A paddleboat tour on the St. Croix River in early fall

The Twin Cities Pair Small-Town Vibes With Big-City Amenities

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Take a paddleboat tour for unbeatable views of the St. Croix River / Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours

The Twin Cities Pair Small-Town Vibes With Big-City Amenities

By Explore Minnesota

Despite their Twin Cities moniker and the mere 10 miles separating their downtowns, St. Paul and Minneapolis aren’t two peas in a pod. Rather, Minnesota’s two largest cities possess their own unique attributes, including beloved cultural institutions, outdoor activities and iconic architecture. Separated by the Mississippi River, this vibrant metropolitan area offers double the fun minus any sibling rivalry. A rock legend’s home, a globetrotting marketplace and a mall like no other all await.

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Main Stage

The view from Chanhassen Dinner Theatres' main room / InsideOut Studios


Get the lay of the land from the Mississippi River with a Padelford Riverboats tour, offering four Minneapolis/St. Paul sightseeing cruise options. Or catch a ride on the historic Minneapolis Queen riverboat, perfect for groups.

Next, explore the riverfront on land with a visit to the Stone Arch Bridge, an 1883 landmark spanning 23 arches over the Mississippi River. Leave the modern world behind with a visit to Mill City Museum, which recreates the days of old-school flour production, period equipment and all. From the Observation Deck, get a panoramic views of the Mississippi River, St. Anthony Falls, the Stone Arch Bridge and the emerging urban landscape.

Refuel with international cuisine followed by shopping for unique gifts from local immigrant businesses at Midtown Global Market, which offers everything from colorful textiles and handicrafts to French-style baked goods and Venezuelan empanadas. Get an insider’s look at a musical icon at Paisley Park, Prince’s home, studio and rehearsal spaces. Not far away, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres offer lively entertainment along with tasty continental cuisine.

Boats along Bde Maka Ska in the Chain of Lakes

Bde Maka Ska in the Chain of Lakes  / Paul Vincent


With more than 500 stores, dozens of restaurants, an amusement park, mini golf, aquarium and the new 40-wall ClimbZone, Mall of America offers plenty to keep families, student/youth groups and adult groups amused for hours.

Before heading inside Minneapolis Institute of Art (known as Mia to locals) and Walker Art Center, the latter celebrated for its visual and media art collections, get your iconic Minneapolis selfie with the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

With 150 years under its belt, Lakewood Cemetery near the Chain of Lakes offers a unique history lesson, which includes the graves of many of the area’s founders, politicians and community members. Tree-lined paths and ponds, plus a Byzantine-style chapel with ornate mosaics, add to its charm.

Exterior of Como Conservatory and the Centennial Garden

The Como Conservatory's Centennial Garden is a stylized nod to traditional European landscape gardens / Visit Saint Paul


Hundreds of animals and plants from around the world call centuries-old Como Park Zoo and Conservatory home, making it a crowd-pleasing visit for groups large and small in St. Paul.

Dig deep into the area’s history with a visit to the award-winning Minnesota History Center near downtown St. Paul. Then get a look at how a 19th-century railroad magnate and his family lived with a tour of James J. Hill House.

Continue the history lessons at Wabasha Street Caves, a speakeasy and gangster hangout during Prohibition.