Table of Contents
- Fun Trivia
- 1. The River Opens up a Hive of Events
- 2. Harriet Island
- 3. The Natural Environment – Parks
- 4. A 5-mile Pedestrian Skyway
- 5. The Best Farm-Fresh Ice-Cream
- 6. Visit a Beach
- 7. Farmers Markets
- 8. Shop in Saint Paul
- 9. Museums
- 10. Free Entertainment
- 11. Tours
- 12. Arts in all forms of Expression
- 13. Action Sports
- 14. Breweries and Pubs
- 15. Cathedral of Saint Paul – the City’s Crowning Jewel
- 16. Food Halls
- 17. Summit Avenue
- 18. James J Hill House
- 19. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
- 20. Aquatics for the whole family
- 21. Festivals
- 22. Xcel Energy Center
- 23. Showtime
- 24. Dance Clubs and Nightlife
- 25.Fun Accommodation Options
- A Comprehensive Range of Everything you Love
Wherever you choose to go in Minnesot’s capitol city, you’ll find it entertaining as it offers a wide variety and full spectrum of amazing activities for all to enjoy.
The state of Minnesota’s biggest metropolitan area is the twin cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. St. Paul is a fascinating city built on terraces above the Mississippi and spaciously laid out. The city began as a military post, established in 1807 and later became Port Shelling. The port was a major stop-over for riverboats, becoming an important center for traders.
Even for those who are interested in outdoor pursuits, the city is able to deliver. In fact, whatever your interests are, a great holiday is guaranteed. The city is visitor-friendly too, and it offers lots of different ways to get around.
There are buses and trains, scooters, bikes as well as the opportunity to walk to where the fun is.
Look at Mickey’s Diner in downtown Saint Paul for instance – it has featured in no less than 3 movies. Another mind-boggling fact is that in the public schools of Saint Paul, there are more than 95 languages and dialects spoken.
The fact that Saint Paul used to be called Pig’s Eye gives you an idea of the interesting character of the place. It was named after a one-eyed trader of furs, Pierre Parrant, who came to Saint Paul and opened Pig’s Eye Tavern.
There is so much of interest in this city, a person can just go on and on and never come to an end of it all, and we’re going to look at just 25 fun facts about this extraordinary city, although there are far more.
1. The River Opens up a Hive of Events
Saint Paul has always been a hub of activity and what is interesting about the city is that it has more Mississippi river frontage than other cities. This means that there is plenty of opportunity for hiking and relaxing along the river.
Raspberry Island is an island in the Mississippi River and buildings for the Minnesota Boat Club are on this island. As it is, the island was used by the United States Navy between 1949 and 1968. It’s a beautiful place of tranquility and people come to the island to tie the knot and for all kinds of festive events.
It is beautiful enough for all kinds of fun and entertainment as there are a number of landscaping features as well as a beautiful path for walking. These paths are dotted with benches to rest a while and take in the peace and quiet.
Restroom facilities were also added to the Minnesota Boat Club building. Included in the island’s attractions are a lit-up band shell where musical performances take place during the Summer months.
2. Harriet Island
Harriet Island isn’t really an island as such. This is because the back channel of the island was filled in some years ago. Nonetheless, it is an award-winning park found along the Mississippi River near downtown Saint Paul.
You’ll also find many amenities on the so-called island because it’s a popular place for parties, weddings and other functions throughout the year. Visitors to the park can enjoy lots of fun and relaxation and there is also walking along the paths that run close to the river. The river setting makes it a wonderful place to picnic as well.
Not forgetting the children, there is a playground as well as the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion. A person can find all kinds of entertainment offered at the pavilion.
3. The Natural Environment – Parks
The city also prides itself on its parks and its many beautiful gardens among which are the Japanese Gardens. At the end of each year the gardens have the famous Lantern Lighting Festival.
There is also the Fort Snelling State Park. Visitors and locals looking for an enriching nature experience will be bowled over by the sheer beauty of this park adjacent to the Twin Cities International Airport.
