MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - What is America’s greatest double act? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers? The Blues Brothers?
For residents of the U.S. midwestern state of Minnesota, there is an easy answer - the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Relatively low crime rates, a plethora of lakes and picnic spots, interesting architecture and top-class sports teams make the pair a desirable place to live and to visit - as long as you dodge the wicked cold if you are not into winter sports.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a weekend trip in the area.
5 p.m. - Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which even has tornado shelters in the restrooms, is to the south of both cities.
Plenty of chain hotels line the Interstate nearby but if you stay in downtown Minneapolis there is a modern tram service from the airport (metrotransit.org/metro-system).
Minneapolis is generally livelier and a better bet for hotels than the more staid state capital St. Paul, 20 minutes east by road.
7 p.m. - Dining options abound in downtown Minneapolis, which is dominated by skyscrapers and old warehouses turned into atmospheric bars and restaurants.
The Capital Grille on Hennepin Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares, is an excellent option if you like steaks (here
8.p.m. - This area is also theaterland in Minnesota, with experts saying there are more shows on per week in the Twin Cities than anywhere else in the United States except New York.
The beautifully restored Orpheum Theatre on Hennepin Avenue has a broad range of plays, musicals and events, while the Skyway Theater or the Target Center (normally home of the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team) just down the road offers alternatives. Cinema is also king with the Coen brothers, the well-known U.S. directing duo, hailing from the city.
11.p.m. - A couple of usually packed Irish bars are located nearby to end the evening. Minnesota is also famous for music with Prince and Bob Dylan among those born here.
10 a.m. - Eat breakfast at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop at the IDS Center on Eighth Street in Minneapolis, which many see as the center of town given the indoor foyer acts as a perfect shelter from the winter cold. Potbelly has a remarkable selection of bacon, sausage and egg combos, hence the name. (www.potbelly.com).
If you are there in winter, the IDS Center links to the Skyway system of raised walkways which criss-cross the city and eliminate the need to go out into the cold when shopping or moving around town. The same system is used in St. Paul.
11.a.m. - A short walk away is the Mississippi River, which defines much of the Twin Cities as it snakes between the two. Riverside attractions are few and far between so take a summer picnic trip to one of the many picturesque lakes which surround Minneapolis such as Hiawatha Lake or Lake Cornelia Park.
2 p.m. - As lovely as nature is, there is nothing like a big shopping spree and the Twin Cities boast the Mall of America, which opened in 1992 as the biggest in the United States.
There are 500 stores, a cinema, bars, restaurants, a sea life centre and a sizeable theme park for children in the middle of the giant indoor complex (www.mallofamerica.com/). The Mall is the last stop on the tram from downtown Minneapolis.
6 p.m. - After your shopping bonanza head to the other end of the tram line and catch a game of baseball at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins Major League team (minnesota.twins.mlb.com/). Check on ticket availability and fixtures before going.
This modern baseball park, host of the All-Star game in 2014, has a family atmosphere and superb sightlines and a vast range of fast food and drink outlets for dinner. Try a delicious corn dog. If you want a beer, make sure you have ID as even 30-somethings are challenged.
Matches normally last three-and-a-half hours but the possibility of overtime can mean a late finish.
Remember to take your camera. A shot of the game with the stadium and the skyscrapers of Minneapolis right behind as the sun sets is breathtaking.
9 a.m. - Grab some breakfast at your hotel and head to St. Paul to experience what the second twin has to offer. An extension of the Minneapolis tram is being built so take a taxi, bus or your rental car (although parking can be tricky in the center of both cities).
Start off at St. Paul's State Capitol building, adorned with a golden dome, spy the stylish cathedral on your right and head down the hill and pop into the engaging Minnesota History Center, arguably the state's best museum (here).
11 a.m. - From the History Center head west along Summit Avenue, Minnesota’s most exclusive and one of its oldest streets. It is where the governor’s mansion and many elegant buildings associated with St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald are situated.
Turn back along Grand Avenue towards downtown and you will pass a number of excellent restaurants for lunch such as Cafe Latte, which has a huge selection of desserts (www.cafelatte.com/).
2 p.m. - Once back in downtown St. Paul, check out the glorious interior of the Landmark Center, completed in 1902 and used as a federal courthouse and post office. It is now a cultural center.
3 p.m. - The excellent Science Museum of Minnesota is nearby on the other side of Rice Park, above the large drop down to the Mississippi below.
The museum (www.smm.org/) boasts varying special exhibitions and an omnitheater with a 27-meter domed screen.
5 p.m - If you have time for an early dinner before departing then Red's Savoy Pizza house on Seventh Street (here) is a an experience. There are no windows and the decor fails to brighten up the place but that is half the charm.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith