When my dear friend Alena from Travel, She Writes approached me with the opportunity to collaborate, I was thrilled. A deep love for travel is shared between us, but so too is a passion for discovery and the unknown. We have conquered many challenges together, including four years at an all-girls high school, navigating Bucharest, Romania, a 2,000 mile-long, mid-west road trip, and teaching each other the art of fearlessness.
We somehow manage to maintain this beautiful friendship while living thousands of miles apart at any given moment. Currently, I live and work in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s a beautiful place and I’ve been fortunate enough to only be relocated here for the summer, when the bitter, northern cold is absent and blue skies are a regular backdrop for day-to-day life. That classic midwestern kindness is everywhere I go (except for the highway, as it seems that drivers everywhere are just terrible) and permeates every conversation. My expectations of this place, widely known as simply nice were met as soon as I moved here And then, the Twin Cities exceeded them.
What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with this place. I’ve always been adamant that I’m not a city girl and that suburbia was the place for me. But Minneapolis-St. Paul has almost certainly changed my mind. The Twin Cities have the industrial flare of Detroit, the sleekness of New York, the friendliness of Nashville, and the classic historic charm of Boston. Not to mention the coffee scene here is on point.
I had the joy of turning twenty years old in this beautiful city and had one of my most memorable birthdays yet. An unplanned visit to 14th St. with friends led to dinner at a fantastic Venezuelan restaurant, where I was serenaded by a Latino man (mind you, in Spanish) saying “The day you were born, the flowers were born also”, graciously translated by my dear friend. My cheeks definitely flushed with embarrassment, but it was also one of the happiest moments in my life.
Minneapolis-St. Paul has also provided me with many other memories already, including being chased by a goose (yes, you read that correctly), the best espresso in my life (you go, Peace Coffee), a hike to Minnehaha falls, and some fantastic Ethiopian food. It’s as if everything I love in a city was wrapped into one and placed right at my door step. What’s also fantastic is that both Minneapolis and St. Paul, albeit different in many ways, are equally incredible. Almost as fantastic as when you find out the boy next door also has a cute, funny, and smart older brother. The Twin Cities are win-win.
A Little Bit O’ History
Although known as twins to outsiders, any true Minnesotan actually refers to the twin cities as just “The Cities”. This is due to the substantial difference between the two, despite their close proximity. St. Paul is slightly older and known for its close-knit neighborhoods, while Minneapolis is newer and more popular with millennial generation. Originally Ft. Snelling, St. Paul, a trading point transformed to popular settlement for the families, became the capital in 1849. This was mainly due to its strategic placement at the meeting of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. Minneapolis began as a saw mill town, but expanded to flour mills shortly after its founding. We’re talking Pillsbury, Gold Medal, and General Mills all have their roots right here (so you can thank Minneapolis for those amazing crescent rolls). It was in 1854, after merging with nearby cities, that the city became the Minneapolis we know and love. Today, the Twin Cities are thriving. The economic competition between the two has actually spurred business growth and now the Cities are home to top dogs on the Fortune 500 list, such as Valspar, PepsiAmericas, Land O’Lakes, and Dairy Queen. To learn more about the Twin Cities check out this article here. Or, if you’re more into quick facts, check out 25 Things you should know about Minneapolis and St. Paul.
All The Things
A visit to the Stone Arch Bridge followed by a tour of the Mill City Museum is definitely necessary. The museum was built to incorporate the ruins of the Gold Flour Mill disaster, which endured an explosion in 1878. You’ll also want to take a trip to the Como Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul. After hiking Minnehaha Falls, you can hit up the food and beverage scene. The Cities are home to large Ethiopian and Somali populations, so foodies will have field day with the plethora of new and unique ethnic dishes to try. For coffee lovers, while Caribou Coffee may be the staple chain for Minnesota, there are also plenty of family-owned coffee shops to check out. My personal favorite is Peace Coffee. Try their Roman Holiday specialty drink!
A Pic (or two… or a lot)