Minneapolis Light Rail
Minneapolis light rail.
Also known as LRT for Light Rail Transit, or Hiawatha Line. Serving downtown Minneapolis, Target Field, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis/Saint Paul International, the Mall of America and points in between. This is the easiest, fastest, and safest bet for first-time visitors. There's a lot to do along the route, and since there only is one route, the odds of getting lost are reduced. The next phase of construction is to connect to downtown Saint Paul via the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus, opening in 2014. Also, a commuter rail line opened in 2009. The commuter rail line extends to the north metro with stops in Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka, Elk River and Big Lake, Minnesota. The Northstar Corridor Line adds capacity to the heavily traveled Highway 10 and I-94 corridors. The Northstar Corridor connects the north metro suburbs of the Twin Cities, and may eventually extend to St. Cloud and its suburbs.
There are loads of things to do on the Minneapolis light rail downtown once you get there, and you can walk to most of them, so we won't focus a lot on the downtown stops. Let's assume you're starting downtown in a hotel somewhere. The first stop you might be interested in is The Metrodome, home to the Minnesota Vikings (football), The Minnesota Twins (baseball), various University of Minnesota games and the occasional rock concert.
Next Minneapolis light rail stop, Cedar/Riverside. If you walk a few blocks east to Cedar Avenue, there's a vibrant, diverse and sometimes dangerous neighborhood known as the West Bank. When I say dangerous, I'm not talking about Cabrini Green level crime, but rather, a neighborhood where one should stay in well-lit areas and cab home if you have a few too many or stay a little too late. (Bars are open until 2 a.m.) Before you are frightened away, there's much this neighborhood has to offer that really shouldn't be missed. The 400 Bar is one of the top clubs in town. It used to be a place where local bands played on pool tables. Now they offer national touring acts from all over the country. The drink prices are a little inflated. The 400 is located on the corner of Cedar Ave and Riverside Ave. The Falafel King restaurant is across the street. If you head east on Riverside Avenue, you'll encounter the Hard Times coffee shop. Hard Times is only closed for two hours every day, from 4:00 am to 6:00 am. The quality of the food can vary widely depending on who is on duty. They offer good coffee, (often) loud music, games, etc. The Nomad is just a little further south on Cedar Ave. It has a nice outdoor patio for smoking and inside they have a stage where you can see a variety of local rock or jazz shows. Across the street from The Nomad, is Palmers. Palmers gets a little rough, if you don't know how to behave yourself while drinking. Not for the weak of heart or mind. Mind your own business if you go there. Keep heading back south on the Minneapolis light rail down Cedar Avenue and you'll come to the Triple Rock Social Club, one of the best venues for music in town. The bar side has great food with a lot of vegetarian options. The club side has a big stage and fantastic sound system. Check their web site above for listings. Still further down Cedar Avenue are the Whiskey Junction and The Cabooze. Whiskey Junction is a favorite hang out for bikers, but a good number of those are the suburban type with expensive Harley Davidsons. The Cabooze is mostly a college hang out. Both venues offer live music most nights. If you make it to the Cabooze, you're already near the Franklin Avenue Light Rail stop. Get back on and head down to Lake Street.
The Lake Street/Midtown Minneapolis light rail stop has a lot to offer on weekend days in the spring and summer. Namely an outdoor market with lots of good food and locally made goodies. Worth a stop for sure. You can also catch a 21 bus from here to Uptown (make sure the bus is going west).
The next few stops take you to mostly residential neighborhoods. While there are things to do along them, they're not easily accessible on foot, so we'll skip ahead to 50th Street/Minnehaha Park Minneapolis light rail stop. The Minnehaha Park station is adjacent to a park and Minnehaha Falls. You can see the 53 foot falls and walk along the creek on its way to the Mississippi River.
The Fort Snelling station is located after the VA Medical Center station. Fort Snelling makes a great day trip. It's the original settlement in Minnesota and an early wilderness outpost.
Next is the Airport and then the Mall of America Minneapolis light rail stop, the gleaming, gargantuan monument to advanced capitalism. It offers an indoor amusement park, movies, restaurants and more shopping than is comprehensible. It's a day trip in itself, but not for the thrifty. Food, shopping and Camp Snoopy can burn through your wallet fast. Not for those with poor impulse control.
Page is based on work by Eco84, Jayson Spirtos, Dale Arnett, Ryan Holliday, Peter Fitzgerald, Bigfitz79, Cire, Inas, and others.