Exploring the Twin Cities Metro via the Light Rail by Matt Eckholm, guest blogger.
With two lines and 36 stations, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro light rail system is a convenient way to get around the city. Though unless you’re regularly taking the train to a variety of places, it’s easy to think of the Blue Line as just the downtown to airport line, or the Green Line as the downtown to downtown line. In reality, those 36 stations offer connections to an incredible array of entertainment, shopping, food, and sights across the Twin Cities.
In the second part of this series on the Twin Cities light rail , we’re going to look the Blue Line's South Minneapolis stations and the surrounding areas, including neighborhoods, sights, and destinations. In subsequent weeks we will explore the other sections of the Blue line which include Fort Snelling and Airport, followed up by Bloomington. After which we will switch to the Green line, divided into University of Minnesota, University Avenue, and Downtown St. Paul. The
five stations shared between the Blue and Green lines in Downtown
Minneapolis were covered together in a previous post. section. And finally the outlier of the Twin Cities rail transit family, Northstar Commuter Rail, will be covered in a separate article.
Blue Line--South Minneapolis
After leaving Downtown Minneapolis, the Blue Line serves several south Minneapolis neighborhoods on its way down Hiawatha Avenue. While at first glance it might be easy to sort these stations as local connections to destinations in Downtown Minneapolis or Bloomington, south Minneapolis has plenty of entertainment to offer visitors and locals alike.
First up is Cedar-Riverside Station, directly serving this eclectic neighborhood with the same name. It is home to renowned music venues like the Cedar Cultural Center and Nomad World Pub (and formerly the much loved Triple Rock), delicious cuisine at The Red Sea and Acadia Cafe, and access to sections of the University of Minnesota East Bank Campus and Augsburg University, this is a stop with a lot going on! As the name of the station implies, this station mainly serves the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, but since it’s also within walking distance of the Green Line’s East Bank Station, a stop at Cedar-Riverside can also include destinations at the U of M or Augsburg University.
Franklin Avenue Station is the next stop of the Blue Line, elevated above Franklin Avenue and the Ventura Village, Phillips, and Seward neighborhoods. Like the Cedar-Riverside station, its home to several well loved music venues, including Whiskey Junction and The Cabooze. To the east, you can find the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District, a neighborhood street that’s been frozen in time to preserve a piece of 19th Century Minneapolis history. And to the west, the station offers direct access to the Minneapolis American Indian Center, which features a library, cafe, and provides community and services to First Nations people in the region.
Lake Street Station is a link between the Blue Line and one of South Minneapolis’ major commerce streets. To the east of the station is the Corcoran neighborhood, home to a wide variety of small shops, museums, and cafes. Highlights include the Somali Museum of Minnesota, Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian Gifts & Cafe, Quatrefoil Library, and the fantastic Midtown Global Market, a former Sears receiving facility from the 1900s that’s been transformed into an indoor shopping center featuring goods and foods from around the world. To the west, Lake Street station is a gateway to the Longfellow Neighborhood, the start of the Minnehaha Avenue corridor of shops and entertainment. Here you’ll find Moon Palace Books, Peace Coffee, the Trylon Microcinema, and Minnehaha Scoop, a neighborhood summer favorite. Lake Street station also serves as the Blue Line’s connection to the Midtown Greenway, a bike highway situated in an old railroad corridor, that stretches from West River Parkway to Uptown Minneapolis and suburban cities to the west.
38th St Station is a sleepier station than many of the other Blue Line stops thus far. No music venues or major commercial streets are connected here in the shadow of the old grain mills. To the east is the largely residential Standish neighborhood. Not much within walking distance of the station, but a few gems are the Standish Cafe, Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub, and the Hennepin Overland Railway Historical Society, a model train museum. Minnehaha Avenue continues to run parallel to the Blue Line to the west, meaning 38th Street offers another intersection of sights to see with this eclectic corridor. As you travel into the Howe neighborhood, you’ll find the Tapestry Folkdance Center, the Howe Daily Kitchen and Bar, Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theater and School, as well as the Riverview Theater further down 38th.
46th St Station boasts two unique offerings to Blue Line travelers. First, the station offers access to the north entrance of Minnehaha Regional Park, making this the station to choose if you’re meeting friends at the beloved Sea Salt Restaurant, or want easy access to the falls themselves. A new development at this station has brought a small, urban format Cub Foods and walkup Caribou Coffee to the neighborhood, making this a great urban pocket outside of the larger neighborhoods of Minneapolis. 46th St Station also serves as the end of the line for the Metro A-Line rapid bus, which serves points along Ford Parkway in the Highland Park neighborhood in Saint Paul, as well as destinations along Snelling Avenue, all the way to Roseville in the northern metro suburbs. If your final destination is in Saint Paul, but its not served by the Green Line, the A-Line is a great choice to get you there quickly. This station also connects riders to Minnehaha Parkway, a part of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds park system, as well as the Ericsson and Hiawatha neighborhoods.
50th St/Minnehaha Park Station provides a second opportunity for Blue Line riders to enjoy the beautiful Minnehaha Park. This station provides access to the Minnesota Valley State Trail, allowing riders to start their bike excursion to the Fort Snelling area and beyond. Apart from that, this station also serves the Minnehaha neighborhood of Minneapolis. Unfortunately, the restaurant directly adjacent to the station is closed, but we’ll see how long that remains the case.
VA Medical Center Station is the final station located in South Minneapolis. Directly connecting to the major hospital and Veterans Affairs Department, this station also connects to local bus routes and serves the Morris Park neighborhood at the southern end of the city of Minneapolis. From this point onwards, we’re looking at a series of stations that serve important functions in the Twin Cities region as a whole.
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Stay tuned as the next installment will be a tour of South Minneapolis via the Blue Line.
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