St. Cloud is a wonderful small city in Minnesota, usually overlooked by tourists targeting the Twin Cities. If you think the same way, this list of things to do in St. Cloud, MN, might change your mind.
Whether you’re planning a short retreat or a long vacation with your family, it can get quite tricky to choose a destination. In this case, you should go for a location that offers a combination of thrilling and relaxing attractions. Similarly, it should have a diverse combination of natural, cultural, and historical attributes to keep the whole family entertained each day.
In my opinion, there are few better options in the Midwest that tick all the boxes than St. Cloud, MN. One of Minnesota’s most breathtakingly beautiful and culturally rich cities, St. Cloud attracts hundreds of visitors and foreign tourists every year.
However, if you’re wondering what to do in St. Cloud, I have got you covered. Check out this list of fun activities in St. Cloud to create the best itinerary for yourself.
Fun & Best Things to Do in St. Cloud, MN
Set alongside the meanders of the great Mississippi and Sauk Rivers, St. Cloud is a nature-lovers paradise. It is commonly the first stop for outdoor enthusiasts visiting Minnesota.
Residents and tourists in St. Cloud enjoy spending their time at its luxurious parks, gardens, and serene walking paths. Besides that, there are many fun things to do in St. Cloud along the two rivers, such as boating, fishing, and canoeing.
Apart from its breathtaking natural attributes, St. Cloud is also known for its historical and cultural heritage. You’ll find exploring museums, marketplaces, and art galleries some of the best things to do in St. Cloud.
Moreover, if you’re up for some thrill, you can enjoy watching performing arts, theatricals, and even a hockey game on its Joe Faber field. From its popular Munsinger Gardens to the renowned St John’s University, St. Cloud activities offer the variety you need for the whole family or a group of friends.
Nicknamed the ‘Granite City’ due to its world-renowned mining industry, the city offers some of the best tourist attractions in the Midwest.
Are you excited to visit St. Cloud, Minnesota? I have listed down the best things to do St. Cloud has to offer so you can plan your vacation accordingly. So let’s dive right in.
1. Explore the Munsinger and Clemens Gardens
If you want to witness a scenic amalgamation of nature and history, the Munsinger and Clemens Gardens should be the first addition to your itinerary.
Constructed back in the 1930s, the Munsinger Gardens are a popular stop for residents and tourists alike. Later in the 1980s, these gardens were refurbished to incorporate the seven-acre Virginia Clemens Rose Garden area.
Overlooking the Mississippi River, the gardens showcase scenic views and landscapes that make them an ideal spot for photographers and nature lovers.
The gardens feature beautiful flower beds and fresh vegetation and embody a serene aura. With more than 1100 roses blooming in the vicinity surrounded by various shrubs and trees, the garden is a nature-lovers paradise.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, exploring them will be one of the best things to do in St. Cloud, Minnesota for you. Besides the Clemens Gardens, the Perennial Gardens in the vicinity feature a replica fountain from the pre-civil war area, a must-visit for history buffs.
Similarly, if you’re interested in shopping, the garden has a cute gift shop where you can find gardening items and nature-related souvenirs.
Moreover, if you’re looking for things to do in St. Cloud this weekend, the Munsinger and Clemens Gardens have amazing public events during the holidays.
These include concert series and food festivals on Sundays, so make sure to check them out. To reach the Munsinger Gardens, you can take the State Highway towards Kilian Boulevard and head north towards the gardens. Admission is completely free for families so that you can enjoy an affordable trip during your stay in the city.
See Related: Things to Do in Granite Falls
2. Visit the Stearns History Museum
Built as a flagship project of the Stearns County Historical Society, the Stearns History Museum preserves the historical heritage of St. Cloud. Visitors can witness the historical stories and events related to the St. Cloud and Stearns County region, making it an educational experience for your children.
The Stearns History Museum remains open throughout the week; however, the timings differ on Sundays, so make sure to check them out before heading towards the vicinity. You’ll have to pay a nominal entrance fee of around $7-$10, depending on the time of your visit.
Located at 33rd Avenue, St. Cloud, the museum is easily accessible through public transport. Similarly, the building is completely handicapped-accessible, so you can be concern-free while taking your differently-abled friends along.
The exhibits span two floors 20,000 family history files, 500,000 photographs, and 1900 oral histories. Additionally, there are six video presentations that will leave your kids enthralled by the historical aspects of the state.
