We have tremendous access to the entire world (and we kinda always have).
There is a distinct reason Minnesota is so vastly superior to Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas, and no, it’s not just that Judy Garland was fabulous. It’s because, thanks to the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport—regularly lauded as one of the very best on earth—the entire world is accessible from here, and we’re accessible to it. And that’s why a globe-trotting war photographer like David Guttenfelder can easily live here and how our powerhouse Fortune 500 companies can continue to be globally dominant. The thing is, access begets access, and the reason we have a luxurious international airport in the first place, while Sconnie, the Dakotas, and Iowa have things like dairy and flatness, is that with the country’s most important river flowing forth from here, a whole other country right above us, and the greatest of Great Lakes on our shoulder, Minnesota was an international travel hub long before a plane ever touched down at MSP.
Bundts, Booms!, and Betty Crocker
We’re a baking town—because first, we were a flour town.
Like the gluten strands in a ball of dough, our Mill City roots are strong. After all, we’ve held our flour-forward reputation since the 19th century, when Minneapolis became known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World,” thanks to Washburn Crosby Co. (now General Mills) and Pillsbury Co.’s 20-plus stone flour mills powered by the mighty St. Anthony Falls. In 1880, Minneapolis overtook St. Louis to become the country’s flour milling leader, ramping up from two million 196-pound barrels of flour produced that year (and only one major flour-caused explosion) to more than 15 million barrels annually by 1910 (and zero flour-caused explosions). Minneapolis milled around 20 million barrels of flour in 1916 alone—more than 20 percent of the nation’s flour that year.
But even after companies moved operations elsewhere around the end of World War I, we didn’t lose our love of loaves. Washburn Crosby Co. introduced coiffed baking queen Betty Crocker—a fictional persona who doled out advice and solved snafus for home chefs—in 1921, and Betty’s tips, cookbooks, and radio shows changed the way Americans baked. Her cheap-to-make recipes helped home chefs through the Great Depression and World War II, and her casual subs (no eggs? Use baking powder! Can’t make pie crust? Soda crackers and sugar work in a pinch!) empowered families, including those who were stretching every dollar as far as it could go. Betty’s signature cherry-red Cooky Book, first published in 1963, remains a holidays mainstay.
And then there’s our state’s signature baking invention. Dave Dalquist, co-founder of Nordic Ware, developed the beloved Bundt pan in 1950 as a way to bake a new version of a traditional quasi-cone-shaped European kugelhopf. Nordic Ware catapulted into the national eye when a Tunnel of Fudge Bundt took second in our very own Pillsbury Bake-Off competition in 1966—although perhaps its best pop-culture-recognition moment comes from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when the holey cake dismayed the Portokaloses. (“There’s a hole in this cake.” Yes, yes there is.) Nordic Ware, still in operation out of St. Louis Park, estimates that some 75 million households own a Bundt pan today.
In 2023, a century after the flour boom, a new generation of home bakers seems more likely to take advice from a social media pastry influencer than from Betty, but they’re still keeping their eyes—and scrolling fingers—local. Blogosphere-turned-Instagram superstars like Zoë François, who has garnered attention from the Magnolia Network, and Sarah Kieffer, inventor of the viral pan-banging cookies and author of four baking books (including her latest, 100 Morning Treats, above, which drops May 9), educate new and seasoned bakers alike. And of course we can’t forget Café Cerés’s Shawn McKenzie, a (well-deserving) finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker at this year’s James Beard Awards.
Our grains may not always come from just down the road anymore, and our icons of baking may change, but deep down, we are who we are: a flour town that, despite it all, will always find a way to rise, and rise again.
Our grassroots artist community is without peer.
