USA - Minneapolis/St. Paul
Twin Citians delight in celebrating their past, from their cities’
beginnings on the banks of the Mississippi 300 years ago up through
recent history. But sightseers don’t have to choose between
yesterday and today for outings. In the morning you can return to
1829 at Historic Fort Snelling, and in the afternoon jet into the
future of science and technology at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
It’s history that prevails at Minnehaha Falls. (The “laughing
waters” of the falls were immortalized by Longfellow in his poem
Song of Hiawatha.) Take a lunch and have a picnic under the statue
of Minnehaha and the brave Hiawatha.
Summit Avenue, in St. Paul, is one of the largest Victorian-era
neighborhoods left intact in the U.S. and the longest-preserved
residential street without shops or businesses. The governor’s
mansion, the house where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived and the James J.
Hill house are among the homes on this street. The Summit Hill
Association can provide additional information about the area (phone
The Walker Art Center is renowned for its permanent collections
(such as 100 years of sculpture) and exhibitions of contemporary
art. Nine galleries offer rotating exhibitions. Handicapped
accessible. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 am-5 pm,
Thursday 10 am-8 pm, Sunday 11 am-5 pm. One-hour tours. Admission:
US$4 adults, US$3 seniors and college and high school students with
ID. Thursdays free. Vineland Place, Minneapolis, phone 612-375-7636.
The Minnesota Zoo. More than 2,000 animals in a 500-acre/203-hectare
zoological garden. Both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a
tropical coral reef, komodo dragons and Siberian tigers. Be sure to
take the monorail for an above-the-trees view of the animals. The
new Discovery Bay features dolphin shows and a shark exhibit. You
can picnic here in summer or enjoy the cross-country ski trails in
winter. Open daily 9 am, closing varies with the season. US$8
adults, US$5 seniors, US$4 children ages 3-12. About 20 minutes
south of the airport at 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley, phone
612-432-9000 or 800-366-7811.
A dizzying 75 rides (including five roller coasters and four water
rides) spill and spin at Valleyfair Family Amusement Park.
Spectacular entertainment, food and attractions, including the huge
sensation, The Wild Thing, one of the world’s largest roller
coasters. Its season runs mid May-Labor Day, starting daily at 10
am, with varying closing times. US$24.95 adults, US$6.95 seniors age
60 and older and children 48 in/122 cm or shorter. Free for children
age 3 and younger. One admission charge includes the water park, all
rides, shows and attractions. 1 Valleyfair Dr., Shakopee, phone
612-445-7600 or 800-386-7433.
For many visitors, the Nicollet Mall-Loring Greenway through
downtown to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is an easy walk, past
numerous shops, Orchestra Hall, Loring Park and the Walker Art
Metro Connections guides award-winning sightseeing tours. Holiday
lights tours, theme parties. Tour times vary with the seasons. US$20
adults, US$18 seniors, US$12 children ages 14 and under. 1219
Marquette Ave., Suite 110, Minneapolis, phone 612-333-8687 or
In 1915, Archbishop John Ireland dedicated the Cathedral of St.
Paul, modeled after St. Peter’s in Rome, as a monument to the people
of St. Paul. The church is open daily 7:30 am-5 pm, guided tours
Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1 pm. Free. 239 Selby Ave., St.
Paul, phone 612-228-1766.
James J. Hill House, built by railroad baron James J. Hill in 1891,
once reigned as the biggest mansion in the Midwest. Cut-glass
chandeliers, tile fireplaces. Wednesday-Saturday 10 am-3:30 pm.
Reservations preferred. US$5 adults, US$4 seniors, US$3 children
ages 5-15, free for children under age 5. 240 Summit Ave., St. Paul.
Phone 612-297-2555. Ask about walking tours of the Summit Avenue
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden covers more than 7 acres/3 hectares
next to the Walker Art Center. More than 40 sculptures by leading
artists in media ranging from wood to granite. Check out Coosje van
Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry. Daily 6 am-midnight. Free.
Vineland Place, Minneapolis, phone 612-375-7693.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Famous free zoo and sunny, Victorian
floral conservatory. Cross-country ski trails, paddleboats, bike and
canoe rentals. The conservatory is a terrific midwinter getaway.
Hours vary with the season—call first. Conservatory admission: US$1
adults, US$0.50 seniors, children free. Midway Parkway and Kaufman
Drive, St. Paul. Conservatory, phone 612-487-8200; zoo, phone
Knott’s Camp Snoopy, considered the largest indoor theme
entertainment park in the U.S., covers 7 acres/3 hectares at the
Mall of America. It’s totally enclosed and open year round. Roller
coaster. Pay per attraction. Day passes available—some hotels will
sell these passes at discounts. Mall of America, Bloomington, phone
The Mississippi Mile is the oldest and prettiest part of
Minneapolis, a stretch of reclaimed river bank between Plymouth
Avenue and I-35W. The Mile encompasses Nicollet Island, the St.
Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, the site where the Mississippi spills
over St. Anthony Falls and an interesting system of locks and dams,
as well as a visitors center and observation deck. The area around
St. Anthony Falls is designated as a National Historic District and
is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
Information from the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, phone
612-627-5433. Guided tours available. Maps for self-guided tours
available from the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors
Bureau, phone 612-661-4700.
