Minneapolis, Minnesota: Population = 410,939 (part of the Twin Cities Metro area with about 3,500,000), elevation = 950 feet, average January low temp = 6.3, Average July high temp = 87, average sunny days = 198, annual snowfall = 54.5”, annual rainfall = 34.2”, air quality index = 85.1, water quality index = 27, comfort index = 48
The road from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis runs through mostly farm country. As we cross Southern Minnesota, we start to see low, rolling hills, covered with crops. I wish I would have had my camera ready for the quintessential Minnesota photo we witnessed: looking over vast tracts of farmland, soybeans to the left, corn to the right, following a pickup towing a fishing boat. Perfect.
We had an unexpected trip highlight along the way. Rolling along the interstate we caught up with three semi trucks with trailers more than twice as long as normal trailers. They were hauling the blades for a wind turbine. Those things look pretty big, up there spinning in the breeze. Up close they are gigantic.
Finally, we top the hill in Burnsville and see a cluster of skyscrapers on the horizon: Minneapolis. Before we pulled up stakes and set off, we were residents of Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis to the Southwest. For the next three weeks, we are living in South Minneapolis, in a cozy neighborhood with tall tunnels of urban forest overhead, not far from big freeways and huge shopping. Besides all the family and friends we want to catch up with, we are also going to try to visit lots of spots on the TripAdvisor “Things To Do” and “Places To Eat” lists. Funny how a person can live in a town forever and never get around to seeing the highlights.
Minneapolis is called the “City Of Lakes”. There are several large lakes within the city; Lake of the Isles, Cedar, Calhoun, Harriet, Nokomis, and Hiawatha. There are also many smaller lakes, ponds, and rivers, including the Mississippi. If you can’t find a place to launch a kayak, you are not looking.
This is a major metro area so the list of things to do goes on and on. There are museums, sports arenas, theaters, concert halls, golf courses, art galleries, parks, and, of course, thousands of restaurants for all tastes and ethnics.
Downtown Minneapolis has something most cities don’t: a skyway system. These connect 69 city blocks and total about 11 miles of walkways. When the summers get steamy or the winters get frigid, the skyways turn most of downtown into one huge air conditioned building. A person can walk for miles, visiting offices, restaurants, banks, and shops, and never go outside.
This is also the home (well, technically Bloomington is) of the Mall Of America. This humongous building houses over 520 shops, 50 restaurants, and an amusement park with everything from a ferris wheel to a roller coaster with a full upside down loop. Future expansion plans are adding even more stores, offices, restaurants, and hotels to the megamall. All they need now is an airport arrivals gate.
As you may imagine, our arrival back in the hometown area has been a joyous occasion for us. There are so many friends and family to meet and hug and catch up with. We are trying take a touristy look at the city too, but that takes a back seat to seeing our favorite people. We will do more exploring next week.
Next up: more of Minneapolis