OK, bold statement, but the annual Art-A-Whirl open studio tour in Northeast Minneapolis is the best, most visionary of its kind in the country. Backstory: In 1995, a group of artists began establishing studios in old factories and warehouses. Two years later, they created Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA). Over time, more and more artists and creatives filled spaces in area locations, including the Northrup King Building, the Casket Arts Building, and the California Building. Today, more than 1,000 NEMAA member artists, galleries, and area businesses participate in Art-A-Whirl across 60 locations. The neighborhood-wide event includes open studio tours, demonstrations, live music, libations, and an opportunity to discover (and purchase) art. Throughout the year, artists also organize days when buildings are open, such as Second Saturdays at Casket Arts and the California Building. (Check out schedules at northeastminneapolisartsdistrict.org.) With a belief that “artists thrive in environments of visibility, connection, inspiration and collaboration,” NEMAA has proven the power of collective—and creative—collaboration. May 19–21, nemaa.org
Downtown Dekes, Doubles, Dangles, and Dunks
We built all of our pro sports stadiums in our urban core.
In a world where the Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington, Texas; the Chicago Bears are poised to play in Arlington Heights, Illinois; and, at one point, our pro hockey, baseball, and football teams played in the shadow of The Thunderbird Motel on the Bloomington strip, it’s a minor miracle that Minneapolis and St. Paul proper have managed to lasso all the state’s pro sports stadiums back into the urban core. And the fact that thousands of people annually are drawn to the Lynx/Timberwolves and Twins playing in the Warehouse District and North Loop, respectively; the Vikings playing in East Town; and the Loons and Wild playing a light rail ride away in St. Paul—not to mention all the concerts and special events happening in between games—is no trifling matter when the very nature of what makes a downtown vibrant is seismically shifting. Oh, and the broader sporting world has taken notice. In a March 2023 article, the Sports Business Journal ranked Minneapolis fourth on its list of the best cities in which to conduct sports, citing market “friendliness” and the “collaborative team-public-business atmosphere.”
Epic Eat Streets
We understand that the most worthwhile streets are paved with fabulous food.
Nearly 60 years ago, a German restaurant opened on Nicollet Avenue and East 26th Street in Minneapolis, simply because it was where they could afford. Soon enough, the Black Forest Inn expanded and opened one of the city’s first dining patios. From there, the neighborhood bloomed with other small immigrant families opening restaurants, and we dubbed it Eat Street. In epic fashion, you can eat Vietnamese pho at Quang Restaurant, Cantonese egg rolls at Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar, Jamaican jerk chicken at Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, and Mexican artisan bread at Marissa’s Bakery on your stroll down the avenue. And the mix keeps refreshing, especially with the addition of the new Eat Street Crossing, where you can scarf everything from sushi sandwiches to Brazilian pizza. And while this stretch is our literal Eat Street, there are plenty of other thoroughfares that plot a straight course to delicious dining.
University Ave.: From Raymond Ave. to the capitol. Starting with Foxy Falafel and The Naughty Greek, you’ll also get On’s Kitchen, Hoa Bien, Homi Mexican, Manila Sizzling Wok and Grill, Hickory Hut, Bangkok Thai Deli, and more.
Central Ave.: From 694 to Broadway. A long road stretching through many municipalities begins with The Hyderabad Indian Grill and passes Crafty Crab, Big Marina Grill and Deli, Dong Yang Oriental Foods and Deli, Filfillah Mediterranean Grill, Phoever Vietnamese Cuisine, Chimborazo, Francis, El Taco Riendo, and, of course, Ideal Diner.
E. 38th St.: From Lake Harriet to the Mississippi. Water to water, and along the way Victor’s 1959 Café, Clancey’s Meats and Fish, Good Times, Rincón 38, Boludo, Petite León, Tacos el Kevin, Tiny Diner, Mama Sheila’s House of Soul, Standish Cafe, Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub, and Fireroast Coffee and Wine.
Our farmers see way beyond next year’s crop.
Farming brings $21.3 billion to Minnesota annually, but hayseeds we aren’t. Did you know that Zach Johnson, AKA “Millennial Farmer,” has more than 1 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, which shows the ups and downs of real farm life? Or that Hmong Americans make up more than half of all producers at Twin Cities farmers’ markets? Or that Dayna Burtness opens up her pastured pork Nettle Valley Farm, as an incubator for young regenerative farmers? Oh, or that the 190,000-acre R.D. Offutt Farms partnered with the U of M to develop environmentally sound practices for producing high-quality crops?