Moreover, the museum also sports a children’s room and a gift shop for souvenirs. Also, the building is surrounded by beautiful gardens managed by the Stearns County parks system. Here, you can plan a picnic with your family after exploring the exhibits.
3. Head Towards the Beaver Island Trail
Spanning across what used to be a charter railroad of the Minneapolis and Northwestern Railway Company, the Beaver Island Trail offers some of the best activities in St. Cloud, MN.
The two larger segments of the previous railroad route serve as a part of the trail today. This makes up a five-mile stretch alongside the Mississippi River, where hiking enthusiasts can have a good time. The asphalt trail is easily accessible by boat or ferry and has a few landmarks you can check out on your way.
These include the St. Cloud State University and the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center. Meaning, if you plan carefully, you can plan an entire day full of fun activities and educational experiences around the Beaver Island Trail.
The entrance fee is around $7-$10, with concessions for children under 10. You can also book a guided tour across the trail to know the landmarks and buildings across the riverside trail in detail.
While the asphalt trail is great for walking, biking, and driving, it might get quite boring for people who have visited before. To add some thrill to your trip, you can head over to the River Walk, where you can run.
Skate and even ski during the winter months. The trail also has downtown access, where you can head after a long day to grab a bite of food. The trail makes for an amazing photo location, especially during the fall. So make sure to take your camera along to click some scenic memories.
See Related: Best Places to Take Pictures In Minneapolis
4. Hike Through the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve
Covering an area of more than 680 acres, the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve are one of the most enjoyable walking trails in Saint Cloud. The park is open throughout the week and attracts residents and tourists all year long.
Designed as a treat for nature lovers, the park boasts four different ecosystems: prairie, woodland, wetland, and bedrock. Attributing to this setting, you can witness a variety of trees and plants across the vicinity. These include aspen, oak, Indian Paintbrush, prickly pear cacti, and yellow lady slippers.
Apart from the serene natural attributes, you can find all the fun things to do in St. Cloud at this location. There are multiple quarries in the area that let you indulge in activities like swimming, boating, fishing, and scuba diving.
Besides water sports, you can take up many other thrilling adventures like rock climbing and cross-country skiing in some areas of the park.
Most importantly, if you want to spend your day reclining with your family, the park also offers some relaxing picnic spaces. Here, you can spread out your belongings and enjoy the breathtaking view while enjoying homemade snacks.
Moreover, you can carry your barbecue grill and enjoy preparing smoked meats for your family. The park also has small convenience shops and a few food carts where you can grab some essentials for the day.
Accessible through public transport and requiring a nominal entrance fee, Quarry Park and Natural Preserve make for an affordable family getaway.
See Related: 15 Best Things to Do in Prior Lake, Minnesota
5. Hang Out At Old Capital Tavern
If you’re looking to spend a grown-up’s night having fun without the kids, hanging out at the Old Capital Tavern is one of the best things to do.
One of the most popular hangouts in Sauk Rapids, the bar offers a variety of craft beers, bourbons, whiskeys, and scotches for an amazing drinking night with friends.
Similarly, you can try out the local cuisine or go for their signature chicken and steak entrees. Besides that, the pub is known for its famous taco dishes, namely its spicy fried avocado taco.
You can visit the Old Capital Tavern at any time of the day. However, if you’re looking for an immersive experience, you should try their Sunday brunch. This special weekend menu combines continental and local dishes that fit residents’ and tourists’ palates.
The restaurant is easily accessible through the St. Cloud metro bus located in downtown St. Cloud. If you’re visiting for food and drinks, you can expect to spend anywhere from $20-$50 per head at the restaurant.
See Related: Best Takeout Restaurants in the Twin Cities
6. Cheer On Your Favorite Team at the Joe Faber Field
The Joe Faber Field is a part of St. Cloud’s Municipal Athletic Complex. The complex has five sections, including a Par 30 golf course, two baseball fields, and two ice areas.
The field opened up in 1998 and has room to hold more than 2000 people. Complete with concession stands, dining areas, and private group seating arrangements, the stadium is used by the teams at St. Cloud University. One thing that encapsulates the spirit of Minnesota and the Midwest is hockey. Meaning, it is one of the best things to do in St. Cloud.
The city is also home to the illustrious hockey team, the Huskies. It is one of the best-ranked men’s teams in the country. So if you’re a sports fan, you can catch a game and spend your time enjoying yourself at the Joe Faber Field.
