Minneapolis–Saint Paul
The Midwest is known for an endless yellow plain of fields and prairie, so it may come as a surprise that the Twin Cities are lush with green spaces. In fact almost every resident lives within a ten-minute walk of a park, and the local network of bicycle and foot trails is one of the most extensive in the country. From the scents of floral gardens to the sounds of crashing waterfalls, the diversity of outdoor spaces will delight your senses for days. You can drive three or more hours to striking North Shore escapes like Split Rock Lighthouse, but you can also get your fill of non-urban activities within an hour's radius. Along the St. Croix River, towns like Stillwater and Hudson offer the perfect mix of antiquing, eating, and river cruising. For hiking and paddling, head further north to Taylors Falls Interstate Park or south to Afton State Park.

Back in town, Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood, where the historic intermingles with the hip, has become an alternative to downtown living. The intersection of Lake St. and Hennepin Ave. is packed with cafes, shops, restaurants, and bars that bring together a diverse mix of people. Gentrification has made this once-vibrant countercultural arts district a bit more mainstream, but you'll still find street murals at Intermedia Arts, Drag Queen Bingo Night at Liquor Lyle’s, and cult film screenings at the iconic Uptown Theater.