Known collectively as the “Twin Cities,” Minneapolis-St. Paul is the urban heart of Minnesota, with St. Paul serving as the state capitol. Despite the grouping, the cities have distinct personalities, with a younger, more urban demographic in Minneapolis and a quieter, more suburban atmosphere in St. Paul, the childhood home of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. The greater metropolitan region is home to numerous corporate behemoths, including Target, Best Buy, and General Mills, making it a Midwestern economic powerhouse. Weather can be extreme, with the mercury staying below freezing for most of the winter and summers often seeing temperatures above 100F/38C.
Despite the weather, Minneapolitans and St. Paulites revel in spending time outdoors, with large portions of the population enjoying biking or golf at one of the area’s 65 courses. During the warmer months, residents flock to the banks of the Mississippi River or the shores of one of the areas 22 of the state’s reputed 10,000 lakes. The region has been home to a diverse number of artists and performers, including Garrison Keillor, who broadcast his popular A Prairie Home Companion from the Fitzgerald Theatre, itself named for St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald; and Prince, who pioneered the “Minneapolis sound” that continues to influence generations of musicians. For a metro area of its size, the Twin Cities boast an inordinately large theater scene as well as teams in the four major sports of football, baseball, hockey, and basketball.
Although not located in the city proper, the Mall of America, in nearby Bloomington, is a popular destination for visitors, particularly because Minnesota does not have sales tax on clothing and accessories. During warmer weather, the area’s many outdoor activities attract locals and visitors, particularly at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Rice Park, with its statues of Peanuts characters. Cultural activities include exploring the 13,000 contemporary works at the Walker Art Center or enjoying the robust theater scene, which is also notable for its many dinner theaters. Despite the frigid temperatures, the St. Paul Winter Carnival, dating back to 1886, attracts 250,000 visitors each year.
In downtown Minneapolis, visitors don’t have to brave the winter cold thanks to the Skyway, an indoor walkway that connects more than 60 blocks of restaurants and stores. Downtown’s Nicollett Mall, made famous in the iconic opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, boasts numerous restaurants and shops, with Target Field just a football’s throw away. Not far from Downtown lies the hipster neighborhood of North Loop, where former historic warehouses are rapidly being transformed into residential and commercial spaces. St. Paul offers more serene attractions, such as strolling past the Victorian homes of Summit Avenue or shopping and dining on tree-lined Grand Avenue, known as one of the prettiest neighborhoods in America, with a vast majority of the buildings pre-dating 1939.