One half of Minnesota’s Twin Cities, St. Paul is known for a great number of things. It dubs itself as the most livable city in America. Winters here are notoriously cold, while summers can be scorching. Just recently, St. Paul was named as having the second-best park system in the country, and with good reason! St. Paul’s park system is not only green and lush– they’re also prime places for social gatherings and recreation. Let’s not forget about the history of St. Paul and the land it sits on, which holds approximately 2000 years worth of stories, from Hopewell Native Americans to present-day St. Paul locals. So, what’s a person to do in such a vibrant city? Here are top things to do in St. Paul, Minnesota.
1. Explore the Science Museum of Minnesota
The Science Museum of Minnesota has been educating locals about tech, mathematics, natural history, and other science topics since 1907. Over the years, the facility definitely has transformed into a state-of-the-art facility with a wide variety of exhibits and even film screenings. Learn more about the science behind sports in the Sportsology area. Travel back in time when dinosaurs and other giants roamed the land at the Dinosaurs & Fossils exhibit. Try your hand at a couple of fun experiments at the interactive Experiment Gallery, and more! At best, devote a full day at the Science Museum of Minnesota to fully experience everything it has to offer.
Science Museum of Minnesota
Address: 120 Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN
Website: Science Museum of Minnesota
Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 9:30 am - 5 pm; Thu - Sat: 9:30 am - 9 pm
Price: 19.95 USD (adults); 14.95 USD (kids aged 4 to 12 and seniors ages 65+); free (members and kids aged 0 to 3)
2. Check out Minnesota Transportation Museum
Go beyond the usual and visit the Minnesota Transportation Museum to learn more about the state’s locomotive history. The facility actually operates three attractions spread across Minnesota, and the one located in St. Paul is the Roundhouse Museum. Open every Wednesday and Saturday, the Roundhouse Museum houses over 50 historic train cars, all of which played an important role in the growth and development of St. Paul. If you visit on a Saturday, you can even enjoy a 15-minute train ride around the 9-acre (3.6 hectares) property. Don’t forget to check out the Restoration Shop, the Blacksmith Shop, and Rutledge Depot.
Minnesota Transportation Museum
Address: 193 Pennsylvania Ave E, St. Paul, MN
Website: Minnesota Transportation Museum
Opening hours: Wed & Sat: 10 am - 4 pm (closed on Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri & Sun)
Price: 11 - 38 USD
3. Have fun at Wabasha Street Caves
St. Paul shows that historical places don’t come in one cookie cutter shape, especially with Wabasha Street Caves. Carved into the sandstone caves in the downtown neighborhood, Wabasha Street Caves have served as the headquarters of mobs, underground speakeasies during the Prohibition Era, and today, a cool events space. Swing by on a Thursday night for their Swing Night, which features live music entertainment. If you want more of the Wabasha Street Caves’ myths and legends, drop by on the last Sunday of the month for the Lost Souls tour, which shines the spotlight on the street caves’ unearthly denizens.
Wabasha Street Caves
Address: 215 Wabasha St S, St. Paul, MN
Website: Wabasha Street Caves
Price: 8 USD (cave tour); 10 USD (Lost Soul tour)
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4. Enjoy comfort food at The Buttered Tin
Treat yourself to warm American comfort food and other cuisine classics at The Buttered Tin, a cozy cafe that uses all locally sourced and fresh ingredients. They open at seven in the morning and close early in the afternoon, so be sure to drop by early. The Buttered Tin will make an early bird out of you with their delicious cups of coffee, breakfast tacos, biscuits and gravy, and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. You can also drop by for brunch and get some of that smashed avocado toast, beef short rib reuben, and maybe a glass of rose or prosecco, you’re choice! The Buttered Tin also offers a delectable array of sweets, from layered cakes to cookies and pies.
The Buttered Tin
Address: 237 7th Street East, St. Paul, MN
Website: The Buttered Tin
Opening hours: 7am - 3pm (daily)
5. Drink wine at Joan's in the Park
For some nighttime fine dining in St. Paul, make your way to the sleepy neighborhood of Highland Park and into Joan’s in the Park, renowned as one of the best restaurants in the city. It’s an intimate 40-seat restaurant and wine bar where you can enjoy dinner with your friends or a romantic date with your significant other.
