Minneapolis, Minnesota (CNN) — Like most Midwesterners, Minnesotans hate to brag, but more and more, they have good reason to do just that.
The modern Minneapolis/St. Paul area has become a hot spot for culture, design, food and fun in the USA. Looking to score some winning travel there? Then check out this line-up:
Downtown Minneapolis: Center of the action
The renowned Guthrie Theater is an architectural landmark and a first-class performance venue.
Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
US Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings' home, gleams with glass and metal and sports a cantilevered corner that resembles the prow of a Nordic longboat. Admire the behemoth structure from the outside or take in a game if you're in town during football season. Although the stadium dominates the city skyline, it's not the only noteworthy building in town. Check out the Guthrie Theater (with stunning views of St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River), the Wells Fargo Center (which glows like an ice palace at night) and the IDS Center -- all a short walk from the stadium. Staying at the swank Marquette Hotel (in the IDS) or the chic W, formerly the historic Foshay Tower, puts you near Nicollet Mall, the city's central pedestrian mall. For entertainment, you'll have to wander west to Hennepin Avenue, where the State, Orpheum or Pantages theaters regularly feature touring shows and big-name entertainers. Prince devotees and other music fans should check the roster at First Avenue, a former Greyhound bus depot turned night club and the Purple One's favorite place to play.
The North Loop: Millennial mecca
The Freehouse is a go-to for craft brews.
Photo Courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
Once a collection of derelict warehouses, Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood has become the city's white-hot creative center in recent years. It has attracted inventive chefs, daring mixologists, niche retailers and throngs of stylish millennials seeking the perfect Instagram fodder.
Among the neighborhood's newest additions is the Hewing, a boutique hotel with a distinctly Scando-Minnesota design vibe and a reception staff that gladly welcomes even guests traveling with dogs. Menswear aficionados will be stunned by the carefully curated selection at MartinPatrick3, and Russell+Hazel is stocked with paper goods if you need a journal to record your time in Minneapolis the old-fasioned way. Happy hour? Try Freehouse for craft brews. Nightcap? The libations at Parlour usually include such exotic ingredients as beet juice, smoked figs, sesame oil and chocolate bitters.
Uptown and the lakes: Shop, stroll and sunbathe
Nicknamed the City of Lakes, Minneapolis contains more than a dozen lakes within its boundaries. The most prominent include Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska (formerly Calhoun, but recently renamed to honor the native people who once lived on its shores).
Year-round, the lakes are a hive of activity -- drawing skaters and cross-country skiers in winter, cyclists and runners in summer. It's also a beauty to behold. Stop at nearby Lunds & Byerlys for some provisions and have a picnic. Or visit late and watch the sunset. Nature not your thing? Nearby, at the nexus of Hennepin and Lake are a slew of shops -- including the bookstore Magers & Quinn, a North Face, an Apple store and even a Penzeys Spices. Film buffs can catch the latest art house offerings at the Uptown/Lagoon theaters. And a variety of restaurants, such as Barbette and Chino Latino, offer outside seating when the sun's out and temperatures are mild.
This is typically only true of Minneapolis for a few months out of the year, so take advantage of it while you can.
St. Paul: Become a kid again
Minneapolis stands shoulder to shoulder with Minnesota's capital, St. Paul. Though they are called "Twin Cities," they are far from identical siblings.
Minneapolis can be raucous. St. Paul is known for its respectability and reserve.
The past is revered in St. Paul, as demonstrated by the city's upkeep of its historic landmarks, such as the Cathedral of St. Paul and Landmark Center, an old post office that looks like a red-granite castle. Another reason to visit is to see the Minnesota State Capitol, a beautiful building designed by famed native Cass Gilbert and recently polished to near perfection during a long renovation. The Bell Museum of Natural History reopened its doors recently at a new location on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. The Bell's diorama displays, depicting ducks in midflight, muskies midgulp and foxes midleap, have always engaged people of every age.