If the exciting dining scene isn’t reason enough to hop on the one-and-a half-hour direct flight to Minneapolis, two cultural events focused on Scandinavia and Russia make this a great time to see the city in an authentic light.

Scandinavian roots run deep in Minneapolis and are best curated at the American Swedish Institute, in the historic Turnblad mansion once belonging to the namesake Swedish immigrant family. On November 22 and December 20, take an after-hours Glögg Tour of the Jul to the World Christmas exhibit, during which you’ll sample white and red glögg (Swedish mulled wine) as you tour holiday rooms representing five Nordic countries (6:30, 7:00, or 7:30 p.m.; $50 for non-members). On December 7 and 8, shop at the kid-friendly Julmarknad outdoor market with music and goods made by 20 local artisans, before sinking your teeth into a Nordic-style open-faced sandwich around a bonfire.

At the Museum of Russian Art (admission $9), housed in a striking white chapel built in 1925 to reflect a Spanish Colonial-Revival style, you can take in “The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost,” a new exhibit displaying many pieces never before seen in an American museum. A silver samovar by Faberge, a book of military regulations legislated by Peter the Great, porcelain from the first service of the Imperial Porcelain factory founded by Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, are just a few of the remarkable objects on display.

Where to eat: Sip bourbon and eat fresh sausages on the regional menu at Butcher & the Boar, which was named a James Beard Award semifinalist for best new restaurant in 2013.

Where to stay: Call it a night nearby in the Theatre District at the 162-room Grand Hotel (from $109), originally built in 1915 to house the Minneapolis Athletic Club, once the city’s premier social hub.

Two Chicago Hotels Offer Nice Holiday Perks This Season

Holiday perk alert at two Chicago hotels: The Palmer House Hilton is throwing in parking for just $1 when you spend $129 for a room (more than $40 savings). The Peninsula Chicago (from $450) opens its 2,100-square-foot outdoor skate rink ($10 for adults, $5 for children; includes skate rental). The synthetic ice rink is perched on the hotel’s terrace overlooking Michigan Avenue and offers hot cider, warm German spiced wine, soft pretzels, and beignets.

Here’s How to Negotiate In-Flight Etiquette

“Need to stretch? Do it by the bathroom, not in the aisle,” says Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of politeness guru Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition. “And just because your seat can recline doesn’t mean you should indulge.” Post says she will tell the passenger behind her that she’s going to put her seat back and won’t recline for the whole flight. Get more at the New York Times.

Survive Holiday Travel Fiascos with These Handy Apps

Flying during the holidays is suddenly less stressful with apps that help you act quickly in the event of flight delays and changes. FlightStats monitors weather and delays, Hotel Tonight rounds up rock-bottom deals on last-minute hotel rooms, and SeatGuru breaks down the best and worst seats available on a plane. Find out more at Condé Nast Traveler.

Surfing, Art, and Beach Parties at Zihuatanejo’s Zanka Fest

Push back the start of winter with a journey to Mexico’s Pacific coast for Zanka Fest from December 12 to 15. The festival features displays of works by local urban artists, surfing and SUP competitions, and beachside DJ parties in every corner of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. Stay on scenic La Ropa beach at the 48-room Viceroy Zihuatanejo, where festivities are easily turned off inside a beautiful retreat (from $235).