Target Field: Baseball Gameday GuideThe Target Field experience starts outside the gates, on Target Plaza, the gateway from the downtown core to the stadium. On game day, a considerable portion of Twins fans enter through the plaza, flowing past the statues of Twins legends Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett, pausing at the hot dog vendors and the plaques with Twins history, relaxing on the benches while waiting for friends.
It's a seamless transition from the bustle of the surrounding neighborhoods—and that's precisely the point. Target Field, which opened in 2010, was designed to fit a tight downtown site and to integrate with the lively streetscapes of the area. Thanks in part to Target Plaza, the stadium has become a crossroads of downtown Minneapolis, a link between the towering office buildings of the commercial center and the residential North Loop section of the Warehouse District, an up-and-coming neighborhood where old warehouses are being converted to lofts and farm-to-table restaurant .
Target Field itself has some design quirks worth observing. Built with sustainability in mind, it's officially recognized as the Greenest Ballpark in America. And the overall aesthetic, though unequivocally modern, takes many cues from its surroundings, including lots of buff-colored Kasota stone, a common material in many local landmarks.
In short: there's a lot going here, in both the ballpark and its environs. All in all, it's a friendly, low-key sort of liveliness, a place where visitors and families feel welcome.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE A TWINS GAME
Arrive an hour or so early to join the pregame festivities surrounding the stadium. Hennepin Avenue and North First Avenue have plenty of bars and restaurants, but for Twins fans, the action centers on Target Plaza. Snap photos with the statues, grab a pregame snack or listen to the live radio broadcast from a booth on the plaza.
WHERE TO GET A BEER
Fulton Tap Room | The Minneapolis craft-beer scene is booming, and one of the best known, Fulton, is located just a couple of blocks from Target Field. (AOL Travel recently named it the best place to have a local beer in Minnesota.) Along with the brewery, the Fulton Tap Room offers up a number of choices that are brewed on site. Try the Lonely Blonde ($5 for a pint), light yet exceptionally flavorful, an ideal summertime brew. On game days, local food trucks park outside, since the Tap Room doesn't have a food license.
WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
Kieran's Irish Pub | Situated at one of the main intersections leading to the stadium, Kieran's is built for walk-in traffic. Lots of it. And that's been a problem, since the pub is located in the middle of a construction zone as Mayo Clinic Square (also known as Block E) undergoes a massive reboot. But the front entrance is now available again and that makes getting into the place a lot less challenging. Inside, the sprawling space is nicely broken up with dark-wood bars and cozy booths, ready to accommodate groups of any size. But it's the expansive patio where you should head with your pals to watch the world go by and sip a Big Ginger, the house specialty cocktail, combining 2 Gingers Whiskey (a label started by Kieran himself) and ginger ale ($7).
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
The Depot Tavern at First Avenue | Prince made First Avenue the town's iconic music venue, but The Depot Tavern right next door is a much lesser-known star, a self-proclaimed "Neighborhood Bar, Downtown." This converted Greyhound Bus Station isn't flashy, but it does have tons of local beers and a mile-long sandwich and burger menu. One local favorite is the trademarked Diamond Dog ($8), which is bacon wrapped, deep fried and served on a pretzel bun.
WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Brothers Bar & Grill | The area around Target Field is also the general nightlife area of Minneapolis, so party bars abound. It's never too early for carousing at Brothers, where happy hour runs from 3 p.m. all the way to 8 p.m., and every day has its own party-drink specials. If you need a vodka and Red Bull before the game, here is your spot.
WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Saffron Restaurant & Lounge | Sophisticated but not stuffy or too expensive, Saffron is one of the Warehouse District's culinary standard-bearers. The menu of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine changes regularly, but you can always get favorites like the house-made hummus or the justly famous BLT made with lamb bacon, saffron-tomato jam and arugula. It's two blocks from the stadium, so you'll have a quick postdinner commute.
