MINNEAPOLIS – As a nearby hub for business, entertainment and shopping, the Twin Cities is a metropolitan area frequently visited and appreciated by many from across the Midwest.
For Jarante Davis, a 20-year-old from Green Bay, Wis., it was the Minnesota capitol that drew him to travel from his home state in late July. Davis said the architecture, history and a third variable – Capitol Hill's obvious artistic draw – brought him to the capitol on July 30.
Accompanied by his brother and a friend, Davis traveled nearly 300 miles to the capitol to admire its architecture and, admittedly, take some memorable photos.
“Mostly the architecture of the buildings I really like,” said Davis.
From naturescapes to skyline views, here are a few of the best – and free – locations to take a feed-stopping selfie the next time you visit the Twin Cities.
Minnesota capitol building, St. Paul
Davis and his friends were on to something when they decided the Minnesota capitol was a place they needed to visit. Completed in 1905, the capitol was built in the early decades of Minnesota’s statehood. It took nine years and $4.5 million to complete, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.
The white stone monument has since been renovated and welcomes visitors who can undertake their own self-guided tour, or who choose to pay for an organized tour experience. From the top of the steps, visitors can admire the capitol’s gilded statues and the view of downtown St. Paul, which lies just south of Capitol Hill. The only fee incurred for a photo opportunity on this day included parking, which is free after 6 p.m. daily.
The street address is 75 Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul.
Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis
The 53-foot waterfall that is Minnehaha Falls offers a scenic trail and beautiful backdrop to tourists and locals alike in the Twin Cities area. Located on the southern end of Minneapolis, visitors to the falls can also find sandy beaches, a seafood eatery and team biking options. The area includes an easily accessible overlook, paved walking paths and several sculptures.
Minnehaha Falls (4801 S. Minnehaha Park Drive) is family friendly and easily accessible. The only cost is a parking fee, although side street parking is sometimes available.
Indian Mounds Regional Park, St. Paul
Though Capitol Hill boasts a great view of downtown St. Paul, it’s hard to beat the view of the city from the lookout point of the Indian Mounds Regional Park, at 10 Mounds Blvd. Situated on the park’s northern side, the elevated area offers free parking and a great place to simultaneously catch a sunset over the skyline and a golden-hour selfie.
For a late-night adventure, some locals recommend visiting at night, when downtown St. Paul’s skyscrapers are lit and reflect off the nearby Mississippi River.
First Avenue/7th Street Entry
For music lovers, First Avenue fuses history and photo opportunities. Originally a bus station, the signature downtown Minneapolis location (701 N. First Ave.) opened as a rock venue in 1970, according to the concert hall’s website. Hundreds of stars – representing acts that have performed there – are painted on the outside walls.
Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis
This list would not be complete without the mention of Minneapolis’ Stone Arch Bridge.
The bridge welcomes commuters, local musicians and people from all walks of life who are just out to catch an unparalleled view of downtown Minneapolis. Each year, the historic pathway across the Mississippi River welcomes the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, an event that features live music and some of the best regional artisans. It is free to attend.
This spot (at 100 Portland Ave.) is common ground for graduation, engagement and all types of photography – from an amateur like myself to professional photographers.
Norah Kleven is a Grand Forks native, a Red River High School graduate and former intern for the Grand Forks Herald.