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Minneapolis vs St. Paul: What’s the Difference?

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Minneapolis vs St. Paul! Which is best? These two cities are regarded as the Twin Cities, but, are there any differences between the two? Let’s take a look.

Although society has labeled these two cities as ‘Twin Cities,’ there are several differences that dispute this concept. The rivalry between Minneapolis and Saint Paul is quite evident, and trying to paint a picture of harmony between the two cities is impossible.

But what makes these two cities unique? Minneapolis vs St. Paul, which of the two is better, and in which manner? To see which city outranks the other, we have done in-depth research, getting views from each city’s die-hards, to determine their differences.

One certain thing is that the Twin Cities would not exist without one or the other of these two cities. They play nicely off of each other, and exploring both is a must-do activity if you’re visiting Minnesota.

At the end of this article, we will have a clear picture of whether the two cities are as identical as history paints them or it’s just another assumption. So, let’s dive in and see which city takes the day. Be the judge.

Let’s explore some of the most unique differences between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Below is a comparison table for the two cities before we dive into the key aspects of each area.

FactorMinneapolisSt. Paul
NicknameCity of LakesThe Saintly City
Top AttractionsMinneapolis Institute of Art, Walker Art Center, Mill City Museum, Stone Arch BridgeMinnesota State Capitol, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, Science Museum of Minnesota, Cathedral of Saint Paul
Parks & LakesChain of Lakes (Bde Maka Ska, Harriet, Isles), Minnehaha Falls, Theodore Wirth ParkComo Park, Phalen Regional Park, Hidden Falls Regional Park, Raspberry Island
Food SceneDiverse, innovative, and farm-to-table focusedClassic, family-friendly, and pub-style restaurants
BreweriesSurly Brewing, Indeed Brewing, Fulton BrewerySummit Brewing, Tin Whiskers Brewing, Barrel Theory Beer Company
Sports TeamsMinnesota Twins (MLB), Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), Minnesota Vikings (NFL)Minnesota Wild (NHL), St. Paul Saints (Minor League Baseball)
ShoppingMall of America (nearby), Nicollet Mall, Uptown, North LoopGrand Avenue, Mall of St. Paul, Highland Park
TransportationMetro Transit (light rail and buses), Nice Ride bike-sharingMetro Transit (buses), Green Line light rail connection to Minneapolis
Notable EventsMinneapolis Aquatennial, Minneapolis St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Minneapolis Greek FestivalSt. Paul Winter Carnival, Minnesota State Fair, Twin Cities Jazz Festival
CharacterModern, vibrant, and trendyHistoric, charming, and laid-back

Key Differences Between St. Paul and Minneapolis

1. Minneapolis vs St. Paul: Arts and Theater

Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Regarding arts and theaters, Minneapolis is one of the most well-known theatre cities in the United States. For example, the extravagant Guthrie Theater and Walker Art Center put the city on the map. Watch these amazing things to do in Minneapolis to spur your ideas of arts and theater.

Also, even the smaller scrappy theaters (Jungle, Ritz, Southern), the beautiful weirdos (Allen Christian’s House of Balls’, and Scott Seekins), as well as the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, all give Minneapolis its character.

The impressive Ordway Center for the Performing Arts takes the day in St. Paul. Located in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, it hosts various performing arts, including touring Broadway musicals, cultural performers, orchestra, local musicals, as well as opera.

The city is also home to the Penumbra (the famous African-American theater company), the beautiful Lowertown arts scene, and its supreme literary legacy. Check out these other top things to do in Saint Paul, or watch our tour of Saint Paul from our YouTube channel.

See Related: Best Takeout Restaurants in Minneapolis 

2. Living in Minneapolis or St. Paul

Summit Avenue in St. Paul at Sunrise
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Both cities are known to be more affordable to live in than several other cities in the US. According to recent studies from, the Twin Cities are in the middle of the top 75 cities in the US.

A study by, which analyzed 75 of the largest cities in the country to determine the cities’ affordability, saw Minneapolis fall to position 28 with an average of $2,105 in terms of monthly expenses. On the other hand, Saint Paul fell to position 36 with an average monthly cost of $1,934.

The monthly expenses considered in the study included:

  • Rent (one-bedroom apartment)
  • Various utilities, including water and electricity
  • Gasoline
  • Internet
  • Food, including groceries and occasional restaurant meals

These statistics show that living in Saint Paul is cheaper than living in Minneapolis.

See Related: Best Restaurants on Lake Street in Minneapolis

3. Minneapolis vs St. Paul Population

Minneapolis takes the day to consider the number of people living in these cities. The city had an approximate population of 425,096 in 2022 and is the most populous of all Minnesota cities.

The city has a population density of 2,890 people per kilometer square, and it’s quite cosmopolitan, with people from various races living in the city.