WHERE TO EAT OR DRINK WITH A CLASSIC MINNESOTA VIBE
The Bachelor Farmer | For a modern, offbeat riff on Minneapolis's Nordic roots, head to the Bachelor Farmer. It's far more sophisticated than your typical pregame bar food, although the atmosphere is still casual enough that no one will care if you wear your jersey. Reservations are a must, but it's worth the effort for a menu that showcases local ingredients, including herbs and vegetables from the restaurant's rooftop garden. Try the toasts, the homey staple made new with spreads like baked Camembert with roasted and pickled shallots (the menu changes weekly, but toasts are around $11 for a serving suitable for sharing). The restaurant is now open for Sunday brunch, which makes for a nice pre-game treat. But be warned that its first-come, first-served.
CAN YOU TAILGATE AT TARGET FIELD?
There's no tailgating here (and very few nearby surface lots). But you can find some of that hanging-out vibe at Target Plaza before the games.
Target Field is just a few blocks from the heart of downtown Minneapolis and all manner of shopping, restaurants and interesting architecture, like modernist masterpiece IDS Building. For a more natural setting, walk to the Mississippi riverfront to see Saint Anthony Falls, or use the local bike-share program, Nice Ride, and pedal a short distance to the Walker Sculpture Garden.
INSIDE TARGET FIELD
Wayne Kryduba, MLB Photographer
Local eats, friendly fans and great views from every seat; the game itself is only one of the things that draw fans to Target Field.
WHERE TO SIT
Target Field is a fairly small ballpark, with great sightlines—no matter where you sit, you'll have a good view of the game. The top rows of seats on the infield side are protected from the rain by an overhanging canopy. Sit on the third-base side for the best views of the downtown skyline, which is especially picturesque in the soft glow of sunset. If you desperately want to catch a ball, well, there's a reason the Home Run Porch has that name.
AZ Canteen | "Bizarre Foods" TV host Andrew Zimmern brings his culinary zeal back home with AZ Canteen, in Section 120, which features his take on ballpark food, like a Minnesota Crispy Belly Bacon Sandwich with jalapeno jelly and vinegar slaw ($10).
BEST LOCAL VENDOR
The Butcher & The Boar | Follow the smoke signals to Minneapolis's grilled-meat gurus, The Butcher & The Boar, who set up shop near the Target Plaza gate. Get a basket of rib tips ($12.50) washed down with a Jim Beam Hurricane cocktail ($8).
BEST BEER IN TARGET FIELD
Minnesota Brews | With multiple locations around the park, Minnesota Brews kiosks pour a deep roster of Minnesota beers, including Fulton, Surly, and Lift Bridge ($6.50 for most). For a truly quintessential Minnesota brew, get a Summit Extra Pale Ale ($6.50). The stadium also recently introduced machines that let fans pour their own beer.
WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Halsey's Sausage Haus | The wild rice soup ($6) at Halsey's (Sections 105 and 120) is both healthier than most of the deep-fried fare nearby and, bonus, a most Minnesotan sort of meal. If you're going even lighter, the food stand in Sections 323 offers chopped salads ($8).
BEST STADIUM BAR
Barrios | Located below the Budweiser Roof Deck in the left field corner of Target Field, the bar was formerly a team merchandise shop. But it's been converted into a full-blown bar, complete with a 420-square foot video display that circles the top of the space. Besides the expected selection of beers, the Barrios popular line of tequila drinks will also be available.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
Target Field is the only major-league ballpark with a curator on staff, who handles the various displays and exhibits around the stadium. Outside the Town Ball bar, a wall of vintage photos offers a history of amateur baseball in Minnesota. Out on Target Plaza are statues of Twins greats Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew frozen in action. The plaza also has subtly clever design elements like circular benches that are exactly the size of the pitcher's mound and nine light poles, a new one lighting up every inning.
TARGET FIELD TOURS
The Twins offer a variety of tours, both public and private, including on game days. Adult tickets start at $17.
TWINS GAMES ON A BUDGET
Wayne Kryduba, MLB Photographer
It's easy enough to overspend at Target Field, especially if you go for the specialty food items, but there are plenty of wallet-friendly deals if you know where to look. Take advantage of the special deals offered nearly every day of the week—Military Mondays, Student Day on Wednesdays, cheap drinks on Thirsty Thursday (check the Twins single-game ticket page for specific details). The Twins also post weekly Digital Deals with special ticket offers.
WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
Gluek's | Gluek's pairs historic Bavarian beer hall looks with a seriously impressive and affordable beer list. Before every home and away game, you can get a special $8 Twins deal that includes a Brat and a beer.
BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND TARGET FIELD
Pizza Lucé | Downtown's best pizza shop is also one of the closest eateries to Target Field. Lucé has a long menu, but stick to the pizza, which routinely wins local best-of polls. It's offered in slices or whole pies, each with a toothsome crust and slightly zesty sauce (slices from $4; medium pizza $13 and up). Gluten-free pizzas and pasta dishes are also available.
BEST CHEAP TWINS TICKETS
Scalpers abound in the streets surrounding the stadium, particularly along North First Avenue. If that makes you nervous or uncomfortable, StubHub is the go-to online ticket reseller. Depending on demand (read: how well the team is doing, which is acceptably mediocre right now), you can often find tickets sold at a discount from face value.
TARGET FIELD WITH KIDS
Target Field is about as family-friendly as a pro-sports stadium can get, from the food options to the easy-to-navigate layout (including tons of well-maintained bathrooms) to the general wholesome vibe in the stands—no drunken hecklers here.
WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
Target Plaza | With its statues, food vendors and even bathrooms open to the public, Target Plaza is a family-friendly place for hanging out. Near the main gates to the stadium, a huge bronze glove ostensibly celebrates the Twins' Gold Glove-winning players but has become best known as the go-to photo op on game day, with families piling into the palm and posing for the cameras. Expect a long line.
For a sit-down meal, Crave on Hennepin Avenue has something for everyone, from pizza to sushi to steak.
BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
Izzy's Ice Cream | Izzy's, in Section 114, is a kid favorite, with a rotating roster of flavors. There's chocolate, of course, and vanilla, but also innovations like Norwegian Chai. Each serving ($7) comes with an Izzy, a bonus mini-scoop of your choice.
WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
For kids, autographs are easy—as long as it's a Sunday day game, when children 14 and under can get autographs from players for free. Other days (and for the over-14 set), official policy is that Twins players are not allowed to sign autographs before the game; the organization prefers that fans mail in requests. Postgame, some fans camp out near the exit of the fenced-in VIP parking lot, hoping that players will stop in their cars on their way out.
NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
The flag terrace in right field is essentially a continuation of Target Plaza, with lots of open space where kids can run around while parents can keep an eye on the game.
WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR THE KIDS
If it's a hat or a basic T-shirt you're after, head out to the concourse, where there are small gear shops seemingly everywhere. For more options—way, way more options—the Majestic Twins Clubhouse has every conceivable Twins-branded item you or your kid could dream up.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A TWINS GAME
The end of the game at Target Field does not mean the end of the night—even if the Twins aren't playing, there's plenty of activity in the surrounding area. It's a particularly good idea to linger if you drove, as traffic can take a while to untangle; lines for the trains can also get lengthy. There are plenty of cozy bars where you can wait out the crowds.
WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Hubert's | Hubert's is the first bar you see when you leave Target Plaza—you pass it before you even have to cross a street. The long line of TVs facing the sidewalk draws in passing fans, moth-like, and the party keeps going well into the night. More games to watch, more beers to drink, more high-fives to give to random strangers.
WHERE TO GET A POSTGAME MEAL
112 Eatery | Even if the game goes into extra innings, there are good food options late into the night—namely, the 112 Eatery, a few blocks from Target Field. Chef Isaac Becker, a James Beard Award winner, offers his full menu until midnight Monday through Thursday, 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, for anyone craving some postgame pork osso buco.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
There are bars and restaurants for all moods and budgets in the surrounding areas. Leave via Gate 6, by the light-rail station, to go to the hip eateries of the North Loop neighborhood (note that you'll have to walk through a couple of blocks of not-yet-revitalized old warehouses to get to the heart of the North Loop; it's mostly safe, but stay alert). Or stay close by and follow the tide of pedestrians out to Target Plaza and the offerings beyond—back to Kieran's, back to Gluek's or to one of the many other eating-and-drinking establishments nearby. If you're feeling lazy, there are typically pedicabs waiting for riders on North First Avenue.
Doug Mack is a Minneapolis native who grew up idolizing Kirby Puckett and watched Game 7 of the 1991 World Series from the top row of the Metrodome. Now he's a travel writer and the author of the book 'Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day.'