Uniquely Twin Cities
Between their many acclaimed restaurants, state-of-the-art stadiums, progressive venues for the performing arts, and serene recreational spaces, Minneapolis, St. Paul and the rest of the metro region pack as much relative punch as cities twice their size. Which may leave you wondering what sets the Twin Cities truly apart from the rest of the country. Let’s take a quick tour around the region.
From the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s vast, nationally recognized collection to the more contemporary minded Walker Art Center, Minneapolis has no shortage of stellar art museums. There are 55 museums in total across the region. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden unites two of Minnesota’s most cherished resources – its parks and its cultural life – and features 58 works from the Walker Art Center’s renowned collections in the setting of an urban park.
Arguably the biggest draw among Mall of America’s many attractions in Bloomington, Nickelodeon Universe brings the iconic channel to life with such whiplash-inducing thrill rides as Shredder’s Mutant Masher, SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, and Avatar Airbender. It also offers quite a few classics, including a Ferris wheel, log chute, bumper cars, and carousel.
A recent James Beard Award winner for Best New Restaurant, Owamni is the long-awaited riverside restaurant of The Sioux Chef — a Minneapolis-based collective run by food educator/founder Sean Sherman and longtime collaborator/co-owner Dana Thompson. Sherman’s modern indigenous menu features such rarely seen items as blue corn mush, hand-harvested wild rice, and cedar-braised bison tacos, and is free of such colonial ingredients as wheat flour, cane sugar and dairy. Frankly, there’s nothing quite like it.
Between its crowd-sourced, artist-designed mini golf course, century-spanning arcade, and boozy malts, Can Can Wonderland is essentially an indoor amusement park for adults. Everything from karaoke to comedy is also featured in its monthly events calendar, along with specials for Date Night Sundays and First Date Thursdays. (Both involve scavenger hunts and a secret envelope.)
Whether you’re snowshoeing in the dead of winter or standing atop its spectacular dam-side walkway at the height of summer, Mississippi Gateway Regional Park is a prime example of what makes the Three Rivers Park District so special. Bring your binoculars to this one if you’ve got ‘em; hawks, river otters, beaver and mink all call this mighty, 160-acre park home.
Paisley Park is hidden in plain sight alongside an ordinary suburban highway in Chanhassen, looking as if it had dropped out of the sky or just been pulled through an interdimensional portal. Which makes perfect sense; it’s Prince’s longtime home and workspace, now open to the public as part of three different timed and ticketed guided tours. Be sure to opt for The Ultimate Experience if you’re a superfan; it provides access to a special audio playback session, three different studios, and a private film screening.
Here’s the thing about Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul: It’s not just an excuse to see exotic animals like sea lions, polar bears and primates. The sprawling complex’s year-round offerings also include a Japanese garden and enough seasonal flower shows to help you forget it’s actually winter outside.
With a name that’s a nod to dreaming, St. Louis Park’s REM5 VR Lab is one of the Midwest’s leading virtual reality centers. A cross between the metaverse and The Matrix, it offers both “casual” and “highly interactive” experiences in pods that fit 2-5 people and cost $60 for the first hour.
The good times are always rolling in the Twin Cities Gateway at Flaherty’s Arden Bowl in Arden Hills, the oldest family-owned bowling center in the country since 1938. Travel + Leisure also touted Flaherty’s among America’s Coolest Bowling Alleys.
There are aquariums, and then there is SeaQuest. One of Roseville’s biggest attractions, it encourages visitors to feed, touch, and interact with friendly animals from five continents — everything from sloths to stingrays — in a 20,000 square foot space within Rosedale Center.
Stillwater Boat Cruises embarks on its exclusive St. Croix River excursions in the spring and winds them down every October. Look out for weekly lunch and dinner packages like a “Jazz Me” buffet that serves wild rice-stuffed chicken and baked cod alongside a NOLA-style Dixieland band.
Caponi Art Park recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in Eagan, making the 60-acre property one of the metro area’s longest running public spaces for spotting otherworldly sculptures alongside winding paths and well-groomed, wooded trails. A perfect way to spend an afternoon — especially when Caponi hosts concerts in its outdoor amphitheater, bringing the performing arts together with nature beautifully.