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24 Fun & Best Things to Do in St. Paul, Minnesota

24 Fun & Best Things to Do in St. Paul, Minnesota

The welcoming and historic capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is one-half of the stunning Twin Cities. It has a population of about 300,000 and urban parts of Minneapolis are right at its doorstep.

This city is the perfect combination of metropolitan and laid-back. These are the best things to do in St. Paul, Minnesota. The southern part of Saint Paul is lined with green and sometimes with snow-clad banks of the river.

The streets have artisan cafes and several museums. If you think that there is not much to see or do in Saint Paul, you will be taken by surprise at the architectural marvel that the city is. 

The stunning Capitol buildings attract a crowd for the statues and monuments. There is a lot to do and see in Saint Paul. The buzzing hub in the state has enough things to do in St. Paul to keep you busy.

St. Paul Historical Walking Tour with Local Guide
1. St. Paul: Historical Walking Tour with Local Guide Top Recommendation

Come explore the history and beauty of St. Paul with a local guide. You'll learn all about the city's rich past while walking around some of the most beautiful neighborhoods. You'll also stop for coffee and a snack, and finish with a local beer. It's the perfect way to experience all that St. Paul has to offer!

Complete Twin Cities Walking Tour
2. The Complete Twin Cities Walking Tour

Looking to explore the best that Minneapolis has to offer? Then look no further than The Complete Twin Cities Walking Tour! Join an expert local guide and discover all the hidden gems and secret spots that make this city so special. From the wealth Summit Hill neighbourhood, to the secret caves used for illegal booze-making during Prohibition, you’ll learn that there’s a lot more to Minneapolis than meets the eye. So don’t wait – book your spot on The Complete Twin Cities Walking Tour today!

Saint Paul Gangster Tour
3. Saint Paul Gangster Tour

Looking for an educational and entertaining way to spend a couple of hours? Then look no further than the Saint Paul Gangster Tour! This two-hour bus tour takes you through the city of Saint Paul, revealing why it was such a hotbed of criminal activity during the prohibition era. You'll learn all about the bootlegging operations that took place in the city, and hear stories about some of the most famous gangsters of the time. And it all starts at the historic Castle Royal Gangsters nightclub, which has been preserved today as The Wabasha Street Caves.

No matter your traveler’s personality, you will certainly have a great time exploring Saint Paul. You can explore the rich history, shop to your heart’s delight, learn about the human body and science, or go for a hike.

When it comes to the things to do in Saint Paul, it will not disappoint you. 

Fun & Best Things to Do in Saint Paul, Minnesota

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/ndNFbyERxrA

1. Learn About the State’s History at the Minnesota History Center

Minnesota History Center

If you are traveling with kids or have history enthusiasts with you, the best thing to do in Saint Paul is to head to the Minnesota History Center. It lies very close to the Capitol Buildings and boasts 4,000 square meters of space hosted by the Minnesota Historical Society.

You will see everything here- from the Hmong tribespeople to the remnants of the Dakota War. It is where you will find book collections that are a part of the Minnesota History Center Library. 

See Related: Best Parks in St. Paul

2. Head to the Cathedral of Saint Paul

Cathedral of Saint Paul

The gorgeous church is perched high on the hill that overlooks the downtown area of Saint Paul. This church attracts several locals and tourists. It is the fourth-tallest church in the United States and the building has a beautiful copper spire and dome which is now the official shrine to Paul the Apostle.

The cathedral is an architectural delight and its makeup is stunning in every manner. The beautiful structure blends the elements of Baroque, Gothic, and Beaux-Arts.

The interior has one of the most extraordinary bronze baldachin and chapels that are dedicated to the saints of the immigrant communities in the city. It is one of the top things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

3. Take a tour of James J. Hill House

Front of Historic James J. Hill House in Saint Paul, Minnesota

The James J. Hill House is a National Historic Landmark, and it’s one of the most popular things to do in St. Paul. This Victorian-style mansion was built in 1891 by James J. Hill, who is widely considered to be one of the most influential figures in Minnesota history. The house has been open for tours since 1948, so you can see what life was like inside this historic home during that time period.

