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There’s one thing the sister cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota want you to know: they aren’t twins. The two cities, while just a stone’s throw from one another, differ in both vibes and attractions. Blanketed in brutal winter weather for nearly half the year, the cities still manage to constantly have great things going on all the time. Here are the best neighborhoods to visit in both.

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Downtown East

A recent revitalization along the waterfront has really brought the neighborhood of Downtown East to life. Beautiful promenades now line the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, offering gorgeous views and a lovely place to stroll. For the best view of all, set your eyes upon the city’s famed Stone Arch Bridge. Formerly a railroad crossing, the old arched bridge stretches across the Mississippi and has become an iconic landmark. Meander towards the base and you’ll come upon the glassy and dark metal Guthrie Theatre. The structure has often been compared more to the “Death Star” than a traditional American theatre house; however, the thoughtful design was meant to reflect the neighborhood’s industrial roots. If you can’t catch a show, venture inside to dine at seafood restaurant Sea Change. Next, visit the nearby Mill City Museum. Built on the footprint of the world’s largest flour mill, this fun and interactive museum teaches the history of the flour industry. If you’re visiting on a summer Saturday, check out the nearby Mill City Farmer’s Market for fresh flowers, food and live music. 


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From downtown, take the Hennepin Avenue Bridge across the Mississippi River to check out buzzing Northeast. First, swing by the historic Solar Arts Buildings to find amazing artwork on display from local artists. The space also houses a brewery, the Indeed Brewing Co., so be sure to grab a cold one on your way out. To really experience the neighborhood’s art scene, attend Art-A-Whirl during the third weekend in May when art takes over and it becomes the largest open studio tour in the country—definitely not to be missed! After the Solar Arts Building, the brewery fun in Northeast continues. A number of excellent micro-breweries and taprooms speckle the tree-lined streets, including the much-adored Dangerous Man Brewing Company. Following a few craft beer flights, pop into Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop. Offering a huge selection of savory meats, cheeses, deli items and more. Grab a sandwich, some charcuterie and a bottle of wine—and head out for a picnic by the river.


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This neighborhood is best for 20 and 30-somethings looking for a fun, lively area to go out in. Uptown Tavern, Bar Louie and Republic are three great establishments for an evening on the town. Nightlife isn’t the only thing Uptown has going on, though. There are also great shops along the neighborhood streets, and the parks along the waterfront of Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles provide a beautiful setting for a relaxing afternoon. For fun summertime activities, rent a bike, boat, paddleboard or kayak from Wheel Fun Rentals on the shores of Lake Calhoun. But first, if you’re in Uptown during the morning hours, stop by Isle Bun & Coffee for some of the best cinnamon rolls around.

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North Loop

If you’re a foodie and/or boutique shopper, this neighborhood will call out for you. While the entire city has embraced the food scene, the North Loop houses two of the best restaurants in town. Spoon & Stable and Bachelor Farmer sit just around the corner from each other, and both serve unforgettable meals. With a seasonal Midwest focus, local Minnesota ingredients and French technical influences, the cuisine by Chef Gavin Kaysen at Spoon & Stable is reason enough plan a Twin Cities visit. On the shopping front, local purveyors like Askov Finlayson, Wilson & Willy’s, Russell and Hazel and Filson all fill the warehouse-style streets of the neighborhood; bigger brands like Paper Source and Pacifier can be found here too. Walk down 3rd and you’ll run right into Target Field, home to the city’s beloved baseball team—the Minnesota Twins.  


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Up-and-coming Lowertown exudes a little bit of a Brooklyn vibe. Embracing its warehouse, industrial-style, you’ll find a lot of new coffee shops, art galleries and chill restaurants. During summer weekends, the area hosts a vibrant farmers market full of locally made goodies and produce. Nearby, the new CHS Field is great for catching a baseball game, but they also host events so be sure to check their calendar!



While not technically in the Twin Cities, an afternoon in Stillwater (20 miles northeast of St. Paul) is an afternoon well spent. In the winter, Stillwater hosts the famed Hockey Day Minnesota, but the neighborhood is fun any time of year. Walking down St. Croix Trail is like walking down America’s quintessential Main Street. Quaint brick facades, malt shops, and bookstores line the main drag. Pop into any of the cute boutiques; 45 Degrees is great for clothing and outdoor gear, and Cooks of Crocus Hill is perfect for all things kitchen-related (plus, they also teach cooking classes!). For lunch, dine at LoLo or the Wedge at Wheel, and then grab a sweet treat on the corner at Leo’s Malt Shop. Spend the afternoon walking on the serene riverfront until it’s time for a glass of vino over at Domacin wine bar.




Tagged: City, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

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