Travel Tip: MSP Tours Saves the Distressed Traveler

In January 2003, I was coming back from a trip to Europe. Snow in Germany kept us on the runway for more than an hour, which in turn made me miss my connection once I reached Philadelphia. I was stuck in Philly overnight and all I could do was sit in my hotel room and just wish I was home already.

That experience isn’t a rare occurrence. A large percentage of people at airports are distressed travelers, people who’ve been bumped, missed their flights or, perhaps, just have a very long layover. As we make our way into the busy holiday traveling season (with snow!), the number of passengers stuck at the airport for extended periods of time, or just dealing with a planned layover, will most likely increase.

Light Rail Line

Hiawatha Light Rail line

Photo by Todd Buchanan

Well, those who are looking to break out of the MSP Airport for a couple hours are in luck because we now have MSP Tours. Officially launched just a few weeks ago, MSP Tours are self-guided audio tours that take visitors to Twin Cities attractions via the light rail line. Armed with a map, an audio set with earphones, and a light rail ticket, visitors head out on tours designed for three hours, five hours or a full day. All tours take you through a number of the 19 light rail stops and then safely return you to the airport in time for your flight.

See the Guthrie Theater, Mill City Museum, Nicollet Mall or Mall of America. Stop in a local restaurant, see the stadiums, or shop tax-free (a few coupons are even included with the tour). You can even ask for a customized tour. The audio is filled with local flavor, hidden gems and up-to-date information.

MSP Tours was founded locally by Chieko Karlsen, who, when working with her father’s tour company, heard many complaints about the long waits for domestic connections. Karlsen came up with the idea, did research on audio tours, asked local comedians and musicians for help in making the tours interesting, and well, the rest is history. For more information on Karlsen, and a peek at what you can expect on an MSP Tour, read the feature story in The Line Magazine.

So, if you’re traveling to—or find yourself stuck in—the Twin Cities this holiday season, try an MSP Tour. After you spend a few hours touring our fine and friendly cities, you’ll forget all about your travel woes!

Info: Tour costs $27.50 and can be shared between two people. Find MSP Tours at a kiosk in the Mall area (where all the concourses converge) of the airport.