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Road Games Travel Tips: Explore the land of 10,000 lakes

Preseason, Week 2, Aug. 18: Seattle at Minnesota, U.S. Bank Stadium, 5 p.m. Pacific

SPONSORED – This trip will be warmer than it was three years ago.

That doesn’t tell you all that much, though, because Seattle’s playoff game at Minnesota in 2016 was the coldest game in Seahawks history: -6 degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff.
And even if it was that cold, it wouldn’t be that bad because Minnesota once again plays indoors after spending a couple of seasons squatting at the University of Minnesota while the new palace was constructed.

But while everyone knows how cold it can get in Minnesota, fewer people know what an utterly enjoyable city it can be. There’s great food, and August is when the city holds some of the Midwest’s best festivals. The Minnesota Fringe Festival is in its 25th year, and will take place Aug. 1 through 11 and the Powderhorn Art Fair is in its 28th year and will be held the first weekend of August.

My impression of Minnesota has changed a great deal over the past 20 years. I first came to the city covering professional basketball, which meant my visits took place during the five coldest months of the year, and I found it remarkable just how far you could walk downtown without ever going outside with all the skybridges to help keep you indoors.

Discovering that Minnesota actually has a summer that is warm, bordering on hot, was an absolute revelation and the fall, which may only last weeks, is certainly the most pleasant season.
July is the hottest month of the year in Minnesota, but August remains very, very warm and be advised that there’s a reason the locals refer to the mosquito as Minnesota’s state bird. They are indeed sizeable, and will stick around until the first frost so be prepared to lather up with bug spray.

As for food, I would encourage you to get both sides of a culinary debate that has raged for decades: who created the Jucy Lucy? Or is the Juicy Lucy? It’s all part of the origin myth regarding a specific Minnesota specialty in which the cheese isn’t just on the burger, but in it.

Matt’s Bar proudly boasts that it’s the birthplace while the 5-8 Club lays claim to the same title with the added caveat that it used to be a speakeasy.

Let me urge a little bit of caution before digging in, though. That cheese gets to be blistering hot inside that burger so exercise some discretion on the first few bites.

Travel: Alaska Airline has three non-stop flights from Sea-Tac to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) on most days. The Minneapolis airport has an incredible Web site that tells you everything from current security-line waits to parking availability. There is a local light-rail service that goes north – to downtown Minneapolis – or south to the Mall of America.

Stadium: This is the fourth season of operation for Minnesota’s fancy new football stadium with an angled glass roof that allows views of the Minneapolis skyline. It is the first fixed-roof stadium in the league since Ford Field in Detroit, which opened in 2002.

Last time here: Seattle played a preseason game at Minnesota last season, losing. The game before that was absolutely unforgettable as the coldest game in Seattle’s history took place in January 2016, a playoff game in which Seattle scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and then survived a missed field-goal attempt in the final minute.

Dining: Matt’s Bar and Grill (3500 Cedar, Minneapolis, 612.722.7072); The Butcher and the Boar (1121 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612.238.8888) is heaven for any carnivores while my personal off-the-wall favorite is Pizza Luce, which has eight locations, features the baked-potato pizza, which is outrageously good.