Situated in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, Minnesota became the 32nd state back in May of 1858. Known as the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes' due to the huge number of lakes all around the state, Minnesota covers an area of 86,936 square miles, making it the 12th biggest state by area, and has an estimated population of 5.57 million, making it the 22nd most populous state.
Minnesota is known for offering a high quality of life to its residents, with the state also ranking highly in terms of average citizen wealth and education. Over half of Minnesota's residents live in the state's two biggest cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, also known as the Twin Cities. Saint Paul is the capital city of Minnesota, while Minneapolis is the biggest city in the state. Here are some additional details and facts for the largest cities in Minnesota. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
5 of the Largest Cities in Minnesota
- Minneapolis, Photo: stevengaertner/stock.adobe.com
- Saint Paul, Photo: PhotoImage/stock.adobe.com
- Rochester, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
- Duluth, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
- Bloomington, Photo: jimmyostgard/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of andreykr - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Minnesota Orchestra
The Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis is housed in Orchestra Hall and has presented musical performances to more than 10 million concert goers since opening in 1974. Orchestra Hall was designed by Cyril M Harris to have excellent acoustics with more than 100 large cubes on the auditorium ceiling that disperse sound throughout the hall naturally. The all wood stage and flooring were built to enhance the vibrations from sound with balconies that are engineering at an angle that reflects the sound to provide an unrivaled aural experience for visitors.
Built in 1974, Orchestra Hall has been the home for half of the Orchestra directors and has welcomed such acclaimed guest conducts as Yo-Yo Ma and Aaron Copeland. A major renovation of the hall was completed in 2013 that refreshed the auditorium décor, expanded the lobby and box office as well as added a backstage facility for actors and stage crew. The Hall also improved its handicap accessibility and added more comfortable seating for patrons.
The Minnesota Orchestra is a Grammy Award-winning groups that has existed for over 100 years and is ranked as one of the best symphonic ensembles in the United States. The orchestra has performed at venues around the world and been featured in radio and television events, and participates in educational programming for the Minneapolis community. The Orchestra was founded in 1903 and began touring in 1907 with a debut at Carnegie Hall in 1912. The Orchestra changed names from Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra to Minnesota Orchestra in 1968 and regularly performs for live audiences upwards of 300,000 people. Minnesota Orchestra has been awarded by the American Society of Composers 20 times for their iconic programming and commitment to American music.
Not only does the Minnesota Orchestra call this hall home, but several other musical acts perform here annually. Concerts featuring jazz performances, music from around the world, brass septets, violin concertos, and many other musical programs are ticketed at the Hall. Concert goers can purchase tickets online through the Minnesota Orchestra website or visit the Box Office at Orchestra Hall. Details on performances and schedules can be found on the events calendar.
Ticket packages are available that allow patrons to purchase tickets for multiple performances at a discounted rate. Packages are also available for concert series and season passes. Ticket prices vary depending on seating selection.
In addition to year-round concert programming, there are a few special events that patrons can look forward to annually. Orchestra Hall can also be rented for grand and intimate private events such as weddings, performances, parties, seminars, fundraisers, and more. The staff at Orchestra Hall is able to provide event planning and catering services for onsite events with indoor and outdoor venue spaces available.
Holiday Concert Series- Every December, Orchestra Hall produces a series of concerts meant to get visitors into the Holiday mood including scores from blockbuster Hollywood films, Christmas Concertos, special guests such as Rufus Wainwright, seasonal music from around the globe, and live performances of Academy Award-winning theatrical scores.
Marathons- These series performances feature the musical scores of some of the most famous composers is history. This event kicks off on New Year’s Eve and continues into January with guest performers and composers leading the symphony.
Pint of Music- An off-campus event that includes free beer samples during micro-concerts performed casually at different breweries around Minneapolis. This bar hop is especially popular and includes 6 different concerts with the featured brewery serving from the lobby bars at the Orchestra Hall as well.
Oh+- Pre and Post concert activities that guests enjoy in the lobby at Orchestra Hall. Concert previews bring musicians and artists together with local experts in a forum lecture experience that engages with the music in an interactive way for patrons. A Baker’s Wife Pastry Shop provides refreshments and coffee for the events.
Jazz in the Auditorium- The Target Atrium Series presents jazz concerts that honor the timelessness of Jazz, blues, and spiritual music and songs.
Orchestra Hall is a premier venue for classrooms and educational experiences through music. There are several programs at the hall that bring music to life for students and the community. Fantasy Camps, Summer Camps, a young composer program and scholarship opportunities are also available.
