Getting Here and Around

IRM Location 

The IRM is located on the campus of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, on the second floor of the Tate Laboratory of Physics (see detailed University map). For information on parking, please visit the U of M Parking & Transportation page. 


Instruments and Sample Preparation

(Much of this information is included or summarized in the the updated Hitchhiker's Guide to the IRM by Brian Carter-Stiglitz in the Spring 2007 IRM Quarterly.)


Getting To/From the Airport

There are several relatively easy options for getting to the city from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Public Transportation: The Metro Transit light rail connects the IRM to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul (Green line) and to the airport from downtown Minneapolis (Blue line) ($2.50). From the airport you will have to make a transfer in downtown Minneapolis to get to the IRM, so make sure to keep your ticket. If you are arriving late in Minneapolis, you may want to look at the train schedule ahead of time to see how frequent they will be running when you arrive. 

Taxis: ~$30-$40 

Shared-Ride Shuttle Vans: ~$17 for one person ($9 for additional person). See Ground Transportation link at left.

Getting To/From Tate Hall

The best option for getting around once you are here will depend on where you are staying. Most visiting fellows stay within walking distance, and find that walking back and forth to the lab works with the occasional bus ride if a trip off-campus is necessary. If you rent or bring a car beware: parking at the University is a bit of a nightmare and expect a 10-15 minute walk between your car and the lab. If you are situated too far to walk to the lab, commuting by bus may be the best option (it is for all of the IRM staff, who bus or bike to work.) Metro Transit now offers a 7-Day Pass for $24 or stored value cards in increments of $10. Transit cards can be purchased on campus at the Coffman Union Information Desk. From April - November, Nice Ride bike-share stations are operational all over town. Prices start at $5/day or $30/month. Some hotels also offer free shuttles to local attractions, including the University campus.


Where to Stay

There are a few lodging options close to the University.

The Days Hotel is a fifteen-minute walk and offers rooms for $95 (plus tax) per night after the University discount. Phone reservation is required. Ask for the academic connection rate and tell them you are visiting the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The Graduate Hotel is a short five minute walk from the IRM and offers more upscale accommodations at $160/night (plus tax) after the University Discount.

The recently-renovated University Inn is about a 25 minute walk, and all rooms come with kitchenettes. Listed prices vary by room (about $150/night, plus tax), but they offer a 10% University discount.

Dorm rooms are also available during the summer (June 1 - Aug 22) at various campus halls of residence. Rates depend on location per night for a single room, but are in general $60 or less ( or (note you are on a fellowship) and

You may be able to find some other options off campus on the University's housing website

Rates are subject to change, so check directly with the hotel or rooming house.


Food & Coffee

There are a lot of options around the campus. And the choices present a nice range of prices and cuisines. 

Washington Avenue

The IRM stand-by continues to be Bona, a Vietnamese restaurant on Washington Avenue. The menu is somewhat schizophrenic, consisting of two distinct cuisines: standard Americanized Chinese food, and traditional Vietnamese dishes. Most of us prefer the latter. Try the Vietnamese salads (with rice noodles) or the Pho. The place is always packed, but the service is quick and the prices cannot be beat. E.g., a small Pho is around six dollars. Virtually next door is Test Kitchen serving a variety of "americana sandwiches", sides and shakes. A few doors down is Hong Kong Noodles. Order one of the specials written on the chalkboard next to the entrance for a traditional Chinese dish. On the other side of Washington Ave. are some other options including the Mexican style fast-food Chipotle, the self explanatory Noodles and Company, and Nashville Coop for fried chicken. Down Oak St are the Kimchi Tofu House , a very small and good Korean restaurant, so make you sure you go off peak hours, across the street is the Lao Suz Chun a Chinese restaurant. Closer to campus on Washington are Afro Deli, serving dishes, sandwiches and wraps from many parts of Africa, and Sally's Saloon that serves bar food. A few other options can be found if you follow Washington Avenue across the river. In particular, Town Hall Brewery serves beer brewed on the spot and food worthy of the brew. Town Hall has a nice patio and a couple of pool tables, so it is a nice place to go after a day in the lab. For a taste of Americana try the hot-dog joint, the Wienery.


Dinkytown also has several nice places to eat. Some Highlights. Wally's is an excellent Middle Eastern restaurant on 15th Ave SE for lunch and dinner (has vegetarian options) - try the Musahab wrap. Tacos Locos is a new Taqueria on 15th Ave SE that has excellent Mexican style plates. For a traditional American breakfast do not miss Al's Breakfast, a Dinkytown landmark. The building is actually a converted alley, so the seating is limited to a bar that runs most of the length of the restaurant. And since it is usually full, waiting customers line up behind seated diners. The line moves fast, so even if it runs out the door, you will not have to wait long. If a party of two is waiting and two non-contiguous places open up, a cook or waitperson will ask everyone to move over a place or two. The pancakes and eggs Benedict cannot be beat. Bordertown Coffee is a cozy coffee shop just off University Ave SE on 16th Ave SE, six or seven minutes walk for the IRM, serving some panini and soups and a good place for coffee. East of Dinkytown, a walk or short light-rail trip away is Surly Brewing Co. for sampling some of the best local brews and dinner with indoor and outdoor seating.