When you dine at Joan’s in the Park, you’re treating yourself to some of the best locally sourced ingredients in St. Paul. The minds at the kitchen use all of these ingredients to make everything from scratch, whether we’re talking about the bread or even the butter. You can order a four-course menu or an ala carte dish, complemented by a glass of red or white from their extensive wine list.
Joan's in the Park
Address: 631 Snelling Avenue South, St. Paul, MN
Website: Joan’s in the Park
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 5pm - 10pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
6. Visit Como Park Zoo and Conservatory for a fun day
Get the chance to see some zebras, sloths, and other exotic animals at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory at Como Regional Park. A free attraction, the zoo and conservatory is home to several features and exhibits. There are the gardens for fans of the botanical– there’s a fern room, a sunken garden, and a palm dome, just to name a few of the gardens. And then there are the animal residents, which include flamingos, Galapagos tortoises, different kinds of primates ranging from the small to the human-size, and more. If you want a more interactive experience, there’s a giraffe feeding area and a frog conservation exhibit that takes you deep into their amphibian world.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Address: Como Regional Park, 1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul, MN
Website: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Opening hours: Apr - Sep: 10am - 6pm (daily); Oct - Mar: 10am - 4pm (daily)
Price: Free (donations are welcome)
7. Tour the remarkable Alexander Ramsey House
Learn more about Alexander Ramsey, former governor of the Minnesota Territory, and what life and culture were like during the 1870s at the Alexander Ramsey House. It was built in 1868, finished and 1872, and finally, included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. The best time to visit the Ramsey House is during the summer when guided tours are offered, and during the Christmas holidays for the Victorian Christmas tours.
The Alexander Ramsey House
Address: 265 Exchange Street South, St. Paul, MN
Website: The Alexander Ramsey House
Opening hours: Sat: 10am - 3pm (closed from Sun - Fri)
Price: 10 USD
8. Visit the fabulous Minnesota History Center
After visiting the Ramsey House and the Wabasha Street Caves, it’s time to delve deeper into Minnesota history. The best place to do that is the Minnesota History Center, its halls filled with a variety of interactive exhibits and its calendar constantly marked with special events and programs. In fact, now is the perfect time to view their latest exhibit; First Avenue: Stories of Minnesota’s Mainroom. If you have family or are from Minnesota, you can also learn more about your roots at the library. Finally, you can go shopping for local Minnesota products and eat at the on-site restaurant.
Minnesota History Center
Address: 345 West Kellogg Boulevard, St. Paul, MN
Website: Minnesota History Center
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 12 USD; 10 USD (seniors, veterans, and college students); 6 USD (kids ages 5-17); free for kids ages 4 and below, members, and Blue Star families
9. Try different flavors at Izzy's Ice Cream
Rain, shine, or snow, getting homemade is always a good idea, especially if it’s by Izzy’s Ice Cream. Renowned in the Twin Cities, Izzy’s Ice Cream is particularly famous for their more outlandish flavor profiles. Aside from the staples like chocolate and vanilla, you can also get out-of-the-box flavors like almond biscotti, basic, birchwood blend, brown sugar bourbon, church elderberry, and fig tart. All in all, there’s a total of 174 flavors to try, ranging from classic recipes to non-dairy, sorbet, and gluten-free options. No wonder Izzy’s Ice Cream is the best ice cream spot in St. Paul!
Izzy's Ice Cream
Address: 2034 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul, MN
Website: Izzy’s Ice Cream
Opening hours: 11am - 11pm (daily)
10. Hike through Bruce Vento Regional Trail
Skip the gym and burn some calories at the Bruce Vento Regional Trail instead. You can find the main trailhead at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. Bruce Vento Regional Trail runs for 7 miles (11 kilometers), traversing through St. Paul, Maplewood, Gem Lake, and Vadnais Heights. You can run the entire length if you’re up for the challenge, or trace the entire trail on a bike. Along the way, you’ll come across tree-lined corridors, stone archways, and refreshing lake views.
Bruce Vento Regional Trail
Address: Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, 4th Street East, St. Paul, MN
11. Relax at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
Looking for more outdoor recreation in St. Paul? Head to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, with the main visitor center located at Kellogg Boulevard. A sight and attraction for every season, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is a great place to watch the local wildlife, go bicycling, indulge in an array of water activities, and nature photography. Spots to check out inside the sprawling river and recreation area include Coldwater Spring, Historic Fort Snelling, Kaposia Indian Site, and Science Museum of Minnesota. Best visit the official website to plan your excursion and make the most out of your day trip.
