Minneapolis and St. Paul may be twin cities, but they aren't identical. Old money and political power have shaped St. Paul into a dignified combination of marble Minnesota State Capitol buildings, colonnaded manses, tweed suits and fine Scotch. Minneapolis is the edgier of the two, attracting modern artists to the Walker Art Center, pulsing with martini bars and lighting up the night sky with the Theatre District's marquees. When warmer weather appears, locals relax at outdoor cafes by the Mississippi River, a watery ribbon uniting the two.
Things to Do
In Minneapolis, Mill City Museum reminds visitors of the Twin Cities' role in the production of flour for an entire continent in the 19th century. The glittering glass façade and ultramodern works on display at the Walker Art Center, however, reflect the city's increasingly strong position in the nation's contemporary arts scene. Across the Mississippi River, the marble dome of the State Capitol towers over St. Paul, the center of Minnesota politics. Ride the river and explore both cities on the Minneapolis Queen paddle wheeler.
The mother of all shopping destinations, the Mall of America draws thousands of bargain hunters to the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. Glittery jewelry stores and specialty toy shops, purveyors of denim and haute couturiers, handbag and sporting goods stores all find their place among the 520 stores in this shrine to consumerism. Quieter surroundings prevail at the independent boutique shops of St. Paul's Grand Avenue: wristwatch specialists, emerging designers, kitchen shops and a bakery for pet treats.
Nightlife and Entertainment
No American city outside of New York entertains more theater patrons than Minneapolis. Shakespeare and experimental plays take center stage at the gleaming, blue Guthrie Theater. The neon-lit Hennepin Theatre District features pop music, comedy, and children's theater on four stages. Minneapolis' Warehouse District's energetic nightclubs pump dance tunes and pour fruity cocktails late into the night. Settle in for a hearty dose of Minnesota entertainment at St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater, home to Garrison Keillor's quirky radio show A Prairie Home Companion.
Restaurants and Dining
Minnesota-grown wild rice and produce find their way onto menus in Minneapolis' Warehouse District, where sharply-dressed diners head for pre-theater dinners and post-theatre cocktails. Uptown, trendy boutiques are interspersed with spicy Latino cafes, gourmet ice cream shops and French bistros such as Barbette. Across the river, enjoy a thick steak over linen and crystal at the elegant St. Paul Grill, and watch for the city's power brokers making deals at neighboring tables.