The Minneapolis-St. Paul area's claim to fame may be the Mall of the America, which -- with more than 500 stores, an indoor theme park, aquarium, and a miniature golf course -- is admittedly impressive. But the Twin Cities also boast a renowned theater scene, plenty of parks and green space, an urban atmosphere, and a unique and highly convenient "skyway" system that allows you to walk anywhere within a 65-block area of Minneapolis without stepping outside. (In frigid northern winters, this is a huge bonus.) While the two cities are located just across the Mississippi River from each other and are connected into one seamless metropolis, the residents will tell you they have decidedly different identities.
Minnesota winters can be harsh but those up for it can take advantage of off-season rates. Plus, the downtown area is connected by indoor walkways on top floors (called "skyways"), and there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you busy all winter long. If you're not a winter person, summer or fall are the best times to visit. The weather usually starts getting colder in October, but you'll get to see fall colors emerge throughout the area. September offers milder weather and smaller crowds than the summer months. Be aware that Minnesota winters last a long time, so early spring tends to be cold and slushy.
Temperatures average a high of 72 degrees in June and 82 degrees in September, with low averages of 50 in June and 63 in September. August and July are hotter, but still mild, with average highs of 81 to 86 degrees and average lows of 61 to 65. On average, things really don't start to warm up until May. By November, you'll probably be facing cold nights (and possibly days). Dress in layers, and bring along a light jacket or warm sweater even in the summer months. Get more weather info.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is in Bloomington, near the Mall of America. There are several options for getting from the hotel to downtown Minneapolis via public transportation, and you can also get to St. Paul via Amtrak train, though service tends to be slow and unreliable.
Minneapolis and St. Paul offer a variety of public transportation options: bus, light rail, and taxi. However, drivers will love that traffic is light and it's generally easy to get around when weather is nice. Also, you'll need to rent a car to get there if you plan to visit destinations out of the Twin Cities. Visit MetroTransit.org for more information on getting around, as it includes an interactive trip planner.
Minneapolis Light Rail
The Metro Transit Hiawatha Line runs from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America, so chances are you'll end up riding the rail if you don't have a car. (Plus, what kid doesn't love a train ride?) Fairly new -- it opened in 2004 -- it's also fast and surprisingly quiet. Trains run from early in the morning (before 5 a.m.) to late at night (after midnight). Check the Website for schedules and an interactive trip planner.
There are several ways to save money during your trip to Minneapolis-St Paul. St. Paul offers a cultural heritage pass. Find discounted tickets for a variety of attractions at TCTix.com and specials on Bloomington and Mall of America destinations can be found at BloomingtonMN.org.