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Welcome to the Twin Cities - Minneapolis and Saint Paul are geographically contiguous, and have long lived with a bit of a rivalry.  The common view is that Saint Paul is the last Eastern City and Minneapolis is the first Western city, whatever that means.  At risk of overstating the cases, here are the core differences

Getting Here

For those travelling by air, know that the most regular and reliable flights from Seattle to Minneapolis/St Paul are on Delta; however there are often less expensive flights available from Sun Country Airlines (direct) or Alaska Airlines . All major airlines do serve MSP, so check for deals. As of today, the cost of the August weekend flights are only a few dollars apart.  The more awkward the hours you want to fly, the cheaper the flight.  Regardless of how you fly in, you will land at MSP.  There are two terminals at MSP – creatively named “Terminal One” and “Terminal Two” (They used to have real names like Lindbergh and Humphrey, but someone thought that was too complicated.)  If you are coming in for the game, whether this year when the game will be at the University of Minnesota’s Stadium (TCF Bank Stadium) or next year when the soccer specific stadium will be erected in the Midway area of St. Paul, both stadiums are on the light rail system which serves both terminals at MSP. If you land at terminal one, you will need to take a short shuttle ride and follow signs for light rail access. While MSP is not a tough area to drive in, for a short trip to see a game you may not need a car at all to enjoy the cities.  If you have family to visit in the suburbs or plan to go up north for some time at our lakes and trails, you will need a car.  If you do need to rent a car, all major car rental companies are at MSP. Beware that hotel parking can be pricy, and even if you do rent a car, plan on public transit to the game.

Amtrak will get you right from Seattle to Minneapolis in about 38 hours, but if you want to make a trip out of this, schedule yourself with a few days at Glacier Park to break the trip up.

If you want to drive, I have no special advice for you unless it is between September and May, in which case be comfortable with ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, interstate closures and whiteout conditions. Be warned:North Dakota is NOT scenic.

Ground Transportation

As mentioned above, the metropolitan light rail runs from the airport to many important places—downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America (for those of you who like that kind of thing,) Stadium Village, where the game will be played, and even to the site of the new stadium, where ground has not yet been broken….but it is hard to break ground when the low this week was -20.  For most of the places on this guide, the light rail will get you there or will bus service.  We have an increasingly high Uber and Lyft presence and good taxi service (two most popular linked) as well.  The Twin Cities also have a great public bicycle program called Nice Ride (you can register online before you arrive) and one of the most extensive dedicated bike path systems in the US (either MSP or Portland tends to win the annual award for best bike access.  I know who you are rooting for.) Saint Paul bike paths are not as often dedicated, but also well done. If you are staying downtown Minneapolis or near the stadium, you can make the trip by bike quite easily.  If none of this works, we are a zipcar city as well.

Welcome to the Twin Cities

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are geographically contiguous, and have long lived with a bit of a rivalry.  The common view is that Saint Paul is the last Eastern City and Minneapolis is the first Western city, whatever that means.  At risk of overstating the cases, here are the core differences

 

 

St Paul

  • Older and smaller
  • Home to State Capitol and the seat of state government
  • Home to second largest US Hmong Community
  • Home to one of the  nation's longest preserved stretch of Victorian and Edwardian era homes (along Summit Avenue)
  • Thriving artistic community in the Lowertown Area
  • Home to the History Center, Science Museum and Children’s Museum, all world-class and great for families
  • Cool funky neighborhoods and liberal art colleges such as Macalester, Hamline and Concordia
  • The best strip of small ethnic restaurants in the Twin Cities (and on light rail) on University Ave
  • Not built on a grid.  Ask for directions, but beware that everyone’s directions will be different. You will get confused.
  • Home of the State Fair – a cultural phenomenon
  • Spirit Animals: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Schultz and Herb Brooks (miracle on Ice) 

 

Minneapolis

  • More “big city” feel with a more modern and dense downtown
  • Home to all of the major sports stadiums except hockey
  • Largest US Somali Community centered in Cedar Riverside (referred to by some as “Little Mogadishu”) a neighborhood on the West Bank of the Mississippi near the U of M.
  • Home to Minnehaha Falls, a Twin Cities must see.  This is in a huge urban park that offers up Sea Salt, where you can sit under the trees, listen to the sound of the falls and eat fresh seafood with your Minnesota beer.
  • High concentration of music venues such as the famous First Avenue and amazing food in every zip code. Triple Rock Social Club is also phenomenal.
  • Home to the chain of lakes, a beautiful urban chain of greenspace, outdoor entertainment and eating establishments.
  • Thriving arts community and distilleries, breweries and restaurants abound in Northeast although be warned, this is NOT on the light rail, but is accessible by bike and bus.
  • Home to the flagship campus of the University of Minnesota
  • Major arts are here.  The art institute, Guthrie Theater and Walker Art Center, home to the famous Spoon and Cherry , part of a sculpture garden to be reopened this summer.
  • Spirit Animals: Prince, the Coen Brothers, Louis Anderson (Bob Dylan lived here but was born in Hibbing, MN)

