Minneapolis and St. Paul have a lot of connections: The Mississippi River flows through them both, their residents root for the same sports teams, and their museums and theaters are world class. They’re also physically connected by the Metro Green Line light rail, which runs between Minneapolis’ Target Field and St. Paul’s Union Depot, with more than 20 stops along the way.
Exploring these two cities on this sleek mode of transportation offers a different perspective, even for lifelong residents. Traffic jams and parking woes are not a concern; instead of staring at license plates and stoplights, your eyes are free to take in the views of the State Capitol, Weisman Art Museum and Minneapolis skyline passing by.
The light rail is easy to ride: buy a ticket at the kiosk on any platform, or scan your Metro Transit Go-To Card if you already have one. Once onboard, seats and standing room are plentiful, and there are even places to rack your bike—especially useful if you want to pair a Nice Ride bike rental with your trip.
Downtown St. Paul
At the St. Paul end, the revamped Union Depot is worth a visit. Eat in the lobby restaurant, learn about the building’s history and go down the historic staircase, where a Snoopy statue awaits a photo opp on the platform. Public tours are offered every other Tuesday, giant board games can be played every Wednesday night, and free yoga classes are held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Many restaurants are a short walk from the station, and the St. Paul Farmers Market is open every weekend May-November. On a nice day, stroll through the charming Mears Park, where the gardens are maintained by residents of the neighboring condos.
A few stops away is the Minnesota History Center, where there are always new exhibits on display in addition to the impressive permanent collections.
From here, the train travels along University Avenue and through some of St. Paul’s most diverse neighborhoods. Thai, Vietnamese and other ethnic restaurants and markets are plentiful between the Western and Snelling stops. Also at Snelling, the recently renovated Turf Club is the place to see live local music, and Burning Brothers Brewing on Thomas Avenue serves gluten-free beers in its taproom Thursday-Saturday.
One of the newest attractions along this stretch is Allianz Field, home of the Minnesota United FC soccer team. In addition to home games, the stadium also has a bar that's open to the public and hosts other special events throughout the year.
Art galleries, boutiques and cafes line the street just north of the Raymond Avenue stop. Browse the vinyl stacks at the new Barely Brothers Records, check out the artwork at the Raymond Avenue Gallery, or add some vintage flair to your wardrobe at Shag Studio (which doubles as a hair salon). On the other side of University, Caffe Biaggio serves rustic Italian fare.
The Green Line has three stops on the University of Minnesota campus, where it must slow down so as not to disturb scientific experiments. Get off at Stadium Village for Gopher and Vikings games at TCF Bank Stadium, grab a bite at Stub & Herbs or My Burger on the East Bank, or cross the mighty Mississippi to the West Bank—the most scenic part of the ride.
The Green Line syncs up with the Blue Line in downtown Minneapolis, culminating at the new transit center outside Target Field. Get off at Nicollet for shopping, dining and strolling, or check out the nightlife near the Hennepin Avenue stop. The Green Line runs 24 hours a day, with trains every 10 minutes during peak times, so you can always catch a ride.
Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.
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