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HAPPENING 'HOODS

Visit these Twin Cities neighborhoods for the best in dining, shopping, entertainment and more

Image by Erica Loeks

World-class dining, abundant entertainment, endless greenspaces and authentic communities put these Twin Cities neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs in a league all their own. Here is our definitive list of the best neighborhoods in the area.

Minneapolis

Linden Hills
It doesn't get more charming than this. Nestled between Lake Calhoun’s southern and Lake Harriet’s western shores, the streets in this Twin Cities neighborhood are lined with picturesque cottage-style homes, delicious food options—headlined by Tilia and its award-winning chefs—and a wealth of whimsical boutiques. Be sure to check out the Lake Harriet Band Shell in the spring and summer for fun-filled concerts on the green.

Lyn-Lake
Starting at the corner of Lake Street and Lyndale Avenue, this neighborhood eats, drinks and sleeps the arts scene making it one of the most creative Twin Cities neighborhoods. The culmination of this is an energetic vibe, jam-packed with music and literary activities, as well as a bill full of performances from an active theater and comedy community. Grab some friends and toast a brew at LynLake Brewery before or after a performance at Jungle Theater or HUGE Improv Theater.

LynLake Brewery. Image by TJ Turner

Midtown Exchange
This Art Deco building, which holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, houses lofts, condos and apartments, the Sheraton Midtown Minneapolis Hotel, Midtown Global Market, which is the city’s largest public market, and the headquarters of Allina Hospitals and Clinics. This diversely populated building fits well in the artsy neighborhood that also supports the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, an ArtCar Parade and signature MayDay festival.

Midtown Global Market. Image by Todd Buchanan

The North Loop
This area is a mesh of new meets old, knitted together to form one of the hottest Twin Cities neighborhoods. What used to be a collection of warehouses from the city’s milling heyday has transformed into a thriving shopping, arts and dining scene featuring James Beard Rising Star Gavin Kaysen’s Spoon and Stable, as well as The Bachelor Farmer, Borough and Fulton Brewery. Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins and well known for knocking fans’ expectations out of the park, is juxtaposed with unparalleled boutiques like Lolë, MartinPatrick3 and The Foundry.

Northeast
Northeast Minneapolis takes its influences from the immigrants that first populated the area, and the vibrant cultures resonate today—evident in the unique restaurants, shops and nightlife. Along the north riverfront of the Mississippi, factories and mills of the past line the streets, and the neighborhood is now known for its prominent arts community. Winner of USA Today’s Best Art District in America in 2015, Northeast is home to the annual Art-a-Whirl and fall Fine Arts Show. With spots like Dangerous Man Brewing Co., Indeed Brewing Co. and Bauhaus Brew Labs, Northeast is one of the sudsiest Twin Cities neighborhoods. The bright city lights of downtown Minneapolis across the river illuminate the red brick of Main Street, leading in one direction to St. Anthony Falls and in the opposite direction to eclectic shops and restaurants such as Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge and Betty Danger’s Country Club.

South Minneapolis
The METRO system has not only made it easy to travel between Bloomington, downtown Minneapolis, downtown St. Paul and a handful of Twin Cities neighborhoods, but it has also encouraged neighborhood growth along its stops. East of Hiawatha are quiet neighborhoods filled with craftsman bungalows and hidden treasures such as the Riverview Theater, known for its classic movie house space, cheap seats and popcorn made with real butter. Then there are areas like Nicollet Avenue (known as Eat Street), where you can dine on top-notch food at Nighthawks, from-scratch cooking at Blackbird, sushi at Kyatchi, gastro pub fare at Pat’s Tap, or a Latin favorite at Hola Arepa. When entertaining out of town guests, make sure to bring them to Minnehaha Regional Park. Not only does it have winding trails to a 53-foot waterfall, it also features the historic Longfellow House where visitors can learn a bit of Minneapolis history and get information on the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile scenic tour through the city via car, bicycle or foot.

Uptown
Outdoorsy types flock to this bustling and green corner of Minneapolis where the Chain of Lakes—a series of four lakes with 13 miles of paved biking and walking trails—takes center stage. Unique entertainment options such as the Uptown Art Fair ensure there’s always something going on in one of the most active Twin Cities neighborhoods. Throw in some exceptional eateries such as Libertine, The Lowry, Coup d’Etat and Stella’s Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar to this diverse neighborhood, and it’s easy to see why this neighborhood is so popular.