Symphonic Adventures- A one hour long symphonic concert designed for high school students to learn about key concepts in symphony orchestras with opportunities for students to hear live music, ask questions and interact with performers.
Young People Concerts- Especially created for elementary students, this concert series is molded around the concepts of timbre, tone, and the four families of instruments. These performances are interactive. Kinder Koncertz are available for preschool and kindergarten aged children.
1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55403, Phone: 612-371-5600
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Attraction Spotlight: American Swedish Institute
The American Swedish Institute is an arts organization in Minneapolis whose campus includes the Turnblad Mansion and The Nelson Cultural Center. The Institute encourages people to share experiences in cultural and artistic links to Sweden.
The Turnblad Mansion was donated to the American Institute for Swedish Art, Literature and Science in 1929 by the Turnblad family. This institute later became The American Swedish Institute. The Nelson Cultural Center was added to the campus in 2012 as a 34,000-square foot facility for American Swedish Institute. The Cultural Center is named after Carl and Nancy Nelson who donated the funding for the center. The Nelson Cultural Center is also home to Gustavas Adolphus College and is a Sweden inspired design aesthetic.
Swan Turnblad, owner of a Swedish language newspaper had the home built for his family and resided in the home from 1908-1929. Construction began in 1903 and spanned 6 lots. Along with the mansion, the family also donated the post building, an additional residence, and the carriage house where their servants lived on site, to the City of Minneapolis.
In addition to the historic mansion, there are many art collections displayed and preserved within the mansion museum. Exhibits are rotated and on view for limited periods of time. Visitors can browse the American Swedish Institute website for detailed information on current exhibitions, collections on current view, and upcoming exhibits.
Material Collections- Over 7,000 objects are included in this collection that represents contemporary Sweden and the historic significance between Sweden and the United States. Fine and decorative arts, textile arts, prints, Glass works, paintings, ceramics, and works by Swedish and Swedish-American Artists are the focus of this collection that reflects the daily life of Swedish Americans and businesses.
Wallenberg Library and Archives- This library contains books on Swedish culture and history, immigration records, literature regarding arts, media, literature, music, and food including photographs, recipes, manuscripts, and audio recordings. Materials are noncirculating with access available by appointment.
Touring the Turnblad Mansion
Explore brochures are available at the ticket desk and include information on exhibits featured in the Turnblad Mansion 33 themed galleries. Self-guided tours are included with admission.
Public Tours- For visitors interested in guided tours, public tours are offered at 1:30pm Tuesday through Saturday and are included in admission. These tours are first come first serve and include the history of the Turnblad Family and architectural history of the Mansion.
Ring-a-Tour- This audio tour is available through dialing a special number on your cell phone at designated exhibits to gain more in-depth knowledge on certain works.
Group Tours- Private tours can be arranged for groups of 10-60 for holiday parties, corporate team building, social and community groups, clubs, organizations, or parties.
The American Swedish Institute is committed to offering programing related to Swedish culture and heritage through workshops, special events, classes and family programming.
Adult Language and Culture Class- Swedish and Finnish Languages are taught in this class for adults. The program is offered for 9 weeks with different classes depending on fluency level. Registration is required. All classes are taught by professional educators. Literature and Swedish history courses are also available.
Book Club- ASI offers a book discussion group that meets monthly to discuss Swedish literature and novels.
Swedish Genealogy Workshops- instructor will lead participants through discovering their Swedish ancestors and history through technology, written records, archives and more. Registration can be done online.
Nordic Craft Workshops- These workshops are one day events that teach participants who to create Nordic crafts such as spoon carvings, linoleum block printing, plate making, and watercolors.
Nordic Table Workshops- Learn how to make traditional Swedish foods such as cheesecakes, Swedish Soup, Rye Bread, and others.
Svenska Skolan- This language class for children is offered on Saturday mornings for kids age 4-13. Games, music, and art participation are offered during the program that meets 7 times per season.
Teen Group- Teens age 13-18 can take part in this Swedish Art and culture club for students and families.
Kids at the Castle- Offered every third Friday, this program is open before museum hours and offers children a fun, interactive experience with arts and crafts, storytelling, and music. Admission cost is per family, registration is not required.
Summer Day Camps- Day camp offerings are available in July and August for children entering grades 1-5. Campers must bring a lunch and register before camp sessions begin. Camps include Viking cooking, Pippi Camp, Viking Camp, and Cultural themes.
ASI Lucia Choir- A youth choir that performs seasonally for the Minneapolis community. Swedish Language knowledge is not necessary with instruction being incorporated into rehearsals. Choir registration opens each fall for students.
