Head north to the other twin cities

Head north to the other twin cities

By Debra Karplus

Whatever the season, there is much to do in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

From Champaign-Urbana, there are several ways to make this trip, whether for a long weekend or an extended vacation.

American Airlines makes several daily flights from Willard Airport to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport via Chicago.

Amtrak's Empire Builder route makes a daily eight-hour trip from Chicago to St. Paul. The majority of the trip is through Wisconsin; enjoy a cooked-to-order sumptuous dinner in the dining car while viewing the lush greenery of the dairy state.

Or make the drive, approximately eight hours from Champaign, courtesy of Interstate 94.

The weather in the twin cities shouldn't scare you. Summers are not unlike those in central Illinois. Winters tend to be a bit colder and snowier, but the locals are skilled at finding much to do during the colder months, and you will, too.

There are many places to stay and interesting eateries in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Choose any of the downtown hotels, familiar motels around the cities or rent a cottage or cabin outside of the twin cities for a more rustic visit.

St. Paul and Minneapolis have numerous places for casual or fine dining. Walleye is popular; be sure to stop at Mac's Fish and Chips to eat in this quaint spot in St. Paul for a fried walleye dinner. Also, try some ice cream at Izzy's.

The 10,000 lakes in Minnesota offer recreation year-round.

Fishing and ice fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing, jet skiing and other water sports are available to those who enjoy outdoor recreation.

There also are activities along the St. Croix River, the river that separates Minnesota and Wisconsin, such as river boat tours, both short and longer rides

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a great stop. Ride a bicycle around Lake Como or enjoy an evening stroll along the path.Have a glass of wine, a cup of coffee or a light meal in the pavilion as you enjoy one of the free evening concerts during the warmer season.

And if you do crave more outdoor recreation, horseback riding and golf can be enjoyed around the twin cities.

There are more than just lakes.

Be sure to visit the weekend farmers' market in downtown St. Paul. Or head outside the twin cities to Stillwater for scenery and shops. And if you do enjoy shopping, a visit to The Mall of America in Minneapolis can be great fun on a day when weather is inclement.

St. Paul, often described as the most livable city in America, also is the state capital. You might want to visit the Capitol Building and compare it to ours in Springfield.

And, if you enjoy an occasional adventure at a casino, there are three near the twin cities. Take a drive or hop on a bus for an afternoon of blackjack, video poker, slots or other table games.

The twin cities of Minnesota offer a perfect planned or spontaneous getaway. Add Minnesota to your list of places you must visit soon.

Debra Karplus is an occupational therapist and freelance writer who lives in Champaign.

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