Originally established as metroConnections Public Tours, Award-Winning City Tours has been providing sight-seeing tours of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area since 1987.
In 1988, Award-Winning City Tours began to receive recognition from the local tourism industry and won an award from the Minnesota Office of Tourism. In the early 1990s, after winning another tourism award, founder Sam Thompson reached out to hotels and visitor bureaus across the state to create partnerships. In one particular event, Thompson invited various cities to join the tour by representing their region with a local “hero”—Grand Rapids sent a Judy Garland look-a-like, Bemidji was portrayed by Paul Bunyan and Little Falls was depicted with an actor outfitted as Charles Lindbergh.
Throughout the years, Award-Winning City Tours has expanded from the Twin Cities Highlight Tour to include other excursions such as the Stillwater City Tour & St. Croix River Cruise, Minneapolis Tour & Mississippi River Cruise, and the Holiday Lights Tour.
In 2010, metroConnections Public Tours was rebranded to “Award-Winning City Tours.” Originally the company’s tagline, it was a natural switch as many customers were already referring to the tours by this name.
Award-Winning City Tours owes much of its success to the outstanding tour guides—from the very first public tour, it was imperative to have highly trained tour guides rather than just a bus driver doubling as the guide. Because the tours are very interactive, guests feel comfortable asking questions along the way.