Traditional Minnesota food conjures up images of hamburger casserole (locally referred to as 'hot dish') and 'jello salad' (jello filled with sliced bits of fruit). However, the restaurant scene in Minneapolis is quite trendy, and visitors will have no trouble finding any kind of cuisine they desire, ranging from Peruvian to sushi.
Dinkytown and Stadium Village (near the University of Minnesota) provide a variety of low-priced options for the collegiate crowd, while Northeast Minneapolis has a wide range of ethnic spots, ranging from Mexican and Ecuadorian to Middle Eastern and Polish.
Downtown, the options are even more varied: Nicollet Avenue is known as Eat Street for its eclectic fare, including many Southeast Asian options.
During the day, 2nd Avenue and Marquette Avenue become a foodie's paradise, as dozens of food trucks of varying descriptions descend on the curb to provide the city's office workers with fresh food.
A particular specialty of Minneapolis is the Juicy Lucy, a type of hamburger where the cheese is sealed into the meat patty rather than put on top. Two local restaurants, Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club, both claim to be the inventors. However, local loyalty is split down the middle and either venue provides a filling experience.
For many tourists, shopping in the Twin Cities means one thing: the Mall of America. The largest mall in the US, it houses more than 500 stores under one roof, along with an aquarium, amusement park, and numerous restaurants, bars, and theaters. 'The Megamall' is a tourist attraction in itself but offers mostly chain stores with a few exceptions, including Love From Minnesota, which stocks a range of Minnesota souvenirs.
The Twin Cities have a number of other major shopping centres, including Rosedale Centre in Roseville, Gaviidae Common on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, and the upscale Galleria in Edina. Most offer the same varieties of chain stores. There are many other places to shop in Minneapolis and St Paul, however, with unique local flavour.
Minneapolis has several unique shopping districts, include Nicolett Mall, a pedestrian avenue in the downtown area with many upscale shops; the arty and multicultural Uptown district surrounding Lake Street; and the emerging Warehouse District near the iconic Target Centre.
Visitors will find interesting vintage shops and used bookstores in the University of Minnesota-dominated Dinkytown neighbourhood. St Paul has its own vibrant neighbourhood in Grand Avenue, with dozens of quirky independent boutiques, cafes and markets. Minneapolis and St Paul each have their own bustling Farmers Markets on Saturday mornings, offering fresh produce and flowers alongside local arts and crafts.
Popular souvenirs from Minnesota include fashionable (and locally made) Minnetonka Moccasins; Prairie Home Companion merchandise and books by Garrison Keillor; and sports memorabilia for the Twins (baseball), Vikings (American football), Timberwolves (basketball), and Wild (hockey). There are good bargains to be had on fashion, as Minnesota does not impose a sales tax on clothing.
The Twin Cities' nightlife is concentrated mostly in Minneapolis. While St Paul has a number of relaxed bars and pubs and a few live music venues, it tends to be much quieter and goes to sleep earlier than its counterpart across the river.
Minneapolis buzzes at night, with enough bars, clubs, pubs, restaurants and live music venues to satisfy those with voracious cultural appetites. Minneapolis' nightlife is concentrated in several neighbourhoods, each with its own personality. The Warehouse District is an up-and-coming hotspot with trendy restaurants, clubs, and cocktail bars for those who like to see and be seen; Nicollet Mall has some of the city's longest-running music venues, such as the Dakota Jazz Club, next to Orchestra Hall and a number of top restaurants; the Hennepin Theater District is home to the Block E collection of restaurants and bars, along with Minneapolis' big three theatres, the State, the Orpheum, and the Pantages. A more offbeat experience can be had at the Wabasha Street Caves in St Paul, which served as speakeasies during prohibition and now host swing dancing on Thursdays.
Minneapolis is known as a hub of theatre and classical music in the midwest United States, with several venues, such as the Guthrie, Ordway, State and Orpheum Theaters, enjoying national reputations. The Minneapolis Fringe Festival happens every August and showcases highlights from local companies. The Minnesota Opera, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Minnesota Dance Theater are all highly regarded, and the various universities in the area stage various productions during the school year.
Dinkytown is the place to go for a cheap and funky night out, as long as classes are in session. The neighbourhood is dominated by students from the nearby University of Minnesota, and there are a few buzzing venues that draw big crowds, such as the Gray's (a coffee shop-restaurant hybrid) and the Varsity Theater, which hosts indie bands, film screenings, and dance nights.
Uptown is the ultimate hip destination, however, with quirky clubs and music venues that create a unique atmosphere. While some come and go, there are established favourites such as Famous Dave's BBQ, which hosts live blues music; and the Bryant Lake Bowl, which combines food and live music with bowling.
The Twin Cities are a major concert destination, with the biggest events happening in the Target Center and the Xcel Energy Center. Those arenas host everything from rock concerts and sporting events to circuses and rodeos.