airport. I get that wanting to see the Twin Cities is interesting, but MSP has been voted as one of the best airports in the country.

        1. Stingrayy, neither Surdyk's or French Meadow Bakery are greasy spoons but I agree with the sentiment. Staying at the airport is your best bet.

          1. Thanks for the quick replies everyone, definitely will research more before venturing out. But atleast I have options at the airport if my plane arrives late.

            1. I think it is JUST feasible if you're plane actually lands at 6 and you are off the plane, through the terminal, and at the taxi stand by 6:30. You will want to arrange for a cab to pick you up at a preset time (8?) to take you back to the airport. As long as you factor in 20-25 minute cab rides each way, and you can make it back to the airport by 8:30, I expect you should be able to get through security and back to your gate in time for your 9:30 boarding.

              This leaves little margin for error, and honestly, it's not worth it. There are some great breakfast spots in town, but Minneapolis also has some of the most expensive cabs in the country -- I'd figure around $30 each way for a ride to Al's Breakfast or Mickey's Diner.

              You'll do much better to eat in the airport -- some great spots include Ike's, French Meadow, Surdyk's Flights, and a passel of new and fun restaurants down the G concourse. You'll have more (and less expensive) fun spending a half hour checking out the menus at the various options before settling on a place to eat in the airport.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jordan

                I agree with staying put - yes a bit boring, but not worth the risk IMO. Ike's also has a fabulous bloody.

              2. until my boyfriend and i split in january, i was commuting to the twin cities every other month to see him. so i have a lot (a LOT) of experience with MSP. the short answer to your question is no, i don't think it's really feasible.

                the long answer is:
                on your timeline, i'd only leave the airport if i had a burning desire to have that 4-hour stopover turn into a missed flight, fees, and waiting to be rebooked. you MIGHT get lucky; your flight MIGHT be perfectly on-time/early, you MIGHT not hit any traffic on your way into the city, there MIGHT not be a line at wherever you want to eat, you MIGHT get a fast server and a prompt kitchen team, you MIGHT not have to wait to pay your bill, you MIGHT get a cab right johnny-on-the-spot, you MIGHT not hit traffic on the way back to the airport, you MIGHT not have a line at security to get back in... but then again, any or a combination of the above is reasonably likely to happen. i've had MSP take over an hour for security, even when the line wasn't overly long.

                it's really not worth the gamble. there are some very reasonable food choices in the airport, and really, if you want to explore the MSP food scene, make a trip of it. there's plenty of good food in the area, and it's a cute town in general. trying to sneak this breakfast in like this pretty much promises the following:
                1) it will be a stressful morning,
                2) you are very likely to miss your next flight, and
                3) you're shortchanging minneapolis/st paul.

                safe travels!

                1 Reply
                1. re: chartreauxx

                  I twnd to agree with all of your points, especially about not knowing how long it will take going through TSA. however, if I was going to downtown Minneapolis (not anywhere else in Minneapolis) I would take the light rail and not a cab.The light rail from the airport to downtown takes about 20 minutes.

                2. As a traveler, you are going to be on a tight timeline. Are you a TSA-Pre member? If you are, that will cut down your security time to a mere minutes and save you the hassle of taking off your shoes, removing your laptop, and the rest. For the regular lines, most times the average time to get through is 20-30 minutes recently.

                  If I was going to try this, I'd take a taxi to Mickey's Dining Car in downtown St. Paul as Chilly Dog suggests. It's about a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport. it's about as unique as it gets. The All Day is their signature breakfast and the hash browns are about as good as it gets: http://www.mickeysdiningcar.com/
                  Mickey's is open 24/7, every day of the year.

                  Minneapolis will take longer to get to and thus be considerably more expensive.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Db Cooper

                    Of course, the cab fare to and from Mickey's will be about 8x the cost of the meal!

                    1. re: Jordan

                      you should just stay over for a couple of days...

                      1. re: Jordan

                        I agree. Each way the cab fair would be around $30 I would guess.

                        If it were me I would just eat at the airport. There are many options, but I don't know what is available that early on a Saturday morning.

                    2. I think I am going to take everyones recommendation and stay put! As much as I don't want to hang out at the airport, don't want to miss my flight more. Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to reply.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: stingrayy990

                        well you could eat at the airport and have your toes painted or something I think Aveda has a spa there

                        1. re: stingrayy990

                          MSP is actually a pretty pleasant little airport. besides, it's only for a few hours :-) have a bite, or a mimosa, or both, and bring a good book or get a massage or something. have a safe trip.

