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Summit Avenue, stretching from downtown St. Paul to where the city meets Minneapolis, is a melting pot of architectural styles. This boulevard is lined with historic buildings dating back to the 1850s and is named as one of the greatest streets in America. Admire Victorian, Tuscan and Neocolonial mansions on a walking tour that offers an intriguing glimpse into the lives of its owners. The James J Hill House is one of the largest family residences in the state while Stuart House, one of the oldest. Iconic attractions on this avenue also include the Cathedral of Saint Paul, University of St. Thomas and Minnesota Governor's Residence.
A romantic landmark in the city, the 640.08 meter (2100 feet) long Stone Arch Bridge used to be a railway bridge for the Manitoba line. It is the second oldest bridge across the river. Erected in 1883 by James Hill, a railway tycoon, it spans proudly across the Mississippi river in a curve. The twenty-three arches are a sight to behold and serve as a scenic welcome for travelers to the city. Tourists love to watch the ships sail past here. Today, the bridge is open for pedestrians and bikers.
This is one of the most spectacular urban delights of south Minneapolis. Winding its way from the south shore of Lake Harriet, Minnehaha Creek cuts a 5-mile path along 50th Street on its way to the Mississippi River. Picturesque Minnehaha Parkway, running parallel to the creek, is a splendid drive featuring lush gardens and large shade trees. The route can also be traversed by foot or bike via the trails. The culmination of the gurgling and bubbling creek as it rushes to meet the mighty Mississippi is the cascading splendor of Minnehaha Falls and 170-acre magnificent Minnehaha Park. One of the city's most-used stretches of parkland, it features several large picnic grounds, formal gardens, playing fields, hiking trails, and undeveloped natural areas. Four different staircases, made of local stone, lead from the uplands to various spots along the creek bottom. There they connect to a trail that follows the creek to its confluence with the river across from St. Paul's Hidden Falls Park. A separate paved trail connects the park to historic Fort Snelling State Park. Of special historical significance is the John H Stevens House Museum that was recently moved to park grounds south of the Falls.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory opened in 1873 and is spread across 759 acres (307.16 hectares). Owned by the city, it features a large cat exhibit, a seal island, a primate facility, a zone for aquatic animals, African hoofed animals and a polar bear exhibit. It is a great place for family outings where you get to learn in a fun-filled environment. Since it is a huge space, chances are that you might miss out on some attractions which are just an added incentive to come back again. Explore their various themed gardens, take a ride on the historic carousel, or visit the children's gallery and check out their frog conservation exhibit. Don't miss out on Como Town, their amusement park, as well.
Lake Nokomis is the southernmost of the lakes in the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Connected to the other lakes via Minnehaha Creek, this popular scenic lake boasts a busy beach, comfortable picnic area and great urban fishing. Like the other lakes, Nokomis has its share of sailboats and canoes dotting the water. The 2.7 miles of paved paths invite walkers, joggers, bikers and inline skaters to leisurely travel its boundary. This lake seems to be especially popular with the high school crowd, perhaps due to its proximity to many family-populated neighborhoods.
One of the country's largest and most spectacular churches, the Cathedral of St. Paul sits high on a hill (aptly known as Cathedral Hill) overlooking downtown and the Mississippi River Valley. The structure opened in 1915, although extensive interior work continued for several more years. The massive copper dome is 300 feet above the nave's floor and the walls are covered in pale Minnesota granite. A pair of carillon towers flanks the building's Summit Avenue façade and the sanctuary seats 3000 worshipers. Guided tours are offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1p.