Minneapolis established in 1867 and St. Paul established a bit earlier in 1854, often referred to as the Twin Cities, share many similarities but also have distinct differences that might sway someone’s preference for living in one city over the other. The downtowns are only 7 miles apart but there are a lot of differences between the two cities and I think a lot of it comes down to “vibe”. Like, maybe “chill” vs “not chill”.
Differences Between Minneapolis and St. Paul (Saint Paul was formerly known as PIGS EYE! Good decision to change that name!):
- Cityscape and Vibe: Minneapolis tends to have a more modern and cosmopolitan feel with a vibrant downtown area, skyscrapers, and a bustling arts and nightlife scene. St. Paul, as the state capital, has a more historic charm with beautiful architecture, cozy neighborhoods, and a quieter atmosphere.
- Cultural Offerings: Minneapolis is known for its thriving arts scene, hosting major theaters, galleries, and music venues like the Guthrie Theater and First Avenue. St. Paul, on the other hand, embraces its history and heritage with iconic landmarks such as the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Minnesota History Center.
- Dining and Cuisine: Both cities offer diverse culinary experiences, but Minneapolis is often recognized for its trendy restaurants, food trucks, and fusion cuisine, catering to a more adventurous palate. St. Paul leans towards classic diners, family-owned eateries, and establishments that celebrate traditional comfort foods.
- Outdoor Recreation: Minneapolis is renowned for its chain of lakes, extensive parks, and bike-friendly trails, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities like jogging, biking, and water sports. St. Paul boasts a scenic riverfront and more spacious parks, offering a quieter and more serene outdoor experience.
- Community and Lifestyle: Minneapolis is known for its diverse and cosmopolitan population, attracting people from various backgrounds and fostering a bustling city life. St. Paul, with its strong sense of community and neighborhood pride, tends to offer a cozier and more tight-knit atmosphere.
- Festivals: Saint Paul: Winter Carnival, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Irish Fair, Twin Cities Jazz Fest, Hmong New Year Minneapolis: Twin Cities Pride, Loppet Ski Festival, Aquatennial, Basilica Block Party, U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
- LAKES: Saint Paul – 7 measly lakes. Minneapolis: coming in at 13 glorious and large lakes, earning one of it’s nicknames “The City of Lakes”.
- Population: St. Paul = 303,176 and Minneapolis = 425,096.
- Fortune 500 HQs: St. Paul has 4 and Minneapolis is the big poppa coming in at 6. The state of Minnesota is home to 15 Fortune 500 companies.
- Breweries: People like their beer in St. Paul – they have 17 breweries, but Minneapolis likes it more apparently, there are 32 breweries in Minneapolis. Try them all! But not on the same day.
- Colleges: The twin Cities is FULL of well-educated smarties, but more of them are larnin’ over in STP – there are 9 colleges located in the city limits of St. Paul while there are “only” 7 colleges in Minneapolis. Although, again, Minneapolis is home to the big dog, er, GOPHER, in the form of the University of Minnesota. The colleges on the St. Paul side of the river tend to be smaller, private colleges like St. Thomas, McCalester College and St. Catherines.
Some other differences of note:
- Housing Affordability and Age of Homes: St. Paul tends to have slightly more affordable housing compared to Minneapolis, with home prices typically being lower. Additionally, homes in St. Paul often lean towards older and more historic structures, offering a different architectural feel compared to the relatively newer housing options in Minneapolis
- Infrastructure and Winter Accessibility: Both cities boast skyway systems in their downtown areas, allowing residents and visitors to navigate the urban core without stepping outside, especially during harsh winter months. This feature provides convenience and shelter from extreme weather conditions, a significant advantage for those living and working in the downtown areas. The light rail does travel down University Avenue between both cities.
- Winter Maintenance: While the skyway system helps in navigating the winter, one common complaint (from ME) about St. Paul, is its snow plowing efforts. Prepare for some bumpy driving. Some residents have experienced “challenges” with the city’s snow removal services, resulting in difficulties commuting or driving during heavy snowfalls compared to Minneapolis, which might prioritize snow clearance more efficiently. But after living in Chicago for a long time where they take snow removal VERY seriously, I’m not giving either city a gold star.
Choosing Between Minneapolis and St. Paul with Additional Insights:
- Choose Minneapolis If: You prefer a vibrant urban lifestyle with a bustling arts scene, trendy dining options, and a more modern cityscape. Minneapolis might be the ideal choice for those seeking a diverse, fast-paced city life with plenty of entertainment options and a youthful vibe.
- Choose St. Paul If: You appreciate historic charm, a quieter pace of life, and a stronger sense of community. St. Paul might appeal to those who enjoy a more intimate city feel, where neighborhoods are tight-knit, cultural heritage is cherished, and a slower-paced lifestyle is embraced.
- Consider St. Paul If: You’re looking for more affordable housing options with a touch of historical charm. St. Paul might appeal to those who prefer older homes and a more budget-friendly housing market. The skyway system can also be a significant advantage during cold winters if you work or spend considerable time downtown.
- Consider Minneapolis If: You’re interested in newer housing options and a more efficient approach to winter snow removal. Minneapolis may be a better fit for individuals seeking a more modern living environment and possibly smoother winter travel experiences.
- Winter Considerations: It’s important to note that while both cities offer skyway systems for winter convenience, St. Paul’s potential challenges with snow removal could impact commuting and daily activities during harsh winter conditions.
Ultimately, the choice between Minneapolis and St. Paul often comes down to personal preferences in terms of lifestyle, community, entertainment, and the overall atmosphere one seeks in a city to call home. Both cities offer unique experiences and opportunities, making the Twin Cities region a dynamic and diverse place to live.