2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55407, Phone: 612-871-4907
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Attraction Spotlight: Minnesota Zoo
Located in Apple Valley, Minnesota approximately 18 miles from Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Minnesota Zoo is an American Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoo facility housing more than 5,300 animals within six unique themed exhibit zones. The vision for the Minnesota Zoo dates back to the 1960s, when local conservations embarked on a campaign to find a home for a comprehensive naturalistic zoo facility in the Twin Cities area.
Initial studies were conducted about the feasibility of expanding Saint Paul’s Como Zoo, but the facility was found to be too small to host the type of natural habitat exhibits envisioned for the zoo project. In 1969, Minnesota’s legislature created the Minnesota Zoological Board for the purposes of developing a new zoo facility, and the following year, a 500-acre plot of land in nearby Apple Valley was donated for the construction of the new facility. After four years of construction, the Minnesota Zoo opened to the public on May 22, 1978 as the Minnesota Zoological Garden, featuring 1,200 animals across 238 species. The zoo was renowned at its opening for its unique exhibit design, housing animals grouped together by natural ecosystem habitats rather than isolated by species, a format that many zoos across America have followed since. Since its opening, the zoo has been the recipient of a number of awards from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, including the Bean Award, the International Conservation Award, and top exhibit, design, and marketing excellence awards.
Permanent Exhibits and Animals
Today, the Minnesota Zoo is operated as an agency of the state of Minnesota and financially supported by government funding and visitor admission and membership sales. As a partner organization of the International Species Information System and the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, it is recognized around the world as a leading zoological facility, known for its extensive education, conservation, and animal reintroduction programming. Since its opening, the zoo has hosted more than 36 million visitors, reaching a visitorship of more than 1.29 million annual guests by 2017.
The zoo’s 485-acre campus is divided into eight exhibit and trail areas and features the largest indoor interconnected zoo exhibit area in the United States. Native Minnesota animals are highlighted in the AZA-award-winning Medtronic Minnesota Trail, which was fully renovated and updated in 2007. A quarter-mile-long northwoods-style trail showcases 15 exhibit spaces for animals such as woodpeckers, pumas, Canadian lynx, coyotes, and gray wolves. A trailhead lodge at the entrance to the exhibit is also home to smaller native animals, including salamander, turtle, and frog species. Animals native to areas north of the 45th parallel are contained within the Northern Trail exhibit, including amur tigers, bison, gazelles, musk oxes, trumpeter swans, and Canadian geese. The Wells Fargo Family Farm exhibit, added to the zoo in 2000, also allows visitors to have up-close experiences with domestic American farm animals such as pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and horses.
At the Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit, opened in 2008, visitors can observe animals native to Russia’s Pacific coastal areas in a 2.5-acre natural environment, including grizzly bears, sea otters, and wild boars. A Tropics Trail exhibit mimics the natural ecosystems of a number of biodiversity hotspots at risk of destruction, including the Amazon rainforest, and showcases animals such as the Komodo dragon, tree kangaroo, red river hog, red panda, and white-cheeked gibbon. A 1,100,000-gallon Discovery Bay offers touch tidepool opportunities with marine invertebrates such as stingrays, sharks, and sea stars in a natural estuary environment framed by a large mural entitled “Our Ocean Family.” Snow monkeys and penguins are also showcased at the zoo’s South Entry Trail.
In addition to wildlife exhibit areas, the Minnesota Zoo also offers film showings at the Great Clips IMAX Theatre, the largest IMAX screen in the state. The Weesner Family Amphitheater is also home to daily presentations of the Wings Financial World of Birds Show, which showcase the natural free-flight talents of bald eagles, snowy owls, and other international birds of prey.
Ongoing Programs and Education
As a leading wildlife conservation facility in the United States, the Minnesota Zoo is internationally known for its breeding and reintroduction programs for species such as southeastern Asian tigers, trumpeter swans, wild horses, and bluebirds. The zoo is a partner facility with Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon Kambas National Park through the Adopt-a-Park program, a partnership that has served as a model for similar adoption programs worldwide. Conservation efforts in partnership with the University of Minnesota have also conducted notable field research on moose and butterfly species.
A variety of educational programming is offered for children and adults, including curriculum-incorporated field trips, overnight experiences, and Zoomobile distance learning programs for elementary and secondary students. Summer and year-round camps are offered for children and adults, along with Wild Days of Play family nature events and ecological travel opportunities for high school and college students. Public special events held throughout the year include a World Speaker’s lecture series, an after-hours Music in the Zoo concert series, a Beastly Ball annual fundraiser, and a Walk the Wild Lights holiday event.
13000 Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley, MN 55124, Phone: 952-431-9200
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