Minneapolis in United States of America
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Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport, , http://www.mspairport.com/msp/. The airport is divided into the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminals with most flights arriving at the former. Savvy travelers should check to make sure they know which terminal they are arriving at/departing from.
The new light rail train is convenient to get downtown from the airport. Fare is $1.50-$2 depending on time of day. The trains are fast and clean. They also serve the Mall of America and parts of South Minneapolis. The light rail station serves both the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminal.
Northwest Airlines, a member of the SkyTeam alliance, maintains its primary hub at MSP and dominates the airport by nearly 90%. Northwest offers non-stop overseas service from MSP to Tokyo-Narita, Amsterdam, and London (Gatwick). Sun Country also calls MSP home, making it easier to find discount fares within the continental United States. Icelandair, the only foreign intercontinental carrier, offers seasonal service to Keflavik with Boeing 757-200s. Air Canada Jazz is the only other foreign carrier, offering service to Toronto.
Airlines serving the Lindbergh Terminal:
Air Canada Jazz American Airlines Continental Airlines Delta Air Lines Frontier Airlines Northwest Airlines United Airlines US Airways
Airlines serving the Humphrey Terminal:
AirTran Airways Casino Express Champion Air Icelandair Miami Air International Midwest Airlines Omni Air International Ryan International Sun Country Airlines
The I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed on 01 Aug 2007. The bridge is scheduled to reopen on December 24th, 2008. Until that date, expect added traffic congestion going into and out of downtown and the University of Minnesota campus especially during peak periods. Hwy 280 has now been reworked to serve as a detour and the effects on traffic are now much less severe.
Interstate Highways 35W and 94 are the main arteries into town. Both will take you to the edges of downtown. I-35W runs north and south (for the most part) and I-94 east and west; both interstates will connect you to the I-494/694 beltway around the metro area. I-394 runs west from downtown to I-494, where it becomes US Hwy 12. Be sure to keep an eye on which lane you're in, as freeway interchanges come up fast, and traffic back-ups will occur at any time, day or night; the morning (7-9AM) and evening (3-7PM) rush hours are predictably congested.
Amtrak, http://www.amtrak.com/. Daily service to Midway station, located just off University Avenue near the border between Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The Empire Builder, Amtrak trains 7/27 and 8/28, serves the Twin Cities area, terminating at Chicago and Seattle or Portland (the train splits in Spokane, Washington). This train covers a route similar to the historic Empire Builder of the James J. Hill Great Northern Railway.
Taxi is probably your best bet for getting to your final destination from the train station, particularly if you're coming from Chicago or other points east. The train arrives at 10:30PM or later, when the heavily reduced night shift bus schedules have gone into effect. If a wait doesn't worry you the #16 bus runs along University Avenue, a block south of the station, and it will take you to downtown Minneapolis or Saint Paul. Consider fueling up at The Dubliner on University Ave across from the station. It's a great, friendly little pub and the #16 heading into Minneapolis stops on its doorstep.
Greyhound Bus Lines, http://www.greyhound.com/ and Jefferson Lines http://www.jeffersonlines.com/. Buses arrive at the Hawthorne Transportation Center, located at 950 Hawthorne Ave (at 10th St, one block west of Hennepin) in downtown Minneapolis. It's just a few minute's taxi ride away from most of the downtown hotels. It's 4-5 blocks away from a few major bus routes and the light rail. Check the web site above for schedule details. The depot is near a homeless shelter, so it's not uncommon to see a few homeless people hanging out nearby. The area is well-patrolled and quite safe.
Megabus, http://www.megabus.com. Low-cost bus company that offers service from Minneapolis to Madison (Wisconsin) Madison (twice daily), Milwaukee (twice daily), and Chicago (four times daily); from Chicago, you can connect to buses heading to Normal, St Louis, Columbia (Missouri) Columbia, Kansas City, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Champaign, and Memphis. Fares can be as little as $1 each way if ordered far enough in advance. There are two marked stops in Minneapolis. The first stop is in downtown Minneapolis on the west side of 3rd Ave N between Washington Ave and 5th St (note: it's directly under the 4th St Garage). The second stop is near the University of Minnesota on the south side of University Ave next to the University Ave Parking Ramp, across the street from Williams Arena.
