Minneapolis and St Paul are the two halves of a singular metropolis bisected by the Mississippi River in eastern Minnesota. The older city, St Paul, is the state capital, smaller, quieter and more reserved than its modern sibling across the river. It has a compact downtown area sporting a variety of restored Victorian architecture among its glass skyscrapers, and is home to several major universities, and many museums and theatres. Minneapolis, founded on money made by the hundreds of saw and flour mills along the Mississippi has many contemporary buildings in a slick new downtown area with a lively, arty character and a vibrant nightlife.
Cherry Spoon Fountain © Tim Wilson
The very existence of the Twin Cities is due to the only waterfall on the Mississippi, St Anthony Falls, whose hydroelectric power fuelled numerous flour and timber mills along the river. Today, the Riverfront district in Minneapolis is a scenic stretch lined with old warehouses, mills and historical walking trails.
While Minneapolis and St Paul are the original 'Twin Cities' of Minnesota, the name now refers to the sprawling metro area, encompassing dozens of smaller towns, that extends for 30 miles in all directions. These towns have their own unique charm and identities, from the quaint 150-year-old main street of Anoka in the north to the antique stores and scenic St. Croix River valley of Stillwater to the south.
With hundreds of lakes lying within the Twin Cities area, there are endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, with miles of trails surrounding the lakes. Residents of the Twin Cities pride themselves on a high quality of life that includes sport and outdoor activities as well as top priorities such as a good education, a clean environment, excellent health care and a low crime rate. They boast a rich arts and cultural entertainment scene with more concert venues per person than any other city in the country, except New York. And the southern suburb of Bloomington is home to the largest shopping centre in the US that includes an aquarium and amusement park under the same roof as hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars and theatres.
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