I wanted to add Minneapolis to my travel blog in order to encourage people to visit Minnesota, The Land of 10,000 Lakes. The stereotypes about Minneapolis tend not to advance Minnesota as a top American travel destination. They are:
#1. The weather in Minneapolis is akin to an arctic tundra. Pack your snowsuit if you come - the temperature is below freezing much of the year.
#2. Minnesota is nothing more than farm fields (think Iowa) and back woods (think West Virginia). Translation: Unless you love the Great Outdoors, there is nothing to do.
Here's my take on the stereotypes, having lived for 18 years in Minneapolis before going off to college and joining the Army. (Like most stereotypes, there is a kernel of truth to both assertions...)
Low-Down on Misconception #1
Stats: Yes, Minneapolis has the coldest average temperature of any major metropolitan area in America. (The average temperature in January is 13.1 degrees Fahrenheit). However, despite the cold, winters are sunny. And, these temps are not indicative of the entire year - summer days in Minnesota are warm to hot and usually humid. (The average temperature in July is 73.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
My Take: If only there was a way to cut January and February from the Minneapolis calendar. Besides these two months, the climate in the Twin Cities is terrific. By early March, the snow is melted and we transition into a pleasant, lukewarm Spring. Summers in Minneapolis last forever. Despite humidity, the heat is rarely oppressive. Almost everyday is sunny, and rain, when it happens, is often accompanied by lightning and thunder (I missed summer storms when I lived near Seattle).
Having resided in several states, I believe Minneapolis has the most picturesque Autumn in America (there's a reason why the Twin Cities marathon, in October, has been dubbed "The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.) November is a draw - the leaves are down, it's grey and cool, but snow is unlikely. Minneapolis usually receives it's first snowfall in December which rocks - IMO, no Christmas can top a White Christmas. But by January and February, you're wishing the snow (and the cold) would go away.
Bottom line: If you find a winter sport to love (be that downhill skiing, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, etc.), invest in high quality winter gear (e.g. North Face, Columbia), and keep a stash of hot chocolate and Bailey's handy, then January and February in Minneapolis can be more than tolerable, they can be some of the best weeks of the year. If not, you may decide that the other 10 months make up for it.
Low-Down on Misconception #2
Stats: The Twin Cities metropolitan area is the 16th largest metropolitan area in America. With a population of 3.5 million people, 60% of the state's population lives in the Twin Cities.
My Take: Since 60% of the population lives in the Twin Cities, people that travel to other parts of the state are likely to see lots of woods (northern Minnesota), lots of farmland (southern Minnesota), and not a lot of people. If you're an outdoors enthusiast you're in heaven, but if you prefer concrete and Gucci, most of Minnesota's draws are clustered around Minneapolis.
Minnesota basically invented shopping - we have the world's first enclosed Mall (Southdale) and the world's largest Mall (The Mall of America). There are theaters (30+ venues, 100+ companies), clubs, bars and restaurants galore. An enticing string of lakes wind through the Twin Cities. If you're a fitness fanatic, you'll encounter a plethora of fit, latex-clad bodies (we're routinely ranked as one of the top two or three bike cities in America and have one of the lowest obesity rates in the nation).
Bottom line: A City Gal or Boy will find a lot to love about the Twin Cities (the rest of the state, not so much).
...All these years later, I may finally understand the appeal of my hometown. And I may finally understand a little bit of what T.S. Eliott meant when he said:
"We shall not cease from exploring. And the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."