Art-About Tours offers art, history, museum, studio, antique and
architectural tours, led by both docents and historians. Tours are
tailored to customers’ desires. A typical tour for two to three
people lasts from three hours to a whole day and includes lunch.
Typically US$75-$125 per person. 210 N. 2nd St., Minneapolis, phone
The Summit Brewery is a small microbrewery, complete with copper
kettles made in 1938 and imported from Europe. A wonderful local
libation called Summit Pale Ale is still brewed there. Tours
Saturday at 1 pm. Free, but reservations required. 2264 University
Ave., St. Paul, phone 612-645-5029.
Governor’s Residence. Official home of the state’s governor
(although he doesn’t actually live there). Within the grounds is the
Minnesota Garden Memorial. Free tours of the house and garden are
given on selected Thursdays May-October. Reservations required. Make
sure to call at least two weeks ahead of the dates you are
requesting because it takes about a week for them to confirm. 1006
Summit Ave., St. Paul, phone 612-297-8177.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. A huge, comprehensive fine-arts
museum, considered the Twin Cities’ premier arts space after the
Walker. MIA contains an encyclopedic collection (more than 80,000
objects) of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures and photography,
with some objects dating back to 25,000 BC. Also houses the private
collection of James J. Hill, the St. Paul railroad baron. Tuesday,
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 am-5 pm, Thursday 10 am-9 pm,
Sunday noon-5 pm. Free. 2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis, phone
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Native woods and prairies on some 900
acres/365 hectares of rolling hills. Formal display gardens and a
variety of plant collections. Open all year. Grounds open 8
am-sunset. Hours for building and services vary by season. Extended
hours and tours offered May-October. US$5 adults, children age 18
and under are free. About 25 minutes from the airport. 3675
Arboretum Dr., Chanhassen, phone 612-443-2460.
At Lowertown St. Paul, restoration of many of St. Paul’s oldest
buildings continues in a thriving urban village. Galleries, artist
studios, coffeehouses and Mears Park are all part of the Lowertown
area. Walk this during the day. About six blocks from the river.
The RiverCity Trolley takes visitors on a route of one hour’s
duration that includes the Mississippi Mile, with views of the river
and St. Anthony Falls. Available to individuals May-October, with
chartered tours available year round. Phone 612-204-0000.
Raptor Center, University of Minnesota. Knowledgeable volunteers
guide tours of this hospital for birds. A bird show follows. Tours
are offered Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 10 am and 2
pm. US$3.50 adults, US$2 seniors, college students and children
through grade 12. (Self-guided tours are free.) You must reserve in
advance for guided tours. Center is open Monday-Friday 9 am-4 pm,
Saturday 11 am-4 pm. 1920 Fitch Ave., St. Paul, phone 612-624-4745.
Alexander Ramsey House. A Victorian home built in 1872 by Alexander
Ramsey, who served as the first and second territorial governor in
Minnesota, then became a U.S. senator and secretary of war.
Reservations recommended for the one-hour guided tour offered
May-December: Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-3 pm, Sunday 1-4 pm. US$4
adults, US$3 seniors, US$2 children. 265 S. Exchange St., St. Paul,
Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. A contemporary fine-arts museum on
the University of Minnesota campus, it’s housed in a building that
looks as if it’s been wrapped in aluminum foil (it was designed by
Frank Gehry). Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 am-5 pm, Thursday 10
am-8 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11 am-5 pm. Free. 333 East River Rd.,
Minneapolis, phone 612-625-9494.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. One of four urban refuges
in the nation, it sustains 50 species of mammals, about 35 species
of reptiles and amphibians and around 260 species of birds. The
visitors center has numerous exhibits and presentations all year
long. Information, maps and calendar of events available at visitors
center. Open daily 9 am-5 pm, except Mondays. Closed on federal
holidays. Free. About 10 minutes south of the airport. Take the 34th
Street Exit from I-494. 3815 E. 80th St., Bloomington. Visitors
Center: phone 612-335-2323 or 612-854-5900 (recording).
Gray Line Tours. Tours of the Twin Cities lasting either three or
six hours are offered from the first week of May through the first
week of October. Pickup at the Mall of America and some downtown
Minneapolis and St. Paul hotels. Tours begin at 9:30 am. US$18-$28
adults, US$10-$16 children. 121160 Holy Oak Ave., Lakeville, phone
Foshay Tower Observation Deck. The deck on the 32nd floor of the
tower provides the best view of the Twin Cities since the closing of
the observation deck in the IDS Tower (taller and newer). Closed in
winter. Beginning in April, weather permitting, the Foshay Tower
opens Monday-Friday noon-4 pm, Saturday 11 am-3 pm. US$3 adults,
US$2 seniors and children under age 17. 821 Marquette Ave.,
Minneapolis, phone 612-341-2522.
