Minneapolis is the western half of the metro that makes up the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Though the two cities are only divided by a river, they are miles apart when it comes to architecture, culture and lifestyle. Minneapolis, the larger of the two cities, is home to major league sports franchises Vikings, Timberwolves, Twins and Lynx as well as Big 10 Conference University of MN Golden Gophers. Fortune 500 companies Target, U.S. Bancorp, Xcel Energy, Ameriprise Financial and Thrivent Financial base their headquarter operations here.
The city is also home to five impressive art centers; The Walker Art Center which is among the five largest modern art museums in the U.S., the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Weisman Art Museum and The Museum of Russian Art.
Many visitors to Minneapolis are surprised to learn that the city is second only to New York City in terms of live theater per capita with five permanent professional theaters within a mile-and-a-half of each other and the music scene is too vast to capture and too broad to label.
To the east of the river is St. Paul. Though the State’s capitol, St. Paul is the scrappier of the two cities. The city earned its reputation in the prohibition era when its Police Chief turned a blind eye to the gangster’s illegal smuggling, racketeering, boozing and gambling activities. We shouldn't have expected anything less. When it was first settled, St. Paul was named "Pigs Eye" until the Cathedral of St. Paul was erected; thus changing the city's name.
Today St. Paul is home to the NHL Minnesota Wild and Major League Soccer Minnesota United, The Minnesota RollerGirls roller derby team as well as the St. Paul Saints minor league baseball team with a pig for a mascot and a Hollywood star (Bill Murray) as one of the team’s owners. Each year St. Paul hosts the Red Bull Crashed Ice and a carnival to celebrate the state’s sub-zero temps; the Winter Carnival.
The city is second in the United States in the number of higher education institutions per capita so its residents tend to be scrappy AND smart!
Though usually called the “Twin Cities” the metro area, the 16th largest in the U.S., is actually comprised of 16 counties and is officially called the Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Bloomington is home to the international airport and the Mall of America… the largest mall in the United States with 500+ stores in 5.6 million square feet.
Just 25 miles due west on I-494 Prince fans find their way to the music icon’s former home and recording studio, Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
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If gambling is your gig, Shakopee is the suburb for you. With two casinos, a card gaming casino and a horse race track, Shakopee is a quick 30 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis.
For those who love the water, Minnesota is Mecca. The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Lake Minnetonka, one of the best recreational lakes, is 14,000 acres and only about 25 miles due west of Minneapolis.
Three Personalities -
I suppose every city has its own personality yet it continues to intrigue me that Minneapolis and St. Paul are geographically one big city with two distinct personalities. Then add the suburbs, which you also don't know when you're in one and out of another, and you have one big sprawling community with something to do for everyone.
You see the differences in everything from the architecture to the businesses to the nightlife. Minneapolis is more cosmopolitan while St. Paul is more casual. Transplants seem to like the amenities-laden apartment buildings while locally-raised kids seem to like a starter home in St. Paul or even the 'burbs. None of this makes one better than the other; just different.
Then of course, there are exceptions to the rule. As an example, it would seem that the Excel would fit better in Minneapolis, especially when it hosts concerts. But then it is home to our prized National Hockey League, MN Wild, and the Wild definitely fit into the scrappy persona of St. Paul.
Locals joke that Minneapolis is inhabited by Scandinavian Lutherans while St. Paul is filled with Irish Catholics and neither is willing to cross the river to explore the other side. Maybe that was true at one time, but that's not so any longer, thanks to the terrific social activities offered by both.
The 'burbs are the 'burbs are the 'burbs. But many of our suburbs have a gem or two tucked away. Like Minnesota's Largest Candy Store in Jordan or the J. Carver Vodka & Gin Distillery in Waconia. Never learned to ski? Check out Buck Hill Ski Hill in Burnsville. Looking for more of an adrenaline rush? Try the 70-meter ski jump at Highland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington.
...as we explore the metro area, discovering the new and celebrating the traditional. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we'll talk about it on our blog. You might want to do it to. Hop on over.