The James J. Hill House is located at 411 Summit Avenue East in St. Paul, Minnesota and you can take a tour anytime between 10 am-3 pm Monday through Saturday or 1 pm-5 pm on Sundays (except holidays). If you’re lucky enough to visit during the Christmas season, they also offer special holiday tours that are worth checking out.

See Related: Minnesota Renaissance Festival: Best Things to Do in 2022

4. Explore the houses on Summit Avenue 

Aerial View of Summit Avenue at Sunrise

With a quick walk from Saint Paul Cathedral, tourists to the Twin Cities notice Summit Avenue. It is filled with various red brick, Victorian-style mansions that were first built during the 19th century.

It is one of the most stylish streets in town. You will also see many historical sites here, including the F. Scott Fitzgerald House, a National Historic Landmark of Summit Avenue which is the place where writer F. Scott Fitzgerald grew up until 1920. You must see the famous house of Frank B. Kellogg, a Nobel Prize winner and U.S. diplomat. 

See Related: Best Beaches in Minnesota

5. Swing at the Wabasha Street Caves

The Wabasha Street Caves were built out of the hillsides in the 1800s. They delve into the sub-terrain on the southern bank of the Mississippi River and have survived Volstead Act and Mafiosos over many years. This is one of the best things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Today, the caves are hosts to the best swing nights every Thursday. You can enjoy guided walks in the complex with the period-dressed characters and re-enactments. It is a wonderful experience to walk through the Wabasha Street Caves with friends and family. 

See Related: Best Things to do in Wabasha, Minnesota

6. Learn about American history in Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling

A 200-year-old Fort Snelling is a crown of the southern riverbanks where the Twin Cities merge. Built in the 1800s, the fort played a huge role in the conflicts of 1812 and helped to increase the American hold of the trade routes.

This is a great thing do to with kids given the history. The site was also used to train the troops for the Civil War and in World War Two, it was a prominent language learning center for the soldiers and spies moving towards the Pacific theatre.

It is a historic site that will teach you a lot about the America of the 1800s.

See Related: Best Things to do in Brainerd, Minnesota

7. Enjoy outstanding music at Schubert Club Musical Instrument Museum

If you are a music enthusiast, this is one of the best things to do in St. Paul, Minnesota. A perfect stop for music lovers interested in the history of music, the Schubert Club Musical Instrument Museum is a place where you can explore instruments from the era gone by, and get up, close, and personal with the manuscripts of renowned composers.

It is right in the Landmark Center in the middle of Saint Paul and is not easy to miss. The museum organizes music learning workshops and has jazz piano sessions and jam sessions.

You must not miss out on the well-known instrument maker Arthur Ferris exhibits and the chronicles of Gamelan compositions. 

See Related: Best Things to do in Mankato, Minnesota

8. Spend a day at Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo Entrance Sign

The Minnesota Zoo has a huge space of land in the Apple Valley. It was opened in 1978 and continues to remain an important part of the city. It is famous for its variety of animals. This includes exotic species and American fauna. It is also known for the organization of the creatures by their respective habitat. It is one of the top things to do with kids in St. Paul.

Spend a day with your family at Minnesota Zoo and you will get to see lynxes, wolverines, bears, and many others around the terrain.

Beyond the animals native to Minnesota, there are also kangaroos, red pandas, and gibbons that enjoy a tropical area. Lastly, head to the Discovery Bay Area where you see the best of the marine life, including sea dragons and leopard sharks. 

See Related: How to Travel Full-Time

9. Get your thinking caps on at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Interior of the Science Museum of Minnesota

Located in the colossal complex which sprawls over many levels on the northern banks of the Mississippi River, the Science Museum of Minnesota is located in the middle of half of the Twin Cities.

The Science Museum of Minnesota has fascinating, interactive science exhibits where the focus is on paleontology, evolution, and the local natural history. The Science Museum of Minnesota remains one of the most interesting and best things to do around the Twin Cities and even the entire state of Minnesota.

