Whether you're interested in museums, art, architecture (historic or modern), or beautiful parks, the Twin Cities has a lot to offer.  The following, while far from comprehensive, will give you an overview of a few of the highlights.

 

St. Paul

Capitol building:Built between 1896 and 1902, the current capitol building was constructed of St. Cloud granite and white Georgia marble.It was designed by Cass Gilbert who also designed the capitol buildings for Arkansas and West Virginia as well as the U.S. Supreme Court Building.There had been two previous capitol buildings in St. Paul - both about a kilometer closer to the river.The first was destroyed by fire and the second was both too small and poorly constructed.

Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm (guided tours 10 am through 2 pm); Saturday 10 am to 3 pm; Sunday 1 to 4 pm

For more information, you can visit http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/msc/or http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/leg/faqtoc.asp?subject=14.

Of course, the capitol building can be seen on our MN State Capitol walk.

 

Science Museum of MN:Founded in 1907, the Science Museum of MN has become known worldwide for its permanent interactive exhibits, dynamic traveling exhibits, and its large format films.Built into the bluffs of St. Paul overlooking the Mississippi River, the new 370,000-square-foot-facility (which opened in 1999) has 70,000 square feet of exhibition space, the 9-story Omnitheater showing IMAX films, lockers, museum store, three different places to eat, and 10 acres of outdoor exhibits and programming space (including mini golf and a prairie maze).One personal favorite that they kept from the old science museum’s design is the Sound Stairs, although they can be difficult to find.

Hours: 8:30 am to 10 pm.For information on admission fees, special exhibit schedule or Omnitheater shows, please visit: http://www.smm.org/.

This is another sight that you’d pass by on the MN State Capitol walk.Whether you need a restroom break or have a few hours to explore, this is a great place to stop and enjoy!

 

Como Park, Zoo & Conservatory:Located in a northern neighborhood of St. Paul, this large park by Como Lake has provided recreational and educational opportunities for over a hundred years.The Como Zoo, founded in 1897, has 25 habitats featuring lions, giraffes, gorillas and more.The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, which opened in 1915, has a full acre of gardens under glass, as well as three outdoor gardens.The zoo and conservatory are open daily from 10am - 6pm in summer and 10am - 4pm in winter.Admission is free, but donations are requested to help care for the plants & animals.  You can learn more at: http://www.comozooconservatory.org/como_zoo/visitor.shtml(If you're looking for a larger zoo, check out the Minnesota Zoo in the southern suburb of Apple Valley at http://www.mnzoo.comThe average visit is 3-4 hours, but you can easily spend a whole day there and still have more to see.)

Another feature of Como Park is the historic 68-horse Cafesjian’s Carousel.It was built in 1914 and was run as a concession at the MN State Fair until 1988, when the owner put it up for auction.The organization Our Fair Carousel was formed and, with the help of the city and many donors, the carousel was rescued and restored.After spending a few years in downtown St. Paul, it was moved to its current location in a pavilion near the Como Zoo.It is open May-October (as long as the temperature is between 45° and 95°).For more information, visit http://www.ourfaircarousel.org/gettingthere.html.

There will be a Como Park Walk on Sept. 6, 2014.

 

Minneapolis

Stone Arch Bridge:Built in 1883 by the railroad baron James J. Hill, this, the only stone arch bridge ever constructed on the Mississippi River, served as a working railroad bridge until 1965.It now carries pedestrians, cyclists, and the River City Trolley.It also offers great views of the St. Anthony Falls, the lock, the Guthrie, and the historic milling district.For more information, you can visit http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/about/stonearch.asp.

You can pass over the Stone Arch Bridge on the University of Minnesota WalkNicollet Island Walk, or River Bluff Tour Bike.

 

 

 

 

Guthrie Theater: Love it or hate it, the new Guthrie building is an interesting piece of architecture.If you’re passing nearby and have a few minutes to spare, I highly recommend checking it out.The building is usually closed to the public on Mondays, but open from 8am-midnight the rest of the week.Not all areas of the theater are open to the public, of course, but there are restaurants/cafes anda gift shop.You can also take the escalators to the 4th floor lobby and walk out to the “Endless Bridge” for some amazing views of the Mississippi River, Stone Arch Bridge and new 35W bridge.(If you’ve got a laptop, you can use the Wi-Fi in the lobbies on levels 4 and 5.)If you haven’t had enough of the unique views, take the elevator from levels 4 or 5 up to the other cantilevered lobby - the Dowling Studio lobby.It’s quite an experience!(Just remember to get off the elevator at level 4 when you’re going back down and continue the rest of the way by escalator - the public is not allowed to get off the elevator on the lower levels.)For more information about the Guthrie, visit http://www.guthrietheater.org/visit.

You will pass by the Guthrie if you do the University of Minnesota Walk or River Bluff Tour Bike, on which you can also see the Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls, Weisman Art Museum, etc.

 

Minnehaha Falls:The 53-foot falls is located near the entrance of Minnehaha Park - one of Minneapolis’s oldest city parks.It has long been a tourist destination, particularly since the 1855 publication of The Song of Hiawathaby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.The ledge of the falls used to be much wider, but erosion over the past century has caused it to become very narrow and more vigorous (at least if we’ve had some rain recently - during droughts, the dam at Lake Minnetonka is closed and the creek dries up).

You can find out more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnehaha_Falls or http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=4&parkid=252.

You can see the falls on the Minnehaha Falls walk (which starts in St. Paul) and also pass close by on the Nokomis Bike.

 

 

Mpls. Sculpture Garden: Created in 1988 by a collaboration of the Walker Art Center and the Mpls. Park & Recreation Board, this 11 acre park has over 40 works of art on permanent view as well as temporary exhibits.Two of the most iconic pieces are:
Spoonbridge and Cherry, 1985-1988 by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen - This whimsically large fountain (5,800 pound spoon and 1,200 pound cherry) stands in a pond at the heart of the sculpture garden.

Standing Glass Fish, 1986 by Frank Gehry - This 22-foot tall glass fish is surrounded by waterlilies and palms inside the Cowles Conservatory.
Admission:free.

Hours:garden- Open daily, 6 am-12 midnight.

Cowles Conservatory- Tues.-Sun., 10 am-5 pm; closed Mon.

For more information, visit http://garden.walkerart.org/index.wac.

You can walk through the sculpture garden on the Lake of the Isles Walk.