Top Things to Do in Saint Paul | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Saint Paul

The smaller “twin,” Minnesota's capital city charms visitors with Victorian-Era mansions, a concentration of museums and the 1905 capitol topped by four golden horses. Check out our guide for tips on what to do, where to eat and where to stay.


Como Park Zoo and Conservatory The Polar Odyssey and Gorilla Forest habitats give zoo visitors up-close animal views. At the adjacent conservatory, seasonal flower shows deliver year-round blooms at a serene indoor sunken garden with reflecting pool.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Fitzgerald Theater Built in 1910, the 1,058-seat theater is Minnesota Public Radio’s largest studio and site of some Live From Here shows with host Chris Thile.

Grand Avenue High-end restaurants and shops line one of the city’s busiest streets. Check out kitchenware at Cooks of Crocus Hill and fine art at The Grand Hand Gallery.

Minnesota Children’s Museum Ten new exhibits, including Super Awesome Adventures, with a green-screen climbing wall and laser maze, delight kids at the recently renovated space.

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 Capitol The cleaned-until-glistening marble exterior underlines the care put into a four-year, $310 million renovation. Guides lead free 45-minute tours of the 1905 building, designed by Cass Gilbert, architect of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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 23–September 3, 2018).

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

Science Museum of Minnesota On the riverfront, the museum’s permanent exhibits, museum’s permanent exhibits, like the EarthScapes outdoor mini golf course, mix with top traveling shows.

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.

Xcel Energy Center A foghorn blares each time the Minnesota Wild score a goal at this built-for-hockey venue. But the outstanding acoustics also draw big-ticket musical acts like 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.

Cafe Latte Three-layer chocolate turtle cake smothered with caramel and pecans tempts diners at the gourmet bakery-cafe on Grand Avenue.

Caffe Biaggio This Italian restaurant lives in the Art Deco former home of a 1930s lunch counter. Homemade ravioli comes filled with three cheeses or Italian sausage.

Cook St. Paul This reinvented diner has pulled off the seemingly impossible, building a menu that's inventive enough for a special trip (a Korean omelet) but unpretentious enough (eggs and bacon) for neighborhood regulars.

Cossetta Alimentari For more than 100 years, the aroma of simmering tomato sauce has enticed diners to this pizzeria and pasta bar.

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

iPho by Saigon

iPho by Saigon

J. Selby’s The new vegan fast-casual restaurant serves reinvented American favorites, such as cauliflower buffalo “wings” and loaded nachos with vegan nacho cheese. Desserts include soft serve N’ice Cream.

Mango Thai The upscale atmosphere belies the reasonable prices of the Thai noodle and soup dishes, plus entrees such as 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.

Revival Southern hospitality comes to Saint Paul in the form of juicy fried chicken, tender pork shoulder and an overflowing side of mac ’n’ cheese so good you’ll want to sop up the last bits with your hushpuppies.

Tori Ramen The city’s first ramen restaurant serves bowls both creamy (the Korean chili-flavored Bali Bali!) and comforting (the vegetarian Best Seller with fermented mushrooms).

W.A. Frost and Company A tree-shaded patio outside and fireplaces inside make for a mellow mood for fine dining. Local ingredients shine in items such as lamb chops with chimichurri.


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, 100-year-old brick building. Solo travelers enjoy efficiency rooms with full-size beds; families can book suites.

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.

The Saint Paul Hotel

The Saint Paul Hotel

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