There is a huge section in the museum on the human body with a large fossil collection that is complete with triceratops and stegosaurus bones. You will also see an eclectic blend of traveling shows to see. A day at the Science Museum of Minnesota is a day well spent. 

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10. Relish a meal at Dixie’s on Grand

Begin your exploration with a brunch of bacon, cheddar grits, fried chicken, and cinnamon rolls at Dixie’s on Grand. It is one of the best eateries in St. Paul and there are exclusive treats each day. Start your day with one of the best things to do in Saint Paul, MN.

Lunchtime is a mix of shrimp salads, Dixie wings, and po’boy subs which are inspired by New Orleans Creole treats. Dinnertime is all about delicious country streaks with Cajun flavors.

It has a welcoming vibe with a homey interior that attracts tourists and locals alike. There are live music evenings and regular jazz nights to spice up your weekends.

See Related: Best Minneapolis Parks to Visit 

11. Relax and unwind at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is surrounded by the beautiful rises of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. It is a lovely Art Nouveau structure that has beautiful bonsai trees.

It was established in 1915 and continues to attract tourists even today. It is one of the most important things to do in Saint Paul. On the beautifully manicured gardens, you will see busts and bridges of Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright.

There are also fiberglass creations of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory that include interesting and unique sculptures like the carvings of penguins, wolves, and giraffes. This is one of the best free things to do in Minnesota.

At the end of the walking path through the conservatory, you’ll find a sprawling outdoor Japanese garden that will make it hard for you to realize you’re right in the middle of the city of St. Paul.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Minneapolis?

12. Enjoy shopping on Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue
Image by Dankarl / CC BY-SA 4.0

Stop looking for things to do in St. Paul today and shop to your heart’s desire. In the heart of western Saint Paul and cutting the way to where the Mississippi Banks move northwards to the metro area of Minneapolis proper, Grand Avenue is a large stretch of road which offers the best shopping in Twin Cities.

Surrounded by shady trees and beautiful Victorian street lights, Grand Avenue hosts everything from the whole food markets to the Tibetan craft stalls and custom clothing to an artisanal jewelry store.

You will also find several restaurants and cafes to enjoy here. It is a perfect way to spend a day in Saint Paul. It is easy to find hotels and resorts to book your stay in Saint Paul.

See Related: Best Hotels in Minneapolis

13. Visit the Fitzgerald Theater

Concert at Fitzgerald Theater

If you’re looking for a great theater experience while you’re in St. Paul, be sure to check out the Fitzgerald Theater. This historic theater, named after F. Scott Fitzerald, has been around for over 100 years and has hosted some of the biggest names in theater, music, and comedy. The theater is located on West Exchange Street in downtown Saint Paul, so it’s easy to get to.

And if you’re looking for something to do before or after the show, there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby. So if you’re looking for a great night out, be sure to check out the Fitzgerald Theater.

14. Tour the Minnesota State Capitol Buildings

Minnesota State Capitol Building at Night

The city rules as the Minnesota State Capitol and is one of the free things to do in Minneapolis or St. Paul tonight. There is a beautiful array of buildings in the heart of the city. You will see beautiful buildings in the Neoclassical style and massive baroque adornments.

However, the Minnesota State Capitol is the most wonderful and famous building on the streets and it is surrounded by various monuments and memorials that should not be missed. 

With its distinctive copper dome with the roaring golden horses, architecture junkies will absolutely love this incredible capitol building. Check out our YouTube video touring the Minnesota State Capitol and downtown at night.

See Related: Best Things to do in Red Wing, Minnesota

15. Learn to brew your beer at Vine Park Brewing Co. 

Brew your own beer at the Brewery

Twin Cities offers an opportunity to brew your own beer. It is one of the unique things to do in St. Paul, MN. The Vine Park Brewing Co. takes the traditional model and transforms it using its skills and expertise. Instead of cooking up the batches of in-house creations, you can use the machinery with the advice of the owners to make beers of your choice.

