“Twin Cities” is the name given to the combined areas of Minneapolis (Minnesota’s largest city) and Saint Paul (the state Capital) in Minnesota. The Twin Cities grew up around the intersection of the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River which flows through both the Minneapolis and Saint Paul downtown areas. The Twin Cities have a diverse ethnic heritage with Scandinavian influenced Minneapolis which also has the US’s highest Somali population and Saint Paul with historic roots in French, Irish, German and Hmong cultures. This diversity and the cities many attractions make Twin Cities a popular tourist destination. The cities manage to combine the old and the new and have a reputation for culture, cuisine, and the largest number of urban parks in any metropolis in the USA. A popular way to enjoy the rural side of this metropolis is to rent a bike and follow the trails that surround the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Twin Cities was named one of the “top U.S. travel destinations for 2013″ by CNN.
Twin Cities Must See!
Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
For all those who enjoy contemporary art and media, this is an exciting Twin Cities attractions. Originally opened in 1927 the adjacent sculpture garden is the largest urban sculpture park in the USA. In the sculpture garden is the iconic Claes Oldenburg sculpture of an enormous spoon with a cherry on top crossing a stream (Spoonbridge and Cherry). The center features paintings, sculptures, and photography by artists from America and abroad. Admission is $12 and under 18s enter for free. The center has open hours but the garden is open from 6 am to midnight and entrance to the garden is free.
Minnehaha Falls Park
This exquisite park covers 193 acres and has limestone bluffs, open green spaces, a bandstand where there are summer concerts, paths, and places for recreation. The park overlooks the Mississippi River at 4801 South Minnehaha Park Drive. The highlight of the park is the 53-foot high waterfall which has significance to the Native American culture and powered a 19th-century mill. Also in the park are woodlands, wildflowers, and a variety of trees. You can cycle, bike, hike, and even dine here, kids can enjoy the Wabun Wading pool and in the summer the range of activities is endless. The entrance to the park is free and the site is open from 6 am to 10 pm.
Mill City Museum
Here at 704 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis on the banks of the river, you can learn about the milling industry which flourished in Minneapolis. The museum is within a former millhouse which was once the largest in the world. You can see all the equipment and a recreated mill environment including the baker’s lab. See the railroad cars which transported the grain, enjoy hands-on displays, and see demonstrations. Admission includes the multimedia “Flour Tower” show, a self-guided tour of the gallery, and entrance to the observation deck on the 9th floor where you can look out over the St. Anthony Falls and the Mississippi River. Entrance is $11 for adults and $9 for seniors, students, and kids 6-17 years old.
Mall of America
Although 10 miles south of Minneapolis this is an iconic site and a Twin Cities Must-see. It has over 500 stores, many restaurants, a Nickelodeon Universe amusement park, Underwater Adventure Aquarium, flight simulators, a mirror maze, House of Comedy, a cinema complex, and a butterfly garden spread and 2.5 million square feet of storage space. The mall is located at 8100 24th Avenue South, Bloomington, and is open seven days a week. If you’re into enormous indoor shopping adventures then try the 11 blocks long Nicollet Mall as well.
Twin Cities Must Eats!
Fogo de Chao
This is a steakhouse which serves Brazilian style meals, the restaurant is kid-friendly and they cater to private parties and take reservations. The restaurant is at 645 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis and they serve dinner daily and lunch on weekdays. On the menu are delicious 24-month aged parmesan, aged Manchego cheese, prosciutto, there is an extensive salad bar and then there are the meats! Sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye, beef ribs, lamb, chicken, pork loin, and all prepared to perfection by skilled gaucho chefs. The traditional classic Brazilian meat is accompanied by a selection of side dishes and a large choice of desserts to follow. Diners rave about the quality of the food and the excellent service. This chain of restaurants offers the “Fogo Experience” where the gaucho chefs slice the meat at your table and you eat as much as you want. Dinner including the full salad bar is $49.5 and lunch costs $29.5 there is also a salad bar only option. For these prices, you can eat your full until you display the red card on your table to indicate you’ve had enough!
This restaurant at 80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis serves a selection of pub foods in a cozy atmosphere. On the menu are gluten-free options, there is a happy hour and the restaurant is kid-friendly. They also stay open late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and have live music, free WiFi, and make deliveries. The hard-working restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week! Their motto is “damn good food” and on the menu are several unusual items like a kangaroo, fried plantain, organic eggs, Walleye hash, lemon-ricotta hotcakes, ham and pear crisp sandwich, bison burger and a grilled vegetable sandwich. The menu is extensive, sophisticated and varied and there is a different menu for each of the three meals they serve a day.
Cossetta’s Italian Market and Pizzeria
The overall #1 on Urbanspoon’s list of best Twin Cities restaurants this Italian restaurant at 211 7th Street West, St. Paul is open daily for lunch and dinner. On the menu, you’ll find brochette assortimento, shrimp cocktail, shrimp Misto, a snack basket, vegetable assortimento, chicken salads, steakhouse items, lasagna (both with and without meat), and a selection of desserts. As the restaurant is also a deli you can take some of the classic Italian items home with you.
Located at 3500 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis this reasonably priced restaurant serves pub food and hearty, yet simple meals. They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and the cuisine is classic American. Their most popular meal is the Jucy Lucy (deliberately spelled without the i), a big fat juicy burger with a slice of cheese between two meat patties. The legendary Jucy Lucy has become a local hero and Matt has been awarded several awards for it. The portions are large and filling and on the menu are a shortlist of classic burgers and fries. The restaurant may look simple but people come from far and wide to taste a Jucy Lucy and see if it lives up to the restaurant’s slogan “fear the cheese.”