The city streets have a grid system that's helpful if you learn it. Minneapolis is divided into quadrants: North, South, Northeast and Southeast. Hennepin Avenue forms the divider between streets labeled N and S near downtown. This division continues through the smaller portion of Minneapolis east of the Mississippi, dividing it into Northeast (NE) and Southeast (SE). Further west of downtown, this division lies along Linden Avenue, just north of the I-394 freeway. In North, Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis, all roads carry N, NE, or SE prefixes on street signs. n South Minneapolis, the north-south avenues are marked S. The east-west streets are marked with W or E, depending if you are west or east of Nicollet Avenue. Even though street signs show these directions before the names, most locals read the addresses with them at the end. Thus York Avenue South appears on signs as S York Ave and N 33rd Ave is pronounced 33rd Avenue North.
Minneapolis is one of few cities to use multi-colored street signs. The colors o indicate the priority of plowing during winter storms. Although plowing has since changed, they still indicate what sort of street. Blue signs indicate major roads which are Snow Emergency Routes. These are still the first to be plowed. Rust-colored signs indicate roads that run primarily east-west. Light green signs indicate roads primarily north-south. Dark green signs indicate scenic parkways that ring the city and the lakes.
Metro Transit, http://www.metrotransit.orghttp://www.metrotransit.org. Light rail. Also known as LRT for Light Rail Transit, or Hiawatha Line. Serving downtown Minneapolis, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis/Saint Paul International, the Mall of America, and points in between. This is the easiest, fastest, and safest bet for first-time visitors. There's a lot to do along the route, and since there only is one route, the odds of getting lost are reduced. The next phase of construction is to connect to downtown Saint Paul via the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, opening in 2014. Also, a commuter rail line is expected to open by 2009. The commuter rail line will extend to the north metro with stops in Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka, Elk River and Big Lake, MN. The Northstar Corridor Line will add capacity to the heavily traveled Highway 10 and I94 corridors. The Northstar Corridor will help connect the north metro suburbs of the Twin Cities, and may extend to St. Cloud and its suburbs.
Important Buses table tr th Route # /th th Serving... /th /tr tr td 5 /td td Northside, Downtown, Chicago Ave, Midtown Exchange, and Mall of America. /td /tr tr td 6 /td td Uptown/Chain of Lakes, Downtown, Target Center, Dinkytown, U of MN. /td /tr tr td 10 /td td Downtown, Northeast Minneapolis, Central Avenue /td /tr tr td 16/50 (Limited Stop) /td td Downtown, Metrodome, U of MN, Amtrak Depot, Saint Paul /td /tr tr td 18 /td td Downtown, Nicollet Avenue, Eat Street, Art Institute/MCAD /td /tr tr td 21/53 (Limited Stop) /td td Uptown/Lakes, Lyn-Lake, Midtown, Saint Paul /td /tr /table
Bus. Knowing your Route 5 from your Route 55 is considered one mark of a true-blue Twin Citian. The routes and fares are confusing to non-natives. The Metro Transit web site, however, is user-friendly. The Trip Planner lets you provide your beginning and ending points and times, and suggests the best route. You can customize this on walking distances, number of transfers, and the like. As routes are anything but linear, carry a schedule and map for any bus route you are riding; these are available on buses (above you and to your left after you pay) as well as at many city government buildings, libraries, and the like. Bus stops are nearly everywhere throughout the city, but some are served infrequently, and most are not labeled as to which routes serve them at which times. Be aware of the white Metro Transit notices sometimes posted at stops; routes often change due to construction or local events and parades.
Buying a pass via Metro Transit's website in advance of your trip can be smart preparation. It saves money, but more important it keeps from having to worry about exact change. Stored Value cards would be the best choice for most visitors except they are only good for bus travel, not the LRT. 31-Day SuperSaver Passes cover both and are ideal for the extended stay in that they are good for unlimited rides and so you never have to worry about buying another or recharging. However, as of Fall 2006 these begin at $76 for access to all trains and buses (other than commuter express buses between downtown and suburbs) and so are likely overkill for a shorter stay.
An Introduction to Minneapolis via Public Transit
The northern head of the LRT is downtown on Hennepin Avenue and South 5th Street, near the Warehouse District and the Target Center. Along Hennepin next to the LRT station are bus stops for Route 6, connecting Uptown, Downtown, Dinkytown/University of Minnesota. This Route 6/LRT nexus is a good start for first-time visitors, as most hotels (provided you're staying in the city and not some airport/suburban business traveler hovel) are within a few minutes' walk. If you stay at the airport you can get here via the LRT. Other suburban accommodations are likely to be located near express buses, which largely terminate one block over at Hennepin and South 4th Street. Ask your concierge.