We are more than willing to trade in our Sorels for fancy footwear in order to gala it up for a good cause.
A generation ago, the high-fashion set was mostly seen at the high-ticket-price fundraisers of our fine arts scene, complete with gorgeous gowns and tuxedos. But the landscape has shifted, and now gala attendees have embraced the mantra of creativity and personal expression, while the galas themselves offer a variety of ticket prices to welcome all who want to kick up their heels. The Walker Art Center’s Avant Garden, with its eye candy–clad attendees, is September 23; the University of Minnesota’s FashionFest, complete with its fashion show, is November 17; and the Minnesota Orchestra’s Symphony Ball drops in June. And because, like in fashion, there is always room for new ideas and creativity in the Twin Cities, Black Fashion Week MN debuts the Minnesota Met Gala at our very own Minneapolis Institute of Art on May 13.
Our most popular craft beer brand and our most popular craft bike brand can share a name thanks to Minnesota Nice.
Surly Brewing Co. and Surly Bikes. Similarly angsty, punky, and enduringly popular, the former is one of Minnesota’s hippest beer brands; the latter, one of Minnesota’s hippest bike brands. And in a world where cool bikes and cool beers tend to go together, the fact that Minnesota’s Surlys are two and not one is almost incomprehensible, especially to the broader beer and biking milieu.
So, how did it happen that they both are based here and have the same name and a similar aesthetic but are completely unrelated to each other? Well, when Surly Brewing founder Omar Ansari was first getting his brewery off the ground in the early 2000s, he discovered that Bloomington-based Quality Bicycle Products already had a brand called Surly, which was established in the late 1990s. Undeterred, Ansari went to Surly Bikes, hat in hand, and asked if it wasn’t possible that the Twin Cities was big enough for two unrelated Surlys. According to legend, not even Surly Bikes’ lawyers were surly about the idea.
“We like to play nice with everyone, despite the name,” longtime Surly Bikes marketing guy Bob Pavlica told The Growler in 2012. “We dig people and we dig beer. It’s a cool name. We like the name, why shouldn’t they?”
A gentleman’s agreement, which simply stipulated that the beer company had to always use its full name, “Surly Brewing,” on printed materials and merch and not put its brand on anything in the world of bikes, was born (and is still going strong nearly two decades later).
We have historically stood for liberty and justice for all—and this year, we’ve demonstrated that yet again via a bevy of legislation.
In the 2022 election, Minnesota DFLers won a government trifecta for the first time in a decade. With Democrats controlling the state house, senate, and governor’s office, state politicians (and voters) knew it was finally time to clean house and get bills passed. And although it wasn’t quite that simple, in the 2023 legislative session alone they’ve made significant progress to make Minnesota a kinder, safer, more inclusive place to live.
First on the to-do list? Codifying abortion rights. Fueled by the reversal of Roe v. Wade in summer 2022 and the tightening of abortion laws in surrounding states, Minnesota’s DFLers wasted no time in getting a bill through the system. The PRO Act, which Gov. Walz signed at the end of January, ensures Minnesota’s current safeguards (which have existed since 1995 and state that the Minnesota Constitution does, in fact, protect abortion rights) will stay put, no matter what happens at the federal level. “Every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth, or obtain an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise this fundamental right,” the bill reads. Minnesota became the first state to sign in such a bill, though others have worked to codify rights since.
LGBTQ rights were also at the forefront of the latest legislative session, partially thanks to Minnesota’s first Queer Caucus—the dozen LGBTQ lawmakers that hit the floor this year, including the legislature’s first nonbinary (Rep. Alicia Kozlowski) and transgender (Rep. Leigh Finke) lawmakers. The group, often led by Rep. Finke, introduced bills to ban conversion therapy at the state level (a few cities in Minnesota had already banned the often dangerous practice), solidify Minnesotans’ rights to receive gender-affirming health care and make Minnesota a trans refuge state, update the Minnesota Human Rights Act to contain language that would include and protect LGBTQ citizens, and more, ensuring that Minnesota remains a safe space for queer and trans folks for years to come.