Warehouse District
One of Minneapolis’ oldest neighborhoods has had a serious facelift and a new breath of life over the past several years. Similar to the North Loop, old, beat-up warehouses have been transformed—and continue to be transformed—into high-rise luxury condos, while others now house some of the cities’ hottest new restaurants. The “heart” of downtown can also be found here. Nightclubs and bars are about as common in these streets and avenues as snow is during a Minnesota winter. Fans can make pit stops at Cowboy Jack’s, Brothers Bar & Grill and Shout House Dueling Pianos before dancing their hearts out during a night out on the town.

St. Paul

Cathedral Hill
While officially known as Ramsey Hill, locals often refer to this neighborhood as Cathedral Hill because of its proximity to the beautiful and iconic Cathedral of Saint Paul. This stretch of land might just don the crown for the prettiest line of storefronts in the Twin Cities. Ivy-covered facades and stunning outdoor patios add splashes of green and character that any sidewalk stroller will appreciate. Visit The Happy Gnome and sample any of their 89 beers on tap, and don’t forget to dine under the lights at W.A. Frost’s gorgeous outdoor patio.

Grand Avenue
Truly a gem among Twin Cities neighborhoods, Grand Avenue in St. Paul was named one of the prettiest in America by Forbes, and it is easy to see why. This expansive 30-block strip is filled to the brim with beautiful architecture featuring mansions, brownstones and Victorians, and shops and restaurants are accented by plenty of greenery outside their doors. After you have worked up an appetite from all your shopping (don’t miss Bibelot), satisfy it with a wood-fired slice from Punch Neapolitan Pizza, and polish it off with a piece of pie or scoop of ice cream from Grand Ole Creamery. Grand Old Day—St. Paul’s hugely popular summer kickoff festival—is also held here the first weekend of June.

Highland Park
It feels like stepping into a photograph: Single family homes dating from the 1920s and ’30s line the streets along Highland Park, and around the corner, the 1940s Highland Theater shows modern releases. Situated between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Highland Park has managed to become historic and contemporary simultaneously. Mississippi River Boulevard offers beautiful trails to run along. The Highland Festival takes place every summer, with three days of live music, food and amusement rides. The sense of community is evident in local restaurant favorites like Casper’s & Runyon’s Nook and Joan’s in the Park.

St. Paul Cathedral. Image by Erica Loeks

Lowertown
What was once the port of entry to the Mississippi River and warehouse district in the 1800s is now one of St. Paul’s most cherished arts-infused neighborhoods. Mears Park, an oasis in the city, plays host to the weekly summer concert series Music in Mears, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and is a workplace getaway for lunch hour excursions. While you’re here, grab your glove and some friends and head over to CHS Field, home of amateur baseball team the Saint Paul Saints. You might even be lucky enough to snag more than a foul ball, as funny man and co-owner Bill Murray has been known to work the ticket booth. Across the street from CHS Field is the Saint Paul Farmers Market—a must-visit for lovers of locally grown grub and groceries.

Payne-Phalen
Restaurateurs are looking to revive this St. Paul neighborhood. There’s Ward 6, a neighborhood pub that’s mastered the fine line between being both adult- and kid-friendly, Cook St. Paul, which serves up American-style diner food as well as a smattering of Korean dishes, and Tongue in Cheek, offering accessible fine dining, all of which have people flocking to St. Paul’s east side.

Upper Landing
Along the north side of the Mississippi River across from Harriet Island, Upper Landing is a picturesque location just west of the heart of St. Paul. By connecting downtown to the river, Upper Landing offers a city lifestyle with plenty of green space. Upper Landing Park is a relaxing running and walking place for visitors and residents alike filled with greenery and art. This neighborhood offers great views of the Cathedral of Saint Paul, Harriet Island and the State Capitol. A short walk will lead you to downtown St. Paul’s restaurants and theaters, or you can ride a bike on the Samuel H. Morgan Trail alongside the river.

West 7th and Selby Avenue
This foodie haven is filled with enough mouthwatering fare to fill even the biggest appetites. Red Cow flips some of the best burgers around, and Bon Vie supplies palate-dazzling breakfast and brunches. This little piece of Saint Paul isn’t just for your taste buds, however. The area offers two golf courses with lush greens and pristine fairways, and West 7th Street is where you can find the occasional street party, growing art scene and Summit Brewery—St. Paul’s first craft brewery.

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