Taking the LRT south from downtown, the first stop you might be interested in is The Metrodome. Home to the Minnesota Vikings (football), The Minnesota Twins (baseball), University of Minnesota football and the occasional rock concert, it's a landmark. Alternately known as the Dome, the Homer Dome, and the Humper Dome, among others, it's roof is instantly recognizable.
What's In a Name? Locals distinguish two sections of the West Bank: Seven Corners and Cedar-Riverside. The two are separated by the University of Minnesota's West Bankcampus. To the north is the collegiate Seven Corners, home to campus-flavored bars and student apartments which bleed into downtown. Cedar-Riverside on the south is a combination of young artists, musicians, and the accompanying scenesters, substances, and subculture. Many locals refer to their West Bank as simply The West Bank, and call the other half by its specific name. The two are divided not only by the university but by the sunken freeway, which connects Washington Ave with Interstate 35W and serves as a traffic bypass. Cedar-Riverside sits on the doorstep of some of the city's most neglected and victimized (but not particularly unsafe) ghettos and largely East African immigrant settlements. For more on Minneapolis' sordid history of urban renewal and demarcation via freeway building, see Larry Millet's excellent Lost Twin Cities.
Next stop, Cedar/Riverside. If you walk a few blocks east to Cedar Avenue, there's a vibrant, diverse and sometimes dangerous neighborhood known, coincidentally, as Cedar-Riverside or the West Bank. When I say dangerous, I'm not talking about Cabrini Green level crime, but a neighborhood where you should stay in well-lit areas and cab home if you have a few too many or stay a little too late. (Bars are open until 2 a.m.) Before you are frightened away, there's much this neighborhood has to offer that shouldn't be missed. The 400 Bar, on the corner of Cedar and Riverside Avenues, is one of the top clubs in town. It used to be where local bands played on pool tables. Now it offers touring acts from all over the country. The drink prices are a little inflated.
East on Riverside Avenue is the Hard Times Cafe. Hard Times is only closed for two hours every day, from 4am to 6am. The food can vary widely depending on who is on duty. They offer good coffee, (often) loud music, games, etc. The Nomad is a little further south on Cedar Ave. It has a nice outdoor patio for smoking and inside a stage where you can see a variety of local rock or jazz shows. Across the street from The Nomad, is Palmers. Palmers gets a little rough if you don't know how to behave yourself while drinking. Not for the weak of heart or mind. Mind your own business if you go there. Keep heading back south down Cedar Avenue and you'll come to the Triple Rock Social Club, one of a number of Twin Cities music venues which seem to have arisen out of someone's dream of parking a bar in their basement rec-room. The bar side has great food with a lot of vegetarian options. The club side has a big stage and fantastic sound system. Check their web site above for listings.
Still further down Cedar Avenue are the Whiskey Junction and The Cabooze. Whiskey Junction is a favorite hang out for bikers, but a good number of those are the suburban type with expensive Harley Davidsons. The crowd and atmosphere at the Cabooze varies widely, depending at least in part on who is doing their best interpretation of blues that night--from all those people who disappeared from campus freshman year to long-haired exurbans with Polaris ballcaps. Both venues offer live music most nights. If you make it to the Cabooze, you're already near the Franklin Avenue Light Rail stop. Get back on and head down to Lake Street.
Lake Street/Midtown has a lot to offer on weekend days in the spring and summer. Namely an outdoor market with lots of good food and locally made goodies. The neighborhood has become a center for Mexican and Central American immigrants, and hence the food of those regions, in Minneapolis. See the Eat section for more information. Worth a stop for sure. You can also catch a 21 bus from here to Uptown (make sure the bus is going west).
The next few stops take you to mostly residential neighborhoods. While there are things to do along them, they're not easily accessible on foot, so we'll skip ahead to 50th Street/Minnehaha Park. The Minnehaha Park station is adjacent to a park and Minnehaha Falls. You can see the 53 foot falls and walk along the creek on its way to the Mississippi River.
The Fort Snelling station is located after the VA Medical Center station. Fort Snelling makes a great day trip. It's the original settlement in Minnesota and an early wilderness outpost.
Next is the Airport and then the Mall of America, the gargantuan monument to advanced capitalism. The MOA is not quite as sparkling as it was on its opening over a decade ago, but it is still the largest mall around and by some accounts the leading tourist destination in the United States. Tour operators from as far away as Japan organize charter flights and hotel bookings for the single purpose of experiencing The Mall. It offers an indoor amusement park, movies, restaurants and more shopping than is comprehensible. It's a day trip in itself, but not for the thrifty. Food, shopping and the Camp Formerly Known as Snoopy (now The Park at MOA) can burn through your wallet fast. Not for those with poor impulse control. For the tourist in you, check out local kitsch such as the Lake Wobegone Store.
