Saint Paul Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Saint Paul Trip Guide

The smaller “twin,” the capital city charms visitors with Victorian-Era mansions, a concentration of museums and the 1905 capitol topped by four golden horses.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
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iPho by Saigon
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The Saint Paul Hotel
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Science Museum of Minnesota. Photo courtesy of museum.
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Como Park Zoo and Conservatory A serene indoor sunken garden with a reflecting pool contrasts with the 4 acres of rides like bumper cars and tea cups at adjacent Como Town.

Fitzgerald Theater Built in 1910, the 1,058-seat theater is Minnesota Public Radio’s largest studio and site of A Prairie Home Companion with host Garrison Keillor. (651) 290-1200;

Grand Avenue High-end restaurants and shops line one of the city’s busiest streets. Stops include Golden Fig Fine Foods, the Cooks of Crocus Hill kitchenware shop and culinary school, and The Grand Hand Gallery, which specializes in fine art from Minnesota and around the region. (651) 699-0029;

Minnesota Children’s Museum Exhibits open while it undergoes expansion include new-in-2016 Very Eric Carle (featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and Curious George: Let’s Get Curious.

Minnesota History Center Learn about the city’s evolution through time aboard a model Twin Cities streetcar or an actual boxcar—two of the many experiences at the Then Now Wow exhibit.

Minnesota State Fair Billed as “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the Midwest’s most popular fair draws more than 1.7 million people over 12 days (August 25–September 5, 2016). If last year’s spread of new fair foods (mac and cheese cupcakes, maple bacon funnel cakes, and stuffed Italian meat loaf on a stick) was any indication, it’ll take a lot of walking among the livestock barns and carnival rides to burn off the calories.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Opera perform at this newly expanded space, which also presents touring Broadway productions.

Science Museum of Minnesota On the riverfront, the museum’s permanent exhibits, like the EarthScapes outdoor mini golf course, mix with top traveling shows and Imax films on a 90-foot-diameter dome screen. (800) 221-9444;

Summit Avenue Walking Tour Follow the footsteps of 19th-century barons of industry on these 90-minute seasonal tours of the mansion-lined neighborhood overlooking the Mississippi River Valley.

Union Depot Glittering chandeliers, transportation-theme murals and a fine-dining restaurant have brought new life to the once-overlooked transit hub inside a Beaux Arts building downtown.

Xcel Energy Center A lighthouse horn blares each time the Minnesota Wild scores a goal at this built-for-hockey venue. But the outstanding acoustics also draw big-ticket musical acts like Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift.


Barrio Dancing marionettes and a wall of Mexican wrestling masks reflect this taqueria and tequila bar’s energy. The tacos stuffed with carnitas—slow-cooked with cinnamon and orange juice—stand up to margaritas tangy with fresh lime.

The Blue Door Pub Try one of 12 variations on the classic Juicy Lucy (a burger stuffed with cheese). We love the flagship Blucy, filled with garlic and blue cheese. (651) 493-1865;

The Bulldog Locals frequent this bar for shuffleboard, Belgian brews and half-pound Angus burgers, like the Hawaiian Volcano with grilled pineapple, bacon, jalapeños and smoked Gouda.

Cafe Latte Three-layer chocolate turtle cake smothered with caramel and pecans tempts diners at the gourmet cafeteria-style bakery-cafe on Grand Avenue. (651) 224-5687;

Caffe Biaggio This Italian restaurant lives in the Art Deco former home of a 1930s lunch counter. Spaghetti carbonara indulges diners with pancetta and cream.

Cossetta Alimentari For more than 100 years, the aroma of simmering tomato sauce has enticed people into this pizzeria and pasta bar. Stock up on straight-from-Italy ingredients and fresh-baked goods in the  adjoining market and bakery.

Heartland Restaurant High-end gastronomy meets sustainable-food ethics in Lowertown. The changing menu may include rainbow trout with goat cheese and microgreens.

iPho by Saigon Savor giant bowls of pho (a Vietnamese dish of rice noodles, veggies and meats in broth) in the Frogtown neighborhood, an enclave of Vietnamese and Hmong. iPho by Saigon on Facebook

Mango Thai The upscale atmosphere belies the reasonable prices of the Thai noodle and soup dishes plus entrees such as the tender beef tossed with fresh mint, chili peppers and garlic.

Mickey’s Dining Car You can’t beat the time-capsule spirit (or the bean soup) at this diner featured in Jingle All the Way and The Mighty Ducks movies.

W.A. Frost and Company Brick walls, Oriental rugs and fireplaces make for a mellow mood for fine dining. Local ingredients shine in unique items such as poached bass with white anchovy butter. (651) 224-5715;


Covington Inn The romance of sleeping aboard a houseboat makes up for the somewhat tight quarters. From the upper deck, enjoy the skyline reflecting on the Mississippi River.

Hotel 340 It occupies three upper floors of the Saint Paul Athletic Club—a renovated 13-story, 99-year-old brick building. Solo travelers enjoy efficiency rooms with full-size beds; families can book spacious suites with pull-out sofas and city views. Naturally, a stay includes access to the state-of-the-art gym.

The Saint Paul Hotel Since 1910, elegance has been the hallmark of the 255 rooms and suites at this downtown landmark known for its European-style furnishings and cocktail bar. It continues the tradition of growing palm trees inside, too.


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