The best part is, the field offers free entry for children under four. If you’re looking for a fun experience for your children, the field management allows children to run the baseball bases in the complex after every Sunday home game.
So, if you’re looking for St. Cloud things to do, this place is certainly a must-visit.
7. Watch a Performance at the Paramount Center for the Arts
Originally known as the Sherman Theatre, the Paramount Center for the Arts is a bold centerpiece in the artistic heritage of Saint Cloud.
The city recently celebrated its 100th anniversary after its complete renovation in 1930. Upon its renovation, the theatre was renamed Sherman Theatre after the Paramount Theatre in New York City.
The center has a set calendar of theatrical performances, concerts, and stand-up comedy shows throughout the year for you to choose from. The theater also has two public presentation spaces where the management holds annual exhibitions for residents and tourists.
If you’re interested in arts, you should keep an eye on the exhibition schedule and plan your vacation accordingly. Besides that, the center also offers professional art courses for aspiring artists, which you can visit by taking a guided tour of the building.
Today the visual and performing arts center sits in the historic downtown and has a calendar of events, from concerts and theatrical performances to stand-up comedy. The theater also has two public exhibition spaces that host several annual exhibitions.
In addition, the theater offers public art courses and studio spaces for aspiring artists and professionals. Located at St Germain Street, the center is easily accessible through a car or public transport from anywhere in the city.
If you’re visiting during the peak tourist season, make sure to book tickets beforehand for your desired events. That’s because the seats for most performances are usually pre-booked at that time of the year. However, you can get walk-in tickets for some events if you travel off-season.
Apart from the Paramount Center of Arts, the Pioneer Palace is also a hub for performing arts enthusiasts. With its 20th century architecture and historic facade, the building itself is a sight to behold.
Besides that, it holds around 8-10 performances and productions every year, which you can witness live during your stay.
Similarly, weekly jazz performances and acoustic events are held in its Veranda Lounge, which is popular among locals.
See Related: Best Things to do in Lake City, Minnesota
8. Take an Excursion Along the Mississippi River
Although you won’t find many St. Cloud beach things to do, you can indulge in water sports alongside the Mississippi River. As one of the largest river towns in Minnesota, Saint Cloud is known for its fun activities at the riverbank.
Especially if you’re traveling during summer, you will find yourself enjoying a crowd of Saint Cloud residents at the riverbank. Start your day from Sauk Rapids and head over to Clearwater.
On your way, you will find many riverside attractions, including Riverside Park, Hester Park, Wilson Park, the Riverbuffs Regional Park, and Saint Cloud’s Country Golf Course.
These parks offer a combination of sports such as golf, basketball, baseball, cross-country skiing, volleyball, and tennis. Besides that, you can take up various watersports, including kayaking, canoeing, boating, and fishing.
Moreover, you can bring your boats and canoes to enjoy watersports with your family. Even if you don’t have your own, there are many shops and outfitters along the Mississippi river where you can get geared up for your desired adventure.
If you’re not in the mood for sporty activities, you can recline near the riverbank to enjoy the scenic view alongside the city. However, while there’s no entrance fee in most parks for hikers and bikers, you might need to pay an additional fee for any water sports and activities you take up.
9. Explore Lake George Park
If you’re up for some outdoor activity, visiting Lake George Park is one of the best St. Cloud things to do today. The park is close to downtown St. Cloud, easily accessible through public or personal transport.
You’ll find Lake George Park full of all kinds of sporting activities. From kayaks to stand-up paddleboards, from fishing boats to houseboats, the serene lake is dotted with fun adventures to indulge in.
What’s more, you can bring your picnic basket and enjoy reclining on the dry land while enjoying the view. The park is also an attractive getaway for hiking and biking enthusiasts.
While you can enter the park without any fee, rentals like kayaks, canoes, fishing gear, and houseboats will cost you according to the duration of your visit.
Remember, the prices range from high to low during the peak season and off-season. So, if you’re planning to conduct adventurous activities, keep an eye on your budget or try to plan your vacation off-season.
Apart from sports and hiking, Lake George Park also has outdoor music concerts during the summer. Moreover, it also hosts the popular Middletown Market, where you can find local food trucks offering delicious local cuisine and interesting souvenirs to take home.
10. Indulge In History at St. John’s University
If you’re done exploring the various attributes inside Saint Cloud, you can travel a small distance away from the city to St. John’s University. Located in Collegeville, the university is popular worldwide for its stained-glass panels.
