Two massive cities in one day is a task for anyone, especially when dealing with twins. It was a cold and rainy day, but we were determined to make the best of our one day in the St. Paul and Minneapolis area. We had a blast crafting the perfect twin cities bucket list for anyone short on time and looking for excitement.
From thrill rides at the Mall of America to local brews and music across the river in the Arts District – we explored from sun up to sundown.
So rise and shine, grab your metro ticket (more on that soon) and head out for some good ol’ fashion Minnesota fun. Dontcha know. Yes, I intend to sprinkle my favorite Minnesotan word throughout this post.
This visit was primarily a family trip to watch my boyfriend’s brother perform in a play. By the way, he is incredibly talented and finally created an Instagram account. You should go follow him and tell him Allison sent you. Then one day when he wins a Tony Award he might invite me. Phew! Back to the regularly scheduled program.
Given we only had Saturday free, that meant one day to explore as much as possible on both the St. Paul and Minneapolis side (aka twin cities). So let’s begin.
Table of Contents
Getting Around The Twin Cities
There are a few options for getting around. You will always be able to rely on public transportation, but if you choose to explore the rural regions like New Prague, a rental car would be recommended. However, this is one a day guide, therefore, not needed. Again, only if you are extending your stay.
Minneapolis Metro Transit
This is the largest transit operator serving the twin cities. From buses to metros, you can get anywhere you need to go.
You can plan trips on their official website or download the app, Metro Transit as we did. You can purchase tickets straight from the app and scan when you aboard buses. No scan was needed for the metro lines. If it’s like any other city though, random checks are not uncommon so please purchase a ticket.
For a weekend all-day pass, it costs $4 per adult. In the app select tickets > Local Bus/METRO. This will give you access to the green and blue line which run between downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis.
They did an incredible job inner-linking an ENTIRE city solely indoors. Skyway is much more than a chain of hallways. There are shops, restaurants, lounges, fitness centers and more along the various paths. You can walk forever and not even know what building you’re in.
Don’t worry though. There is also an app for the Skyway (Skyway Myway App) which makes navigating easier – throwing out recommendations too on places to visit.
Twin Cities Bucket List: St. Paul Side
Since our hotel was on the St. Paul side, we started our day there. More on our hotel below. If you do the same, I highly suggest (low key demand) you visit Quixotic Coffee.
The first time I tried Nitro Brew Coffee was here at Quixotic Coffee. I know this is hardly new, but considering I’m super stuck in my coffee order ways, this was quite the morning adventure. Real talk, I’m never going back to the regular iced coffee unless I have no choice. Aside from the little joy in my cup, the entire coffee shop was hipster central. Cute, modern look with delicious beverages and pastries.
Conveniently located next door to Quixotic coffee is Highland Grill. Since I already had my morning coffee I did not eat here, but the rest of the group did. From what I witnessed, they enjoyed their meals. The atmosphere was a cozy place with a hip flare. Eclectic feel for sure. What I loved the most was learning how all the ingredients are locally sourced. Makes me happy.
Mall of America
Go visit the Mall of America duh! The real driver for me wasn’t so much the stores (they are chain so no big deal) but the theme park that’s inside. How cool right?!
The theme park is officially called “Nickelodeon Universe”. There were a decent amount of roller coasters (my favorite) as well as, a Spongebob section with rides and food, a water ride, mini-golf, and more.
An all-day wrist band will cost you $36.99. Honestly, that’s a great deal given the number of roller coasters.
Aside from Nickelodeon Universe, there is an aquarium, escape room, and art installations. The twin cities are known for their love of art and it shows even in the Mall of America. This is why I feel you should still visit.
Should you choose to shop in the 500+ stores, it would take you days so choose wisely. Fun Fact: if you spend 10 minutes in each store it would take you 84 hours!!!
Seeing as we only had one day, that was not an option. Instead, we roamed around the theme park and grabbed a beer at the Hard Rock Cafe located next door. Worth peeking inside to look at the Prince memorabilia.
Hotels in St. Paul
We stayed near the Mall of America at Crowne Plaza Suites. It was a great location right near the airport, metro stop, and Mall of America. Plus, they have a full-service restaurant on-site and Caribou Coffee. The room was clean with amazing shower pressure! Nothing better than having a nice shower in a hotel. I’m all for the quality of the bathroom when it comes to hotels. Overall, this is a nice spot, affordable and centrally located to everything you need.
Twin Cities Bucket List: Minneapolis Side
I’ll be honest with you and say we spent most of our time on this side. So if you’re looking for an answer to which side is better, I would say I didn’t explore enough of St. Paul to know. That said, if you’re looking for art, craft beer, museums, and Skyway then check out these spots below.
