About the Twin Cities
About Minneapolis and Saint Paul
The Twin Cities are located in the great state of Minnesota, proud of its many lakes, including the great lake of Superior; the mighty Mississippi River, whose origin is located in northern Minnesota and travels through the state, gracing the state’s rich landscape; and diverse cultures, industry, and history.
The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul offer a wealth of attractions for its residents and visitors. The Twin Cities are home to world-class museums, an array of theaters, concert halls, diverse restaurants, exciting sporting events, and the largest retail and entertainment complex in the United States: the Mall of America.
Recently Minneapolis has welcomed several outstanding new buildings for the arts and learning, including the Guthrie Theater (designed by Jean Nouvel), additions to both the Walker Art Center (by Herzog & de Meuron) and Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Michael Graves), the Minneapolis Central Library (Cesar Pelli), and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (Frank Gehry).
More than 10,000 other lakes lie within several hours’ drive, including vast Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which stretches along the Canadian border.
Things to See and Do
Chain of Lakes
The Chain of Lakes is part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway and includes Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake. This district of Minneapolis was purchased in the early part of the 20th century and provides a variety of wonderful outdoor activity venues. Beach hours are from noon to 8 p.m. daily for most beaches from mid-June until near the end of August. Calhoun 32nd, East Cedar, and Southeast Harriet beaches are only open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Lake Calhoun is the most central lake in the Chain of Lakes to Minneapolis life. Driving down Lake Street, one encounters Lake Calhoun, a popular summer destination where there are many eateries, outdoor sports, and aquatic activities. There is a 3.2-mile walking path and a 3.1-mile biking path. Three beaches are also located on this lake: Calhoun 32nd Beach at 3200 E. Calhoun Parkway, Calhoun North Beach at 2710 W. Lake Street, and Calhoun Thomas Beach.
For more information on the Chain of Lakes.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is located on Vineland Place, across from the Walker Art Center. The 11-acre garden is a joint project of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) and the Walker Art Center. It offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy important works of art by leading American and international artists in a setting of plazas, walkways, and plantings.
Look for these displays on your visit:
- The Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge designed by Siah Armajani that connects the Sculpture Garden with Loring Park and downtown Minneapolis. Walk across the bridge to visit the Loring Park Garden and to find a selection of cafes!
- Frank Gehry's Standing Glass Fish located in the Palm Room of the Cowles Conservatory. This room features permanent and seasonal horticultural displays including exotic orchids, palms, and other fragrant and beautiful species.
- The northern boundary of the Sculpture Garden features the Alene Grossman Memorial Arbor. Along the entire 300-foot length of the vine-covered stainless steel arbor are colorful plantings of perennial and annual flowers.
For more information on the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Walker Art Center
Formally established in 1927, the Walker Art Center began as the first public art gallery in the Upper Midwest. The museum's focus on modern art began in the 1940s, when a gift from Mrs. Gilbert Walker made possible the acquisition of works by important artists of the day, including sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, and others. During the 1960s, the Walker organized increasingly ambitious exhibitions that circulated to museums in the United States and abroad. The permanent collection expanded to reflect crucial examples of contemporary artistic developments; concurrently, performing arts, film, and education programs grew proportionately and gained their own national prominence throughout the next three decades. Today the Walker is recognized internationally as a singular model of a multidisciplinary arts organization and as a national leader for its innovative approaches to audience engagement.
For more information on the Walker Art Center.
Science Museum of Minnesota
The Science Museum of Minnesota, founded in 1907, is a large regional science museum located on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. The Science Museum's programs combine research and collection facilities, a public science education center, extensive teacher education and school outreach programs, and an IMAX Convertible Dome Omnitheater to provide science education to audiences of more than a million people per year. The Science Museum of Minnesota is known worldwide for its interactive exhibits, dynamic traveling exhibitions, and internationally distributed large format films. The Museum was an early innovator in the use of live theater as a humanizing interpretive tool and continues to be a training ground for other museums wishing to include live programming in their exhibit halls.
