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Minnesota takes its name from the Dakota word for water, and the state has plenty of it. Its nickname, Land of 10,000 Lakes, is a conservative count: The best-known of the 14,000-plus bodies of water may be the border-crossing Lake of the Woods, the vast expanse of Lake Superior, and Lake Itasca, best known as the source of the Mississippi River. Facing off across that same river, Minnesota's largest city and its state capital, Minneapolis and St. Paul, come together as the Twin Cities.
Here, you'll find fervid sports fans, a beloved craft beer scene, an artists’ community, and the enormous, tax-free shopping paradise of the Mall of America. Despite the reputation for frigid winters in the Upper Midwest, nothing in Minnesota slows down for the snow or ice. When the weather obliges, people flock to skating rinks, ski runs, snowshoe trails, and ice-fishing spots. In summer, the state’s parks fill up with bikers, hikers, and campers, while the boaters, swimmers, and water skiers head to Minnesota’s many waterways.
The Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is the state's largest, busiest airport. In addition to serving destinations all over the country and the world, it acts as a hub for smaller airports across the state. Getting into the Twin Cities from the airport can be done by light rail, rideshare, shuttle, taxi, or rental car. Unless you don't plan to leave downtown Minneapolis, you should rent a car, as public transportation is limited outside of the metropolitan core. Drivers can also cross into Minnesota from Canada at more than a half-dozen entry points. Amtrak trains serve five stations in Minnesota, including St. Paul, as they pass through the state en route between Seattle and Chicago.
All four seasons come on strong in Minnesota, but don't let the incredibly chilly winter keep you away. The icy northern climate brings out the state's best, in the form of bare-chested football fans cheering in subfreezing temperatures, snowy wonderlands for outdoor recreation, and a culture of coziness and community. Spring and fall temperatures vary greatly as the weather shifts from extreme cold to extreme heat. While summers in Minnesota can be excessively warm, they also open up a world of outdoor activities, including boating of all types on its rivers and lakes. Summer also ushers in the king of all statewide events: the Minnesota State Fair.
For two weeks near the end of August, the Twin Cities hosts one of the largest — and arguably the best — state fairs in America. More than 2 million people a year attend the celebration of the state's agriculture, arts, and industry, where they stuff themselves on classic fried fair food, ride the rides, and admire farm animals and equipment.
Stretching along Minnesota’s northern border, this 19,000-acre park includes 1,500 miles of canoe routes and 2,000 campsites. Novice and expert boaters alike flock to the area for paddle-powered adventures, and the occasional chance to see the Northern Lights.
With two major art museums — the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Art Center — plus lots of smaller ones, the Twin Cities offer plenty to look at. Add to that a thriving theater scene and the Paisley Park compound, a living shrine to the late local legend and global pop star.