Tucked up north in the heart of the Midwest, many don’t realize that unassuming Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota offer a culture scene that rivals the country’s major metropolises. Set side by side, these “twin cities” (as they are called) boast world-renowned theater, art, design and dining – and do it with Midwestern charm.
Hearty Minnesotans take on frosty winters with little hesitation, as the season translates to Minnesota Vikings football games, nights at the famed Guthrie Theater and warm bowls of Minnesota wild rice soup (a local treat). The city comes to life in summer with open-air concerts on the Mississippi Riverfront, sailboats on Lake Calhoun, and buttery corn-on-the-cob at the Minnesota State Fair. Minnesota Twins baseball fans wave their “homer hankies” at the new Target Field, opened spring 2010. And, tourists mix with locals for tax-free shopping at the 4.2 million-square-foot Mall of America.
Culture: With more theater seats per capita in Minneapolis than anywhere outside of Manhattan, visitors are sure to be entertained. Overlooking the Mississippi River, Guthrie Theater is famous for its incredible performances and modern architectural design. Visitors can also take in a show at the Children’s Theater Company, which features plays for all ages or at one of the city’s historic theaters – the Orpheum, the State or Pantages.
A visit to the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a must. Admission to the Sculpture Garden is free and the park is home to the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, which has become a Minnesota icon.
Sports: Take in a Minnesota Twins baseball game at the brand-new Target Field. The open-air ballpark provides scenic views of the Minneapolis skyline. The city is also home turf for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings football and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild hockey.
Shopping: From the mega Mall of America to upscale boutiques, Minnesota is a shopaholic’s paradise as all clothing is tax-free.
Dining: With a Scandinavian heritage and a diverse mix of ethnic communities, visitors can sample a wide range of international flavors from Sweden, Somalia, Vietnam, Mexico and more. Minnesotans take pride in locally grown and farmed produce – this mixed with the arrival of celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, provide a top quality, world-class dining experience in America’s heartland.
Scenic Lakes: Know as the “City of Lakes,” Minneapolis is built around a chain of lakes. Locals can be found jogging, biking and rollerblading around picturesque Lake Harriet. During the summer, a series of live concerts take place at Lake Harriet’s band shell. Lake Calhoun offers sailing lessons, it is also popular for wind surfing, fishing, swimming and canoeing.
When to Go
As temps range from the sub zero to balmy, Minnesota weather can be a bit unpredictable. For those weary of the cold, the best time to visit is late June through Labor Day when temperatures are consistently 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. After Labor Day, the air crisps and scenic fall colors pop up around the city. Winters here are some of the coldest in North America. Luckily, downtown Minnesota and St. Paul are connected by miles of indoor walkways so visitors can shop and dine without going outdoors.
How to Get There
Fly to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Delta Air Lines offers several nonstop flights from across the U.S. Look for good deals on the Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airlines.