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Illinois
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Location Location Location

Hi,

Need a little guidance/advice. We'll be visiting the area for 5 nights at the end of April. My wife's attending a conference at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul. We'll have a car and I don't mind driving her to/from the conference each day. The hotel conference rate is quite steep.

Other than going to a Twins game one evening, we don't have any specific plans for the 2 full days we'll have together. Are we better off with a hotel in downtown St. Paul, Minneapolis, MOA area, or ?? I'll probably use Priceline or Hotwire.

Thanks in advance. Dave

Dallas, Texas
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1. Re: Location Location Location

This will somewhat depend on what you want to see while you're here. Let me mention very generally some of the attractions and pros/cons of your locations:

St. Paul: Obviously convenient for the conference and you won't have to spend as much time driving for the conference. St. Paul attractions will lean towards historical and museums - Science Museum, MN History Museum, James J. Hill House (railroad magnate), St. Paul Cathedral, The Capitol, the Summit Brewery Tour. There will also be neighborhoods to check out such as the Grand Avenue area known for boutique shops and restaurants. You'll find options for dining but perhaps more limited than Minneapolis. Keep in mind St. Paul, at night and if the Wild or a concert is not playing at XCel Center, tends to have pretty limited nightlife so you may end up "crossing the river" to Minneapolis if that's your interest.

Minneapolis: Plenty of hotel options, more nightlife and more restaurant choices, but can also get more busy and traffic. There will also be more nature options such as the Mississippi River walkway, a number of lakes to explore, and Minnehaha Park with its in-town waterfall and park area (might be a little cool in April, however, for nature options). I think you'll also have more theater options if that's your interest. Best known would be the Guthrie Theater along the river. Museum options would include Mill City (highlighting the cities development as a milling capital), Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center (contemporary art).

Keep in mind the two downtowns are about 10 miles apart, so it's not as though you can't get to one or the other - just a matter of time investment.

MOA/Bloomington - Attraction here is, of course, the MOA. If the wife and/or you are shoppers, it's the place to be. No shortage of hotels and freeway access to St. Paul is reasonable (though you can have traffic jams). Downside is beyond the Mall, there's little else for attractions. Restaurants near the mall, other than perhaps a few in the mall, will be your standard chains - which isn't necessarily bad but if you want something different or unique you'll be driving into the cities.

I hope that helps!

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2. Re: Location Location Location

My question is whether the conference is the entire 5 nights? If not, then I would recommend splitting the time. Stay in downtown St. Paul for the time the conference is "on", and switch to downtown Minneapolis for the rest.

Dallas, Texas
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3. Re: Location Location Location

If you don't mind moving hotels, BK's suggestion is a nice one - give you a flavor of both cities. They have different feels about them so good to experience both if you can.

Illinois
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4. Re: Location Location Location

The conference is the last 3 of the 5 nights. I never considered splitting the 5 nights. I'll need to think about that.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do on my own. Just starting to research that aspect. I checked Guthrie's calendar. Nothing of interest. Mill City & Walker are definitely on the to-do list. I'll never pass up a brewery tour. Any other factory tours in the area? We like local/neighborhood theater.

Shopping is not part of my genetic makeup. My only thought of staying out by MOA would be that room rates might be better along with free parking.

Keep the comments/suggestions comings. Thanks

Houston, Texas
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5. Re: Location Location Location

Well, if you go the Priceline or Hotwire route, you probably already know this, but visit www.betterbidding.com and www.biddingfortravel.com first. If price is your only criteria, you can have a 4* or better for very reasonable $$.

Illinois
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6. Re: Location Location Location

Hmmm - splitting hotels is sounding better. Since we're flying in to MSP - we can take light rail downtown. No need for a car for Minneapolis. Everything appears to be accessible via public transit.

Rent a car downtown when we leave for St. Paul and use the car for driving related destinations. Return the car to MSP.

Yep - familiar with betterbidding & biddingfortravel.

Edited: 14 February 2011, 20:39
Saint Paul...
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7. Re: Location Location Location

Minneapolis Institute of Arts is great option and it's free. There a quite a bit of smaller theaters in Mpls/St. Paul...Penumbra, Theater in the Round, Mixed Blood, etc...

Illinois
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8. Re: Location Location Location

Cool. I'll check them out. Thanks.

Dallas, Texas
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9. Re: Location Location Location

Surly Brewing...http://www.surlybrewing.com/brewery/tours.html, they do tours on Fridays, it so appears...

Note they are in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis - but absolutely delicious beer.

Local theaters - no shortage in Minneapolis. City claims more theaters per capita other than New York. Near Guthrie/Mill City is Theater in the Round and Southern Theater (in the neighborhood known as Seven Corners or the West Bank - being it is also basically the West Bank of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. I would also have suggested the Weisman Art Museum on campus, but they are remodeling until fall.

You might want to check out the Minneapolis Visitors Association website: www.meetminneapolis.com. They'll have links to theaters, restaurants, hotels, etc.

As far as cost, you will get the advantage of free parking and likely less expensive hotels. You'll also spend more in gas to drive back and forth, not to mention the value of your time. Only you can decide what is more important, of course, but I'd suggest if you can find the right deal to try staying downtown. I've done the stay in the burbs deal when in Chicago, and I remember ending up either being committed to being in public all day in downtown or spend literally hours to take the El to go rest in the hotel. Remember, typically on Friday and Saturday night downtown hotels tend to empty out so prices drop considerably as compared to Sunday - Thursday.

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10. Re: Location Location Location

Another consideration to staying in either of the downtowns would be parking. That said, I wouldn't want to stay in Bloomington. Food is about as great as you would expect from the MOA, as would be the night life