Election 2008


Twin Cities Travel: Republican National Convention

August 25, 2008
by Sarah Amandolare
The Twin Cities are on display for the Republican National Convention, but there’s more to Minneapolis and St. Paul than meets the eye. Accompanying a Midwestern sensibility is an emerging energy and creativity, as artists and restaurants revive industrial neighborhoods, and urban cyclists flock to nearly 60 miles of trails surrounding the area. Below, get to know the sights, sounds and seasonal attractions.

The Convention

The Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held at the Xcel Energy Center, a sports and entertainment facility that claims to be “one of America’s most intimate arenas,” despite hosting huge concerts and an NHL team. The Xcel is located between I-94 and 35-E, smack in the middle of downtown Saint Paul.

Visual History

Minnesota Public Radio talked with Dave Kenney, whose book, “Twin Cities Album, A Visual History,” features photographs taken over a span of 150 years in Minneapolis and St. Paul. A virtual tour though the book’s pages reveals landmarks like the Minneapolis Journal Building, swarmed by baseball fans waiting for live results in 1904, as well as construction crews working on the James J. Hill House, where the builder of the Great Northern Railway lived with his family.

Twin Cities Travel

The Minneapolis Official Convention and Visitors Association covers the essential travel bases: attractions, entertainment, shopping and recommended hotels.

The “Maps and Guides” section is especially helpful for newcomers to the city. Click “Area Maps” in the sidebar to learn the layout of neighborhoods, the riverfront and warehouse districts, the lakes area, and more. Try the “Insider Guides” section for personal travel advice from local officials and experts in shopping, food and nightlife in the Twin Cities. And click “Getting Around” for the complete scoop on buses, cabs, trains and bicycling—Minneapolis is a cyclist’s dream, with “34 miles of streets with dedicated bicycle lanes and 56 miles of off-street bicycle trails.”

Around Town

This summer, The New York Times published a “36 Hours in Minneapolis” feature by David Carr, who reveals in the article that he met his wife at a Twin Cities bar.

Carr seems to know just where to go, whether it involves the great outdoors (Walker Art Center sculpture garden, Minnehaha Falls Park), culinary delights (blueberry pancakes at Al’s Breakfast and foie gras meatballs for dinner in the warehouse district), or hipsters – they prefer Northeast, says Carr. He also divulges his favorite independent theater, the Guthrie.

For international fare served up by countless Twin Cities purveyors, head to the Midtown Global Market, a massive indoor market with specialty groceries and dining options. One tempting summer treat: Carl Wong’s fresh fish and sushi bar, with live lobster and Dungeness crab.

Every Friday night is family night, with free live music and activities for kids.

Cultural Highlights

The photography exhibit “Design for the Other 90%” is one of the most popular on Vita.mn. On display through Sept. 7 at the Walker Art Center, the exhibit reveals 30 low-cost projects that would make everyday life easier for people living in developing countries.

Spark24” is a 24-hour free arts event with theater, music and dance performances, and various entertainment venues open in the city’s downtown area. Spark24 kicks off at 5 p.m. on August 30, the weekend preceding the start of the RNC.


The Twin Cities is full of entertainment options, and boasts a vibrant nightlife. Vita.mn is the good-time guide from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, featuring the insights and recommendations of the Twin Cities’ youth in compiling the best restaurants, bars, clubs, movies, music, art and performances. Users can peruse the featured listings for each section, or click on the calendar for daily events.

For cheap thrills, consult Thrifty Hipster, which dishes on low-cost bar options—there’s even a drink-special search engine. For each Twin City neighborhood (uptown, downtown, Northeast, etc.), there aren’t very many bar picks, but there’s plenty of user feedback and thorough details regarding when to hit happy hour and which appetizer items are tastiest.

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