Explore the Arts District
The arts district is easily the most unique neighborhood in Minneapolis and my #1 choice for your twin cities bucket list. Supporting over 500 artists, this area is filled with fun things to do from exhibits to restaurants and scenic river views.
In addition to the breweries and distillery I mention below, you should try to make time for at least one of the following spots:
Betty Danger’s Country Club: This is a bar/restaurant with so, so much more. As they like to claim “it’s a utopia of epic proportions”
Solar Arts Building: home to local artists in Indeed brewery.
It’s no surprise I went to a few breweries while there. We got lucky and caught not one but two events at both 612 Brew and Bauhaus Brew Labs. Turned out there was a district-wide event going on, the art-a-whirl. Many businesses played host to some sort of local art supporting event from live music and food trucks to installations and art markets. Remember I told you this is a city serious about its art.
We couldn’t have timed it better. Events aside, you should most definitely stop by the breweries. From our conversations, stuff like this happens nearly every week. You can find at least a trivia night and food trucks to complement your beer.
Make sure to watch the video for more on the events. *shameless plug*
We ended our night here. They had a specially priced menu for the art-a-whirl and DJ. Really great vibe with a pizza food truck outside. Great place if you enjoy spirits more than beer. They are an award-winning distillery with over 50 handcrafted cocktails on their menu.
Foshay Tower is one of three remaining art deco buildings in the state. Today, the building serves as an observation tower, museum, and home to the fabulous W Resort. You can get up there for $10 per adult and enjoy the views overlooking 30 miles around the entire city.
The history of the building is what did it for me. The museum is small but you can watch a video that takes you through the life of the Foshay Tower.
Bob Dylan Mural
Respect the legend Bob Dylan at this massive mural. It covers the entire side of the building. A metro stop is located right across the street should you choose to start here.
Address: 1, S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Located in the Warehouse District, the Target Center is home to NBA team Minnesota Timberwolves and surrounded by tons of shopping, dining, and nightlife. With only one day to spare, you might not be able to catch a game, but there are tons to do around this area. Check out their events calendar here.
Hotels in Minneapolis
While I did not Stay at the W Hotel in the Foshay Tower, I did pass through the lobby and it was gorgeous. Picture splashes of pink neon lights in a moody yet fancy setting. I could only imagine what the rooms look like. The location could not be better. It has quick access to the Skyway. One that has an adorable coffee shop and atrium.
For a moderate priced hotel in a great location check out Aloft. I’ve stayed at Aloft properties many times and have never been disappointed.
Packing List for Minneapolis (Year-Round)
The weather year-round is going to be cold with an average summer high around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. While that is what I consider perfect weather, the lows in summer are still around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You’re pretty much stuck bringing a jacket any month. Guess it just depends if that jacket is a parka or cardigan.
My year-round packing list for Minneapolis/St. Paul is as follows:
Fleece jacket like this cozy one from North Face. I’m a huge fan of North Face and pretty much rely on their jackets to get me through any cold weather.
Pants as the nights get colder, you will never find yourself super hot walking around in pants. If you want to check out more of my casual wear and pant choices, I’ve compiled a list on my shop page that shows all my favorite essentials I own and bring on most of my trips (pants especially).
Booties are great choices for year-round fashion.
Light Scarf because sometimes that is all you need.
Some sort of sweater if you are visiting in a hot month like July or August. I seriously live for sweaters like this. You’re also welcome to check out my massive list of sweaters.
If you want to wing it and buy when you’re there as needed, that would also be a great idea for there is no sales tax on clothing. However, with just one day to spare, you wouldn’t want to be trying to buy essentials and instead be exploring. Unless shopping is your only form of cardio then knock yourself out at the Mall of America.
Some Final Travel Tidbits
Before I leave you, I’d like to share a few tidbits I found to be true and helpful. Mostly confirming a few stereotypes (not all stereotypes are bad) and reminding you to try cheese curds. So here you go:
Words like “you betcha” and “pop” are very much alive. Plus, pop is more fun to say than soda.
Cold is real and never goes away. Even when it does, there’s water everywhere. So it’s basically cold or wet. The only con I have. Can’t do much about that though.
Everyone is super nice. Exactly what you hear. Some of the jolliest, snow living humans I’ve ever met.
Cheese curds are delicious and if you’re not a vegan, YOU MUST TRY. Probably anytime you see them. Soon enough you might even become a little cheese curd yourself.
All-in-all I think one day is 100% doable. You obviously won’t see everything the Twin Cities has to offer, but enough for a good time and a day worth of memories. Keep this twin cities bucket list with you and hopefully visit when it’s a bit warmer. Add a little warmth to the equation and you too might turn into one jolly cheese curd – Dontcha know?
Psst. . . Looking for more destinations to give you a quick travel fix? Check out a few of these posts:
Germany’s Most Popular Fairytale Town & How to See It
So which side is better, or is it tied? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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