The wonderful state park opened in 1962 with its purpose being to conserve the open spaces and forested areas that are home to many wild creatures. It is worth knowing that it ranks as one of Minnesota’s top 10 tourist attractions, with more than 400,000 visitors coming to the park every year.
There are no camping facilities but it offers all the other amenities that you’d expect in a park. Bike lovers will appreciate the many bike trails in the park and there are also some good hiking trails running throughout the park.
You can enjoy a host of activities even during the winter as there are heated trail shelters and ice fishing is also permitted.
4. A 5-mile Pedestrian Skyway
The city’s 5-mile long skyway is the 2nd longest continuous skyway system in the world. The city has cleverly connected more than 5 miles of downtown so that everyone can get quickly and safely to all their must-be places.
There is no need to worry about traffic as the interlinked, enclosed pedestrian footbridges allow you to be connected to many city blocks and buildings, allowing people to peacefully walk to wherever they want to be in air-conditioned comfort.
5. The Best Farm-Fresh Ice-Cream
Who doesn’t want delicious ice cream on a hot summer’s day? The Pumphouse Creamery is open every day of the week where they make their own hand-crafted ice cream with natural and organic locally-sourced ingredients.
They also offer dairy-free ice creams, and with such an assortment of decadent flavors, it’s a wonder that this creamery has been nominated as one of the top ice cream producers in the country. This is because of their sheer excellence at doing things.
With names such as Local Honeyberry and Raspberry Crisp, Madagascar Vanilla, Chocolate, Coconut, Almonds, Chocolate Chips and others, you won’t fear any heat waves in the city with alluring flavors like this. What is also cool about this ice cream is that all the ingredients come from the most awesome providers, all known for their natural, simple farm produce. Make picnics and beach outings more fun with this delectable ice cream.
6. Visit a Beach
Who says going to the beach has to be at the sea? Don’t you know that Saint Paul has some of the most amazing lake beaches that are ready to provide you with hours of carefree fun in the sun?
Lake Phalen is just one of them and one of the largest lakes in Saint Paul. Those with kayaks don’t have to worry about being knocked about by gasoline outboard motorboats as these are not allowed on the lake.
Thousands of people visit the lake and it’s great for a walk. There is a 3.2 mile walk around the lake that joggers and cyclists also like to use. The lake shore is a great place to put up an umbrella as the beach is beautifully maintained and there are even lifeguards.
There are many people swimming and making use of the rental paddleboats, sailboats and kayaks. You can even sign up for some sailing lessons if you want. There are picnic areas around the lake, areas for fishing and there is also a viewing platform to view the many birds that flock to the lake.
7. Farmers Markets
When Summer comes around, the farmer’s markets are well stocked with all manner of fresh, locally grown produce that the current season has to offer. It’s a pleasure to support the local farmers who work so hard to bring visitors and locals a taste of fresh farm fruits and veggies.
The Saint Paul Farmers’ Market is a fabulous way to spend a few hours browsing the fresh fare and this particular market has quite a few locations around the area.
There is also the Keg and Case Farmers Market which is held throughout the year. It’s a culinary market but there are other stalls such as art and crafts, entertainment, flowers and plenty of activities.
St. Luke’s Farmers Market is also hugely fun and entertaining and is put on by the St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. You won’t only find freshly grown produce at this market, but also lots of different meat.
Then there is also the Frogtown Farm Community Celebrations held every 2nd Thursday. This is a certified organic farm in the Frogtown area and apart from the fresh produce, you can enjoy live performances in the fresh air.
8. Shop in Saint Paul
Some of the shops in Saint Paul are more than just shopping centers. They are looked upon as destination centers because they don’t only showcase the very best in retail layout and design, they are places where fashion, restaurants, pubs and sheer creativity converge.
These shopping hotspots are places where people connect to share an awesome shopping experience. Among the different shops, you’ll find heaps of speciality brands.
When you’re not getting your banking done and having coffee with family and friends, there are wellness stores, jewelers, book stores, clothing stores and much more. You can take your pick from excellent malls such as Mall of America and Galleria Shopping Center, among others.