On Campus

There are a couple of dining options on campus. Closest in proximity to the lab are the vending machines in the basement. IRM staff members have been known to lunch out of the vending machines, choosing cheeseburgers, sandwich wedges, etc. Next in proximity is a University-dining cafeteria inside Northrop auditorium, serving sandwiches, pastries and coffee. Across the mall from the Department's main entrance, on the lower level of the Wiseman library is the Wise Owl Cafe, serving Starbucks coffee, pastries and sandwiches. Several other fast-food options, including a Chick Fil'A, Panda Express, Jamba Juice, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Starbucks, are located in the Coffman Memorial Union.


What to do outside the lab

Even our most devoted visiting fellows find the need to occasionally stray from the confines of Tate Hall. If you find yourself in a similar position, the Twin Cities offer a range of recreational activities. 


Shopping and Nightlife

Downtown Minneapolis (specifically the pedestrian street, Nicollet Mall) is a nice place to do some shopping and also hosts most of the Cities' nightlife.  Uptown (south of Downtown) is also a nightlife hotspot, with lots of good restaurants and bars. Of course, the Mall of America is a popular place for shopping and is easy to reach on the light rail. 

Museums and Events on Campus

The Weisman Art Museum is a nice on-campus gallery (free admission). The Bell Museum of Natural History on Church Street ($5; $3 for students) is also a stone's throw away and is free on Sundays. The University also presents a wide variety of music, dance, theater, film and lectures, many of which are free. Check the current schedule online.

Museums and Theater Further Afield

The Walker Art Center is a world renowned modern art museum, and a new wing has recently been added. The Walker has a beautiful sculpture garden and a nice high-end restaurant on its second floor. Admission is $10; free Thursday evenings and the first Saturday of each month. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is equally fine (free general admission; special exhibitions may be extra). Saint Paul has a great Science Museum ($11). The Mill City Museum, a striking deconstructed grain mill, is variously billed as the Most Explosive museum in the world and as the Best Smelling museum ever created ($10; $8 students). The Guthrie Theater is not far away, and rush tickets can often be obtained at a discount ($15 - $25). Dozens of other theater venues with a wide range of offerings are scattered about the cities.


There are some great architectural treasures in the Cities as well, including Saint Paul's Cathedral (Saint Paul), the Basilica of Saint Mary (Minneapolis) and the State Capitol (Saint Paul). The State Capitol was built by Cass Gilbert, a native Minnesotan who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court building and many of the University's buildings. Both are the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater are on the river, abutting the Stone Arch Bridge. If you find yourself looking up at the Guthrie, walk across the Stone Arch Bridge and have a drink at one of the nice bars and restaurants on Main Street. 


The Cities also has a fine collection of parks if you would like to get out and enjoy nature in the city. The Mississippi River has walking and bicycling paths that follow it on either bank. Minnehaha Park, beautiful year-round, is especially spectacular in the fall. If you visit the park between April and October be sure to eat at Sea Salt to drink some good Minnesotan beer and eat some of the best seafood to be had in the state, most of which is not Minnesotan. Como Park in Saint Paul is also worth a visit. In the middle of winter, you may need a trip to the Como Conservatory to warm up your disposition. The Conservatory is a set of greenhouses featuring a sunken garden and a palm garden. It is well worth its price, as it is free. Como Park also has a small zoo with an entertaining monkey house. The park itself is large, so it is a good place to do some walking. If you really want to stretch your legs, the Chain of Lakes (southwest of downtown Minneapolis) has an extensive set of walking and biking trails. In the summer months you can rent bicycles and canoes. 


Sports fans will find the cities well equipped with professional baseball, basketball (mens and womens), football, and hockey teams. Additionally, the minor league Saint Paul Saints are known for their non-baseball distractions, including great sausages, excellent beer, and antics like a massage-giving nun, a pig, and a karaoke singer.


Upcoming Events in the Twin Cities

Comprehensive listings of arts and entertainment events can be found at:
Meet Minneapolis


Summer Events/Activities

Free outdoor concerts 

Detailed schedule here. Father Hennepin Park is within walking distance near the Stone Arch Bridge. Other locations are a bus ride away.

  • Lake Harriet Bandshell - every night of the week at 7:30 pm
  • Father Hennipen Park - Tuesdays at 7:00 pm
  • Minnehaha Falls - Wed., Thurs., Fri. at 7:00 pm


Walk/Bike/Canoe/Swim at the lakes

Take the #6 bus to the Uptown transit station where you can easily access walking and biking paths around Bde Maka Ska, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and Lake Harriet. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, and bikes. There are several swimming beaches on Bde Maka Ska, Cedar, and Harriet. The ones on Cedar are usually the least crowded. Note that the #6 bus continues past the Uptown Transit Station to south Lake Calhoun and northwest Lake Harriet.


Waterski Show Team

The Twin Cities River Rats Waterski Show team puts on free performances on the Mississippi River, about 2 miles northwest of the University.


Minneapolis Aquatennial

The Minneapolis Aquatennial is the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis. Minnesota residents, workers and visitors have come to love and appreciate all that Minneapolis has to offer during the Aquatennial.