Let's face it: Even the most passionate of romances can grow stale at times. You get into a routine. You go to the same ol' places for dinner and drinks every weekend. You play the same ol' game of "Well, what do you want to eat?" And, paralyzed by indecision, you end up spending the night on the couch, binge-watching Search Party and ordering in pizza.

When you're stuck in a rut this winter, these lesser-known local treasures in the Minneapolis area are sure to spice things up. They're practically made for lovebirds. And they're the perfect antidote to the ho-hum.

 

Lola's Lakehouse

Where: Waconia

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This place has it all: romantic ambiance, lakeside seating (for those rare yet glorious days when it hits 50 degrees in early March) and fantastic food. It's not exactly a secret, but it often gets overshadowed by Maynard's and Lord Fletcher's on nearby Lake Minnetonka.  And it's easy to overlook - especially if you don't venture to the southwest metro very often.

 

If you're into seafood, you'll find plenty of options here. They have classics like fish n' chips, Canadian walleye and crab cakes. But they also have delicacies like creamy mussels, pan-seared ahi, and house-cured salmon. For something a little different, try the lobster guacamole or shrimp shepherd's pie - you won't regret it!

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The Landing (Minnesota River Heritage Park)

Where: Shakopee

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Head a half-hour south for this hidden gem: a pioneer-age settlement on the banks of the Minnesota River. You'll feel like you've stepped back into the 19th-century frontier wandering amongst the stone cottages and log cabins. 

On some weekends, you'll also encounter settlers reenacting village life - harvesting apples, handcrafting furniture, making cider, baking bread, and milking cows. You may even see a Civil War-era soldier priming his musket for battle.

 

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Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery

Where: Saint Paul (West 7th)

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Speaking of stepping back in time, this quaint stone abode is the oldest saloon in the metro area. It originally opened before the Civil War and recently reopened in 2017.

You know the Danish term "hygge" - meaning cozy - that's become something of a Minnesota ideal? Well, this place is the embodiment of that term. You can swap sips of house-made lager in the warm glow of lamplight while snuggling up by a roaring wood stove.

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But don't be fooled by the Danish reference; it's German through-and-through. Every detail, from the menu to the decor, reflects the legacy of the Bavarian immigrants who founded it. The place lives up to its tagline: "lore, legend, and lager."

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Mill Ruins Park

Where: Downtown Minneapolis

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This place is picturesque year-round, and it's even more magical with a fresh dusting of snow. Wander amongst the riverside ruins while enjoying spectacular views of the snowy city. Then warm up with some hot cocoa at one of the many coffee shops downtown.

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Hotel Hewing's Rooftop Patio

Where: Downtown Minneapolis

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Treat her to drinks - or better yet, a weekend staycation - at this upscale hotel in the North Loop. You know she deserves it!

Built in a historic warehouse, the Hewing retains much of its original character alongside modern updates - including a rooftop whirlpool. You can sip drinks and soak in the hot tub while taking in world-class views of the city.

 

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Keg and Case

Where: Saint Paul (West 7th)

 

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Hurry - this exuberant market won't stay a secret for long! Recently opened in a renovated 1920s beer warehouse attached to the historic Schmidt's Brewery, it already has a huge following. More than two dozen vendors have opened up shop in this vast space, and more are on the way.

 

What exactly is it, you might ask? Put simply, it's a showcase for some of the best food and drink in the Twin Cities. For a romantic dinner that's sure to satisfy, try the venison ragu or pheasant boudin blanc at In Bloom, an upscale eatery focusing on wild and foraged foods. Or, for something more down-to-earth,  share a rack of BBQ ribs from Revival Smoked Meats.

End the night on an exotic note with honey-chamomile-ale ice cream from Sweet Science, a unique local creamery featuring all-natural ingredients. (Believe me, it's never too cold outside for this sweet treat.) Or choose from more than 50 flavors of cotton candy (including pineapple habanero, lemon cardamom, and lavender love!) at Spinning Wylde.

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The Soap Factory

Where: Saint Anthony Main

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Spoiler: it's not actually a soap factory. At least, not anymore. An experimental art gallery in a Minneapolis warehouse dating from the 1880s, it underwent a $6.2-million renovation before reopening in 2017.

You won't find watercolors or oil-on-canvas here. The exhibits are decidedly modern. Most involve three-dimensional installations that you can walk through and interact with. So even if you're not into art - or modern art, at that - you can still enjoy a unique experience with your s/o.

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Lock and Dam No. 1 (Ford Dam)

Where: Saint Paul (Highland)

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You're probably familiar with the Upper St. Anthony Falls Dam in the mill district downtown. It's perhaps the best-known of the river "stairways" that make the Mississippi navigable all the way down to the Gulf. Further downstream, though, you'll find another dam that's just as impressive - and less crowded. 

 

From the scenic overlook off Mississippi River Boulevard, you'll enjoy spectacular views of the river against the backdrop of the Ford Parkway Bridge and the cityscape beyond. Then, meander down the riverside walkway for a closer look at the falls. At 30 feet high, they display the raw power of the Mighty Mississippi.

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The Marsh

Where: Minnetonka

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What better way to reconnect than to enjoy a relaxing retreat together? Here, your worries will melt away. 

The Marsh is more than just a spa. It's got everything you need to really unwind. In addition to a couples' massage, you can soak in the therapy pool, let go of your stress in the Meditation Tower, share a romantic meal in the Moon Terrace Restaurant or even stay the night in a luxurious guest room.

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Hidden Falls Regional Park

Where: Saint Paul (Highland)

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Forget Minnehaha Falls. Just across the river, you'll find a lesser-known frozen waterfall that's just as gorgeous - and far more private. With 6-plus miles of walking paths along the snowy wooded river banks, you won't have any trouble finding a secluded spot for a smooch.

Many a proposal has taken place here. And it's easy to see why - it's the perfect place to steal an intimate moment, allowing time to stand still amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life.

 

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7 Vines Winery

Where: Dellwood

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Nothing says romance like wine. Except, maybe, chocolate. Or wine and chocolate. But I digress...

One of the newest vineyards to join Minnesota's burgeoning wine country, it's an exquisite setting for amour amidst the snow-covered rolling hills of rural Dellwood. Book a tour and tasting for an outing that'll ignite your ardor.

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Minnesota Streetcar Museum

Where: South Minneapolis (Linden Hills) and Excelsior

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You don't have to go to San Francisco for a romantic streetcar ride. Take the Como-Harriet line for a scenic journey along Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet. Or take the Excelsior Line to the heart of the Water Street historical area, where you'll find plenty of award-winning eateries. It's the perfect way to kick off a memorable date night.

Come December, hop aboard the "Holly Trolley" for a festive visit with Santa.

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Hudson Pier

Where: Hudson, WI

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In the mood for an icy riverside stroll? Bundle up and head just across the border to Hudson. You'll see some stunning views of the river bluffs - that become a true winter wonderland. And the frozen St. Croix makes the perfect backdrop for a candid photo op.

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Museum of Russian Art

Where: South Minneapolis (Windom)

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The Twin Cities is home to several world-class art museums - and, though often overlooked, this place is certainly among them. It's the biggest private collection of Russian Realist art outside the old Soviet Union.

Strolling through the galleries with your s/o, you can admire traditional and modern works spanning centuries of Russian history. The building alone makes it worth a visit. A stucco Spanish-colonial church modeled after a San Antonio mission, it's an unlikely collision of cultures between the interior and exterior.

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