The word ‘museum’ doesn’t have to conjure up a boring outing one bit, not with exciting museums such as the Science Museum of Minnesota. This isn’t a museum where you have to just look and be careful not to touch anything.
The museum offers enthralling hands-on exhibits that allow visitors to be active. You can even board a Mississippi River towboat. Kids are encouraged to come to these museums in Saint Paul because they can take part in all kinds of exciting learning experiences such as learning to create their own tornado.
The Jurassic Park movies stimulated in children worldwide interest in dinosaurs and this particular museum has a fantastic dinosaur exhibit. Kids will actually be able to see the reconstructed remains of a real Triceratops. This is indeed fantastic as this one is just one of 4 in the world.
This is seriously one museum where you can say ‘never a dull moment’ and it doesn’t remain the same. Next time you visit, you’ll likely find that the exhibits have changed again.
10. Free Entertainment
Even if you’ve been a bit frivolous with spending money in Saint Paul, it never means waiting for payday till you can have more fun because there is always worthwhile free entertainment in the city.
Look at the Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul where famous gangsters were once tried. Today it is an arts and cultural center that is free to enter.
Also, places such as Harriet Island, already mentioned, is free to visit and this park is ranked as one of the very best. Then you get a wonderfully quiet and tranquil escape with Crosby Farm Regional Park offering a host of recreational opportunities.
The park can restore equilibrium as you can wander the many pathways and bike trails. If you love birds, you’ll be in your element. It is the largest natural park in the Saint Paul system of parks.
It’s a wonderful escape and has a mix of grasslands, floodplain forest and also oak forests, wetlands and lakes. Its a wonderful place which is free to enter and where you can enjoy a quiet, simple picnic in the splendor of nature.
There are so many different tours in and around Saint Paul. Your only problem will be deciding which one to go on. Of course, the tour you settle on will be according to your fascinations and interests.
There are many people who thrill at the idea of Gangster Tours and learning all about some of the most brazen and ruthless former criminals of yesteryear.
These tours are packed full of thrilling gangster history. You’ll be taken into the former courthouse where some of them had to appear after finally being caught and you’ll hear about the lives of some of these most wanted criminals such as Evelyn Frechette and ‘Ma’ Barker.
You can be sure that these tours are always narrated by the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and interesting guides who will ensure you’re thrilled from the very onset of the tour.
Similar to the Gangster Tours are the ghost and grave tours. Saint Paul has many haunted, shadowy locations for these.
On a more light-hearted note, there are wine tasting tours, there are special guided tours to St. Paul’s Cathedral, there are Foodie tours, there are walking tours, tours where you learn a new skill and even a horse-drawn carriage tour.
This particular tour is where you follow the Mississippi River and get taken back a couple of centuries. Listen to the clip-clop of the horse’s hooves as is draws the carriage along the cobblestones of Main Street. Here you can experience the beautiful views of the Minneapolis skyline.
There’s a lot to see on such a splendid outing such as the James J Hill’s Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls and others.
12. Arts in all forms of Expression
Saint Paul has a thriving art scene and the city is dedicated to all forms of expression. For starters, you’ll be enthralled by the statues and fountains in Rice Park.
This is a public park in downtown Saint Paul and there are many sculptures of various characters. There is a fountain and bandstand too and during the winter months, an ice rink.
Not only that, when you cast your eyes around you see that the park is also bordered by ancient landmarks such as the 1910 Saint Paul Hotel and the 1917 George Latimer Central Library among others, There is also the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in the area.
Who doesn’t love the creativity of wall murals and in the early 2000s, artists known as Broken Crow were commissioned to paint fascinating street murals along certain avenues. You can still walk there and see their designs on several buildings around the Midway area.
Last year a number of mural artists arrived in St Paul to participate in the first-ever Mural & Art Festival in St. Paul.The artists had 8 days to create 12 huge outdoor murals on the sides of the CEZ buildings, providing a colorful break from the industrial setting. The neighborhood wants to establish a regular mural festival.