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
Address: 120 Kellogg Boulevard West, St. Paul, MN
Website: Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
12. Try the oysters at Meritage
Craving for fresh oyster? One of the best places to go in St. Paul to satisfy that craving is Meritage, a French-style bistro also known for their extensive wine list. In true Parisian fashion, there’s sidewalk seating available so you can enjoy your oysters and wine as you watch the people pass by. Aside from oysters and wine, try out their littleneck clams, wild-caught shrimp cocktail, Meritage chicken salad platter, escargot Bourguignons, and herb-crusted Minnesota lamb loin, among other menu favorites, for a complete Meritage experience.
Address: Historic Hamm Building Administration, 410 St. Peter Street, St. Paul, MN
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 5pm; Sat - Sun: 10am (closed on Mon)
13. Check out the Victorian buildings on Summit Avenue
If there is one place in the United States you should check out for gorgeous and wonderfully preserved Victorian-era homes, that would be St. Paul’s Summit Avenue. The entire stretch is lined with Victorian homes. There were originally 440 homes in the area, and 373 of these properties still stand today and can be admired from the street. Some of the most notable homes along Summit Avenue include Edward Duffield Neill’s Home (the first home in Summit Avenue), and other architectural beauties like the James J. Hill House (Romanesque) and the F. Scott Fitzgerald House.
Address: Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN
14. Catch a show at The Fitzgerald Theater
Built in 1910, the Fitzgerald Theater holds the distinction of being the oldest active theater in St. Paul. It used to be called Sam S. Shubert Theater and later renamed after F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the greatest St. Paul natives and American literary icons, in 1994. Today, it’s one happening events venue with an array of shows and concerts lined up every year. Watch a concert or a drag show, enjoy some community theater, and other productions at this storied St. Paul institution and landmark.
The Fitzgerald Theater
Address: 10 East Exchange Street, St. Paul, MN
Website: The Fitzgerald Theater
15. Enjoy golfing at Como Golf Course
The sprawling Como Regional Park has, for ages, served as a gathering point not just for St. Paul natives, but other Minnesotans as well, and that tradition continues to this very day. After all, there is little reason not to go to Como Regional Park. There’s a zoo and a conservatory (which we touched on earlier), a lake, plenty of green space for picnics, and even an 18-hole golf course. Located just behind the zoo, Como Golf Course may be short, but it packs ample challenges for the skilled player and plenty of opportunities for newbies to level up. There’s a practice green, as well as an on-site bar and restaurant for post-round refreshments.
Como Golf Course
Address: 1431 Lexington Parkway North, St. Paul, MN
Website: Como Golf Course
Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)
Price: 11 USD onwards
16. Explore the incredible James J. Hill House
Remember we mentioned the James J. Hill House earlier? Now, we’re fully shining the spotlight on this Romanesque beauty. One of the highlights of Summit Avenue, the James J. Hill House was completed in 1891 and served as the home of James J. Hill, one of the most renowned railroad magnates back in the day. This U.S. National Historic Landmark holds many treasures, from the intricate hand-carved woodwork, the grand staircase, and the many other antique memorabilia and furniture, including the bathtub James J. Hill used when he was alive! Go on a guided tour to fully experience this historic home.
The James J. Hill House
Address: 240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN
Website: The James J. Hill House
Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 10am - 3:30pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
Price: 10 USD
17. See a performance at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Complete the St. Paul theater experience by catching a performance at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. This state-of-the-art facility is one of the leading non-profit performance centers of its kind in the country. If you’re feeling up to it, you can visit the ticket office, which is open until late in the afternoon, to check what’s scheduled for the week and purchase a ticket for anything that catches your fancy. To give you a glimpse of what’s in store ahead of your trip to St. Paul, check the official website for their event calendar. Who knows, you might be able to watch your favorite musician or musical while you’re in town!
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Address: 345 Washington Street, St. Paul, MN
18. Have a break at Claddagh Coffee
After hours of walking up and down Summit Avenue, you deserve a coffee break. Head to Claddagh Coffee for a cup of their specialty coffee, which go wonderfully well with their selection of panini, house-made baked goods, soups, and salads. If this branch is full, you can head to their second location at Selby Avenue, although this one’s a tad bit smaller than the one along 7th Street. Not a fan of coffee? Try any one of their teas and smoothies. Check out their Irish soda and hot chocolate as well.