You can create wines, root beers, beers, and much more. You get to choose from a variety of 50 ales, standard beers, and other varieties before you start.

Enjoy the process of mixing hops and barley and then boiling a barrel. The process of fermentation will take two weeks and at the end of it, you can return to sample the brew. 

Check out these top breweries in St. Paul or these top breweries in Minneapolis.

See Related: Best Beaches in Minneapolis

16. Try coffee with a twist

Claddagh Coffee
Image by McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0

Located a street away from the famous dog park, you can taste Irish coffee at Claddagh Coffee. It is one of the most amazing coffee places in the city. It is a very cozy place to sit and people-watch.

The cafe’s menu has the usual drinks right from the Americanos to the Lattes and a wide variety of special mixes like Claddagh and the cinnamon and honey flavored Black and Tan coffee. You can try the granola bowls, farmer’s salad, homemade cakes, and delicious hummus and pita plates. 

See Related: Best Things to do in Lindstrom, Minnesota

15. Explore the Gateway Trail

If you are looking for an adventure and if the excitement of exploring the city is starting to go down, head to the long Gateway trail. You start from the city before moving north to the neighborhoods of Oakdale, Pine Springs, and Maplewood, you will pass through the secluded ponds and woodlands as you go.

On the second half of the Gateway trail, there is more of a rural vibe, where the track will open into the Washington Country and will end at the Pine Point County Park. The miles of bike paths and hiking trails give a feel of summer and the chilly months of winter open the ski routes. 

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

17. Head to the American Association of Woodturners

You will see nothing like the American Association of Woodturners anywhere else. One of the top things to do in downtown St. Paul, the organization is dedicated to advancing the craft of woodturning across the world through education.

They operate the Gallery of Wood Art which is a historic landmark center in St. Paul. It has exhibits of all kinds made from wood and it also has a gift shop. Admission to the gallery is free and it will be a chance to see the unique woodwork that you may not get to see anywhere else. It is one of the popular indoor things to do in St. Paul, Minnesota.

18. Head Outdoors to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Aerial View of Minneapolis and Mississippi River

The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is a 5,000-acre park with 18 miles of the Mississippi River and its banks in the heart of downtown Saint Paul.

There are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors at this beautiful spot. Hike through the scenic bluffs that line the river, watch kayakers paddle by from a trail overlook, or just walk along one of the many trails that weave throughout the park. If you’re lucky enough to visit when water levels are high (typically in May), you can even take a canoe trip down part of the river.

The park has an interesting history: it was created in 1988 when Congress designated more than 13,000 acres as protected land along both sides of the Mississippi River from Fort Snelling State Park downstream to Lock and Dam No. 1 near Hastings (about 30 miles).

19. Best Thing to do with Kids in Saint Paul: Visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum

Inside the Minnesota Children's Museum

A dedicated spot for the kiddos, the Minnesota Children’s Museum is one of the best things to do in Saint Paul with kids. With three levels of hands-on fun, the museum has hands-on exhibits on everything from water and dinosaurs to world cultures and art.

Kids can dig for fossils in a life-size dinosaur excavation site, explore an indoor three-story waterfall, travel the world in a life-size game of “Chutes and Ladders,” or race through an obstacle course. And that’s just the beginning!

The museum also offers regular events and programs, such as story times, drop-in art activities, and more.

20. Bruce Vento Regional Trail

If you’re looking for a trail that combines the best of both worlds, then the Bruce Vento Regional Trail is perfect for you. The paved trail runs from St. Paul to Stillwater and spans about 30 miles in total length. This wooded area has plenty of wildlife to observe along with beautiful scenery and unique features along the way.

For those looking for an active adventure, this is one of the best places in Minnesota to visit. Biking, running, and hiking are all encouraged through this scenic landscape filled with flowers, trees, streams—even wildlife like deer. There are some hills on this path so be prepared if your goal is to get a workout as well as enjoy nature at its finest.