Minnesota also took a major step toward making sure all children have enough to eat when Gov. Walz signed a free school breakfast and lunch bill into law. Now, even if families don’t meet household income guidelines for free and reduced meals, every student at participating schools will eat free. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who discussed her own childhood food insecurity in a speech before the bill signing, called the bill the most important thing she has ever worked on. It will go into effect this fall, and the $800 million investment will cover the next four years.
And while the trifecta can’t tidy up all the state’s problems in one legislative session, other bills have been drawing eyes as well—such as a law the governor signed in March that would let anyone, no matter their immigration status, receive a driver’s license. Other hot-button topics, such as gun control and paid family and sick leave, won’t be soon forgotten by members of the legislature.
“This will be the most productive legislature in a generation,” Gov. Walz said after signing the driver’s license law. “And it will have the biggest impact on working and middle-class families that we have seen.”
Our people tend to be funnier than your people.
Minnesota’s comedic exports are almost too high to count: film and TV staples like Maria Bamford and Nick Swardson, former senator and SNL alum Al Franken, The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, and late greats like Mitch Hedberg and Louie Anderson. Joel Hodgson created the cult comedy show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which premiered on local television in 1988. Acme Comedy Co. has stood tall amid all the change in the North Loop for more than 30 years and has seen the likes of Hannibal Buress, Janelle James, and Aziz Ansari pass through its doors. Meanwhile, Brave New Workshop, an improv theater company founded in 1958 by fifth-generation circus aerialist Dudley Riggs, boasts being the longest-running sketch and improv comedy theater in the country. Now belonging to the Hennepin Theatre Trust, its building was renamed the Dudley Riggs Theatre last year in his honor.
The Minnesota comedy scene’s history was recently exhaustively reported in Patrick Strait’s book Funny Thing About Minnesota…, published in 2021. Even since then, newer comics from Minnesota are also thriving on social media: Just watch the videos of Sam Schedler or Kareem Rahma to see why.
Schedler, who works a day job as a registered nurse, started filming content when the pandemic began and quickly amassed thousands of followers across TikTok and Instagram. Between the queer comedian’s regular baking videos, his TikToks have gone viral for targeting the National Weather Service (he dated a weatherman), car mechanics (don’t ask him what kind of oil his car takes), and Spotify (he’s an Apple Music stan). By December of last year, he’d performed his own stand-up set in person for the first time.
Rahma was born in Cairo but moved to Mendota Heights as a 3-year-old. The pandemic also caused Rahma, a stand-up comic with a regular showcase in Brooklyn (he’s lived in New York City for the last decade), to pivot to video. The U of M and St. Thomas graduate worked at Vice as a marketing director and held a stint as a director of audience development strategy for The New York Times’ video team, which helped him learn how exactly to capture a viral moment. As experiential events became popular in the ’10s, his 2018 Museum of Pizza exhibit drew tens of thousands of visitors during its six-week run in New York City. He also co-founded the SomeFriends podcast company, focused on lifting up BIPOC voices and stories. The comedian’s web series Keep the Meter Running has garnered millions of views on social media since it debuted last year. In it, Rahma asks taxi drivers around the city to drive him to their favorite spots—could be for a meal at a restaurant, for a visit to a park, or to go dancing—while learning more about the driver’s life. Vanity Fair named it one of TikTok’s best new series, as it explores the lived experiences of actual immigrants.
The short film he wrote and stars in, Out of Order, about distressingly needing “an ever-elusive bathroom on the streets of New York City,” debuted at the Tribeca Festival last year. And his Lonely Island–esque music career is also taking off: Watch the music video for “Really Rich Parents” for his send-up of the nepo babies discourse.
KMOJ, KFAI, KBEM, et. al.
Our community radio stations are tops.
