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Guide To Great Photo Locales In The Twin Cities

The Twin Cities are filled with gorgeous urban architecture and picture-worthy suburban main streets. For many photographers, the decision about where to take a walk with their camera can be overwhelming. Some photo opportunities are a given, like Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Walker Art Center Sculpture Gardens and the Stone Arch Bridge. But beyond these iconic Minneapolis locales, there are still hundreds, if not thousands of places an amateur or professional can shoot fall photographs that represent the Twin Cities. Here are some of my favorites that are easily accessible and offer unique flavor during the fall months.

10.15.11 - Travel and Outdoor – Guide to Great Photo Locales in the Twin Cities - millcity
Photo credit: Colleen McGuire

Mill City

704 South 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Hours: Farmers market, Sat., 8:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., May 7–October 15.

Tucked under the Gold Medal Flour sign and next door to the Guthrie Theater, the district surrounding the Mill City Museum and farmers market has blossomed into a thriving community. The farmers market hosts everything from fresh produce to pressed olive oils and pistachio and cayenne shortbread cookies. In addition to photographing the beautiful fall colors of pumpkins and root vegetables, I enjoy photographing the live musicians or textile artists making products in native costume. Around the corner at the Mill City Museum, the crumbling architecture next to the modern glass entrance of the museum is a great contrast. Wander other parts of the neighborhood to find architecture close-ups or stroll the river walk for stunning views of the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Main.

10.15.11 - Travel and Outdoor – Guide to Great Photo Locales in the Twin Cities - Guthrie
Photo credit: Colleen McGuire

Guthrie Theater

818 South 2nd Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 8:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m.,
Mon., 8:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
Cost: Free

Minneapolis was abuzz in 2005 when the new Guthrie Theater began to take shape on the bank of the Mississippi River near Mill City. When the theater opened in 2006, it was dubbed the "21st century dream factory" by TIME magazine, and won Travel + Leisure magazine's design award in 2007 for best cultural space. And what a space it is. Open to the public at 8:00 a.m. every day, the theater invites guests to explore the lobbies and public areas. The Endless Bridge, the cantilever that stretches more than a half block toward the river is an excellent place to begin a photo tour. Try taking pictures of the Gold Medal Flour sign reflections in the slit windows of the cantilever. The Dowling Studio lobby is surrounded by amber glass that is a great backdrop for silhouettes or people pictures. The outside of the Guthrie is also a structural marvel, with twists, mirrors and large portraits. You can play with the reflections or take photos of the Guthrie straight on in all her glory.

10.15.11 - Travel and Outdoor – Guide to Great Photo Locales in the Twin Cities - Stillwater Elevator
Photo credit: Colleen McGuire

Stillwater, Minnesota

City's Website

Just a short 30-mile drive from Minneapolis on the St. Croix lays Stillwater, a favorite destination spot and a must-see during the fall months. There is a lot to do in Stillwater, and there is even more to photograph. If there is fog on the river, head to Stillwater at sunrise to capture the Lift Bridge in the midst. Is architecture more your style? Check out Craftsman, Greek Revival, Italianate, Prairie or Queen Anne styled homes for close-up shots. I like the colors of the old elevator contrasting with partly cloudy skies. For an older Main Street feel, travel 12-miles north of Stillwater to Marine on St. Croix for photos of the old town Village Hall or the Stone House Museum. Mature trees make the one-street town picturesque when the leaves have turned golden yellow.

(credit: CBS)

Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

333 East River Road
Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Tues., Wed., Fri. 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Thurs. 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.,
Sat.-Sun., 1100 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the exterior of the Weisman Art Museum is a playground for photographers. A pretty gem on a sunny day, the architecture really catches fire in the setting sun. When I approach the Weisman, I like to walk around it first, taking in all angles. But from that point on it's a free-for-all. I take a picture of every angle I can. With Light Rail construction around the University of Minnesota currently, getting to the Weisman can be a challenge. Check the art museum's website for parking updates or check Metro Transit's bus schedule.

10.15.11 - Travel and Outdoor – Guide to Great Photo Locales in the Twin Cities - Lake Calhoun
Photo credit: Colleen McGuire

Lake Calhoun

3000 Calhoun Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Hours: 6:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m., daily

If the Land of 10,000 Lakes is what says "Minnesota" to you, Lake Calhoun is a sure bet. Filled with photo opportunities, from people to pets to pedal boats, the lake is easy to cruise around on foot with your camera. Many times you can find children floating their homemade creations near the beaches or spot lone boats that produce serene reflections in the water. If you have a great sunset, photograph the lake with the downtown Minneapolis skyline in the background.

10.15.11 - Travel and Outdoor – Guide to Great Photo Locales in the Twin Cities - Orchid
Photo credit: Colleen McGuire

Marjorie McNeely Conservatory
Como Park

1225 Eatabrook Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55103
Hours: Daily, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. (Oct.–March)
10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. (April–Sept.)
Cost: $2.00 donation for adults, $1.00 for children

If you are not a fan of gray fall days, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park washes all memory of the outdoor chill away. Brush up on your floral macro photography. Try blur techniques in the fish pond. If you encounter a statue, aim your camera down and take pictures of the reflection of the statue in the water below. You can have a lot of fun turning photography on its ear. Note that tripods are not allowed in the conservatory. Posed photography (such as engagement pictures) or commercial photography is allowed during public hours with restrictions and a permit. If you're on your own, just have fun!

Colleen McGuire is a digital marketing communications professional and author of the blog, Travel Snapshots. When she is not touring the Twin Cities for interesting festivals and events, she is wandering the world with her camera and iPad.

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