Spoonbridge and Cherry sculture with St. Mary's Basilica in the background at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Double the Fun: 10 Reasons to Visit the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul

We’ve lived in the Midwest, and we know that major cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Indianapolis get all the attention. But the thing we discovered on our recent visit to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area is that it’s the underrated, sleeper Midwest hit that’s waiting to be discovered. Minneapolis and Saint Paul are referred to as the Twin Cities, but locals know they’re less like Mary Kate and Ashley and more like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. The cities offer distinctly different vibes — Minneapolis is the ultra-hip, cosmopolitan twin, while Saint Paul is the charmingly historic, elegant twin. But don’t let the sibling rivalry fool you. As the saying goes: “The best thing about Minneapolis is Saint Paul, and the best thing about Saint Paul is Minneapolis.” In short, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Where to stay

If you’re planning a visit to the Twin Cities, the city of Roseville is perfectly positioned between the two to be the ideal jumping off point for your adventures. Roseville is a mere 10 minutes from both downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It boasts 30 parks of its own and a bustling shopping scene. With one of the lowest lodging tax rates in the metro area and free parking at all hotels, it’s the smartest choice for accommodations.

Interior of room at Courtyard Marriott in Roseville, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott in Roseville, where our room was bigger than most New York City apartments. We grabbed avocado toast and our favorite Starbucks drink at the Courtyard Bistro, then hopped on the highway to explore for the day.
[Courtyard by Marriott Roseville]




What to See

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at Walker Art Center

Woodrow sculpture at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Woodrow by Deborah Butterfield
Blue cock sculpture at Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Hahn/Cock by Katharina Frisch

We’re big proponents of art in public spaces, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a stellar representation of it. The garden reopened in 2017 with some changes: more green space, additional sculptures and improved sustainability. What didn’t change: it’s still free to everyone, 365 days a year. Stroll around the park and enjoy works from artists around the world, or just lay out a blanket and enjoy the view.
[Minneapolis Scultpture Garden]

Stars, Snakes and The Woolly Mammoth at the Bell Museum

Full-size Woolly Mammoth diorama at Bell Museum in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The Bell Museum may be Minnesota’s official Natural History Museum, but its offerings are world-class. Its digital planetarium features a “seamless” dome, the very first of its kind. And its natural history dioramas–which depict every corner of the state–are some of the best in the country. There’s also a Touch & See Lab, where hands-on learning means you can pet real-life snakes (if you dare)!
[The Bell Museum]

Fun fact: The fur on the Woolly Mammoth is sourced by the same company that sourced the fur for the Chewbacca costume!

The Mushroom Grow Chamber at Keg & Case Market

Mushroom Grow Chamber at Keg & Case Market in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Interior of Keg & Case Market in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Forest to Fork is the first retail venture for Mike Kempenich, also known as the Gentleman Forager. At his space in Keg & Case Market, you’ll see a 14-foot-high glass wall with state-of-the-art LED lighting, humidity controls, and a ton of mushrooms growing through the glass. You can’t enter the space, but you can buy the mushrooms (and more). Keg & Case brings together a number of cool vendors: Clutch Brewing occupies the top floor, while buzzy vendors like Sweet Science Ice Cream and Spinning Wylde Cotton Candy can be found at ground level.
[Keg & Case Market]

Pro Tip: If you choose to imbibe at Clutch Brewery, please note that the beer cannot leave the upper level. Plan accordingly!

Some other fun things to see:

Bob Dylan mural by Eduardo Kobra in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mall of America. It’s impossible not to think of the Mall of America when you think of the Twin Cities: it’s the largest mall in the country and the 12th largest in the world. But shopping isn’t the only thing to do here, there’s the Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium and lots of other interesting displays, events and activities throughout the year.
[Mall of America]

Local street art. The stunning mural of Minnesota son Bob Dylan by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra is just one of the many street art treasures in downtown Minneapolis. Keep your eyes open and you’ll discover some amazing talent.




