10 great places you won't forget in the Twin Cities

"This is the best place to take in a view of the Mississippi River," Maxa says. "A dramatic, cantilevered 'endless bridge' thrusts a half-block out of the theater building, and the public is invited to enter the Guthrie to walk out for the spectacular river view." Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their daughter Shiloh Nouvel because Dad so admired Jean Nouvel, the architect of the Guthrie. With or without a ticket to the many live performances offered here (Little House on the Prairie is now playing), the building is a destination unto itself. 612-377-2224; guthrietheater.org

The Mississippi National River and Recreational Area

"Even some local residents don't know it, but a 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River that includes St. Paul and Minneapolis is a national park," Maxa says. During the convention, the National Park Service will provide "Bike With a Ranger" tours along the Mississippi River in an area boasting miles of great bike-riding trails. 651-293-0200; nps.gov/miss

Nye's Polonaise Room

Long before Esquire magazine named it the best bar in the USA two years ago, Nye's in northeast Minneapolis was party central for every age group. On weekends, the "World's Most Dangerous Polka Band" makes everyone a polka expert — "I've been asked to dance by a daughter and her mother," Maxa says. "On the same night." 612-379-2021; nyespolonaise.com

Lake Calhoun

The Twin Cities' best-known urban lakes are Calhoun, Harriet and Lake of the Isles, the so-called Chain of Lakes near Uptown in Minneapolis. "Rent a canoe, kayak, paddle boat or gondola," Maxa says. "Paved paths that circle the Chain of Lakes provide plenty of opportunities for exercise with a view. If the gently rolling hills, lush landscaping and neighboring large homes look familiar, you've watched too many Mary Tyler MooreShow episodes — exteriors for the series were filmed there." 612-230-6400; minneapolisparks.org

Historic Fort Snelling

At the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, this fort started as an isolated military post in 1820. "Indians and fur traders did business there," Maxa says. "Union soldiers trained there during the Civil War, and in World War II, Japanese-Americans were secretly moved from the West Coast to serve as translators, monitoring Japanese shortwave broadcasts and hastening the end of the war." 612-726-1171; www.mnhs.org/places/sites/hfs

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