Forty years ago, when Paul Westerberg asked, “What side are you on?” on The Replacements’ ode to college radio, “Left of the Dial,” most of our Twin Cities community-based radio stations (the ones where you actually might hear The Replacements) really were ghettoized to radio’s nether regions, like Radio K at 770 AM. Radio’s long gone digital, but the far left end of the band is as robust as ever. There’s KBEM (Jazz88) down at 88.5 FM, a station dedicated to the most kaleidoscopic interpretations of the form (and the home of Sean McPherson’s great new morning drive show). There’s also, of course, “The People’s Station,” KMOJ, north Minneapolis’s historic home for soul, R&B, and hip-hop, at 89.9 FM, and the “Fresh Air” of KFAI, with some of the most eclectic music and news programming found anywhere in the country, is at 90.3 FM. It should be noted, however, that while the University of Minnesota’s Radio K, where the college DJs will hip you to more exciting new music than you thought existed, is still technically holding it down on 770 AM, it’s now coming in clearer than ever on its sister FM frequencies, almost all the way to the right, at 100.7 and 104.5.
We have inherited so many amazing parks from previous generations of land stewards, and now our current generation is making even more.
To be a Twin Citian is to be an inheritor of natural resource riches—like the 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi that threads through our urban core as the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Or the vast network of Minneapolis parks that surround all the city’s best lakes with public land. And we’re not resting on our laurels: Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area, which was established in 1988 on the Mississippi, was augmented this winter, when Cottage Grove purchased an additional 20 acres of parkland. A little farther upriver, efforts are underway to raise money to decontaminate the 1,300 acres of Pig’s Eye Regional Park, which was used for decades to dump chemicals. And a little farther upriver yet, the Lower Phalen Creek Project is well into a $12 million effort to reimagine the Indian Mounds on the bluffs above St. Paul and reconnect it with the sacred Dakota Wakáŋ Tipi site along the river.
We take our tired old suburban strip malls and turn them into something new and cool.
When St. Louis Park’s Texa-Tonka opened in 1951, it was a classic neighborhood mini-mall offering all the goods, services, conveniences, and parking needed by the budding first-tier suburbanites surrounding it. Over the decades, the neighborhood never became a hustle-bustle thoroughfare like St. Louis Park’s Excelsior Boulevard with its Miracle Mile Mall. No, good ol’ Texa-Tonka seemed quickly stuck in a bit of a time warp at the cozy corner of Minnetonka Boulevard and Texas Avenue, anchored by Erik’s Bike Shop. But time is warping it no more. Funny how something as seemingly simple as carving out a welcoming midcentury modern–inspired open-air patio complete with pergola and lighting gave the complex a new lease on life. Boldly proclaiming its name in large letters gave it a little extra kick of attitude. First came a new outpost for Revival. Soon there was Angel Food Bakery and Coffee Bar. Now, there’s also Brookies Fish Market, Westside Market, Westside Wine and Spirits, and a new home for long-standing womenswear boutique Judith McGrann and Friends, plus providers of beauty and personal care services—even a grooming salon for the neighborhood pooches. In an era of sustainability and repurposing, Texa-Tonka proves how suburban developments from the past can become relevant for the now.
We don’t just tolerate winter; we boldly embrace it at its best.
In a 1996 interview, Prince told Oprah that the reason he never left Minnesota was that it was “so cold, it keeps the bad people out.” And, well, Prince wasn’t wrong. Because, truly, only a bad, uncool, and boring person would possibly think Minnesota winter was anything other than the best and most epic thing about this place. Take, for instance, that the sport most synonymous with our state is played on ice wearing lethal blades strapped to your feet and using a hard, black rubber disc that’s at its best when it’s frozen before use.
But seriously, the best thing about Minnesota, and the Twin Cities in particular, is that we genuinely think winter is, well, the best thing. The myriad natural resources that make the Cities famous in the summer—our paths, trails, parks, and waterways—are still pretty well-used when covered in snow and ice. A golf course becomes a cross-country ski course, a city lake becomes a series of official and unofficial pond-hockey rinks and art shanties, a mountain bike trail becomes a fat bike trail, and the list goes on.
And while doing all that stuff is part of our daily winter lives, we’ve also found ways to lionize and celebrate our winter fun in more official capacities, like The Great Northern Festival. If the 10-day-long winterpalooza that combines the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis, and all sorts of other outdoor activities, from sauna villages to public art installations and ice bars, isn’t peak “We’re head over heels in love with our coldest selves,” then we don’t know what is.