Address: 459 7th Street West, St. Paul, MN
Website: Claddagh Coffee
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 6:30am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 8am - 4pm
19. Explore the remarkable Minnesota State Capitol
Watch Minnesota history unfold in the seat of the state’s power itself: the State Capitol. A majestic landmark designed by Cass Gilbert, there are several things you can do here. Aside from admiring the architecture, you can visit the chambers for the Senate and the House of Representatives in all their splendor. Dine at the Rathskeller cafeteria down in the basement– it’s open to the public during the legislative session. Don’t forget to check out the rotunda and the governor’s reception room, both on the first floor, and of course, the Quadriga out in the exterior main entrance. Guided tours are available.
Minnesota State Capitol
Address: 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, St. Paul, MN
Website: Minnesota State Capitol
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 3pm; Sun: 1pm - 4pm
20. Go biking through Gateway State Trail
The Gateway State Trail is another must-visit, especially if you want to combine fitness with your exploration of St. Paul. Running from St. Paul to Stillwater, the Gateway State Trail extends for a total of 18 miles (29 kilometers), passing by Maplewood, North St. Paul, and Oakdale. This is a paved trail, so you can easily cruise on your bike or go on a long run. There’s an adjacent horse trail somewhere along the east of Interstate 64 in case you also want to go horseback riding.
Gateway State Trail
Address: Cayuga Park, St. Paul, MN
Website: Gateway State Trail
21. Explore the 19th-century Historic Fort Snelling
Built in 1819, Historic Fort Snelling is one of the most historically significant sites in all of Minnesota. In addition to the important roles in play during the frontier period, the Civil War era, and the post-war times, the history of the grounds where Historic Fort Snelling was built on goes back to 10,000 years. It is located on Dakota land called Bdote. So, when you visit Historic Fort Snelling, you’re not only learning about the history of the United States but a part of the history of the Native Americans and their culture.
Historic Fort Snelling
Address: 200 Tower Avenue, St. Paul, MN
Website: Historic Fort Snelling
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 10am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 12 USD; 10 USD (seniors, college students); 6 USD (kids: ages 5 - 17); free (kids ages 4 and under, members, Blue Star families, Native Americans, veterans and family)
22. Make your own beer at Vine Park Brewing Co.
Instead of trying out the local beer in St. Paul, why not have a go and try to make your own brew? All you need to do is head to Vine Park Brewing on 7th Street, get some gloves, and start brewing. Vine Park Brewing lets you make your own beer or wine using all of their equipment, so you’ll feel like the real deal. For an easier process, make a reservation online to secure your slot then go to Vine Park Brewing on the day and time of your reservation. It takes about two weeks for the beer and wine to ferment, so if you’re still in St. Paul, don’t forget to drop by again to take your brew home.
Vine Park Brewing Co.
Address: 1254 7th Street West, St. Paul, MN
Website: Vine Park Brewing Co.
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 12pm - 8pm; Sat: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
23. Tour the lovely F. Scott Fitzgerald House
While you’re strolling along the storied Summit Avenue, don’t forget to drop by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s House where he spent his adult years. F. Scott Fitzgerald actually lived in several homes in St. Paul (he also lived in another house in Summit Avenue), but 599 Summit Avenue holds the distinction for being the place where he penned one of this novels, This Side of Paradise. The F. Scott Fitzgerald House was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Unfortunately, you can only view it from the outside as 599 Summit Avenue remains a private residence. You can, however, make a bid for it as it is currently on sale and listed for 630,100 USD.
The F. Scott Fitzgerald House
Address: 599 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN
24. Discover the beautiful Gibbs Farm
Take another trip down memory lane at Gibbs Farm, where you’ll be transported back to the simple days of 19th-century pioneer life, devoid of all the advanced technology we enjoy today. You’ll get to meet costumed actors and guides who will tell you all about the lifestyle then, as well as 19th-century buildings and replica structures to complete the experience. The centerpiece of this living exhibit, however, is the original Gibbs farmhouse and farm. Best schedule your trip on the weekend to chance upon one of the special events, like Ice Cream Sundays and Victorian tea parties.