21. See an NHL game or concert at Xcel Energy Center

Minnesota Wild Game at Xcel Energy Center

If you’re a sports fan and have always wanted to see an NHL game, the Xcel Energy Center has got you covered. The arena is home to the Minnesota Wild hockey team, as well as several other teams and performers. You can buy tickets for concerts, conventions, and other events held at this venue.

The building was completed in 2000 and cost $130 million to build—the most expensive sports stadium in Minnesota at that time. It takes up over nine acres of land and holds 18,064 people during hockey games with room left over for more fans if they squeeze into it (and they sometimes do).

22. See a Performance at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts

Ordway Center for Performing Arts

The Ordway Center for Performing Arts is a performing arts center located in downtown St. Paul. The center hosts Broadway shows and concerts, including touring productions from the Minnesota Opera and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The Ordway offers free educational programming for children, as well as performances by local artists throughout much of the year on its smaller stages and spaces inside the building (which includes an art gallery).

23. Catch a Soccer Game at Allianz Field

Aerial View of Allianz Field in St. Paul
Aerial View of Allianz Field in St. Paul

If you’re more of a soccer fan than a football fan, then head to Allianz Field. This is the home of Minnesota United FC, and it also serves as the host stadium for other events like concerts and boxing matches. The stadium has been open since March 2019 after undergoing construction in 2017, so it’s pretty new and a great scene for a soccer match.

If you want to catch a game at Allianz Field or just see what this soccer-specific stadium looks like, check out their schedule and get ready for a good time.

24. Go Ice Skating at Rice Park in Winter and Summer

Rice Park is a great place to go ice skating in winter. In winter, it’s the only place in town with an outdoor skating rink. For Minnesota, that is actually surprising. However, the Minnesota Wild actually practices on this ice rink every once in a while.

Rice Park is in the heart of the city, so it makes for a great romantic activity in the winter or a nice activity for your date night as the city lights glisten around you while you skate. What’s great about Rice Park is that it’s a park all year round.

In summer, you can come here to have a picnic, people watch or read a book in the sun. It’s also right next to the Landmark Center, so if you want to explore more of St. Paul after skating or picnicking, you can easily walk over and do that.

See Related: Best Things to do at the Mall of America

What is St. Paul known for?

St. Paul Minnesota Skyline at Sunset

St. Paul is known for the Mississippi River, which flows through our city and connects us to many other cities in Minnesota. In Saint Paul, Minnesota, there is a great state fair that brings visitors from all over the world.

The Minnesota Wild hockey team plays at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul—and they’re really good. In addition, St. Paul is home to many museums including the Minnesota Children’s Museum and The Science Museum of Minnesota.

Is St. Paul, Minnesota worth visiting?

Yes, St. Paul is worth visiting. The city has a lot to offer, from historic sites to modern attractions. It’s also the capital of Minnesota and is full of history. The city’s welcoming environment makes it easy for visitors to feel comfortable exploring its streets and neighborhoods on foot or by public transit.

In fact, St. Paul offers a wide array of fun things to do year-round—from festivals celebrating all types of arts and culture to outdoor activities like biking along the Mississippi River or snowshoeing at the Harriet Island Regional Park & Environmental Learning Center during the winter months.

Final Thoughts

Before you write off St. Paul as a destination that has nothing much to do or see, tick off these top tourist attractions and activities from your bucket list. You must plan your day well in advance to make the most of every activity and sightseeing location.

Book your stay in advance to enjoy stunning views and cover all the must-sees.

Whether you are traveling to St. Paul for the first time or have already experienced the beauty of the Twin Cities, there are so many places to see and things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

FAQs

What are some fun things to do in St. Paul, Minnesota?

There are a variety of fun activities to do in St. Paul, Minnesota, including visiting the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, the Minnesota Children’s Museum, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. You can also enjoy biking or snowshoeing along the Mississippi River, or attend one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year.

Is Saint Paul worth visiting?

Yes, St. Paul is worth visiting. The city has a lot to offer in terms of history, culture, and attractions. There are also plenty of things to do year-round, making it a great destination for travelers at any time of year.

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