Oh, and as if our standard winter to-dos aren’t already tops, Theodore Wirth Regional Park is slated to host the COOP FIS Cross-Country Skiing World Cup (and with it, Afton’s own Olympic gold medalist, Jessie Diggins) February 17–19, 2024.
Our local (and family-owned) grocers still bring your bags to your car, no matter the elements.
Lucky us to have such solid local players to keep the big, national grocery chains at an arm’s length. Our OG grocers—with their modern inventory and conveniences—have retained a few of the classic customer service benefits, such as helping you get your bags to your car, should you need assistance. Kowalski’s Markets offers the service across all its 11 stores, whereas Lunds and Byerlys provides support at the stores that don’t offer a drive-through lane, such as Uptown, 50th & France, Eden Prairie, and Golden Valley.
Perfectly Peculiar Pies
We love a party-cut pizza, and all the corners that implies.
It’s not so much a rigid adherence to Detroit style that’s making our pizza game so delightfully angular; it’s more of a kumbaya of Upper Midwest traditions (with some South American zing thrown in).
Wrecktangle Pizza: The team went to NYC for Good Morning America and walked out with the big check for best pizza in America.
Bricksworth Beer Co.: Beer and pizza are eternal besties. Grab a “Do You Take Checks?” pilsner for the full Minnesota moment.
Boludo: From one tiny counter spot, it’s grown to four locations for the lightest, crispiest oddly shaped Argentinean pizzas.
Love Pizza: Choose triangle cut or bar cut (AKA the party cut), but pickles seem to be the hottest topping choice in the state right now.
Our water is not just plentiful; it’s freaking good.
Ever wonder why the Twin Cities of old was peppered with so many brewing castles? There’s the Grain Belt castle in Northeast Minneapolis with its four towers, including the one topped with a dome; the Schmidt complex in St. Paul with the Knights of the Round Table–esque tower and current brewery tenant Clutch Brewing; and, of course, the venerable old Hamm’s fortress up on the hills of St. Paul—dark, foreboding, and current home to 11 Wells Distillery and Saint Paul Brewing. Well, the reason they all exist is because of our clean, naturally limestone-filtered water. With its clear, calcium taste and its bright, light purity, it’s perfect for brewing and distilling. You can taste that water at any of St. Paul’s current 16 independent breweries or Minneapolis’s as-of-this-writing 30. You can also taste it at one of the distilleries in the Twin Cities metro using local water, such as Brother Justus, Tattersall, Du Nord, and Norseman. (You can even enjoy the miracle of Minnesota water in some Du Nord vodka on your next domestic Delta flight.) Of course, you can also taste water worthy of building a castle around in our great bread and coming out of your very own municipal kitchen sink. They say a person’s home is their castle, and in the Twin Cities, at least when it comes to water, that’s not hyperbole.
We are still madly in love with bookstores.
Indie bookstores persist. Despite the changing Uptown surrounding Magers and Quinn, it continues as the Twin Cities’ largest indie bookstore. Meanwhile, in Kenwood, Louise Erdrich tends the stacks of her excellent little shop, Birchbark Books. Moon Palace Books in Longfellow offers inclusive book clubs and events, and there’s no finer destination for comics and fantasy than DreamHaven in Standish. Of course, St. Paul also gets in on the action, specifically at Next Chapter Booksellers, which has a solid roster of events, and don’t sleep on Black Garnet Books, the only Black-owned bookstore in the state.
We have figured out a way to share everything from tools to clothes to excess food.
5,000: Number of tools you can check out from the two locations of the Minnesota Tool Library.
80: Weight, in pounds, of the clothing an average American throws out in a year, according to the founders of Edina’s first-ever Earth Day clothing exchange, where style seekers spread their wares on tables and everyone gets to trade wearable treasures.
