Most Accessible — and Stunning — Architectural Landmark: Downtown St. Paul’s Landmark Center (75 5th St. W., 651/292-3233, www.landmarkcenter.org , Mon.–Wed. and Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs. 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m.) is free and open to the public every day of the week. Visitors can marvel at 20-foot ceilings and hand-carved mahogany and (for small admission fees) visit several museums.
Best Introduction to Minneapolis History: Minneapolis built its early economy and reputation on flour, and the Mill City Museum (704 2nd St. S., 612/341-7555, www.millcitymuseum.org , Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs. till 9 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m., $10 adults, $8 seniors and college students, $5 children ages 6–17, free ages 5 and under), in a rehabbed flour mill, makes that important history come alive for children and adults.
Best Arts Deal in Town: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2400 3rd Ave. S., 888/642-2787, www.artsmia.org , Tues.–Wed. and Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon. closed, free) is a first-rate art museum with a world-class Asian collection.
Most Unexpected Museum Find: Nobody comes to Minnesota expecting to find one of the finest collections of 20th-century Russian art — yet. The Museum of Russian Art (5500 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612/821-9045, www.tmora.org , Mon.–Wed. and Fri. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.–8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun. closed), founded in 2005, will soon change that.
Top Theater Choice for Any Age: You don’t have to be a kid or have one in tow to enjoy the award-winning, visually stunning, and smartly scripted shows at the Children’s Theatre Company (2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612/874-0400, www.childrenstheatre.org ).
Must-See Theater, Even Without a Ticket: Seeing a show at the Guthrie Theater (818 2nd St. S., Minneapolis, 612/377-2224, www.guthrietheater.org ) is almost guaranteed to be a great experience. But the modern building itself is open almost all day, every day and worth a visit to walk the “endless bridge” cantilevered over the Mississippi.
Best Way to Enjoy the Cold: Don’t hide from the cold; revel in it at the Winter Carnival (Rice Park, St. Paul, 651/223-4700, www.winter-carnival.com ). Although the ice castle isn’t built every year, there’s always plenty of snowy, icy fun.
Best 10 Days of the Year in Minnesota: Visitors have been known to plan their trips to Minnesota around the Minnesota State Fair (State Fairgrounds, 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 651/288-4400, www.mnstatefair.org , 6 a.m.–10 p.m., $11 adults, $9 seniors, $8 kids 5–12, children under 5 free)— a strategy we highly endorse.
Best Outdoor Activity: Rent or borrow a bike and hit the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway (Start at Minnehaha Park, www.minneapolisparks.org/grandrounds ). The only urban National Scenic Byway showcases the best of life in the Twin Cities.
Best Guided Tour: Rather than trudge along on your own two feet, on the Magical History Tours (125 Main St. SE, Minneapolis, 952/888-9200, www.humanonastick.com , Apr.–Oct. daily 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., $69.95) you get to ride a Segway along the Mississippi River.