For instance, 23% (82,870) of the city’s residents are of German origin, while around 4,434 are Danish Americans. Around three-fifths of the Minneapolis population comprises white Americans.

On the other hand, Saint Paul had an estimated population of over 300,000. The city, the capital of Minnesota, has a population density of 2210 persons per km².

Of the total population, around 66.5% are white Americans, 14% are black Americans, 10% are Asians, and 1% are American Indians. Approximately 8.7% of the population comprises Latinos and Hispanics.

See Related: Things to do in Winona, Minnesota

4. Minneapolis vs St. Paul: Where to Stay

Aerial View of Mississippi River and Minneapolis Skyline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Minneapolis, also known as the City of Lakes, is one of the top cities to live in on the Midwest side of the US. If you plan to relocate to the city or take a few days’ vacation, Minneapolis has numerous perfect places to stay. For instance, Waite Park, Minneapolis, takes the lead with a score rating of 83.

Other great places to stay in Minneapolis include West Calhoun, Minneapolis, with a score of 83; Cedar-Isles-Dean, Minneapolis, at 81; and Diamond Lake, Minneapolis, at 80. The overall livability of the city is 62/100. Here are some of the top neighborhoods in Minneapolis to live in or stay in during a visit.

The city scores are quite high in some areas, such as amenities and housing, at (A+) and (B+) respectively. In contrast, crime, weather, cost of living, and education scored lowest.

Saint Paul, on the other hand, is a small business and governmental center of the Upper Midwest. The city has 17 distinct localities with 160 parks, making it a great place to live.

Check out these best parks in Saint Paul to visit. Some of the best neighborhoods here include Macalester-Groveland, Hamline-Midway, and Highwood/Battle Creek.

See Related: Top-Rated Restaurants in Minneapolis & St. Paul

5. Public Schools

St. Paul Minnesota

In Minneapolis, public schools cater to an average of 36,000 students at over 70 schools across the city’s neighborhoods. Besides these traditional neighborhood schools, the city provides language learning through dual language programs, Indigenous language pathways, Spanish immersion programs, as well as multiple other world language options.

Also, Minneapolis offers a variety of magnet schools. The city has recently introduced FSCSs (full-service community schools) offering comprehensive academic, health, and social services for the students and the community.

These FSCSs are a resource partnership between the schools and the community. The first FSCS in the city were Green Central, Bethune, and Cityview.

In Saint Paul, public schools cater to over 37,000 students spread across the 56 schools in the city. The schools offer various early education options, as well as college and career-built programs.

And just like the schools in Minneapolis, schools in St. Paul also stress diverse global cultures, as well as multilingual learning.

In 2019, St. Paul made headlines after it changed the schools’ start times. The change was intended to give high school students more sleep time. The secondary schools’ reporting time was changed to 8:30 a.m., with elementary ones required to start at 7:30 a.m.

See Related: Best Minnesota Family Vacations

6. Beers: Surly vs Summit

Surly Brewing 10 Year Rum Barrel Aged Ale
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

For beer lovers, you can be sure that Minnesota brews numerous kinds of beers. However, Surly and Summit are the biggest brands of them all.

Surly Destination Brewery has become a key attraction for local beer lovers and guests in Minneapolis. It’s a great place where folks can connect and interact over a bottle or two. Their Beer Hall and Restaurant contain a “rotating tap list” of between 25 and 35 beers. Apart from Surly Brewing Co., some of the other best breweries in Minneapolis include:

  • Indeed Brewing Company
  • Utepils Brewing Company
  • Dangerous Man Brewing Company
Front of Summit Brewing in St. Paul, Minnesota

On the other hand, St. Paul boasts of the Summit Brewery. For over 30 years, Summit has been brewing perfection, Summit Extra Pale Ale. Other beers that Summit boasts of include:

  • Keller Pils
  • Twenty-One IPA
  • Winter Ale

The company still infuses traditional methods with modern ingredients from all over the world to craft first-class beers that always make the customers happy. Check out these best breweries in Saint Paul.

See Related: Day Trips from Minneapolis

7. More High Rises vs Lowertown

Foshay Tower in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Minneapolis is famous for its modern skyscrapers.  The city has around 190 high-rise buildings, 39 more than 300 feet tall. For instance, the Foshay Tower was built as the tallest structure between the West Coast and the Midwest.

Later, the Capella and the Wells Fargo Towers were built to stand at an amazing 775 feet tall. Currently, the tallest structure in the city is IDS Center, a 57-story building that is 792 feet tall. These are the main iconic buildings we see on Minneapolis’s skyline photos.

In comparison, Saint Paul’s skyline is not dominated by tall buildings. The tallest building in the city is around 471 feet, which is way shorter than the Minneapolis, 775 feet.

