Minneapolis and St. Paul are commonly referred to as the Twin Cities, and fittingly so, as their history has often resembled a sibling rivalry. During the 1890 U.S. Census, each city was eager to establish its superiority over the other. The competition became so heated that census takers from both sides were arrested and accused of padding population numbers.
Today, no longer competing, the two cities complement one another. Minneapolis, boasting new and interesting contemporary architecture, tends to be the more cosmopolitan city, while St. Paul, full of beautiful old Victorians, is more laid-back.
The Twin Cities have more theater seats per capita than anywhere outside New York City, and you can always find an exceptional show to attend. The Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis is home to four historic theaters: the State Theatre, the Orpheum Theatre, the Pantages Theatre, and the Goodale Theater. The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown St. Paul, one of the country’s leading not-for-profit performing arts centers, is the home of the Minnesota Opera and showcases musical productions of all kinds, including touring Broadway musicals, world music, dance, and new theatrical productions.
For devotees of the visual arts, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis houses more than 11,000 pieces and has been recognized by Newsweek as “possibly the best contemporary art museum in the U.S.” This summer’s blockbuster exhibit is International Pop, focusing on the Pop Art movement of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Don’t miss the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, whose well-respected permanent collection has a strong Renaissance representation, and also boasts one of the finest Asian art collections in the country.
Start your dining adventures at the Eat Street neighborhood in Minneapolis. More than 50 restaurants, spread across 17 blocks, span the globe from Thai to Italian to Caribbean cuisine. Not far away, Butcher and the Boar serves up regional American food and was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2013 for best new restaurant in the country. For an upscale experience, visit Meritage in St. Paul. Named the city’s best restaurant in 2015 by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, this French-influenced restaurant is known for its fantastic oyster bar. After dinner, stop by the SIX15 Room in the Grand Hotel Minneapolis, whose friendly bartenders make impressive cocktails. Or try the Peacock Lounge, which gets rave reviews for its dirty martinis.
Want to hit the stores? You’re in luck—purchases of clothes and shoes in Minnesota are tax free! With more than 4.3 miles of storefront footage and over 40 million visitors annually, the Mall of America, located in nearby Bloomington, is the most visited mall in the world. For slightly more subdued shopping, Calhoun Square in the Minneapolis Uptown district is an active retail destination popular among the locals. Grand Avenue in St. Paul, named one of America’s prettiest neighborhoods by Forbes, has the tree-lined streets and numerous local businesses that make for a charming shopping experience.
With everything the two cities have to offer, you may not be able to do everything you want in one trip, but at least you don’t have to choose a side. DW