What to Do

Take a river cruise with Padelford Riverboats

Steamboat on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Fall foliage as seen from the upper deck of a riverboat on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

It’s a little known fact that Saint Paul isn’t just the capital of Minnesota, it’s also the capital of the Mississippi River, with more riverfront miles than any other city. Padelford Riverboats operates a fleet that includes two authentic steamboats (which now run hydraulically) and a party barge powered by a separate towboat. A riverboat tour offers views of Saint Paul while an audio tour highlights its landmarks. We were fortunate to visit while fall foliage was at its peak, and the views were absolutely stunning!
[Padelford Riverboats]

Eat, drink and putt at Can Can Wonderland

Brightly colored walls and spotted frog on the miniature golf course in Can Can Wonderland in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Can Can Wonderland is named in homage to the space it occupies, which used to be the home of the American Can Company. But the former warehouse has been completely revamped and now brings gourmet food and drinks, mini-golf, arcade games and live entertainment together. The space features work from local artists throughout, but it doesn’t stop there: Can Can Wonderland is also an arts-based public benefit corporation. It’s the fun spot you’d take your cool cousin to when she’s visiting from out of town.
[Can Can Wonderland]

Discover local artisans at Rose & Loon

Interior of Rose & Loon store at the Rosedale Center in Roseville, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Rose & Loon has a secret weapon: a maker whisperer. Jerrod Scott travels all over the Midwest to unearth true homegrown artisans, and then he gives them a voice at Rose & Loon. You can find anything from essential oils to pom pom beanies here. But each item has a person, and more importantly, a story attached to it. Artisans and goods rotate regularly, so you get to discover something new each time you pop by. We fell in love with the reclaimed wood art by Bailey Builds, but we wouldn’t say no to taking the entire store home with us.
[Rose & Loon]

Some other fun things to do:

Interior of Xcel Energy Arena during a Minnesota Wild game in Minneapolis, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Take in a Minnesota Wild game. Many cities love their sports, but the love for hockey goes to a whole new level here. There are themed nights that make it fun for the whole family too.
[Minnesota Wild]

Explore the flourishing craft beer scene. Bent Brewstillery (a hybrid brewery and distillery!) offers tours that will take your tastebuds around the world, and Summit Brewing Co. has a Ratskeller (a much cooler version of a taproom!) you’ll want to spend hours in.
[Bent Brewstillery] [Summit Brewing Co.]

See the longest stretch of Victorian houses in the country. Summit Avenue is part of two National Historic Districts and the gorgeous structures here are guaranteed to give you major house envy.




Where to Eat

The Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen

Three pink-colored cocktails at Copper Hen Kitchen in Minneapolis, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Woke Up Crabby Toast at Copper Hen Kitchen in Minneapolis, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Woke Up Crabby Toast

The Copper Hen is located on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, which is affectionately referred to as “Eat Street”. And oh boy, it certainly lives up to its name! The Copper Hen mixes market-to-table fare with a cool, artsy, farmhouse vibe. But more importantly, the food is a fun remix of classics you’ll happily devour. We enjoyed the Farmer’s Brunch, which mixes the sweet and savory masterfully (save the bread pudding french toast for last, trust us on this) as well as the Woke Up Crabby Toast, which combines a crab cake with avocado toast (need we say more?). And don’t sleep on the cupcakes!
[Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen]

Forepaugh’s Restaurant

Signature Beef Wellington at Forepaugh's Restaurant in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Beef Wellington

Forepaugh’s is a local legend, partly because it offers award-winning food and service, but also because it’s, um, haunted. Yes, you read that right. There’s a lot of local lore behind its former owners and the maid who hung herself here, but make no mistake: multiple teams of paranormal experts have proven there’s more than one “permanent resident”. You would think eating at a haunted Victorian mansion would only attract people who celebrate Halloween year-round, but you’ll find local businessman and families dining here regularly. The history is celebrated, and the delicious food even more so. The Beef Wellington is a signature dish you should definitely try.
[Forepaugh’s Restaurant]

Grand Catch Seafood

Seafood boil, shrimp, rice and cajun fries from Grand Catch Seafood in Saint Paul, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Seafood boil, Salt and pepper shrimp and Cajun fries

Grand Catch Seafood brings together two popular restaurateurs from the Twin Cities: Sameh and Saed Wadi of World Street Kitchen and Milkjam Creamery, and Thien Ly of Cajun Deli. The highlight of the menu is the Seafood Boil, where you pick your seafood, pick your topping (obvious choice: Awesome Sauce!), and pick your heat level. If someone in your party isn’t a fan of seafood, unfriend them immediately. Just kidding, there’s a killer chicken sandwich here too! Otherwise, put on your bib and gloves and follow the instructions on the wall: Get Crackin’.
[Grand Catch]

