There’s no denying that the Twin Cities rock, considering how many famous musicians have hatched from this hot spot. Prince Rogers Nelson (a.k.a. Prince) wrote his famous lyrics for Darling Nikki in Minneapolis, and Bob Dylan called Dinkytown home in the late 1960’s.
Before St. Paul became St. Paul it was referred to as “Pig’s Eye” after the retired fur trader Pierre Pig’s Eye Parrant, who built the town’s first structure in 1838—which just happened to be a whiskey seller’s cabin. Later, after the whisky ran out, locals began calling the town St. Paul after the Log Chapel of Saint Paul—and luckily it stuck.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are nicknamed The Twin Cities even though they are nine miles apart and really nothing like each other. In fact, Minneapolis touts modern high-rises and is considered the “first city of the west.” St. Paul is full of narrow streets packed full of old Victorians and called the “last city of the east.” Opposites attract, right?
During those long cold winters, residents of Minneapolis can enjoy the downtown attractions without fear of freezer burn by taking advantage of the nearly 5-miles of enclosed—and heated—skyway system. This came in handy during the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, which dumped 22 inches of snow over 4 days, turning out to be one of the most epic storms ever for Minnesota.
Along with the famed skyway system, The Mall of America is just miles from downtown Minneapolis and really is THE mall of America. Located conveniently next to Hubert Humphrey airport, there are over 520 stores and also a 1.2 million-gallon aquarium that 40 million yearly visitors flock to. And, it’s still growing…
Several books have been penned in The Twin Cities along with being home to a couple of authors who even lived on the same street. Yup, that’s right. Two of America’s famous writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis, called St. Paul’s Summit Avenue home. And if you’re ever curious about what’s been happening in the general area, you can always tune in weekly to A Prairie Home Companion on Minnesota Public Radio for Garrison Keillor’s take on things.
One of the oldest buildings in Minneapolis is also home to one of the oldest restaurants in the area. Pracna’s, located in historic St. Anthony Main overlooking the Mississippi River, is the oldest brick and stone building in the city dating back to the 1850’s. From classic sandwiches to locally caught fried walleye, Pracna’s has been slingin’ some of the areas best dishes since 1890. For real.
The Minnesota Vikings actually started out as the Minneapolis Marines/Red Jackets, which played whenever they kind of felt like it throughout the 1920s and ’30s. The change of name didn’t take place until the late 1950s when the team resurfaces with a bit more of a professional flare. The new name of the Minnesota Vikings was in recognition of Minnesota being the center of Scandinavian-American culture.
For over a hundred years, The Como Zoo has been an essential part of St. Paul’s recreational enjoyment. Not only does this place house lots of interesting animals and plant habitats, it’s completely free. Get flapping with the exotic birds, check out seals and wander through the amazing plant life, including bonsai trees and huge mega-ferns without breaking the bank. But, really, dig in your pockets for a donation during your visit.
There’s no denying it gets cold in The Twin Cities, so why not take advantage of it, right? The annual St. Paul Winter Celebration, dubbed “The Coolest Celebration on Earth,” showcases all things winter fun, including snowball fights, tobogganing and the biggest and craziest ice palaces around—upwards of 100 feet tall! For over 125 years, the celebration has been bringing the community together for some super-cool fun, and educational and cultural activities and events.
Traversed these tidbits from Dinkytown to the origins of St. Paul? Learn more about the Granite City of St. Cloud.