13. Action Sports
There is no shortage of exciting sport activities in Saint Paul and one of these is the motorcycle rental concept – a guided motorcycle tour. How utterly riveting it can be to see the Harley-Davidsons as well as all others kinds of motorcycles such as Triumph, Honda, BMW and others. You can go on a riding adventure with such a tour.
What a fun and safe way to see the city. For those who thrill at the allure of the open road, there are many scenic routes around Minnesota that offer some of the most exquisite rides. Just the northeast region, known as the Arrowhead, is where the majestic Lake Superior is as well as other lakes and rivers.
Just west of Minneapolis, SDI Paragliding Academy is waiting to offer both paragliding flights and classes.
There are also many stables around Saint Paul and horseriding is a wonderful way to see nature. You can go on guided trail rides as Minnesota has close to a thousand riding opportunities in forests and parks.
Between the different stables they offer riding lessons, day camps and outrides. It’s just a case of calling one of them and scheduling in a ride for the day.
14. Breweries and Pubs
There are quite a few breweries in Saint Paul where you can hang out with friends and even celebrate a party. Apart from fascinating breweries constructed inside a grain silo, there are breweries such as the Barrel Theory that have received a number of accolades for their brewery experience.
Referred to fondly as Blucy, the Blue Door Pub opened its doors in 2008 in a small neighborhood in St. Paul. The Blucy is also known for its finger-licking hamburgers and they simply invite everyone to bring their appetites along to get well and truly stuffed with their delectable offerings.
15. Cathedral of Saint Paul – the City’s Crowning Jewel
Saint Paul is jam packed with fantastic historic attractions and this mesmerizing cathedral is one. The construction of this beautiful cathedral, modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, began in 1906.
It was in 1915 that the majestic cathedral held its first services, being able to seat some 3 000 people. Even though services continued, it still took another 3 decades just for the interior of the cathedral to be completed.
It is the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul and is also a pilgrimage site for many Catholics. The cathedral today hosts concerts throughout the year, of which organ performances are a popular option.
16. Food Halls
Certainly, when you’re a visitor in a beautiful city, you want to be eating and drinking and sampling everything a new destination offers. Saint Paul is a city big on food markets and a landmark of St. Paul. The former Schmidt Brewery reopened in 2018 as Keg and Case.
This is a culinary and retail marketplace with about 24 vendors, among them coffee shops and ice cream shops. Market House Collaborative is home to a bakery, butcher, seafood restaurant and others.
On a bigger scale is the Hmongtown Marketplace that brings to you more than 100 vendors indoors. During the warmer Summer months, there are outdoor vendors as well.
Inside Rosedale Center, which is a shopping mall, there is a wonderful food hall as well.
17. Summit Avenue
This avenue is home to a huge collection of Victoria buildings with no less than 373 original historic mansions still standing. These were the homes of some of St, Pauls illustrious characters and millionaires.
The fascinating Avenue starts with the city’s most prominent landmark – the Cathedral of St Paul. Close to the cathedral is the James J. Hill House. It was built by the founder of the Great Northern Railroad which is also a huge tourist attraction.
18. James J Hill House
The James J. Hill House in Saint Paul is a massive and fascinating mansion built by railroad magnate James J. Hill. The house is found in Summit Avenue. Hill has a collection of art pieces and inside the house is an art gallery.
Not only will you be taken aback by the opulence with stained glass and chandeliers, you’ll also be intrigued when you hear about all his family members, the guests he had as well as his servants and workers.
19. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Animal and nature lovers will be enthralled with Como Park Zoo & Conservatory which is free and open to newcomers and frequent visitors throughout the year. Small wonder such an awesome place receives no less than 2 million visitors a year.
The zoo is packed full of special events for kids, moms and dads as well as seniors. How cool it is that those over 55 have their own special time to visit the zoo with activities that spice things up for them.
Locals and visitors should check out the website to get updates on all that’s happening.
