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Regional Profiles – Mid West – Minneapolis – Cold Has Never Been So Hot

So much more than chilly winters: Find out how much there is to love about the friendly and surprisingly
cosmopolitan Twin Cities!

Minneapolis is a dynamic city of arts and culture, outdoor activities, and Fortune 500 companies. It is young, clean, and cosmopolitan, with equal shares of parks, lakes, skyscrapers, and beautiful historic buildings. Minneapolis is the younger sibling of the “twin cities” Minneapolis and St. Paul, but residents of both metropolitan centers benefit from the contributions of the other.

Minneapolis owes its early prosperity to its location on the Mississippi river, which allowed it to begin its life as an epicenter in the logging and milling industries. There are a few remnants of these original mills left, and neon signs of former rivals Pillsbury and Golden Flour still face off across the river. Today downtown is filled with skyscrapers, and Minneapolis has one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 per capita in the United States with companies as such Target, 3M, General Mills, Best Buy, Medtronic, Supervalu, and United Health Group all located nearby. In the center of downtown, Nicollet Mall is a twelve block pedestrian mall of shopping and restaurants, with dining gems such as 112 Eatery tucked away on side streets. In the summer, when Nicollet Mall hosts frequent outdoor concerts, restaurants set up sidewalk cafes so that diners can enjoy the music, mild weather, and sidewalk traffic. On the roof of Brit’s pub, a Nicollet Mall landmark, residents arrive early on summer evenings for a chance to challenge their friends in lawn bowling while downing pints of beer or Strongbow cider. In the winter, when temperatures are well below freezing, Minneapolis moves up to the skywalk level, which connects all of downtown. The highlight of the winter season is the Holidazzle parade, which takes place every Thursday through Sunday; the governor of Minnesota makes the trip over from St. Paul each night to ride in a float during the parade.

Surrounding downtown is a variety of neighborhoods, each with their own personality. The largest neighborhood, “Uptown” -which is ironically south of Minneapolis proper-is hip with a hint of hippie. In uptown you’ll find independent cinemas, vintage clothing stores, and antique shops alongside mainstream favorites such as The Gap and Urban Outfitters. Residents here are a mix of families and young professionals, most living in Victorian mansions now converted into apartments. In the summer the many restaurants open their balconies and sidewalk patios and everyone takes to the street to shop, mingle, and soak up the sun. Be sure to sample the food at Chino Latino for some truly unique fare. Uptown rivals downtown for the most happening night scene, and on a Saturday night it’s quite common for the downtown yuppies to cab in for the night.

To the east, across the river, the warehouse district has a slightly more grown-up feel as more and more river view condos overlook the skyline. This area combines historic streets with upscale grocery stores and a plethora of new development. In St. Louis Park, to the south, residents can find many pockets of up-and-coming development, such as the apartment and lifestyle complex at Excelsior and Grand. And an abundance of suburbs to the north and the west offer affordable living with close proximity to downtown.

If outdoor activities are your passion, Minneapolis offers miles and miles of trails for running, biking, or rollerblading. On warm days, thousands flock to the paths and beaches around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, or stroll to Loring Green Park downtown. Several companies observe summer hours, giving their employees extra time on Fridays to enjoy the gorgeous Minnesota summers; many take advantage of that time to travel to their lakeside cabins in northern Minnesota or nearby Wisconsin. In cold weather, outdoor enthusiasts switch to cross-country skiing or hockey-a Minnesota obsession- while the rest take it inside to the “MOA,” or Mall of America, the nation’s largest mall located just 15 minutes from downtown.

Beyond sports and shopping, the city’s entertainment options are wide and varied. Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to many major and minor sports teams, including the Vikings, the Twins, the Timberwolves, and the Wild. St. Paul offers Opera, Ballet, touring Broadway musicals, and every mainstream concert. In Minneapolis residents can find both favorite and original works at the new, space-age looking Guthrie Theatre, or have a laugh at one of the many comedy clubs or independent theatres throughout the city. The Minneapolis Institute of Art showcases pieces from the classical periods while the renowned Walker Art centre, a modern art museum on the western edge of downtown, boasts a fantastic outdoor sculpture garden with a great view of the skyline and the Catholic Basilica.

Education is also a priority in Minneapolis. The University of Minnesota and the St. Thomas campuses, located nearby, provide opportunities for continuing education as well as fascinating seminar series for professionals of every age. For those looking to recapture a bit of their youth, thriving campus neighborhoods featuring bars with $1 drink specials surround both campuses.

Although arts, professional opportunities, and education all make Minneapolis a fantastic place to live, the most unique feature of Minneapolis is what residents affectionately refer to as the “Minnesota nice” attitude. In Minnesota, people still smile at each other and hold open doors for strangers. This small-town feel, combined with big-city amenities, will continue to bring young professionals, families, and visitors to Minneapolis for years to come.

February 17, 2009
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