Address: 2097 Larpenteur Avenue West, St. Paul, MN
Website: Gibbs Farm
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 10am - 4pm (May 25 - Oct 27, 2019)
Price: 8 USD; 7 USD (seniors); 5 USD (kids: ages 4 - 16)
25. Bring your kids to Minnesota Children's Museum
Looking for some family-friendly fun in St. Paul? Check out Minnesota Children’s Museum, which promises three levels of fun for all ages. There are a variety of interactive exhibits that even older visitors can enjoy, such as The Studio, where you can craft your own tools, and the Super Awesome Adventures, where you can make your way through a laser maze and climb a green screen wall. For the little ones, there’s the Sprouts exhibit, where they can forge their own paths of discovery, and Tot Spots, which is actually a collection of smaller exhibits specifically designed for the Minnesota Children Museum’s youngest visitors.
Minnesota Children's Museum
Address: 10 7th Street West, St. Paul, MN
Website: Minnesota Children’s Museum
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 9am - 5pm; Fri - Sat: 9am - 8pm
Price: 12.95 USD
26. Tour the galleries at Landmark Center
Built in 1902, Landmark Center joins St. Paul’s large collection of historic buildings. It’s hard not to miss this imposing structure, as it looks like a castle in the middle of the city! What you’ll find inside the Landmark Center are several distinct galleries and exhibits, as well as special events, public gatherings, and art performances. Some of the galleries include the North Gallery, the Gallery of Wood Art, the Schubert Club Museum, and the interactive Uncle Sam Worked Here exhibit. There’s also a gift shop and a cafe located within the grounds.
Address: 75 5th Street West, St. Paul, MN
Website: Landmark Center
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm; Thu: 8am - 8pm; Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm
27. Test your grey matter at Escape MSP (from USD 35.0)
Dare your friends and your family to solve puzzles at Escape MSP. Mr. Croft’s Museum Mission will test your wits and will with its endless array of puzzles. You and your group only have an hour and a half to solve everything and escape the room. You can go inside with a large group of up to 10 people, or only invite your closest friends and family (or the people you work with best!)– it depends on your play style. This Viator tour already includes one session. All you need to do is book your ticket and proceed to Escape MSP at least 15 minutes before your schedule.
Mr Croft's Museum Mission
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
28. Drop by Studio Payne Art Gallery
One look at Studio Payne Art Gallery and you’ll know you’re in for quite a treat. This art gallery and oddities shop caters to the more quirky side of St. Paul, its walls decked out in shelves where you can find anything from stuffed animals and animal bone art, to medical equipment used back in the day. Studio Payne Art Gallery, which is owned by Cameron Torgerud, is also a working artist studio, so if you want to take home something extraordinary to remember your St. Paul trip, this is the place to go.
Studio Payne Art Gallery
Address: 1129 Payne Avenue, St. Paul, MN
Website: Studio Payne Art Gallery
Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 12pm - 6pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed from Mon - Wed)
29. Visit the unique Schubert Club
One of the highlights of Landmark Center, the Schubert Club will take you on a journey through centuries of making music. There’s an impressive cyclone-style sculpture of music instruments and a number of exhibits that are nothing short of inspiring. Out on display are old music boxes and phonographs, as well as keyboards, and even letters exchanged between the most famous composers in human history. The museum is free to the public, but if you want to kick your Schubert Club experience up a notch, watch a concert here.
The Schubert Club
Address: Landmark Center, 75 5th Street West #302, St. Paul, MN
Website: The Schubert Club
Opening hours: Sun - Fri: 12pm - 4pm (closed on Sat)
30. Visit the Cathedral of Saint Paul
No visit to St. Paul is complete without dropping by the majestic Cathedral of Saint Paul, built with Saint Cloud granite and American Travertine. Admire the magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture inside and outside and enjoy the solemnity of the place, even if you’re not on the religious side. If you want to know more about the Cathedral of Saint Paul, we highly recommend joining one of the guided tours, offered from Tuesday through Friday just after lunch. There’s a gift kiosk at the main and lower levels where you can also buy souvenirs for your friends and loved ones.
Cathedral of Saint Paul
Address: 239 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN
Website: Cathedral of Saint Paul
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 7am - 6pm; Sat - Sun: 7:30am - 6pm
You're almost good to go
Before you go on your trip to St. Paul, don’t forget to pack the essentials– a good book, a camera to document your travels, and the right kind of clothes. Remember that winter can be very cold in St. Paul, so if you’re visiting during that time, bundle up and don’t skimp on the layers. Check our other St. Paul travel guides to find more things to do in the city as well.
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