Before even stepping foot in Minnesota, I’ve only heard great things about Minneapolis. But then again, most of what I’ve learned about the city is likely biased, given that it’s all information from my friend Zaw, who not only raves about his new hometown, but insists that everyone move there. But it wasn’t the only time I’ve come across such exuberant Minneapolitan pride. Earlier this year, I attended a lecture by Tom Oslund, principle of Oslund and Associates, and he spent a lengthy portion of his presentation defending and praising the city.
So it should be no surprise that I had high expectations coming into Minneapolis.
Minneapolis has a second name: City of the Lakes. You can’t really tell from these two images, but the city is surrounded by an abundance of water, from over 20 lakes and wetlands to the banks of the Mississippi River that the city rests on. So, instead of taking two buses, a stop over in Chicago, and arriving in Minneapolis at the crack of dawn after an overnight bus I could have traveled upstream on a boat from St. Louis to Minneapolis along the Mississippi River. Likely? Probably not, but I think it would make for a very interesting adventure.
Despite Minneapolis’ northern, somewhat remote-looking location, the city serves as one of the most important arts, cultural, and economic centers between Chicago and Seattle. Six Fortune 500 companies have made their headquarters within city limits. Minneapolis has even earned the nickname ‘Mini-Apple’ after its vibrant arts, theatre, and music scene–Minneapolis is second only to New York when it comes to live theater per capita.
And this midwestern city also has a surprising amount of transportation alternatives available, particularly for cyclists. In 2011, Minneapolis even edged out Portland, OR for #1 Bicycling City in America—though Portland has regained the lead in 2012–and currently tops the Bike Score List of 2012. With 81-miles of on-street bikeways, 85-miles of off-street bikeways, and the largest bike sharing program in the country, the ratings and friendly rivalry with Portland–there is a popular bumper sticker in Minneapolis that reads: ‘Portland is just an Avenue in Minneapolis!’–come at no surprise.
And since I made the decision to stay in Minneapolis for over a week, I purchased a subscription with the bike-share program Nice Ride Minnesota. With 1,200 bicycles available across 116 stations in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, it’s been a fun way to get around town.
I’ve been having a great time in Minneapolis–long, scenic bike rides; crisp and sunny fall weather; strong arts scene and fantastic food; a zombie pub crawl–the city’s not only one of the top three most bicycle-friendly cities that I’ve ever visited, but it’s also an incredibly livable one powered by the locals and creative, young energy of University of Minnesota students.