Where to Go
Raised indoor walkways, known as skyways, connect 70 downtown city blocks, creating an indoor network of offices, shops, restaurants, theaters, hotels, and condos. Outside, there’s even more to discover: the Mississippi riverfront, the Guthrie Theater (818 2nd St. S., 612/377-2224, www.guthrietheater.org), the Walker Art Center (1750 Hennepin Ave., 612/375-7600, www.walkerart.org), and Nicollet Mall (Nicollet Ave. between 4th St. S. and 12th St. S.), home to some of the best dining and bars in the Twin Cities. Three of the Twin Cities’ four major sports franchises—the Twins, Vikings, and Timberwolves—have their homes downtown, too.
The leafy green neighborhoods of South Minneapolis, popular with families and young professionals alike, are home to the Chain of Lakes (612/230-6400, www.minneapolisparks.org), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2400 3rd Ave. S., 888/642-2787, www.artsmia.org), the Children’s Theatre Company (2400 3rd Ave. S., 612/874-0400, www.childrenstheatre.org) and The Museum of Russian Art (5500 Stevens Ave. S., 612/821-9045, www.tmora.org). Recent college grads gravitate to the Uptown neighborhood, at the intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, for shopping and nightlife. The residents of South Minneapolis love to eat well and the area is packed with great dining options, including the multiethnic Midtown Global Market (Lake St. and 10th Ave., 612/872-4041, www.midtownglobalmarket.org).
Nordeast and Dinkytown
Nordeast, or Northeast Minneapolis, was once home to a thriving community of Eastern European immigrants, still reflected in the area’s landmarks: Surdyk’s wine store (303 Hennepin Ave. E., 612/379-3232, www.surdyks.com), Kramarczuk’s deli (215 Hennepin Ave. E., 612/379-3018, www.kramarczuk.com), and Nye’s Polonaise Room. Today the area, still largely middle class, is also home to Somali, Middle Eastern, and Latin American communities. The area has also welcomed many of the artists forced out of the gentrified Warehouse District. Dinkytown, once Bob Dylan’s haunt, is inseparable from University of Minnesota (612/625-5000, www.umn.edu) student life.
Downtown St. Paul and West Side
St. Paul is known as the slower-paced twin but has plenty to offer in terms of culture, including the Ordway (345 Washington St., 651/224-4222, www.ordway.org), the Science Museum of Minnesota (120 Kellogg Blvd. W., 651/221-9444, www.smm.org), and the Minnesota Children’s Museum (10 7th St. W., 651/225-6000, www.mcm.org). The heart of Downtown is Rice Park (4th St. and Market St.), bordered by the architecturally stunning Landmark Center (75 5th St. W., 651/292-3233, www.landmarkcenter.org). West 7th Street, heading southwest from the Xcel Energy Center (199 Kellogg Blvd. W., 651/265-4800, www.xcelenergycenter.com), is a great destination for a night on the town. St. Paul’s West Side—southeast of downtown—is the home to St. Paul’s deep-rooted Latino community, now rebranded as the District del Sol.
Summit-University and Mac-Groveland
The St. Paul neighborhoods west of downtown are home to five colleges and universities, with all the bookstores and coffee shops you expect. Summit Avenue is the historical seat of St. Paul’s moneyed elite and still a wide, lovely boulevard for strolling. Grand Avenue is excellent for boutique shopping and people watching. Just north of I-94, which cuts St. Paul decisively into northern and southern halves, runs the more ethnically and economically diverse University Avenue, known for dive bars and great Vietnamese food.
Como and St. Anthony
The northern neighborhoods of St. Paul feel about as removed from urban bustle as you can get. St. Anthony Park, with its compact shopping and dining district, is almost like a separate small town, where you can have a light meal at the Finnish Bistro (2264 Como Ave., 651/645-9181, www.finnishbistro.com) or browse the selection at Micawber’s Books (2238 Carter Ave., 651/646-5506, www.micawbers.com). The “garden district” of Como Park attracts people from around the Twin Cities who want to run, boat, fish, ski, golf, or enjoy the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory (1225 Estabrook Dr., 651/487-8200, www.comozooconservatory.org).
Greater Twin Cities
The older first-ring suburbs around Minneapolis and St. Paul are hard to distinguish from their gridded and green counterparts within the city limits. Once you hit the second ring and the exurbs, however, the streets start to curve and suddenly the buildings all seem newer and more spread out. There are plenty of good reasons to venture beyond the cities proper, including Historic Fort Snelling (Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 55, 612/726-1171, www.mnhs.org), the Minnesota Zoo (1300 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley, 952/883-8600, www.mnzoo.com), and the excellent Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska, 952/443-1400, www.arboretum.umn.edu). And how could you go home from Minnesota and tell your friends you missed the Mall of America (60 E. Broadway, 952/883-8800, www.mallofamerica.com), in the southern suburb of Bloomington?
© Tricia Cornell from Moon Minneapolis & St. Paul, 1st Edition