A weekend in ... Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

Budget

Getting there

During frequent sale periods, rates to Minneapolis-St. Paul start at $84 each way; nonstop AirTran or Delta. Nonsale rates start at $150 one-way with a 21-day advance purchase.

Eat

Plan an early evening or a late night visit to Solera for Spanish-inspired modern tapas. This lively downtown tapas bar and lounge offers $2-$6 tapas (small plates) during Monday-Friday happy hour and $2-$9 after 9 p.m. on weekends. The tasting menu, $29 per person (minimum two), allows the chef to create a menu of eight modern and traditional tapas. 900 Hennepin Ave., 612-338-0062, www.solera-restaurant.com.

Stay

The Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis Downtown is one of the newest hotels downtown and features accommodations with vast city views. Contemporary guest rooms have self-adjusting signature bedding, a separate seating area with an oversized chair and ottoman, microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator and complimentary Internet service. Rates $79-$139. 1101 4th Ave. S., 612-339-6633.

Experience

Lake Harriet is one of the most beautiful of the Chain of Lakes, with the Roberts Bird Sanctuary, the Rose and Rock Gardens and nearly three miles of trails. Rental equipment available at Lake Street shops. The area is just a small part of the 50-mile Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, including the downtown waterfront, in-city Lake Calhoun, the Mississippi River and Minnehaha Falls. www.minneapolisparks.org/grandrounds.

Moderate

Getting there

Two-week advance notice rates start at $202; nonstop AirTran or Delta.

Eat

Broder's Pasta Bar is famous for its menu of 21 (give or take) dishes of fresh pasta and risotto. Antipasti dishes are $3.95-$13.95 and pasta entrees $11.45-$16.95. Try for a seat at the pasta bar and cozy up to an autumn dish of carnaroli rice with squash, sausage & apples ($12.75). 5000 Penn Ave. S., 612-925-9202; www.broders.com.

Stay

The Grand Hotel Minneapolis, a luxurious spa hotel, is within walking distance of theaters, shops and entertainment via a climate-controlled skyway. Guests enjoy complimentary access to a massive athletic club and Aveda spa. Classic accommodations feature Egyptian linens, down comforters, WiFi, silk robes, radio/iPod dock and marble bathroom. A Bed & Breakfast package, $179-$219, includes a cocktail. 615 Second Ave., 612- 284-5868.

Experience

Shop until you drop at the Mall of America, with more than 520 shops (tax-free clothing and shoes), 50 restaurants, a cinema, an aquarium, a Lego Imagination Center and a Nickelodeon theme park with an indoor roller coaster. Complimentary shuttle service from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (15 minutes from downtown). www.mallofamerica.com. "The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World," developed and designed by the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Israel Antiquities Authority, is on display through Oct. 24. Visitors can view some of history's most extraordinary manuscripts, including the earliest known texts of the Bible; $28 adults (includes admission to 8.5 acres of exhibit galleries and audio tour); $22 seniors and children. www.smm.org, 120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, 1-800-221-9444.

Splurge

Getting there

Walk-up, one-way Business Class rates start at $461; nonstop AirTran or Delta.

Eat

Isaac Becker of the 112 Eatery is a 2010 Best Chefs in America nominee for the third consecutive year by the James Beard Foundation (Midwest region). This award-winning restaurant is a favorite of local chefs for its perfectly prepared dishes without high prices or putting on airs. Appetizers $6-$15; entrees $8-$28. 112 N. 3rd St., 612-343-7696.

Stay

The chic Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis, billed as the country's first luxury art hotel, features more than 200 works of original contemporary artwork throughout the hotel and its 60 guest rooms (show your room key at the Walker Art Center for free admission). Guest rooms are fully appointed with special amenities such as robes, slippers and windows that open. A Better Tomorrows package offers a second consecutive night at a 40 percent discount (promo code ZB4). Two-night stays range from $340 for classic accommodations to $766 for a luxury suite. 901 Hennepin Ave., 612-767-6900, www.lemeridienchambers.com.

Experience

Catch a performance at one of the nation's most respected playhouses, the Guthrie Theater. Tickets to "The Master Butchers Singing Club," a tribute to the marriage of two cultures, are $44-$69 on Friday or Saturday evenings through Nov. 6. Go early to explore the Jean Nouvel-designed theater with a cantilevered bridge reaching nearly 180 feet toward the Mississippi. Download a free iTunes podcast for a self-guided audio tour. 818 S. Second St., 612-377-2224, www.guthrietheater.org. The striking Walker Art Center ($10 adults) showcases contemporary art and adjoins the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. 1750 Hennepin Ave., 612-375-7600, www.walkerart.org.