The welcoming and historic Capitol 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 right at the doorstep. It 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 St 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.
No matter your traveler’s personality, you will certainly have a great time exploring St. 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 St. Paul MN, it will not disappoint you.
Table of Contents
- Here are the top 16 things to do in St. Paul, MN
- 1. Learn State History
- 2. Head to the Cathedral of Saint Paul
- 3. Explore the houses on Summit Avenue
- 4. Swing at the Wabasha Street Caves
- 5. Learn about American history in Fort Snelling
- 6. Enjoy outstanding music at Schubert Club Musical Instrument Museum
- 7. Spend a day at Minnesota Zoo
- 8. Get your thinking caps on at the Science Museum
- 9. Relish a meal at Dixie’s on Grand
- 10. Relax and unwind at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
- 11. Enjoy shopping on Grand Avenue
- 12. Head to the State Capitol Buildings
- 13. Learn to brew your beer at Vine Park Brewing Co.
- 14. Try coffee with a twist
- 15. Explore the Gateway Trail
- 16. Head to the American Association of Woodturners
Here are the top 16 things to do in St. Paul, MN
1. Learn State History
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.
Check out our YouTube video touring the Minnesota State Capitol and downtown at night.
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.
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2. Head to the 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 St Paul, Minnesota.
3. Explore the houses on Summit Avenue
With a quick walk from Saint Paul Cathedral, tourists to the Twin Cities notice Summit Avenue. It is filled with various red brick constructions and 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 National Historic Landmark of Summit Terrace which is the place where writer F. Scott Fitzgerald had worked on manuscripts until 1920.
You must see the famous house of Frank B. Kellogg, a Nobel Prize winner and U.S. diplomat.
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4. 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 St Paul, Minnesota.
Today, the caves are hosts for 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
5. Learn about American history in 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 has helped to increase 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.
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6. 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.
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, 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.
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7. Spend a day at Minnesota Zoo
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 the zoo and you will get to see lynxes, wolverines, and many others around the terrain.
There are many kangaroos, red pandas and gibbons that enjoy their tropical area. Lastly, head to the Discovery Bay Area where you see the best of the marine life, including sea dragons and leopard sharks.
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8. Get your thinking caps on at the Science Museum
Located in the colossal complex which sprawls over many levels on the northern banks of Mississippi, the Science Museum of Minnesota is located in the middle of the half of the Twin Cities.
The museum has fascinating 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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9. 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 St 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.
10. Relax and unwind at 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 Zoo 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.
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11. Enjoy shopping on Grand Avenue
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 the beautiful Victorian street lights, the 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 St Paul.
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12. Head to the State Capitol Buildings
The city rules as the 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.
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13. Learn to brew your beer at Vine Park Brewing Co.
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 their 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.
14. Try coffee with a twist
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.
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15. Explore the 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.
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16. 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, MN.
Before you write off St. Paul as a destination that has nothing much to do or see, tick off these 16 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.