50: Number of households that sign up for the Linden Hills community garage sale held every year in late May. And that’s just the kickoff to the community-garage-sale season that ripples through the Twin Cities and includes St. Paul’s Great Mac-Groveland-Highland-Summit garage sale (June 9–10) and the Minneapolis East Isles and Lowry Hill Super Sale (September 9).
39.7 million: Number of pounds of food rescued from retail partners such as convenience and grocery stores and redistributed to hungry people in Minnesota by those innovative hunger fighters at Second Harvest Heartland.
150,000: Approximate number of Little Free Libraries currently claimed by the St. Paul–based organization, which brought sharing books to America at scale.
303,550: Number of audiobooks, e-books, e-courses, and other digital titles available to residents of the seven-county metro on the Twin Cities Metro eLibrary via the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA).
$0: Cost to use a sewing machine or 3D printer at one of the seven Ramsey County libraries through the Maker program, which also includes access to laptops and video editing software, fabric cutting machines, and photo printers.
170: Total number of electric vehicles currently owned by electric-car-sharing program Evie.
300: Number of free classes on everything from basic reading to career readiness available through the good people at Literacy Minnesota.
We are one Twin Cities, but two actual cities. And that means twice as much good stuff.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are fraternal twin cities joined by the country’s greatest river. And the best thing about having neighboring downtowns? We get two of almost everything. Dueling outdoor baseball stadiums? Target and CHS Fields check that box. World-class performing arts venues? The Orpheum and Ordway (among others) check that one. Picturesque urban islands in the Mississippi? Nicollet Island and Raspberry Island have that one covered. Places to peruse modern art? The Walker Art Center and the Minnesota Museum of American Art are among the many options there. Our Twin Cities even both have their own downtown farmers’ markets (not to mention neighborhood ones), their own contributions to the Ju(i)cy Lucy lexicon, and, of course, a knack for making some damn good beer.
Our Cities are home to more than their fair share of epic academic institutions—and their alumni stick around to make Minnesota a better place to live.
With more than a dozen four-year options (plus a handful of tech and community colleges) in and around the Twin Cities, it’s easy to see why pupils from every state and more than 150 countries flocked to our studious metro in 2022 alone. After all, schools such as the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, and Macalester College churn out Nobel Prize winners, inventors (Honeycrisp apples and open-heart surgery, anyone?), activists, actors, Olympians, novelists, politicians, and CEOs—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And rather than leave our great state to make the world better, more than 60 percent of U of M alumni alone still call Minnesota home.
We turn out to vote for everything (and anything).
Minnesota has long boasted some of the country’s highest voting rates—and if recent stats prove anything, it’s that we show no signs of slowing down. In 2020, nearly 80 percent of potential voters (that is, adults 18 and older) voted in the general election, the highest behind just Washington, D.C., and New Jersey. But it’s not just politics that convince the droves to fill out their ballots. This winter, a whopping 64,075 people voted in MnDOT’s annual “Name a Snowplow” contest, which even drew attention from Lizzo when she found out one of the winners was “Blizzo.”
Our best, most elite athletes are female.
After celebrating Title IX’s 50th anniversary last summer, Minnesota’s athletes went out and demonstrated the landmark civil rights law’s half century of impact both on and off the field. Sports consultants are predicting women’s sports will become a $1 billion industry, and in many ways—including visibility on social media as well as results on the podium—our local women and girls are outshining their male counterparts.
Olympic gold medal winner Jessie Diggins cinched her status as the greatest long-distance skier in U.S. history when she won the 10-kilometer freestyle at the world championships in Slovenia, becoming the first American to win a world title in an individual event. Diggins is a role model not only for women: Her leadership in U.S. skiing is credited with inspiring up-and-coming male skiers as well.
Closer to home, the Minnesota Aurora FC, our first “pre-professional” women’s soccer team, consistently filled TCO Stadium in Eagan as they ran roughshod over the USL W League, finishing the regular season with an undefeated record before falling just short in the championship game, losing in overtime to a team from south Georgia. Aurora players were barely out of the locker room before chatter about seeking enough investors to become a fully professional team began.