Hi-Lo Diner

Fried dough covered with buttermilk fried chicken, syrup and gravy at Hi-Lo Diner in Minneapolis, Minnesota via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Gary Cooper Hi-Top

Hi-Lo Diner opened in 2016, but its bones date back to 1957. The original diner was manufactured in New Jersey by the Fodero Dining Car Company and lived a full life as Venus Diner just outside of Pittsburgh for almost 60 years. It received a full facelift and is just starting its second act as the Hi-Lo Diner in Minneapolis. Very few original diners remain, and stepping into Hi-Lo Diner is like stepping into a piece of American history. It’s breakfast all day here, and you can find your diner staples like omelets and pancakes. But Hi-Tops are what they’re famous for, which are essentially donuts on steroids. The Gary Cooper features fried pastry dough topped with buttermilk fried chicken doused in gravy and maple-bourbon syrup. We were skeptical, but the server said, “It somehow all works together.” She was right.
[Hi-Lo Diner]

Some other fun places to eat:

La Casita Mexican Grill & Cantina. La Casita isn’t a restaurant, it’s an experience. From the salsa bar to $5 margaritas the size of your head, this place needs to be seen to be believed!
[La Casita Mexican Grill & Cantina]

Chianti Grill. Italian cuisine is comfort food at its best, and the breads and pastas at Chianti Grill will feel like a warm hug. Warning: the dessert portions here will feed a normal human being for three days. (Just one day for us.)
[Chianti Grill]



Booking.com


So if you haven’t been to the Twin Cities, or it’s been a while since you last paid Minneapolis-Saint Paul a visit, it’s time to put it back on your list of vacation destinations. Is it way more interesting and is there way more to do than you thought? As the locals say: you betcha!

If you’re considering a trip to Roseville and the Twin Cities, the Roseville Visitor Association is a wonderful resource. Thank you to the Roseville Visitor Association for partnering on this post.

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A pinterest pin of the sculpture park at Walker Museum via Mad Hatters NYC.

A pinterest pin of the Bob Dylan mural by street artist Eduardo Kobra with text "10 Reasons Why You Should Visit The Twin Cities" via Mad Hatters NYC.

– L. & J.

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Mad Hatters NYCLindans069@cvip.netLauren JohnsonNina Clapperton Recent comment authors
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Nisha
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Sounds great and looks like lots of fun things to see and do.The food looks delicious as well .Thanks for sharing the details , hope to visit someday !

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman
Guest

Wow, do I love this post! MadHattersNYC in my town! So glad you included our visit to the Hi Lo Diner. We want to go back there, though I preferred my Gary Cooper deconstructed. I can’t believe you had already eaten so much that morning! Lol! Wish we had time to look at some street art, but I’ll just have to share my photos with you. I’ve been collecting info on different pieces around town. I haven’t been to Keg & Case market yet—on my list now. Didn’t realize you had gotten over to Eat Street—that’s just a hop skip… Read more »

Tip
Guest

J&L, another great, well written post. Such a pleasure to read, and we now have an excellent primer for visiting Minn/St Paul. Loved the picture of you two under the blue rooster. You guys look like you are having your CD drop. We’re going to stay in touch with NYC through you all so keep this good stuff coming.

Jill Dutton
Guest

I’ll add this to my list! Thank you for the great suggestions!

Tara Kothari
Guest

Minneapolis is on our list of places to visit. I will come back here for more deets when we travel. Rose & Loon has been bookmarked!!!

Nina Clapperton
Guest

Looks really interesting! The food sounds delish and that mushroom growing place is so unique. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

Lauren Johnson
Guest

What a fantastic trip!! I was following along on your Instagram stories, so it’s nice to read the recap of what everything was! Looks like you guys had a blast, and that there are seemingly endless options of fun things to do….

…and EAT! Eat Street! I was cracking up at that one. Sounds like a place I’d like to visit, especially for those donut chicken and waffles πŸ˜‰

ns069@cvip.net
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ns069@cvip.net

Great ideas and wonderful photos! Thanks for your extensive research.

Linda
Guest

We have never been to the Twin Cities. But as you know, we love long weekend trips like this. The outdoor sculpture garden looks like something we would like to visit. The Mushroom Grow Chamber looks wild. David does not like mushrooms at the best of time. This would be their death knell! A river cruise would be great if the weather co-operates. Especially with the great autumn view that you got. Craft breweries seem to be the thing these days. I am sure we could find a beer we love. Great to go with all the good food you… Read more »