The Twin Cities

"While Minneapolis is attractive with its youthful glitter and nouveau sophistication, St. Paul is all slow-simmering seduction. It unravels itself to you in quiet, sultry come-ons, keeping hidden under the lushness of her old-growth trees all of her delicious secrets."

                                                                                                        --- Sherry Dryja, Travel Writer

An absolute delight one receives from touring the Twin Cities --- something unavailable most other places --- is the fun of comparing the two cities! 

Sherry Dryja, a former Twin CitiesTours guest, said it the best I've ever read or heard (above).  As a tour guide, I enjoy polling my guests at the end of a tour as to which city they prefer.  It is usually a toss-up, as both cities are so interesting and beautiful in their own unique way.

Perhaps you are coming here to shop at the Mall of America, to visit the great University of Minnesota, or see a Minnesota Vikings football or Twins baseball game. Whatever the reason, you will love it here. The most frequent comment: "It's so clean and so green!"

Although they are called the "Twin Cities," Minneapolis and Saint Paul are far more fraternal than identical. They were born at about the same time, the 1830s. They share the same parents: Old Man River--the Mississippi--and two plots on Mother Earth 13 miles apart in river miles.

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Saint Paul: The Capitol City

Saint Paul Cathedral

Saint Paul, located downstream from its sister city, is referred to as the last of the eastern cities. Minneapolis, resting on the other side of the river, is considered the first of the western. Minneapolis is the more glitzy, glassy, shiney, cosmopolitan-type town, while Saint Paul maintains a distinct older world charm.

Some have said, "Saint Paul is coffee; Minneapolis, cappuccino."  The time was, you could get mocked for ordering a latté in Saint Paul.  Well, those days have passed.  These days you can get a latte, with caramel, flavors and whip cream at Nina's Coffee Shop, and no one will even notice.

Saint Paul, originally called Pig's Eye, had been named after its infamous, though unofficial, founding father,  Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant, who settled there because he was chased from everywhere else he tried to settle.  An early historian called him "the Romulus of our future city." 

Saint Paul has remained the more pugilistic.  It has one major league sports franchise: The NHL's pugilistic Minnesota Wild. Other infamous bad seeds included Ma Barker and the Boys; John Dillinger; and Nina Clifford, a powerful madam whose brothel was connected to the good ole boys club across Kellogg Avenue by way of a secret tunnel carved through the soft sandstone.  And, yes, that's the same Nina as the coffee shop mentioned above.   Oh, the many untold stories of the Saintly City.

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Minneapolis: City of Lakes

Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis

Minneapolis, meanwhile, was formed much less flamboyantly around a very scenic and useful waterfall, St. Anthony Falls. It is the only true falls on the entire length of the Mississippi. Swedish writer Fredrika Bremer described it as the Mississippi's "last youthful adventure" on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  It provided both scenic beauty for tourists and power for a lucrative lumber and flour milling industry.     

While its twin downriver didn't mind a bloody nose or two, Minneapolis' character was formed out of an abundance of Lutheran churches, soft-spoken Scandanavians, and a personality referred to by sarcastic visiting New Yorkers as "MinneSOHta Nice." You betcha.

Famous Minneapolitans include such nice guys as James Arness (Gunsmoke), Peter Graves (Mission Impossible), Eddie Albert (Green Acres) and the late vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey (the "politics of kindness"). Mary Tyler Moore, a paragon of kindness if there ever was one, filmed her famed Mary Tyler Moore Show here. Garrison Keillor pokes fun of this incessantly in his "News from Lake Woebegon" each week during the Prairie Home Companion Show heard over Public Radio.

Please, kindly read on. Thank you.

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Twin Cities Sightseeing

But this is all wonderful fodder for a sightseeing tour of two very interesting, if different, cities; which are both, in their own charming ways, magnificant cities to experience.
       
 Saint Paul attractions include: the State Capitol, considered one of the nation's most impressive; the Saint Paul Cathedral, one of the most spectacular in the country; and the Fitzgerald Theater, home of Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion radio show. Summit Avenue is known to architects around the world as the best parade of monumental, residential, Victorian-era mansions in the U.S. The largest, the James J. Hill Mansion is open for tours.  Hill founded the Great Northern Railroad.

A sampling of Minneapolis attractions: St. Anthony Falls, the Stone Arch Bridge and the old Riverfront area; the University of Minnesota; an "indoor" downtown in which 72 square blocks of buildings are connected by skyways; the stadiums of the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Linx and Golden Gophers. Also, the Minneapollis Sculpture Garden; and much more. But the greatest beauty of Minneapolis is its Lakes Area, most of which is surrounded by lavish homes in forested Camelot neighborhoods, as well as Minnehaha Falls.

As one guest once put it, "If when I die heaven does not look like this, I will be sorely disappointed."

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Featured Tours See all tour options | See rates

  

 
 

Twin Cities Tour

Sightseeing tours of Minneapolis, the City of Lakes, and the Capitol City of Saint Paul.

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Cathedrals and Churches

This tour visits many stunning cathedrals and churches throughout the Twin Cities area.

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Architecture Tour

A stunning parade of magnificent homes, in addition to churches and impressive modern architecture by famous architects.

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I have to thank you whole heartedly for giving my family and I a marvelous day we will never forget. Keeping the attention of teenage boys is never easy but you brilliantly tweaked a nearly full day tour combining just enough history and fun facts to keep us all enthralled. The boys even mentioned some of the locations and information on their Facebook pages, and that's quite an honor! So thank you again Doug.

Jan H., Tulsa OK
 
 
 
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