Architectural Highlights

Minneapolis is quickly developing a reputation for attracting some of the most interesting architecture in the country. Jean Nouvel's Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., is a 2006 addition; its dark-blue steel exterior is illuminated with visions of past productions. Other gems include Herzog and de Meuron's Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin; Cesar Pelli's Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall; and Frank Gehry's Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, 333 E. River Rd.

In St. Paul, don't miss a stroll down Summit Avenue, just west of St. Paul Cathedral, one of the finest collections of Victorian residential architecture in the nation. The area has been home to such authors as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and Garrison Keillor. Stroll on your own or join a guided weekend walking tour. Tours depart from the James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Ave. (tel. 651/297-2555).

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Parks

Lake Calhoun is one of 22 Minneapolis city lakes, a favorite for year-round sports like fishing, swimming, bicycling, and Nordic skiing. Located at 3000 Calhoun Parkway in Uptown (tel. 612/230-6400), the park is open daily from 6am to 10pm. Minnehaha Park, Minnehaha Parkway at Hiawatha Avenue (tel. 612/230-6400), on the Mississippi, is the site of the famed Minnehaha Falls, the "laughing water" Longfellow celebrated in his poem Song of Hiawatha. Other attractions include 15 miles of jogging and bicycle trails and picnic facilities. The park is open daily from 6am to 10pm. Information on both parks, as well as dozens of others, is available online at www.minneapolisparks.org.

St. Paul's Como Park, 1250 Kaufman Dr. (tel. 651/487-8200; www.comozooconservatory.org), is one of the busiest and most beautiful parks in the Twin Cities, best known for its free zoo and conservatory with a half-acre domed botanical garden. There's also a golf course, ski trails, footpaths, paddle boats, canoes, bikes, and skates for rent. Hours are daily from 10am to 6pm April through September, from 10am to 4pm off season. St. Paul's Landmark Plaza, adjacent to the Landmark Center at 5th and Washington streets, is home to four bronze statues of the Peanuts comic book characters. The statues pay homage to hometown artist Charles Schulz.

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Best Bets For Kids

In Minneapolis -- The Minnesota Zoo (tel. 800/366-7811 or 952/431-9200; www.mnzoo.com), in Apple Valley, houses more than 2,300 animals. The Children's Theater Company, 2400 3rd Ave. S. (tel. 612/874-0400; www.childrenstheatre.org), presents plays for all age groups in one of America's best regional theaters. The Mall of America (tel. 952/883-8800; www.mallofamerica.com) houses the indoor amusement park Nickelodeon Universe, Underwater Adventures Aquarium, and NASCAR, an indoor race-car simulator, among other attractions.

In St. Paul -- The Minnesota Children's Museum, 10 W. 7th St. (tel. 651/225-6000; www.mcm.org), offers features such as papermaking, a music studio, and a Rooftop ArtPark. Como Zoo, 1250 Kaufman Dr. (tel. 651/487-8200; www.comozooconservatory.org), inside Como Park, is Minnesota's only free zoo.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.