That’s why the city is referred to as the Lowertown, both because of its short structures, as well as being located downtown. The town is dominated by old structures and some artists’ lofts.

See Related: Best Minnesota State Parks

8. Minneapolis vs St. Paul Jokes

The people in the Twin Cities are also fun to be around. If they are not working, they interact in the local bars, taking a sip of Surly or Summit. The residents have also made various funny jokes about the two cities. Let’s see some of the jokes about Minneapolis:

  • “Did you hear that everyone in Minneapolis quit reading the Bible and attending church and lost their faith? Reason: There are a dozen pages in the Bible about St. Paul but nothing about Minneapolis.”
  • “What’s the only thing that grows in Minneapolis? Answer: The swelling from your head from getting jacked!”
  • “What do you call a state that adds mint to soda? Answer: Mintesoda.”
  • “Why couldn’t the baby Jesus be born in Minnesota? Answer: They couldn’t find the three wise men or a virgin.”

Some jokes about St. Paul include:

  • “What’s the difference between St. Paul and yogurt? Answer: Yogurt has an active living culture.”
  • “How do you get from Madison, WI, to St. Paul? Answer: Go north until you smell shit and west until you step in it.”
  • “How is a St. Paul girl different from a bowling ball? Answer: Sometimes, a bowling ball is hard to pick up.”
  • “How do they separate the men from the boys in Minnesota? Answer: With a restraining order.”

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Minnesota

9. Minneapolis vs St. Paul History

Minnesota State Capitol
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

After many years of various settlers coming through St. Paul and setting up camp there, the city was formally established in 1854. The proximity of St. Paul to Fort Snelling was the major boost for its success.

The city was initially called “Pig’s Eye,” a name coined after one of the initial settlers. But, a Catholic father named Lucien Galtier later established Saint Paul’s chapel, giving the city its current name.

On the other hand, Minneapolis was established in 1867, and just like Saint Paul, its history is also connected to Fort Snelling. The city used the power from St. Anthony Falls to grind flour for the military base.

The early settlers of Minneapolis were the Ojibwe and the Sioux people and were the ones who coined the city’s name. Minneapolis came from two words: Minne and polis.

Minne is a Sioux word meaning water, while polis is a Greek word meaning city. And, with the rivers and waterfalls that offered a source of power and growth for industries, the name “water city” seemed befitting.

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

10. Minneapolis vs St. Paul Restaurants

Street Tacos from Lake Street, Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Where do you dine while in the Twin Cities? Well, there are numerous excellent restaurants that you can visit to get a taste of the best meals in the cities. While searching for restaurants in Minneapolis, North Loop Galley is one of the best places to visit. The place offers a collection of numerous food stalls to ensure that your appetite is served.

If you are looking for the best pizza in town, Wrecktangle Pizza serves you just that. Here, you’ll taste “Detroit-style,” pan-baked pizza. In addition, Ono Hawaiian Plates offers you a chance to try the tastiest meals in town.

Other incredible restaurants in Minneapolis include Snack Bar, Soul Fu, and Thigh Times Birdhouse. If you are in St. Paul, Tori Ramen is the best place to start your search. Here you will taste every sweet meal you want in the city.

In addition to Tori Ramen, Estelle is another restaurant that overcame all critics and topped the list of Top-Rated Restaurants in St. Paul. The place serves Southern European food, with all types of pasta, pintxos, and various affordable meals built for sharing.

See Related: Best Lake Street Minneapolis Restaurants to Consider

Why is it called the Twin Cities?

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden featuring the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, contemporary art, and city skyline.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, are known as the Twin Cities because they are two adjacent cities in the eastern part of the state, separated by the Mississippi River. They are often considered a single metropolitan area known for their vibrant arts and culture, diverse populations, and thriving business communities.

Despite being neighbors, Minneapolis and St. Paul have distinct characters and histories. Minneapolis is known for its modern skyline and active, outdoorsy culture, while St. Paul has a more laid-back, small-town feel and a rich history.

Locals have even adopted a motto of ‘Keep St. Paul’ boring. Both cities are home to numerous universities and colleges and have thriving arts and music scenes.

The Twin Cities offer travelers various attractions and activities, from world-class museums and theaters to beautiful parks and outdoor spaces. When you blend the two dynamics of these cities, you’ll get one sprawling metropolitan region perfect for a wide variety of visitors.

The dynamic between the cities is one of the main reasons the Twin Cities is consistently named one of the best places to live in the United States.

The two cities have more differences than most people originally knew. However, despite these differences, they also have quite a number of similarities that make them incredibly attractive.

Based on the above differences, some prefer to be in Minneapolis, while others prefer to be in St. Paul. But the Twin Cities are both amazing cities to live in or go to for a vacation. I hope that from this Minneapolis vs St. Paul guide; you can easily choose which city best suits your preferences.

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