The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is considered among the best in the country, and was recently called "the best two-hour layover in the U.S." by Men’s Journal. Get there early or spend some time after you land to discover any or all of these 10 highlights.
1. Top-Notch Restaurants: "Airport food" takes on a whole new meaning at MSP, where many of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s best chefs and restaurateurs – including James Beard Award nominees Doug Flicker and Lenny Russo and Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern – have opened up shop. Satisfy your inner foodie with options like wood-fired pizza at Vero, fresh sushi at Shoyu, oysters and escargot at Mimosa, and wine and cheese pairings at Surdyk’s Flights.
2. One-of-a-Kind Shops: If you’re looking for souvenirs, postcards and T-shirts are far from your only options. Take home a pint glass or bottle opener featuring a Minnesota craft brewery from the Local Brew Beer Gear store, or locally made leather goods and jewelry from Uptown Minnesota. Also check out InMotion Entertainment for electronics and accessories and Sports Minnesota for team merchandise.
3. Colorful Works of Art: The Twin Cities’ reputation as a hub for arts is apparent as soon as you step off the plane. Multiple mosaics decorate both concourses, the airport hosts an annual employee art show and contest, and a trio of Snoopy statues makes for a fun scavenger hunt.
4. The Walking Path: MSP has an official 1.4-mile walking path in Terminal 1, sponsored by the American Heart Association. It’s a healthy way to kill time on a layover or walk off all of that “airport food.”
5. Kid-Friendly Amenities: Two aviation-inspired play areas (one in each terminal) will keep the little ones occupied while you wait for your flight, as will four arcades and shops like Creative Kidstuff and Sugar Pop.
6. On-Site Pampering: Unwind with a free neck and shoulder massage at Aveda, sample the aromatic lotions at The Body Shop, get a shoe shine, or just sit back in one of the massage chairs located throughout the airport. You can even get a mani/pedi, haircut, facial or massage at XpresSpa; no appointment necessary.
7. Hi-Tech Fun: Free Wi-Fi is only the beginning of MSP’s technological offerings. In Concourse G, iPads are available at every seat for checking email, browsing the web and even ordering food. They also double as charging stations. Touchscreen directories allow travelers to check flight times and weather and get discounts at airport merchants. Similar information can be found by using the FlySmart mobile app.
8. Special Events: Depending on your travel dates, you may encounter a special event at MSP. Annual happenings include a sidewalk sale, a holiday music series and the occasional celebrity sighting, like the return of the championship Minnesota Lynx team.
9. The Public Piano: The piano on the baggage claim level is not just for show. Anyone is invited to play it; you may even be entertained by a professional musician or child prodigy while waiting for your luggage.
10. Light Rail Access: The light rail stops at both terminals and connects to 17 locations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, including downtown Minneapolis and Mall of America in Bloomington. Trains run 24 hours a day and are as frequent as every 10 minutes during peak times.
(Photos courtesy of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.)