Information & Facts
The climate of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St Paul, is
rather harsh because of its northerly and land-locked location.
Winters are bitterly cold, with abundant snow and temperatures
plunging well below freezing. Summers are mild to hot, but
short-lived. In fact records show that the Twin Cities have maximum
temperatures of below freezing point on 76 days out of the year.
Rainfall can occur all year round, but is most plentiful in June.
The driest month is February.
Getting around on foot in the downtown areas of the massive
metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St Paul is a fascinating
experience on the famous skyways, a network of enclosed walkways
which connect buildings in the city centres at second-storey level,
ensuring no pedestrian needs to be exposed to bad weather. About 60
blocks of downtown Minneapolis are connected by skyways totalling
about five miles (8km). When your feet are tired, hop on the bus.
MetroTransit operates one of the largest public transport systems
in the United States, running about 73-million bus trips every
year. Trip planners and route information are readily available in
the city and from hotel concierges. The relatively new Hiawatha
Light Rail Transit route links downtown to the airport and the Mall
of America, and the Northstar Corridor route takes passengers as
far north as Big Lake. The twin cities also have numerous taxi
services, available on call or outside hotels and other public
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
The Twin Cities' nightlife is concentrated mostly in
Minneapolis. While St Paul has a number of relaxed bars and pubs
and a few live music venues, it tends to be much quieter and go to
sleep earlier than its counterpart across the river.
Minneapolis buzzes at night, with enough bars, clubs, pubs,
restaurants and live music venues to satisfy those with voracious
cultural appetites. Minneapolis' nightlife is concentrated in
several neighbourhoods, each with its own personality: the
Warehouse District is an up-and-coming hotspot with trendy
restaurants, clubs, and cocktail bars for those who like to see and
be seen; Nicollet Mall has some of the city's longest-running music
venues, like the Dakota Jazz Club, next to Orchestra Hall and a
number of top restaurants; the Hennepin Theatre District is home to
the Block E collection of restaurants and bars, along with
Minneapolis' big three theatres, the State, the Orpheum, and the
Pantages. A more offbeat experience can be had at the Wabasha
Street Caves in St Paul, which served as speakeasies during
prohibition and now host swing dancing on Thursdays.
Minneapolis is known as a hub of theatre and classical music in
the midwest United States, with several venues like the Guthrie and
the Ordway along with the State and the Orpheum enjoying national
reputations. The Minneapolis Fringe Festival happens every August
and showcases highlights from local companies. The Minnesota Opera,
the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the
Minnesota Dance Theatre are all highly regarded, and the various
universities in the area stage various productions during the
Dinkytown is the place to go for a cheap and funky night out.
The neighbourhood is dominated by students from the nearby
University of Minnesota, and there are a few buzzing venues that
draw big crowds, like the Loring Pasta Bar and the Varsity Theatre,
which hosts indie bands, film screenings, and dance nights.
Uptown is the ultimate hip destination, with quirky clubs and
music venues that create a unique atmosphere. While some come and
go, there are established favourites like Famous Dave's BBQ, which
hosts live blues music; and the Bryant Lake Bowl, which combines
food and live music with bowling.
The Twin Cities are a major concert destination, with the
biggest events happening in the Target Center and the Xcel Energy
Center. Those arenas host everything from rock concerts to circuses
to sporting events and rodeos.
Grab a free copy of The City Pages for the latest entertainment
listings while you're in town.
For many tourists, shopping in the Twin Cities means one thing:
the Mall of America. The largest mall in the US, it houses over 500
stores under one roof, along with an aquarium, amusement park, and
numerous restaurants, bars, and theaters. The 'Megamall' is a
tourist attraction in itself but offers mostly chain stores with a
few exceptions, including the Lake Wobegon USA store with its
Prairie Home Companion merchandise; and Love From Minnesota, which
stocks a range of Minnesota souvenirs.
The Twin Cities have a number of other major shopping centres,
including Rosedale Centre in Roseville, Gaviidae Common on Nicollet
Mall in downtown Minneapolis, and the upscale Galleria in Edina.
Most offer the same varieties of chain stores. There are many other
places to shop in Minneapolis and St Paul, however, with unique
Minneapolis has several unique shopping districts, include
Nicolett Mall, a pedestrian avenue in the downtown area with many
upscale shops; the arty and multicultural Uptown district
surrounding Lake Street; and the emerging Warehouse District near
the iconic Target Centre. You'll find interesting vintage shops and
used bookstores in the University of Minnesota-dominated Dinkytown
neighbourhood. St Paul has its own vibrant neighbourhood in Grand
Avenue, with dozens of quirky independent boutiques, cafes and
Minneapolis and St Paul each have their own bustling Farmers
Markets on Saturday mornings, offering fresh produce and flowers
alongside local arts and crafts.
Sightseeing in Minneapolis and St Paul can feel like a treasure
hunt, as it is a constant process of uncovering hidden gems and
unknown delights. The Twin Cities area is full of natural beauty
but also home to a vibrant artistic and cultural community, the
biggest within a thousand-mile radius.
The Twin Cities have a number of top-notch museums for the whole
family, including the Science Museum with an Omnimax theatre and
interactive exhibits; the Mill City Museum which showcases local
history in a restored flour mill on the Mississippi River; the
interactive Children's Museum, which offers lots of places to
explore and things to do for younger children; and the Bell Museum
of Natural History, with hundreds of animal specimens on display
and an interactive 'touch and feel' room.
As numerous as the museums are the galleries. Minneapolis is a
cultural centre of note, with two world-class art centres: The
Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Centre. The
Walker's famous sculpture garden is home to the Cherry Spoon
Fountain, an iconic symbol of the Twin Cities. A newer addition to
the art scene is the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, a modern
steel-covered building designed by Frank Gehry at the University of
Families will find much to see and do in Minneapolis and St
Paul, including a visit to the Minnesota Zoo, with thousands of
animals on display along with a monorail and IMAX theater. The Como
Zoo is more conveniently located in St Paul and offers beautiful
gardens and a Conservatory, but the zoo itself is not as
Minneapolis and St Paul have a number of interesting
architectural sights as well, including the St Paul Cathedral and
the immense St Mary's Basilica. There are a number of interesting
mansions from the early 20th century in neighbourhoods like Summit
Avenue, including the James J Hill House, which offers tours to the
The innumerable lakes in the Twin Cities offer their own
attractions. Lake Harriet is a tranquil area with jogging and
biking paths, a bandstand, and scenic views of the city. Lake
Calhoun has its own small sandy beach, with opportunities for
boating, waterskiing and jet skiing.
There is much to do in Minneapolis and St Paul even in the harsh
winter months. Minnesotans are passionate about winter sports, and
there are many places for sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing,
cross country skiing, and ice skating. Though the state is
relatively flat, there are several good ski resorts within a few
hours' drive of the Twin Cities, including Wild Mountain, Buck
Hill, and Lutsen.