St. Paul (Minnesota State's capital city): check out Como Zoo, the Minnesota Children's Museum or the Science Museum of Minnesota. See the Minnesota Wild take to the ice. Cruise the Mississippi on a paddleboat. Meander through the Minnesota Museum of American Art. Or experience live performances at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts or any of the city's other renowned theaters.
Top Recommended Layover Activities:
1. Mall of America
8100 24th Ave S
Bloomington, MN 55425
Cross Street: Killebrew Drive
Phone: (952) 883-8800
IT IS HUGE! - a unique shopping experience! Located in Bloomington, it is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States and home to more than 500 stores, 60 eateries, a 14-screen movie theater, an indoor amusement park and an aquarium. Equipped with strollers, wheelchairs, changing stations in restrooms, lockers, a wedding chapel, walking program, post office, and an array of department stores, restaurants and fast-food establishments throughout the mall.
2. Summit Avenue
599 Summit Ave
St Paul, MN 55102
Stately Summit Avenue reaches from the Cathedral of Saint Paul to Mississippi River Boulevard and showcases the country's longest span of Victorian homes. Best viewed at twilight, this tree-lined avenue includes the Governor's Mansion as well as the townhouse where the young author Fitzgerald once lived, or catch a tour at "Empire Builder" James J. Hill's spectacular mansion.
3. Fort Snelling State Park
Phone: +1 612 725 2389; +1 612 725 2724 (Visitors Center)
Open Hours: Park: 8am-10pm daily; Visitors Center: 8am-4pm daily
Originally built in 1819, this impressive collection of buildings of native limestone was designated Minnesota's first National Historic Landmark. 30 years later, the fort was the hub of the upper Mississippi, providing a gathering place for Native Americans, fur traders and settlers. Today, you can hike, bike, ski, fish, canoe or just take in nature. The park also hosts numerous events. Admission: USD4. Located just minutes from the MSP Airport.
4. Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls
6th Ave SE and Main St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
See "the falls that built a city from a bridge that helped build an empire". A gently S-curving bridge, offering great view of St. Anthony Falls, was built by railway baron James J. Hill in 1883 to speed his trains across the Mississippi River. Beautifully restored, the bridge provides serene path for viewing of St. Anthony Falls, whose churning power first made Minneapolis a milling capital. Stunning views of downtown Minneapolis, the river and the falls. The surrounding area is a designated historic site containing architectural ruins and significant buildings and bridges.
5. Orpheum Theatre
Phone: +1 612 339 7007
Website: Orpheum Theatre
Open Hours: 9am-6pm Mon-Fri; noon-5pm Sat-Sun; performance times vary
Opened in 1921, it was the nation's largest vaudeville house and was converted to a movie house. With the emergence of multi-screen, suburban theaters, though, it fell into a state of disrepair. After 1994 renovations, the Orpheum hosted numerous Broadway musicals. It is a favorite among concert fans and the lecture circuit.
6. Nicollet Mall
Phone: +1 612 661 4700
Open Hours: Mall: 24 hours daily; business hours vary
In 1967, faded Nicollet Avenue, the city's principal shopping area, was converted into one of the country's first pedestrian malls. The traffic-clogged street was replaced with a rolling, 30-foot wide roadway for buses and taxis only. Sidewalks were widened and turned into a shady, flower-filled boulevard. A clock holds court over Peavey Plaza at 11th Street. This 12-block area is home to hundreds of shops, theaters, department stores, and restaurants.
Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:
1. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Dr
Chaska, MN 55318
Phone: (952) 443-1400
Price: $7; members, children (18 and under) free
A northern gardener's delight and a living library of all things botanical.. It is part of the university's Department of Horticultural Science, complete with tea room and 9,000-volume research library. It has over 1,000 acres of maple-basswood forest, prairie, oak savanna, tamarack bog, streams and fields, more than 40 plant collections and 22 display and specialty gardens. 5,000 species live here, tended by some of the ablest gardeners. There are six miles of paved trails for walking, cross-country skiing and biking and a three-mile driving loop. Motorized tours are available for an extra fee.
2. Minnesota State Fair (2 weeks ending Labor Day Weekend each Fall)
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
Saint Paul, MN
The State Fair does change with the times, but at a much slower pace. Machinery Hill still has tractors and the latest in farm equipment--just maybe not as much as it once did. You'll see the latest technology right next door to the homegrown food and handicraft displays, the newfangled bungee jump within spitting distance of the old-fashioned roller coaster.
3. Valleyfair Amusement Park
Phone: +1 952 445 6500
Website: Valleyfair Amusement Park
Open Hours: Peak Season: 10am-10pm daily
This 100-acre park features the most thrilling and unusual rides in the area. Each year new attractions are added to the mix, such as the Wild Thing, a 207-foot tall roller coaster reaching speeds of 78 mph, with a 180-foot free fall. The park also has an IMAX theater, water park with numerous water rides, multiple children's areas, arcades, live music, shows and other attractions. The season usually runs from early May through October. Admission is USD27.95 for persons over 48" tall and USD7.95 for those under 48" tall and age 60+. Children under 3-years old are free.
4. Minnesota Zoo
Phone: +1 952 432 9000; +1 800 366 7811
Website: Minnesota Zoo
Open Hours: Oct-Apr: 9am-4pm daily; May (1-27): 9am-4pm Mon-Fri; 9am-6pm Sat-Sun; May 28-Sep 2: 9am-6pm daily; Sep (3-30): 9am-4pm Mon-Fri; 9am-6pm Sat-Sun
On over 500 acres, natural habitat is the emphasis in this vast zoo. The animals are here but they often have wide-open spaces in which to roam. To aid in the spotting of animals, visitors may ride an overhead monorail. Five themed trails lead visitors around. The Minnesota Trail focuses on animals native to the state while the Tropics Trail include encounters with Komodo dragons, leopards and gibbons. The Northern Trail features wolves, moose, musk oxen, Siberian Tigers and wild Asian horses. An IMAX is also onsite. Admission: USD11 adults, USD7.25 seniors, USD6 kids (3-12).
4. Mystic Lake Casino
Phone: +1 952 445 9000; +1 800 262 7799
Website: Mystic Lake Casino
Open Hours: 24 hours daily
Located a half-hour SW of downtown, this casino is open 7/24 and includes more than 100 blackjack tables, 2,800 gaming machines and a bingo hall. There is an attached hotel and top class entertainment. Many national acts grace the stage at Mystic, including rock bands, solo acts, magicians and comedians. With four restaurants offering a variety of cuisine, it is easy to find something to your liking. The all-you-can-eat buffet is a spectacular feast and considered the best east of Las Vegas. Professional, on-site daycare is offered in Playworks, a large indoor playground.
5. Afton State Park
Phone: +1 651 436 5391
Website: Afton State Park
Open Hours: 8am-10pm Daily
Afton State Park lies along the bluffs of the St. Croix River Valley - just a short trip SE of the Twin Cities area. Visitors will find 1,700 acres of near-primitive grasslands and dense forests. In fact, access to much of the swimming and camping area is by hiking only. High vantage points provide stunning views of the river and surrounding areas. The Visitors Center provides interpretive exhibits and necessary information about the park. Fishing is allowed from shore or canoe and the swimming beach is well maintained. There are 5 miles of horseback riding trails, 4 miles of paved trails for biking, 19 miles of well-groomed cross country skiing trails and 20 miles of well-marked hiking trails. If you enjoy downhill skiing or snowboarding, visit the nearby Afton Alps Recreation Area.