 

Food

When the President last visited, he went to Matt’s Bar for a juicy Lucy—basically an inside out cheeseburger.  This is a big deal here.  There are rivalries and claims about who makes the best or first juicy Lucy, although Matt’s Bar says they originated it here (where it is called the Jucy Lucy.)  I’m not wading into the battle, so here is a link to the top Juicy Lucies in the Twin Cities.

As mentioned above, University Ave in St. Paul is great for little ethnic places and the Minneapolis equivalent is “Eat Street.”  Special mention to Quang Deli for authentic, inexpensive Vietnamese, Glam Doll donuts for outrageously unique donuts, and Icehouse for some of the best bloodies, food and often live music.

For those wanting to stick near downtown, a couple of huge standouts and favorites with folks coming to see sports are Pizza Luce (actually several locations,) a pizza joint with a tattoo and piercing vibe, killer wings and salads and an attitude to love. They will do everything vegan as well as gluten free and their pies are legendary.

A local favorite and a place to go for the experience, the food and the great vibe is Hell’s Kitchen. Great food, great drinks, locally sourced, scratch stuff in a cool environment.  A few more downtown hotspots include Smack Shack, where you can get lobster rolls and whole lobsters in a loud, pub-like atmosphere, and Crave which has an almost-always crowded rooftop bar.

Drink

We have breweries.  Lots of breweries.  If you only want to visit one, make it Surly Brewing Company’s destination brewery with a beer hall, restaurants, a full tour and some fine, fine beer.  Check out others, however, as each has their own character; most don’t have food but will have food trucks available.  If you want to go big, there are some brewery tours. If you want to go little, try Steel Toe Brewing , in an industrial park a half block off of the Southwest bike trail, which connects to downtown by the Cedar Lake Trail.  A great afternoon’s ride. Another notable option is the Eastlake Craft Brewery.  This wind-powered brewery is located in a corner of the Midtown Global Market, which means you can grab food from adjacent local legends such as Taco Cat, Manny’s Tortas and Hot Indian Foods.  If you are planning to take in a Twins game, try Fulton Brewery, steps away from Target Field, which opens two hours prior to Twins home games

If you want to try some other beverages, there is a burgeoning distillery scene as well.

Party

For hopping nightlife, the Uptown area of Minneapolis is the place, and since its summer, you might want to check out the rooftop bars at Stella’s, Libertine and the Uptown Tavern

Sports

The Minnesota Twins may not be the most winning team in baseball, but their downtown stadium is a fabulous place to take in a game and sample some of Minnesota’s great food. The three time WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx start their season the first week of August.  The Science Museum in St. Paul has an exhibit called “Sportsology” that focuses on the science of athletes and includes some compelling soccer related portions.

The downtown soccer bars are Brits Pub, where you can lawn bowl on the roof, and The Local where they will pour you a nice Guinness and Jameson.

 

Top Things to Do

Links Above:

  1. Take your picture with the Prince star outside First Avenue
  2. Take your picture with the Spoon and Cherry at the Walker Sculpture Garden
  3. Ride the ten mile path around the chain of lakes or just do one lake.
  4. Go to the destination brewery at Surly and eat in the beer hall
  5. Ride the light rail from Minneapolis to St. Paul and eat along the way
  6. Visit one of the great St. Paul museums
  7. Catch a Twins or Lynx game
  8. Do the breweries and distilleries of Northeast
  9. Have a brunch to tell your friends about at Hell’s Kitchen
  10. Eat a juicy Lucy to say you did it.
  11. Check out Minnehaha Falls and remember your Longfellow from high school

 

Stay

There are some hotels in the University area that would allow a shorter trip to the stadium, but your best bet is to stay downtown.  There are a wide variety of hotels available at every price point.  The closer you are to the light rail, the easier your trip on game day.

Game Day

Since this is new, we are still working on the details. I’ve contacted the Dark Clouds (MU supporters group) to find out where their official pre-game gathering place will be and will then id an alternative. They are not rushing to respond. Watch for communication from the travel peeps.