                          1. re: chartreauxx

                            MSP is has the 16th most passenger traffic in the U.S. It has two terminals. I don't really think of it as 'little'.

                            1. re: John E.

                              gee, sorry, no offense intended. in recent years i've mostly been flying through SEA, ORD, NRT (tokyo), BKK (bangkok), icn (seoul), and MSP, so i guess it just seemed small relative to most of the other airports i pass through! :-) i quite like it, though, very pleasant.

                              1. re: chartreauxx

                                I didn't mean to sound defensive. You were probably unaware of the second terminal. There are six more airlines, including Southwest that fly out of Terminal 2.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  The second terminal has really grown from what it used to be. It looks about like what the main terminal was long ago.

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    I remember parking in front of the old Humphrey terminal like I was parking in front of Walgreen's. I left the car and went in to the one baggage carousel to pick up my parents after a convention in Las Vegas. I think I was wearing Zubaz.

                                    Just the other night I happened to watch part of the old movie Airport on cable.

                                    One of the things I remember about MSP from the old days are the chairs with tiny B/W televisions attached in which quarters were needed so you could watch 4,5,9, & 11 (and maybe 2).

                                    This is going to make me sound much older than I am, but my family used to fly from my tiny hometown in sw Minnesota on North Central airlines DC-3s to MSP. i remember the stewerdesses handing out Wrigley Doublemint gum because the cabins were not pressurized. I think they were flown at about 8,000 feet.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      Wow. I remember being stranded in Humphrey when our charter to Florida was horribly delayed. There were many children on this flight and we were stuck there for hours. Some of us began running VERY low on diapers for our little ones. It wasn't pretty.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        The first time I can recall flying out of Humphrey was when I was a college freshman going to the Bahamas over Christmas break. ($420/week, airfare and hotel. The mice were a bonus.) We drove up to 'the cities' in my buddy's family's custom van. It's a good thing we filled the gas tank before we got on the plane. Do you remember MLT Vacations?

                          2. re: stingrayy990

                            I hope you will report back here how it went.

                          3. I'm a frequent traveler and I disagree with most of the advice here. Lines have a been a little longer recently but not 2.5 hours. And besides Saturday morning is typically a little quieter than Monday/Fridays/Sunday.

                            If the weather is nice I'd take a cab to Zumbro Cafe in Linden Hills. It's not near downtown Minneapolis, but it's one of the nicest little areas in the city (Linden Hills), it's close to the airport, and the food is excellent. Google says it's 20 min drive and if you're sitting at 7:30 when they open I don't see how you wouldn't be back at the airport by 9 or so. It's a little cafe where my wife and kid and I all typically eat in 45 minutes tops. If you finish quickly, order an Uber when you're done and have it pick you up over by Lake Harriet bandshell, and you'll see the downtown skyline on your 5 minute walk over. I like the spirit of not just sitting in the airport and this feels very doable to me.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: parallevar

                              Yes, it CAN be done, if all the timing lines up perfectly. It just makes the connection awfully tight, and it still adds $60 in cab fare to breakfast.

                              1. re: parallevar

                                The Zumbro is great; I go there often for brunch. But I don't think of it as unique to MSP other than possibly the wild rice hash. Also, I would consider it an anti-greasy spoon; not at all what the OP was requesting.

                              2. The problem with staying at the airport is that many places won't yet be open when you land. Some of the coffee chains will, but I'm not certain about the rest.

                                Your shortest cab ride (less than 15 minutes) will bring you to either Highland Grill or Colossal Cafe (original location on Cedar). Colossal opens at 6:00. I think Highland Grill does also. But cab fare will average around $15-20 each way. If you are flying on Delta, it's probably cheaper to buy a one day pass to their airport club lounge.

                                If it was me, I'd get a coffee at the airport, read, and go to Surdyk's or French Meadow when they open.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Brad Ballinger

                                  I'm thinking Ike's would be my choice. They have a pretty hearty breakfast menu -- big steak and eggs with hash browns will get the day started!

                                  1. re: Jordan

                                    i changed my mind about Surdyk's and French Meadow. I'd get the corned beef hash and have them add grilled onions.

                                  2. re: Brad Ballinger

                                    The only issue with the Sky Club is that they don't serve a hot breakfast. It's more rolls, cereal, etc. They have a toaster for bagels, bread. But you aren't going to have eggs, bacon, and other breakfast foods available.

                                    But it is comfortable and quiet and gets you away from the rest of the bustle of the airport.