While both of the Twin Cities have their own personalities, the neighborhoods that make them up are unique in character as well. From hip and happening to relaxed and old-fashioned, these smaller communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul are loaded with diverse dining, one-of-a-kind shops, history, art and entertainment. To sample the best of them, local experts recommend these five neighborhoods.
High energy plus late-night intensity are in generous supply in this iconic area of Minneapolis, known to draw an eclectic mix of the pierced, posh, tattooed, fit and fashionable.
“My No. 1 favorite neighborhood is the Uptown area,” says Liisa Soulak, director of guest services at the Radisson Blu Mall of America.
Developed as a residential area in the early 20th century, Uptown has been evolving ever since. Located south of downtown Minneapolis, it’s bordered loosely by Lake Calhoun to the west and Dupont Avenue to the east — and centered on the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, where the landmark Calhoun Square is situated.
Uptown has lakes, shops, movie theaters, incredible people-watching and tons of restaurants, Soulak says. She highlights Stella’s Fish Café, whose oyster bar is “out of this world,” and William’s Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar, “where you can still throw peanut shells on the floor.” Known for its nightlife, Uptown also has numerous bars. Grab a cocktail at Chino Latino or listen to music at Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues.
Stretching some 26 blocks, tree-lined Grand Avenue in St. Paul has the relaxed and charming appeal of a small town.
“It has a neighborhood-home-type feel,” says Conor Casey, concierge at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel.
Indeed, many of its specialty shops are located in old houses along the avenue. Stop in the Red Balloon Bookshop, which is devoted to children’s books, or Just Truffles for handcrafted chocolates. In the summertime at the Grand Ole Creamery, expect to find lines out the door for homemade ice cream. Tavern on Grand serves up beer and Minnesota’s favorite fish — walleye — in a Great North Woods atmosphere. Sweets lovers can score a bonanza of baked goods at longtime favorite Cafe Latte, a cafeteria/bakery plus wine and pizza bar that’s famous for its huge gooey layer cakes and confections.
One block north of Grand Avenue, the stunning 4.5-mile Summit Avenue boasts the best-preserved stretch of Victorian architecture in the United States. Learn more about the houses on a self-guided tour, and pass by where author F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived.
Often referred to as “Nordeast” by the locals, the sprawling swath of area known as Northeast Minneapolis actually is composed of some 13 smaller neighborhoods. A working-class district in the early 20th century, it was filled with many Eastern European immigrants. Today, this local and tourist favorite — stretching near the historic Mississippi riverfront and loosely along the major corridors of University Avenue, Central Avenue, East Hennepin Avenue and Broadway Street — is loaded with specialty shops, coffeehouses, delis, bars, restaurants, craft breweries and art galleries.
“Art was the first attraction in the neighborhood, before the brewpubs began to open up,” says Kristen Montag, senior public relations and communications manager at Meet Minneapolis, the city’s tourism association.
[Read: 7 Top Minneapolis Clubs.]
Repurposed warehouses filled with artists’ studios and galleries host numerous art crawls and shows, Montag says. Smaller historic buildings on 13th Avenue Northeast house cool eateries and bars like Erte’@Peacock Lounge, Northeast Social and Young Joni. Craft breweries continue popping up everywhere in the area, while on Hennepin Avenue, old-school Kramarczuk Sausage Co., an Eastern European deli, keeps Northeast’s ethnic heritage intact.
While the origins of the name Dinkytown are debatable (one theory is that it was once the name of a small railroad station in the area), this commercial district bordering the University of Minnesota has long been the center of campus life. In the 1920s and ’30s, the building that’s now home to Annie’s Parlour — well-known for its burgers and shakes — was a ballroom where students danced on Saturday nights.
Today, Dinkytown’s business district at the intersection of Fourth Street Southeast and 14th Avenue Southeast remains a vibrant scene. Visitors can listen to live music at various clubs, or catch a performance at the Varsity Theater — always a draw. Diverse food options and shops reflect the campus population’s tastes and pocketbooks. Join students and middle-aged alumni chowing down at tiny Al’s Breakfast or local chefs digging in at the popular Shuang Cheng Restaurant. Get caffeinated at numerous coffeehouses. After that, search for old vinyl records or used books at T he Book House in Dinkytown.
Adjacent to downtown Minneapolis, today’s hipster North Loop once referred to the trolley line that served the area. Nowadays, “it’s definitely the most up-and-coming neighborhood in the Twin Cities,” says Lisa Heath, W insider at the W Minneapolis – The Foshay. “It’s the first place I like to send guests who want to do some neighborhood exploring.”
[Read: 7 Minneapolis Breweries to Visit.]
Originally an industrial area with a railroad yard and factories, North Loop now has a great mix of residents who live and work in the neighborhood. Many of the refurbished buildings house restaurants, bars and unique locally owned shops, Heath says. Check out D.Nolo, a collaborative women’s boutique with a mix of local and national designers, or MartinPatrick 3, a gentlemen’s store packed with clothes, shoes and furniture. Dine at the acclaimed The Bachelor Farmer or Spoon and Stable, or sip a cold one at the Fulton Brewing Co. before catching a Twins baseball game at nearby Target Field.
To experience more of what Minneapolis-St. Paul has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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The 5 Best Minneapolis Neighborhoods to Discover — Locals’ Picks originally appeared on usnews.com