Hot intersections: 38th & Grand

Something for everyone spills out onto the sidewalk in this stretch of Kingfield. Photo by Linda Koutsky


Rested and rejuvenated, I just got back from a fabulous vacation. I know, you’re thinking Mesa, Ariz.; sunny southern California; or maybe even Toronto. But no, it was right here in Minneapolis. I always believed “vacation” can be a state of mind. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with a two- or four-hour vacation. If you’re in the mood, it’s a vacation. Vacations are good for you — they make you happy and less stressed. And we need more happy, rested people on this planet.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary has four entries for the noun “vacation.” Join me, as I see how they apply to my recent getaway.

: a time of respite from something

I’d been tied to my desk for days and needed to do something different, find some inspiration. Someone told me about a fun store at 38th & Grand. The whole intersection turned out to be a delightful escape with several stores and restaurants to explore.

Right when I parked, I saw the flower shop. Perfect beginning! When was the last time you bought flowers for yourself? Petersen Flowers sold their first blooms at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market in 1989, then opened this store six years later. Walk right into the glass-walled cooler yourself and pick out a fragrant bouquet. I got eucalyptus because its scent reminds me of Carmel, Calif. Ask for a fresh cut and watch a giant paper cutter-like blade chop through the entire bouquet at once — free entertainment with your purchase.

: a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation

A Wallets poster hangs on the door at The Record Spot so you know this place is going to have an interesting assortment. Owner Dave Foley also spins disks around the corner at Grand Cafe’s Vinyl Nights (open Thursday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.). Spilling out onto the sidewalk, Wanderland is chock full of vintage and repurposed treasures culled from building demolitions and estate sales. Garden antiques and plenty of flower motifs welcome the season (open Thursday–Sunday, noon–6 p.m. Visit Wanderland on Facebook).

With sunlight streaming through its many windows, Digs is a cheerful browser’s delight. New, vintage, and handmade items share tables in creative still lifes. Minnesota-themed artworks fill stacked displays along with pieces consigned by artists from across the country — check out the map of artists behind the register. Bins of yarn, sewing supplies, vintage fabrics, and craft items round out the back area of this larger-than-it-looks storefront. Check out their website for creative textile classes (Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; closed Mondays.

: an act or an instance of vacating

After all that inspirational shopping I needed a break. Exotic flavors abound at this intersection. Victor’s 1959 Cafe looks more like Key West than Minneapolis. Located in a former gas station, this popular Cuban restaurant is a summer hit with its funky, floral patio. Sweet plantains, Spanish rice, pineapple-mango salsa, plenty of fish and seafood, and coconut ice cream convert diners into regulars. Bring the flavors home with bottled sauces and dressings to go. Guy Fiero said he could eat the Picadillo a la Cubano every day. See his video clip from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives at (open daily). A long list of rosé wines welcome patrons at Rincón 38. Creative tapas include dates with smoked bacon, saffron cauliflower, fennel slaw, and spicy Spanish meatballs (open daily from late afternoon to dinner. The Grand Cafe is a neighborhood favorite serving American and Continental bistro fare in what had been an old world bakery (open daily except Mondays.

: a scheduled period during which activity is suspended

Entering Sugar Sugar is like you’ve walked into a 1920s movie set of the cutest store you’ve ever seen. Perfect displays of precious morsels look more a museum display than a candy store. Vintage-style candies from your childhood, exotic worldly sweets, and artisan chocolates from Minnesota makers fill the shelves. But with three schools nearby, this is also a favorite after school destination for kids. Their favorite: gummy worms.

After several hours of looking, thinking, resting, and being inspired, I was rejuvenated! The Oxford English Dictionary says the word “vacation” comes from an old French or Latin word “vacare,” meaning to “be unoccupied.” My mission for you is to go on vacation. Wander around, go somewhere new, bike someplace — but be unoccupied, in the moment. Don’t check your e-mail for a couple hours. Do it this weekend or take a half-day off work. That’s why we have personal days. It’s finally spring in Minnesota — get out and enjoy it.