The glass panels can be found in St. John’s Abbey Church on the university campus. Adorned with rustic colors and designs, the panels are 65 feet tall and 200 feet wide, showcasing the region’s rich cultural heritage.
There are many other architectural aspects to behold around St. John’s University. Most importantly, it has a 100-foot tall bell tower and lush gardens for nature lovers to explore.
Another interesting stop at the university is St. John’s Bible Gallery. A treat for history buffs, the bible gallery holds the original bible owned by St. John, created by the calligrapher Donald Jackson.
It is a 20-30 min drive from St. Cloud to Collegeville; you can take a bus ride or even drive your car. There are no charges at the university for visitors. However, you can book a paid guided tour to explore its architectural attributes and historical aspects in detail.
See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in Minnesota
11. Visit St. Mary’s Cathedral
Whether you’re a religious person or not, nothing will stop you from appreciating the mesmerizing beauty of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Saint Cloud.
Unfortunately, the original gothic-style architecture of the church erected in 1864 was burnt to the ground. However, the currently standing church was reconstructed shortly after the been and was completed in 1930.
Today, it highly resembles the basilica in Ravenna, Italy. You can visit the shrine of Saint Cloud inside the church, the namesake of the city himself. Besides that, the church also has a small museum to witness historic relics connected to the city’s origin.
However, the most attractive artifacts include an alleged bone fragment of Saint Cloud himself, pieces of his clothing, and his statue from the 17th century. This church and museum are a must-visit if you’re interested in the city’s history.
St. Mary’s Cathedral is located in central St. Cloud and is easily accessible by public transport. There are no charges for visiting the church or viewing the exhibits in the adjacent buildings.
12. Hike Across the Lake Wobegon Trail
One of the most popular hiking trails in Minnesota, The Lake Wobegon Trail is a must-visit for tourists in St. Cloud. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike through this 63-mile trail and enjoy the scenic view of the city surrounding the serene lake waters.
Besides hiking, you can even bike or take a leisurely walk along the renowned trail featured in various fictional works for its natural beauty and grandeur. These works include the radio show “Prairie Home Companion” and the 1930 Nobel-Prize-winning novel; Main Street.
The trail passes several riverside towns where you can stop for a bite of food at some local eateries. One of my favorite stops along the Lake Wobegon Trail includes Alexandria and Holdingford.
Holdingford houses the largest covered bridge in the country. Besides that, the town is rich in cultural heritage and has a blustering marketplace where you can shop for local merchandise and taste delicious street food.
13. Check Out Breweries and Cideries
If you’re interested in tasting wines and beers while observing their making, you should visit the various breweries and cideries in St. Cloud.
Beaver Island Brewing is one of the largest breweries in the city, with a vast array of beers to choose from.
Apart from tasting beers and witnessing the unique processes, you can also work for a good cause at Beaver Island Brewing. Every Wednesday, they have an event where a percentage of all sales and tips are donated to local charities.
So, if you’re planning to stop at the location, make sure you do so on a Wednesday to contribute towards a good cause. Similarly, you can visit other breweries across the town, including The Pantown Brewing Company, Milk and Honey Ciders, and Bad Habit Brewing.
Some of these breweries also offer guided tours for first-time visitors. Make sure to check out their website before planning your itinerary so you can pick a day for the visit.
14. Shop at Crossroads Center
Crossroads center is one of the largest malls in downtown St. Cloud, Minnesota. If you want to spend an evening shopping for your loved ones back home, this mall is the best place to check out.
Boasting five anchor stores, namely Macy’s, Target, Sears, JCPenny, and Scheels All Sports, the mall is a major regional hub.
Besides that, it has some of the most popular clothing brands such as H&M, Hot Topic, Victoria’s Secret, and Francesa’s. Other popular stores include Men’s Wearhouse, Bath and Body Works, and Kay Jewelers.
Apart from shopping, you can go for the various entertainment options available at the mall, such as movie theaters and gaming arenas. To end your evening, you can grab some go-to fast food at its food court from eateries like Chick-Fil-A, Subway, and Sbarro.
Most importantly, the mall has free wireless internet and a play area for children so they can stay out of your way while you shop.
Located west of the State Highway, the mall is easily accessible by car or public transport. The best part is, you don’t have to pay an entrance fee to explore the mall.
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