Historic Fort Snelling. Built more than 150 years ago on a bluff
over the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Restored to its original
appearance and staffed by costumed guides. Open daily May-October:
Sundays 11:30 am-5 pm, Monday-Saturday 9:30 am-5 pm. US$5 adults,
US$4 seniors, US$3 children ages 6-15. Free admission to the history
center, exhibits and museum shops. Highways 5 and 55, St. Paul,
The Minnesota Museum of American Art hosts ongoing shows of past and
contemporary U.S. artworks. Tuesday-Saturday 11 am-4 pm, Thursday
till 7:30 pm, Sunday 1-5 pm. Most programs are free. In the Landmark
Center at 5th and Market, St. Paul, phone 612-292-4355.
Minnehaha Falls and Park. The falls inspired Longfellow’s poem
Hiawatha and composer Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Popular area for
hikers and picnickers. No fees. Open until sundown, but it’s safest
to leave before then. 50th and Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis.
Four large Mississippi riverboats depart from two landings at the
Paddleford Packet Boat Company. The tour from Boom Island in
Minneapolis goes to the lock and dam at St. Anthony Falls. The tour
from Harriet Island in St. Paul goes to Fort Snelling. Public
excursions at noon and 2 pm daily from both landings, Memorial
Day-Labor Day. Trips last 90 minutes. US$9 adults, US$5.50 children
age 14 and younger. Private charters May-October. Harriet Island,
St. Paul, phone 612-227-1100.
Minnesota State Capitol. Designed by Cass Gilbert, architect of the
U.S. Supreme Court Building and the George Washington Bridge. The
capitol features one of the largest self-supporting domes in the
world. A 45-minute guided tour on the hour. Monday-Friday 9 am-4 pm,
Saturday 10 am-3 pm, Sunday 1-3 pm. Free. Aurora and Cedar Streets,
St. Paul, phone 612-297-3521.
The Science Museum of Minnesota permits active participation by
children and adults in engaging exhibits of science and natural
history. Hands-on physics experiments in the Experiment Gallery,
dinosaur and fossil exhibits, Minnesota landscape exhibit and
tornado exhibit, among others. The 3M Omnitheater is a thrilling
movie-going experience. Monday-Saturday 9:30 am-9 pm, Sunday 10 am-9
pm. Exhibit and Omnitheater admission: US$8 adults, US$6 seniors
(age 65 and over) and children (ages 4-12). Omnitheater only: US$7
adults, US$5 seniors and children. Exhibits only: US$5 adults, US$4
seniors and children. Corner of Wabasha and Exchange Streets, St.
Paul, phone 612-221-9488.
The Minneapolis Planetarium offers tours of the night skies and
intriguing investigations of the latest discoveries in space. Show
times depend on the season. US$4 adults, US$2.50 children age 12 and
under. 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, phone 612-630-6150.
The Minnesota Zephyr Limited, a restored and decorated train, evokes
the gilded past with five dining cars—one designated for smoking and
another with clear domes for viewing the scenery. Reservations
required. Semiformal attire, includes five-course dinner. The
three-hour, round-trip tours board at the Stillwater Depot Logging
and Railroad Museum and travel north to White Bear Lake. Tours are
conducted year round, leaving Friday and Saturday at 6:30 pm, Sunday
at 11:30 am. US$58.50 per person not including sales tax, gratuity
or beverages. 601 N. Main St., Stillwater, phone 612-430-3000.
Minnesota Children’s Museum. Exhibits and shows with hands-on
experiences in the arts, sciences and humanities for children ages 6
months to about 12 years. Tuesday-Sunday 9 am-5 pm. US$5.95 for
people ages 3-60, US$3.95 toddlers and senior citizens. Corner of
7th and Wabasha, St. Paul, phone 612-225-6000.
UnderWater World. Huge aquarium at the Mall of America (Bloomington)
which includes sharks and stingrays along with many other
lake-and-sea creatures. The four tanks represent a Minnesota lake,
the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico and a Caribbean coral
reef. Monday-Thursday 10 am-8 pm, Friday 10 am-9 pm, Saturday 9 am-9
pm, Sunday 10 am-7 pm. US$9.95 adults, US$7.95 seniors, US$5.95
children ages 3-12, free for children under age 3. I-494 and Highway
77. Phone 612-883-0202.
Minnesota History Center. A center dedicated to exhibiting and
preserving the history of Minnesota. Hear vintage Betty Crocker
broadcasts or view Prince’s costume from Purple Rain. The center
also houses a library for researching geneology. Tuesday-Wednesday
and Friday and Saturday 10 am-5 pm, Thursday 10 am-9 pm, Sunday
noon-5 pm. Open Mondays July-August. The library is closed on
Sunday. Free. 345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul, phone 612-296-6126 or
The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. Sometimes called “The
Quackery Hall of Fame,” this museum has the largest collection of
quack medical devices in the world. The approximately 250 devices
range from a phrenology machine from the 1920s to the more recent
Crystaldyne Pain Reliever from the 1990s. If you aren’t familiar
with Minneapolis, you might want to call for directions. Free.
Tuesday-Thursday 5-9 pm, Friday and Saturday noon-9 pm, Sunday
noon-5 pm. 201 S. Main St., Minneapolis, phone 612-379-4046.