Minnesota Basics

Spending & Currency

Spending While You're Here

You are strongly advised to exchange currency at your first convenience. Most Minnesota businesses do not accept foreign currency. U.S. currency comes in coins (1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢ and, less commonly, 50¢ and $1) and bills ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and, less commonly, $2).

Two tips: Keep 25¢ pieces (quarters) on hand for parking meters. If you can help it, don't pay for low-cost items with larger than a $20 bill - shopkeepers may be unable - or unwilling - to make change.

You can exchange foreign currencies at most large banks, tourist centers and at agencies in the terminals of major airports. But you'll receive the best rate using an automated teller machine (ATM). You can find ATM in most public places, though some banking networks charge fees of $1-3 per transaction.

Another way to optimize the exchange rate is to make purchases with a credit card. Major credit cards are widely accepted across the U.S. In fact, some businesses, such as hotels, require a credit card to confirm a reservation. Keep some U.S. currency or traveler's checks on hand for use in an emergency.

Minnesota Sales Tax

In most of Minnesota, the sales tax is 6.5 percent on all products except purchases of unprepared food, clothing, shoes or medicine. In the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the sales tax is 7 percent.

Tipping/gratuities

The custom of tipping service personnel is a generally-accepted practice in Minnesota: 15-20 percent for restaurant wait staff; 10-15 percent for taxi drivers; 50 cents to $1 per bag for bellmen. Occasionally, gratuities are automatically added to restaurant checks, but not often.

International Travelers

How to get a US passport

Information on US Customs regulations

Information on specific entry points

Entry from Canada, Europe, and Japan via air: customs declaration forms are distributed at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Air Charter Terminal in a variety of languages.

Entry from Canada via ground transportation: Customs checks are carried out at checkpoints in Baudette, Crane Lake, Grand Portage, International Falls, Lancaster, Noyes, Pine Creek, Roseau and Warroad. (Checkpoints are marked with a crossed flag symbol on the official Minnesota highway map.

Alcoholic beverages

It is best to inquire locally about legal drinking restrictions; they vary by county. Generally, bars and restaurants, hotels and other drinking establishments are open from 8 am -2 am Monday through Saturday and 12 pm -12 am on Sunday. Persons must be 21 years of age to consume alcoholic beverages in Minnesota.

Maps & Transportation

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT)

MNDOT posts alternate traffic routes on their website.

Minnesota highway map

View and/or print the official state highway map from the MNDOT website, or order a copy to be mailed to you.

Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)

Conveniently located within 30 minutes of both downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MSP  serves more than 175 destinations. MSP's main terminal – Lindbergh Terminal (Terminal 1) is located just off Highway 5 in St. Paul. Highway 5 connects to Interstate 494 and Highway 55. The Humphrey Terminal (Terminal 2) is just off Interstate 494 near 34th Avenue. Both passenger terminals at MSP are served by light rail, which runs between downtown Minneapolis to the north, and the Mall of America in Bloomington to the south.

New road signs are in place clarifying terminal exits. The main terminal, Lindbergh Terminal, is indicated as Terminal 1. The secondary terminal, Humphrey Terminal, is indicated as Terminal 2. Check the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport web site to verify which terminal your airline uses.

Air carriers/other airports

MSP is served by many commercial air carriers offering scheduled flights to key destinations. A network of municipally-owned airports and seaplanes make many points in Minnesota accessible by air.

Rail

Some of the state’s best scenery is found along the Amtrak route, which serves Winona, Red Wing, Saint Paul, Saint Cloud, Staples and Detroit Lakes.

Taxi/limousine service

Taxi service is usually ordered by telephone or hired at taxi stands. Basic fare is approximately a $4 boarding fee plus $1.60 each mile. Many metro area hotels offer complimentary limousine service to and from the airport. Private limousine service is also available.

Mass and public transportation

In Minneapolis/Saint Paul: The Metropolitan Council Transit Operations system operates a full schedule of buses throughout the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area. And light rail from the Minneapolis/Saint Paul airport to downtown Minneapolis, including the Mall of America in Bloomington.

Other cities, such as Duluth, Saint Cloud and Rochester also offer public transportation system. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) offers more information on public transportation in Minnesota.