For more information on the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum
Housed in a striking stainless steel and brick building designed by architect Frank Gehry (who also designed the Bilbao Guggenheim) for the University of Minnesota, the Weisman Art Museum offers an educational and friendly museum experience. The museum's collection features early 20th century American artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, as well as a diverse selection of contemporary art. A teaching museum for the University of Minnesota and the community, the Weisman provides a fresh, engaging arts experience through an array of programs and a changing schedule of exhibitions.
For more information on the Weisman Art Museum.
Minneapolis Institute of Art
In 1883, 25 citizens of Minneapolis founded the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, committing them to bringing the arts into the life of their community. More than a century later, the museum they created, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, stands as a monument to a remarkable history of civic involvement and cultural achievement. The Mia's permanent collection has grown from eight hundred works of art to around one hundred thousand objects. The collection includes world-famous works that embody the highest levels of artistic achievement, spanning 5,000 years and representing the world's diverse cultures across all continents. The Mia's free general-admission policy, public programs, classes for children and adults, and award-winning interactive media programs have helped to broaden and deepen this museum's roots in the communities it serves.
For more information on the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
To find one of the many, many other great museum and arts experiences the Twin Cities have to offer please visit Twin Cities Minnesota Museums.
The Guthrie Theater, founded in 1963, is an American center for theater performance, production, education, and professional training. By presenting both classical literature and new work from diverse cultures, the Guthrie illuminates the common humanity connecting Minnesota to the peoples of the world. While the Guthrie Theater's mission and artistic excellence have remained constant, much has changed over the past four decades. What began as a summer season of four productions supported by a minimal staff is now a complex organization employing more than 900 people per year. As the Guthrie entered the millennium, plans began to build a new multistage theater center on the banks of the Mississippi River. It opened June 25, 2006, and the complex includes three stages: a classic thrust stage for the grand-scale classics of the centuries, a proscenium stage for the more intimate classics of this century, and a studio theater for developing the classics of tomorrow. The new theater allows the Guthrie to retain its preeminence among theaters nationally and internationally.
For more information on the Guthrie Theater.
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
In 1980, St. Paul resident Sally Ordway Irvine challenged her community to help her create a performing arts venue in which her dream of offering “everything from opera to the Russian circus” could be realized. The $46 million center opened to the public on January 1, 1985. Certainly, Sally’s vision is alive today in Ordway Center’s dizzying schedule of theater, dance, music, family events, and educational programs. Ordway Center contains the 1,900-seat Main Hall, the intimate 306-seat McKnight Theatre, two large rehearsal halls, and magnificent lobbies on each floor, including the second floor Marzitelli Foyer, a spacious, two-story lobby encircled by a glass facade.
For more information on the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.
Minneapolis has a rich heritage of athletes and teams in many sports. From the high schools to the professional ranks, sports have been a major contributor to the Minneapolis experience. Here are a few sites to check out if you want to catch a game while you’re in town.
Mall of America
The Mall of America has it all. Located in the heart of Bloomington and the Twin Cities area, the "Mall" is the largest mall in the USA. People from all over the world come here to enjoy the great stores and attractions inside the Mall of America. An entire neighborhood with a roof, this shopping and entertainment complex is virtually big enough to have its own ZIP code. Some of the 42 million annual visitors make a day of it at the many diverse eating spots, indoor amusements, and more than 500 retail stores.
For more information about the Mall of America.
San Francisco has the Fillmore Auditorium. New York has CBGB and the Knitting Factory. And Minneapolis has First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry. Anyone who knows about music in this town will tell you that, for the last three decades, First Avenue has been integral to the Twin Cities' vibrant music scene. From the avant-garde to the mainstream, First Avenue is a music club committed to fostering the arts, and music and entertainment excellence. There are a lot of people who care deeply about this club and have, in effect, made it their lives. First Avenue is, quite simply, what a music club should be.
For more information about First Avenue.
To find more fun and interesting things to do while you’re in Minnesota, visit Explore Minnesota.