This is a fun ramble on a nice day. Grand Avenue is a 30-block stretch of nice old houses, apartments, shops and restaurants that runs from the Mississippi River to downtown St. Paul. The shops are mostly concentrated in an 11-block area from Syndicate to Dale streets and has a nice mix of "original" and chain varieties. Among my favorites are:
The Red Balloon - children's books
The Bibelot Shop - gifts and fun stuff
Ten Thousand Villages - fair-income items from around the world
Cooks of Crocus Hill - everything for the kitchen
You'll also find a few well-know names such as Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn. The website has a very good, downloadable list and map of most (but not all!) of the shops. Look for the link on the right side of the page (2007 Guide to Grand Brochure). This business district also sponsors a fair amount of special events that will be listed on the website as well.
This is a little gem of a shop that carries unique and eclectic items crafted by local artists. Located right beside Great Waters Brewing and above Artists' Quarter jazz nightclub, it's a fun place to browse for a treasure to take home. Photography, pottery, textiles, jewelry, glass, etc. Open Mon - Wed, 10-5, Thur - Fri, 10-6, Sat. 11-6.
What to pay: Prices range from a lot to a little, depending on the piece
Ruminator Books is one of those great "Book Sense" Independent booksellers. It's located in the small commercial area close to Macalester College. It was packed the night I was there - Robert "Iron John" Bly was giving a reading from his latest poetry collection.
Rainbow is one of the most popular grocery chains in the Twin Cities. It's a typical large grocery store that sells just about everything you'll need. I'd also recommend Byerly's, a slightly more upscale grocer and Cub Foods, which is more of a warehouse style grocery with better prices.
Daytons. It's called Daytons. It seems many people are confused by the fact that their sign says "Marshall Fields" - but if you are talking to any native of Minnesota, refer to it as "Daytons" unless you want to hear them start ranting and raving about it all....
What to buy: Anything. Everything. The Marketplace is great for kitchen gifts for yourself or others. Good food too. Great fashions. Perfume. Jewelry. Socks. Daytons has it all....