What to Love (and Hate) About Minneapolis/St. Paul

Guthrie Theater Minneapolis, Minnesota
••• Chris Yunker/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

There's a lot to love about living in the Twin Cities. Whether it's Minneapolis, St. Paul, or the suburbs, it's hard to imagine living anywhere else. Nothing is perfect though, and there's plenty of things not to like about Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Things to Love About Minneapolis/St. Paul

  • Local Food and Drink. It's not all hotdish and things on sticks. Local restaurants proudly use local produce, local ice cream parlors use local dairy products, and bars pour local brews from local brewers Summit, Surly and Flat Earth. The coffee shop culture is so alive and well it's hard to name a favorite spot, but Peace Coffee is a great example of an environmentally friendly business, roasting organic, shade grown coffee and delivering it by bicycle. Farmers Markets, CSAs and co-ops are thriving and benefiting local farmers and producers. And it's all despite the ground being frozen solid and there being virtually no growing season for half of the year. And then there's the excellent Mexican food on Lake Street, Vietnamese food on University Avenue in St. Paul, and cuisine from Afghan to Yemen on Nicollet Avenue and Grand Avenue, and around the University of Minnesota's campuses. (But you have to admit, it wouldn't be summer without going to the State Fair and eating some deep fried grease dripping sugar filled heart attack on a stick.)
  • The Arts. Minneapolis and St. Paul have more theater seats per capita than anywhere else except New York and has the world-class Guthrie Theater and the nation's largest non-juried Fringe Festival. Minnesota Public Radio is one of the best things about the Twin Cities just by itself for progressive music station The Current, and non-cable-news station MPR News. Live music venues cater to international stars (although the acoustics at largest venues leaves a lot to be desired) up-and-coming local acts and everything else. Free shows abound in all genres, classical music to noise rock, at clubs and bars and record stores, and in parks in the summer . Art galleries from the comprehensive MIA to the modern Walker Art Center and Weisman Museum to niche indie spaces in Northeast Minneapolis and a summer filled with art fairs cater to art fans of every taste and budget. The Minneapolis Sculpture garden, 11 acres of giant sculptures opposite the Walker Art Center is an impressive and beautiful place to be.
  • Lakes, Rivers and Parks. They make the place look pretty, provide somewhere attractive for bikers, walkers, runners, rollerbladers and cross country skiers to get exercise. There are beaches, swimming, fishing, boating and watersports. The Twin Cities are almost unique in that there are several urban lakes which are accessible, surrounded by parkland, and well taken care of for residents to enjoy, and for wildlife and birds to thrive in too. They have more parks than almost anywhere else, and residents use them and love them.
  • The Neighborhood Vibe. No matter what you want out of your neighborhood, you can almost certainly find it in one of Minneapolis or St. Paul's neighborhoods, or in one of the suburbs. Each part of town has its own character, its own landmarks, its own beloved local businesses, its own style. Hipster paradise in Uptown, liberal old hippies in Seward, clean cut professionals in Highland Park, arty Northeast, suburban nirvana in Woodbury, you name it.
  • Minnesota Nice It's a stereotype, but it does exist. So many Minnesotans fit the slightly reserved, but welcoming and friendly profile that out-of-towners expect. Minnesotans are some of the most generous givers to non-profit organizations, and Minneapolis/St. Paul has the nation's highest percentage of adults who donate their time and volunteer - almost 40% of adults volunteer their time. There's good and bad in every city, but more people say hello when you are out for a walk, and when the clerk wishes you have a nice day at the supermarket, they sound more sincere here than in other parts of the country.

Things to Hate About Minneapolis/St. Paul

  • People who live in Minneapolis who think they are the center of the universe. Have you ever met anyone from Minneapolis who says something like "I never go to St. Paul", and the ones who haven't a clue where anything is there? St. Paul is right next to Minneapolis and yes, it's smaller, and yes, it's less cool, and yes, it doesn't have as many attractions, but it does have a lot of interesting things if you'd care to drive over the river. How about the St. Patrick's Day parade and the Irish Fair, the Wabasha Street Caves, the Science Museum, the best Vietnamese food in the Twin Cities, Izzy's Ice Cream, St. Paul's Cathedral, Vertical Endeavors... Please stop treating St. Paul like it's driving to some far-flung black hole and appreciate what St. Paul has right on your doorstep.
  • March and April. The "hate" list had to involve the winter, right? Even if you love snowboarding, taking the kids sledding, a good snowfall when everything is white and pretty, snuggly coats and mittens and hot chocolate and hotdish, it's hard not to hate the end of the winter, when the snow starts to melt and you can't play in it anymore, but it's still cold and miserable, gardens are icy mud puddles, the roads are pothole filled nightmares. March and April seem to last forever and ever and gloomy ever!
  • Minnesota Drivers. Exhibit A: The Minnesota freeway merge. Whaling down the onramp without looking behind and expecting the traffic to part. Exhibit B: Tailgating. And all those other Minnesotan bad driving habits like only clearing the windshield of snow before driving off in the winter and showering everyone else behind with chunks of ice. Grrr!
  • How Far the Twin Cities are from Anywhere Else. In a way it's good - the Twin Cities have obtained a critical mass that makes things (employers and investment, touring bands, performances and art exhibits for example) come here, but when you want to go anywhere else there's not a whole lot nearby that doesn't involve a road trip or a plane ride.
  • Minnesota's Liquor Laws. Specifically, liquor stores being closed on Sunday. The majority of states permit liquor sales on Sundays, so why does an otherwise progressive state still ban it? Bars and restaurants can serve alcohol on Sunday, so it makes no sense that liquor stores have to close. It makes even less sense considering how close the Twin Cities are to Wisconsin, which does allow liquor sales on Sundays. In all likelihood, a significant proportion of the traffic heading east on I-94 on a Sunday is beer runs to Hudson. How much money is the Twin Cities economy losing in taxes, and how much money do local independent liquor stores loose from Sunday liquor runs to Wisconsin?