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Flyover Country No More

There’s a famous New Yorker cartoon that depicts the United States from the perspective of a (surprise, surprise) New Yorker. The Big Apple is front and center, and far off in the distance, Los Angeles is labeled prominently. Everything else is considered flyover territory.

It’s funny, of course, but also rooted in real perception. Ever since the days of Lewis and Clark, anything west of Pennsylvania has been viewed as wild and wooly country. Thanks to the gold rush and the later rise of Hollywood, California cemented its legitimacy. But anyone who has spent significant time on either coast knows that there’s a long-held belief that those of us who are landlocked are somehow less civilized. Less cultured. Less something.

That’s changing. (No, really.)

It wasn’t a single silver bullet. It has been a slow burn. The Guthrie theater can take some credit, since these days Minneapolis routinely lands on lists of the most theater-friendly locations outside of New York.

Our incredible green spaces are undisputed. Minneapolis and Saint Paul have a stranglehold on national rankings for bike commuting, parks, and recreational areas.

The culinary scene is emerging as well. Gavin Kaysen made a big statement when he defected from New York to open a high-end restaurant in Minneapolis’s North Loop. When he got here, he found out what we already know: That the Twin Cities is full of eager foodies.

Here’s the best part: Since we’re not on the cluttered coasts, we can experience all of this culture and food and space at a minuscule relative expense. Case in point: The Saint Paul Athletic Club features a two-story lobby, sweeping marble staircases, and a cardio room with state-of-the-art equipment, floor-to-ceiling windows, and chandeliers! Even if space restrictions accommodated a facility of this grandeur in New York City, membership fees would undoubtedly top what most people pay for a monthly mortgage in Saint Paul.

We’re big fans of travel. But let’s not forget what’s right out our front door. (Quickly, before the secret gets out any further.)