Combined Suggestions, Minneapolis
Sadly, we're without the convenient subway systems that many large cities, both in the U.S. and abroad, enjoy but in 2004 we FINALLY got our first light rail line!! YAY! The route is currently limited but it's the most economical way from downtown, uptown or near the university to the Mpls/St. Paul airport. It also goes to Mall of America - an option for killing time if stuck here on a long layover or delayed flight. A couple of bucks - and as many minutes - and you're there.
The attached website has all of the information you need about route, schedules and fares. It also includes info on city buses but I don't recommend them for sightseeing as routes can be convoluted and you can waste a LOT of time getting from place to place. Our points of interest are somewhat spread out so to do more than just hop from the airport to the mall or downtown/uptown areas, you'll need a car. Cabs are the most expensive alternative to a car and not recommended for, say, the long hike from downtown to the Minnesota Zoo but hey, if you have unlimited funds....
There are many, many ways to get here.
1. There's by car
2. There's by train. I love riding the Amtrak. It generally pretty comfortable and about half the time you have both seats to yourself. I've become very able to sleep in extremely unusual and strange positions =)
3. There's by bus, although I recommend avoiding that, Although yopu meet 'interesting' people that way...with 'interesting' smells to them
4. By plane. This is where I usually fly out & into whenever I travel. In fact, this picture is of my sister and I waiting to fly to Denver a couple years ago. The airport is set up in an H formation and it always seem that my flights are on opposite side of the airport on the occasions I flight from Rochester and transfer here.
The easiest way to get to Minneapolis is to fly here. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Intl. Airport is the home of Northwest Airlines and the airport has many nonstops to locations around the country. If you want airport information you can go to the Official MSP Airport Website.
If you have a lot of time I recommend taking Amtrak's Empire Builder train from Chicago, Seattle, or Portland. It is a once daily service but very relaxing and well worth it. The Twin Cities can easily be added to a trip out west to the Pacific Northwest or a trip to Chicago (coming from the west).
Unfortunately the Minneapolis/St. Paul area is not an easy city to get around. The best way is by car. There are a lot of buses but, as with as bus system, it's not easy for vistors. Minneapolis is constructing a light-rail route from downtown Minneapolis to the airport and continuing to the Mall of America. When done, by 2004, the city will be much easier to navagate.
There are a lot of convenient bicycle paths (most along nice parkways) that connect parks, lakes, and downtown Minneapolis. St. Paul has some paths but not as many.
Unfortunately, Minneapolis does not have a very good, easy form of transportation. We do have buses but they usually run at awful times, aren't going to convenient locations, or are packed. Stick to walking around downtown or taking cabs when necessary. A rental car would be the best idea, but I have heard people from out of town complain about driving here especially in the winter due to ice and snow (see photo).
Unfortunately there is not an overall friendly mass transportation system to move you about the entire metro area. If you are in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, you are able to ride the bus with relative ease. However, if you are traveling about outside of the city in the suburbs you ought to have a car readily available if you plan on moving about because that is really your only option. The entire metropolitan area has one of the highest amount of freeways per capita within the United States, so you should have no problem finding a freeway to transport you from place to place. Additionally, there are no toll-ways to pay.
The biggest problem with traffic is in the summer months when construction is at it peak. In which case they are busy repairing the beat up roads from the previous winter driving. So expect traffic delays and/or detours.
The picture below is of the Uptown District in Southwest Minneapolis (right by my house).
Most flight arrive at Minneapolis International Airport
I don't have much experience with the public transportation system. Driving can be difficult during Rush rour, I'd suggest avaoiding the freeways.
There are miles and miles of two lane, divided bike trails thru Minneapolis ,than can take you to various lakes and parks
If you have to be stuck anywhere in the U.S. for a delayed or cancelled flight, this is the place. Travel + Leisure readers voted it the "cheeriest and most welcoming airport in the nation” in 2012 with high marks for cleanliness, design, amenities, ease of check-in and security. This is the largest port in a six-state area, the 17th busiest in the United States, and serves our Air Force National Guard and Air Force Reserves and well as civilian transport. There are two terminals: Lindbergh (Terminal 1) which services 14 larger domestic and international airlines, and Humphrey (Terminal 2) which handles 5 charter and budget lines. You can find a complete list here:
From the airport, public transit is available to downtown Minneapolis via the Blue Line Light Rail System…
…and sometime in 2014 visitors to the capitol can transfer at Minneapolis Metrodome Station to downtown St. Paul on the new Green Line:
Nearby Bloomington and Eagan hotels often provide free shuttles, and taxis, rental cars and bus service are available to other points around the area.
A few key points:
• It is much larger than most first-time travelers expect it to be: allow for adequate time between connecting flights!!
• Almost all amenities (shopping, restaurants, etc) are beyond the security checkpoints - which reduces the wandering about of shifty characters looking for carelessly attended wallets and carry-ons
• Travelers with long layovers can stow their bags (lockers are available) and hop the Blue Line from either terminal for a 12-minute ride to Mall of America; the largest shopping center in the United States. See the Metro Transit URL provided above.
• A designated quiet area is located on the Mezzanine Level overlooking the main shopping area (just beyond the security checkpoints)
• Passenger assistance is available throughout Terminal 1 (Lindbergh) and offers interpretive, special needs and disability services, and emergency infant supplies.
• Play areas for little people are located on Concourse C at Terminal 1, and on level 2 at Terminal 2:
• There is no smoking anywhere within either terminal, including lounges and bars, and only in designated outdoor locations near entries and exits.
Lastly, we’re very proud of the hundreds of volunteers of the Airport Foundation who give of their time to staff traveler assistance stations, patrol the concourses to help confused guests, provide musical entertainment and donate works of art for rotating exhibits, and generally be the first friendly faces to welcome visitors to our Twin Cities.
More details about MSP in subsequent reviews.