Parent's Weekend is one of the most fun and stressful parts of the year. Living in Twin Cities allows for all kinds of experiences, many I have yet to try. 

My freshman year of college was pure chaos when my parents came to a University of Minnesota sponsored Parent's Weekend event. Being a freshman, I had no idea where good places to eat were, and because of this, it was a struggle to move my whole family into the Stadium Village area with all the crowds after the football game.

We waited for a long time to eat at Punch Pizza, as many had a similar idea to go here. Not to mention, the drunk Gopher fans freaked out my younger sister quite a bit. While this was a fun weekend, it probably would have been better if my parents had not come during the chaos of the Gopher game, or if we had gone and explored the Twin Cities instead. 

After this experience, my family has decided to come on non-Gopher game weekends, and these experiences have always been better. If your parents can only make the trip during these game weekends, I have compiled a list of ways to show your parents the best parts of the U and the surrounding Twin Cities area.

beer, espresso, coffee
Abbie Kmiec

First of all, if you can, stay at the Commons Hotel. The Commons atmosphere is truly unique, and the staff provides some of the best customer service I have ever seen. My mom, an ex-travel agent, even says this,–and she's extremely picky when it comes to hotels. 

One of the best parts about staying at the Commons, though, is the shuttle that will be able to take you nearly anywhere in the Twin Cities. Just make sure to book a shuttle ahead of time so that you can get one to take you to the restaurant at the time you want. 


In the morning, my family and I are always craving some spectacular breakfast food. The Commons is great for accommodations, but their breakfast food is average and pretty expensive. However, there are so many great breakfast places to go out. 

A good and (not busy) breakfast spot is key during the rush of Parent's Weekend. Honestly, the pancake breakfast provided by the University is crowded and, frankly, the food don't taste that great. My family went all over trying to find a good breakfast spot and below are the ones we have so far deemed to be the best.

The Original Pancake House 

alcohol, wine, stout, tea, coffee, ale, beer
Abbie Kmiec

This one is definitely our all-time favorite. We come to the one in Roseville every Sunday morning before my parents drive home to get a scrumptious breakfast, and to also get my groceries in the area (my parents are pretty awesome). The reason we keep on coming back is because of their monster-sized omelettes, and my personal favorite, the Raspberry French Toast. You can also buy a cute Original Pancake House mug handmade by Deneen Pottery Company which is located in St. Paul.

#SpoonTip: To skip the lines, download the "Nowait" app on your phone to save your place in line even before you leave campus. 

Edina Grill 

syrup, whipped cream, cream, strawberry, toast, french toast
Abbie Kmiec

The Edina Grill is a restaurant my family and I recently discovered when my mom and I wanted to go shopping, and (shocker) my dad and sister didn't. We found a happy-medium in the mall, Southdale Center, and close to this restaurant there also featured a Dave & Buster's.

While the restaurant looked packed from the outside, and we were expecting to not be seated for up to an hour, but looks were deceiving– we were seated in 15 minutes. After sitting down, the waitress recommended the French Toast. They use an airy ciabatta bread, and topped it off with freshly cut strawberries, it was definitely worth following the recommendation.

#SpoonTip: Parking is free in the back.  

Tony's Diner

coffee, wine, beer
Abbie Kmiec

I recently went to Tony's with my boyfriend, and I think my family would love the atmosphere of this place. The interior is architecturally designed to be a very classic looking diner, but the experience is very homey.

It is basically a serve yourself restaurant, where you get your own syrup, drinks, silverware, etc; besides the waitresses that come to bring your food and clear your table when you are done.

This diner is the next breakfast place I plan on bringing my family to, and the fast service would make it an ideal place to grab a quick meal before exploring more of what the Twin Cities has to offer.

#SpoonTip: If you are not starving, do not order the full order of pancakes, I was barely able to finish the half. Also, if you are craving breakfast at night, this place is open until 3 AM. 


Dinner is what really drove my sister to fear the crowds in Minneapolis. It was around 6 pm when my family went out for our first ever dinner here, and the combination of Gopher fans and other Minnesotans going out to the bars made it quite a chaotic experience.

I love being a Gopher fan as much as the next person, but we are nuts about our sports, and this frightened my sister a little. Can you imagine being in an unfamiliar place, and randomly hear hundreds of students chant "Who hates Iowa? We hate Iowa!" after a game that wasn't even against Iowa? 

We do love to go out for dinner at unique places though, and having the Commons' shuttle to drive us to our destination is awesome. I would highly recommend exploring eating options in Uptown and there are some great places as well in Dinkytown and Stadium Village.

Loring Pasta Bar

beer, cake
Abbie Kmiec

I live in one of the apartment complexes in Dinkytown, and I have walked past Loring Pasta Bar countless times, and have I ever gone in? Never even thought about it. When my parents came, they spent Friday night bar-hopping in Dinky and they basically dragged me to Loring the next night (I wasn't complaining–I got free food right?)

The food was as amazing, but the interior of this restaurant is what really causes it to stand out. The restaurant combines whimsical and Italian style that creates this unique experience. This is an all-around great restaurant if you are looking to stay in the Dinkytown area, and still want upscale dining. 

#SpoonTip: They appreciate it if you make reservations ahead of time– plus it is sometimes closed for wedding events, so make sure to call before you get there. 

Haiku Japanese Bistro

nigiri, tuna, sushi
Abbie Kmiec

If you are looking to stay near campus, but still go to a modern-styled restaurant, Haiku is the place to go.

There is rarely ever a wait here, and the sushi is phenomenal. The rolls are not too expensive as well, so if you are really hungry, you can order Hibachi on the side. After going to Haiku once with my parents, I was hooked and once went three times in one week!

#SpoonTip: Sushi is half off after 9 PM.

Libertine Restaurant

Abbie Kmiec

Libertine is a great restaurant to go to to experience the Uptown area. We were recommended this place by our shuttle driver at the Commons Hotel, and it did not disappoint. Although a bit pricey, the set-up of the restaurant was casual and upscale at the same time.

There was an area separate from the dining area that included couches and board games so that you could sit at, eat your dinner, and play games at the same time. The food here is amazing, as well and the waitress recommended the lamb, which was phenomenal.

#SpoonTip: If there are no tables available, try to find a seat at the bar. You can order appetizers while you wait for your table. 

The Twin Cities area has such a unique restaurant scene that you can find anything you may be craving. Another place to check out that our bus driver recommended Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge as one, and my family already has it on our Twin Cities' restaurants bucket list.

Exploring the Twin Cities has provided some of the greatest experiences as a student here. My mom did not want me to go to the U for a reason– she knew I would end up moving to Minnesota permanently for the atmosphere. She is definitely not wrong...