20. Aquatics for the whole family
Great River Water Park is Saint Paul’s premier indoor aquatics facility, and apart from the marvelous water slides, diving boards, sauna, it promises much fun for the entire family. With eating areas, shelters and much more, it’s the perfect place for the entire family to relax and chill.
There is also the fabulous Highland Park Aquatic Center with its 2-story water slide, aquatic climbing wall and much, much more. Life jackets are also free to rent.
Saint James is so rich in entertainment, that when it comes to festivals, you will need to pencil events into a diary or onto your fridge calendar.
In summer when the sun’s out, it is time to kick back with family and friends and enjoy all that the city offers. You can try some of the best local and international beer and cuisine while listening t the sounds of jazz, country, classical or pop music.
There is the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, a non-profit organization that knows how music brings communities together. It started off as a small 1-day event in downtown Minneapolis 22 years ago but has now become one of the biggest free civic jazz festivals. There are 2 outdoor stages and all performances are free and open to the public.
Then there is the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, and since 1886, this festival has brought family-friendly events to the city, jam packed full of special events and fun activities.
The Irish Fair of Minnesota takes place in August, giving everyone the chance to celebrate an authentic Irish heritage. You can take part in lots of activities and dances and of course there is the Celtic marketplace as well as fabulous food and drink stalls.
22. Xcel Energy Center
The Xcel Energy Center in downtown Saint Paul opened its doors in September, 2000 with hockey games, the state’s official sport.
It’s a huge multi-purpose arena that can hold 20 000 and it is regarded as one of the best arenas in the world. The famous sports and entertainment facility is home to more than 150 sporting and entertainment events every year.You can well imagine that it receives millions of visitors every year.
Boasting superior acoustics, the splendid arena has 74 executive suites with bars and restaurants, clubs and lounges. Perhaps one of the most impressive and eye-catching aspects of this amazing Xcel Energy Center is the 8-sided electronic scoreboard.
Inside the venue, there are also no less than 274 wifi access points, allowing fans to connect to the wifi network without any log in being required. With such awesome extravagance, it isn’t surprising that this majestic Energy Center has been recognized as one of the best venues worldwide for sporting- and other leisure events. Some well known performers to dazzle audiences so far have been among others, Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel and Faith Hill.
Apart from movie theaters in Saint Paul, there are also a host of live shows to amuse and entertain. These include musicals, comedy and stand-up, virtual broadway experiences, family shows and more.
St Paul Theater is part of the Theatreland Ltd Collection and they offer plenty of websites where you can find guides to all theatrical, musical and performing arts events as well as kid-friendly shows and performances.
24. Dance Clubs and Nightlife
The spacious The Loft is a vibey place to hang out, particularly for a New Year’s rave. There are free earplugs at the bar and there are always lots of artists. If you do find the music too loud, the club has areas where you can move away and chat in peace and quiet.
The Wild Onion is also a popular hangout place which is a grill by day and a casual bar at night.
You can enjoy live music at the Minnesota Music Cafe or enjoy excellent Irish bands at The Liffey or Dubliner Pub. O’Gara’s is a neighborhood bar and grill with their own microbrewed beers and a good variety of live bands.
25.Fun Accommodation Options
When you visit Saint Paul in Minnesota, when it comes to accommodation, you can really experience so many choices. The city says that you have the need and they have the solution to ensure you have an exceptional travel and accommodation experience.
There are some wonderful hotels but you can also opt to stay in fabulous bed and breakfasts or stylish and personalized guest houses. There is accommodation for every traveler whether you’re looking for affordable, quality self-catering options or you want a hotel break – all with a range of features to ensure an enriching travel experience.
A Comprehensive Range of Everything you Love
Whatever your reason for embarking on a trip to Saint Paul, Minnesota, you will enjoy every moment and it has a comprehensive list of things to see and do.
There really is so much on offer throughout this area that your trip could easily take much longer than you anticipated. However long it takes, take it easy and have a wonderful getaway in this city of many colors.