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Welcome to Minneapolis-St Paul

Minneapolis-St Paul

Minneapolis and St Paul are the two halves of a singular metropolis bisected by the Mississippi River in eastern Minnesota. The older city, St Paul, is the state capital, smaller, quieter and more reserved than its modern sibling across the river; it has a compact downtown area sporting a variety of restored Victorian architecture among its glass skyscrapers. It is the home to several major universities, and many museums and theatres. Minneapolis, founded on money made by the hundreds of saw and flourmills along the Mississippi has many contemporary buildings in a slick new downtown area with a lively, arty character and a vibrant nightlife.

The very existence of the Twin Cities is due to the only waterfall on the Mississippi, St Anthony Falls, whose hydroelectric power fuelled numerous flour and timber mills along the river, and today the Riverfront district in Minneapolis is a scenic stretch lined with old warehouses, mills and historical walking trails.

While Minneapolis and St Paul are the original 'Twin Cities' of Minnesota, the name now refers to the sprawling metro area, encompassing dozens of smaller towns, that extends for 30 miles in all directions. These towns have their own unique charm and identities, from the quaint 150-year-old main street of Anoka in the north to the antique stores and scenic St. Croix River valley of Stillwater to the south.

With hundreds of lakes lying within the Twin Cities area, there are endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, with miles of trails surrounding the lakes. Residents of the Twin Cities pride themselves on a high quality of life that includes sport and outdoor activities as well as top priorities such as a good education, a clean environment, excellent health care and a low crime rate. They boast a rich arts and cultural entertainment scene with more concert venues per person than any other city in the country, except New York. And the southern suburb of Bloomington is home to the largest shopping centre in the US that includes an aquarium and amusement park under the same roof as hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars and theatres.

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

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 venues.

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 school year.

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 local flavour.

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 markets.

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 Minnesota.

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 impressive.

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 public.

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.

Located in the southern suburb of Bloomington, the futuristic superstructure of the Mall of America is recognised as the largest enclosed shopping and entertainment complex in the country. It welcomes over 42 million visitors each year and is the fifth most visited attraction in the USA with world-class shopping, family entertainment, nightlife and numerous dining options. There are over 500 stores and specialty shops including the Lego Imagination Center, international department stores such as Bloomingdales, more than 70 restaurants and fast food outlets, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs, a wedding chapel and a mini-golf course. Underwater Adventures is a massive aquarium with touch pools featuring sharks and stingrays. Mall of America's famous centrepiece is Nickelodeon Universe, an indoor theme park with thirty rides and adventures.

A huge state-of-the-art zoo with over 40 acres of habitats housing more than 2,000 creatures of all kinds, the Minnesota Zoo is a fantastic attraction for those travelling with kids in Minneapolis. It features animals from every continent, and an enormous aquarium. Kids can interact with animals in the touch pool and petting zoo, and when the weather is uncooperative the IMAX Theatre is a place to escape. A monorail offers aerial views of many of the habitats, and is a good alternative to the walking trails for those who tire easily. The zoo has a food court and gift shop, and hosts concerts in the summer.

Home to the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball team, Target Field was built in 2010 and is considered one of the most state-of-the-art baseball stadiums in the world. Minnesotans tend to be rather affectionate toward their team, and a day at the ballpark is a fun family activity for Minnesota tourists of all ages, and fans get a picturesque view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline. Tickets can be had for less than $10, depending on the section and the game. The stadium itself is beautifully and intricately constructed, and daily tours will show you hidden secrets like the players' locker rooms, clubhouse, and the elaborate underground systems that both heat and irrigate the field.

Valleyfair is the largest amusement park in Minnesota, with 125 acres of rides and attractions ranging from high-speed roller coasters to midway games and an IMAX theater. Valleyfair also has the Soak City Waterpark with a range of waterslides and pools, and Challenge Park, which features the RipCord SkyCoaster. The amusement park's most famous ride is the Wild Thing roller coaster, which travels at 74 mph (120kph) with a drop of 196 feet (60 metres). There is also a Berenstein Bears children's play area and a variety of restaurants and food court areas. Open from spring to autumn, Valleyfair hosts ValleySCARE Halloween-themed attractions every October.

Internationally renowned for its permanent collection of 20th century paintings, drawings, prints, photography and sculptures, the Walker Art Center is one of the country's leading contemporary art centres and is one of the most visited museums in the USA. It features works by top artists in a range of styles, utilising various multi-media installations and educational programs. Contemporary art can also be experienced here through theatre, dance, video, music and film. Next door is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with creative contemporary work spread across a huge area of parkland. It is the largest urban sculpture park in the country and includes the colossal Spoonbridge and Cherry Fountainby Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, and Frank Gehry's Standing Glass Fish.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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