For the last 24 years, Gustavus Adolphus College’s women’s hockey team has been a MIAC power, winning 17 regular season titles in 24 seasons. But this year, they finally won the big one, beating Amherst College 2–1 in a thrilling triple overtime NCAA Division III title game. The Gusties became the first Division III hockey champion west of the Mississippi River.
And finally, the most famous athlete in Minnesota sports history, 2020 all-around Olympic gold medal–winning gymnast Sunisa Lee, continued to revolutionize her own sport. She followed up her Olympic success by eschewing the traditional gold medalist’s route of a short-term money grab of exhibition gymnastics to enroll herself in college, while new name, image, and likeness deals ensured Lee can come closer to earning what she’s actually worth. She went on to a wildly successful freshmen year at Auburn, where her team competed for a national championship and Lee herself won All-American honors, and the raised visibility, attendance, and ratings of college gymnastics overall were credited to what experts started calling “the Suni Effect.” And then this winter, she shocked us all over again by announcing she was leaving college after her sophomore season to come home and train for a shot at defending her title at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Our dearly beloved changed the musical world, and the Super Bowl halftime show, forever.
Since Super Bowl XLI, the man from Minneapolis is the one to beat when it comes to halftime shows. Not only did Prince outrank Rihanna’s 2023 performance, in the weeks that followed this year’s Super Bowl, Chris Rock wore a necklace dangling Prince’s signature symbol for his Netflix comedy special and man-of-the-pop-culture-moment Pedro Pascal declared on YouTube’s Hot Ones that he was “raised on HBO, Spielberg, and Prince.” The man behind The Mandalorian mask went on to express his deep, nearly spiritual connection to the song “Purple Rain.” It has been seven years since that fateful April day, but Paisley Park continues to serve as a shrine to his life’s work, and the stretch of Highway 5 that runs past it will likely be named Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway later this year. How long a stretch? Seven miles of it—a nod to a number that dominated his lyrics and symbolism in his work and music. The number even permeated his world in more cosmic ways, like the fact that his legendary halftime show happened in the year 2007. Speaking of, did you ever wonder why his suit never seemed to get wet or show water spots despite the fact that it rained the whole time? Only Prince, a true Minnesotan, would have had the foresight to have his suit custom-tailored with a water-repellent fabric. As he famously requested that day, “Can you make it rain harder?”
We proudly let our Juicy Lucy freak flags fly, but Lucys aren’t even the best Minnesota-born menu item.
#9 Roll: Did you ever wonder why every sushi menu in town has one, but no out-of-state menu does? Legend has it that the shrimp tempura and cucumber roll first appeared in the ninth position on the original Fuji Ya menu. The most popular roll, it traveled with the chefs when they went to their next jobs.
Bootleg: The tall and limey-minty drink of the country-club set is now a part of local legend. Was it Woodhill Country Club that first invented it? Or was it the White Bear Yacht Club? Our money is on all the pool-shack kids sneaking booze from the bar cart.
Milky Way: Yes, the world’s first “filled” candy bar was invented by Frank Mars in Minneapolis, before he—like Big Papi—left for bigger things.
Pickle Roll-Ups: Shut up. You know you love them.
Our very best art—or at least most of it—doesn’t cost patrons a dime to see.
Been to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art lately? $30 a pop! The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston? $27. The Philadelphia Museum of Art? $25. But our own world-class Minneapolis Institute of Art? $0. Yep, everything from Pollocks to Picassos is available to more than half a million visitors each year for nothing. And what’s more, because of the way Mia was established, the art is owned by the citizens of the state, the same way we collectively own our state park waterfalls and lakes. But Mia’s not the only place Minnesotans can visit priceless art for nothing. The Weisman Art Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art (particularly after it reopens post-renovations), the Hennepin History Museum, and the Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden are all free. And ever noticed the Paul Manship sculpture in Summit Avenue’s Cochran Park? At $0, it’s a darn sight cheaper than the cost to ice-skate beneath Manship’s more famous sculpture, the big gold fellow perched over the Rockefeller rink ($21 admission). It seems that in Minnesota, we just believe being inspired by great art for nothing is something of an inalienable right.