The return trip: by disembarking at the Lake Street Station and catching a #21 Bus going west, or by returning to the LRT headwaters at Hennepin Avenue and catching a #6 Bus bearing south, one can end up at Uptown and the jewel of Minneapolis, the gorgeous Chain of Lakes. If you're here between Memorial Day and Labor Day, rent a canoe at Lake Calhoun (stop at the nearby Lunds grocery on Lake Street for picnic materials) and see four lakes, three enchanting sheltered canals, two islands, and one classic creosote-tastic railroad trestle from a duck's eye view.
The 21 brings you past the Midtown Market and Lyn-Lake on the way, while the 6 takes you through downtown and past the gleaming Loring Park area, featuring the spectacular Basilica of St. Mary, the infamous Spoon and Cherry, and the shiny metal Rock 'Em-Sock 'Em Robot head that is the new Walker Art Center expansion. Heading north on the 6 will take you across Nicollet Island, another of Minneapolis' abundant urban havens, and through the original Minneapolis/St. Anthony milling district and a touch of the ethnic food and drink haven that is Northeast Minneapolis on the way to Dinkytown and the University of Minnesota (including an old campus district which is on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as some of the top libraries in the world).Plan a trip on the light rail and bus or find out about fares online at: http://www.metrotransit.orghttp://www.metrotransit.org or call 612-373-3333
Since 2000 the Twin Cities have invested heavily in the development of paved bike trails and traffic bike lanes and according to some estimates, have more paved bike lanes than any other metropolitan area in the USA. The Twin Cities also offer a good mix of off-road bike trails; for example one can bike from Chaska to St. Paul using only bike trails, some thirty miles. A variety of maps show the web of on and off-road routes that span the greater metropolitan area. During the winter, major bike trails such as the Midtown Greenway are plowed at the same time as major streets. In some neighborhoods like Downtown, Dinkytown, Uptown, and near the University of Minnesota campus, bikes are seen almost as often as cars. The Twin Cities also offer a big variety of cycling shops from very race oriented ones (e.g Grand Performance in St. Paul and Flanders Bros in Minneapolis) to more consumer oriented shops (e.g. Penn Cycle, Erik's, Boehm's, etc.) A very useful cycling shop for visitors and tourists is Calhoun Cycle, which offers, among other services, offers bike rental (both regular and tandem bikes). For additional cycling information in the Twin Cities area please visit the Twin Cities Bicycling Club.
Although not unique, no discussion of getting around Minneapolis would be complete without discussing the Skyway. Covering most of an approximate 7x7 block region of central downtown, the Skyway is a series of public pedestrian spaces on the 2nd floor of downtown buildings connected by covered bridges between buildings. It is possible to walk through most of downtown and never go outdoors, a real advantage during winter. Additionally, the Skyway allows you to bypass stoplights and quickly move through the city. Beyond the core region, the Skyway reaches about 12 blocks in the north/south direction and 8 blocks east/west. The Skyway is home to multiple restaurants, stores, shops and malls. If visiting downtown Minneapolis during the winter, using a parking deck or staying at a hotel on or very near the Skyway is well worth the investment. Hours vary slightly, but most buildings are open 12-6pm Sunday, 6:30am-9/10pm M-F and 9:30-8pm on Saturday.
When to go
As with any major American city, keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Crime is relatively low in most parts of Minneapolis that you're likely to visit, but it does exist. Be wary of the Near North, Camden, and Phillips communities http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NeighborhoodsofMinneapolis, particularly at night. Violent crimes can occur and unfortunately have occurred in all parts of the City. As in all cities these crimes receive a disproportionate amount of attention from local media. These tragic events, however, are typically not random so it probably will not impact your visit. You are more likely to be a victim of crimes of opportunity. So when traveling do not leave any items that can be quickly converted to cash in plain view in cars, unattended at restaurants and other public areas. These crimes can and do occur in all areas, especially where you would have your guard down. So, when you take in our great park system or travel to the unique urban shopping destinations ensure that all valuables remain with you or are secured out-of-view in your vehicle. Very important note, if you are going to secure your valuables in a vehicle, make sure you store them prior to arriving at you destination. Thieves are experts at watching people store valuables in the trunk and then when they leave the thief will strike.