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.

By The editors of
June 20, 2012

Due to possible coronavirus-related travel restrictions, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.


Bell Museum Check out a green roof, digital planetarium, restored wildlife dioramas and hands-on exhibits at the museum’s spacious new $79.2 million home on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory The 384-acre grounds feature outdoor gardens, a conservatory with seasonal flower shows, the Como Town amusement park and a zoo, where Polar Bear Odyssey and Gorilla Forest habitats give visitors up-close animal views.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Fitzgerald Theater Built in 1910, the ornate 1,050-seat theater hosts concerts and other events such as the National Geographic Live speaker series.

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 Exhibits like Super Awesome Adventures, with a green-screen climbing wall and laser maze, delight kids at the renovated space. (Currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.)

Minnesota Children's Museum

Minnesota History Center Learn about the city’s evolution through time aboard a model Twin Cities streetcar or an actual boxcar—two 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 some 2 million people over 12 days. Cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19, but check the website for information on 2021.

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

Science Museum of Minnesota On the riverfront, the museum’s permanent exhibits, like The Mississippi River Gallery with a towboat, 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 musical acts like Sarah Bareilles, Heart and The Chainsmokers.


Barrio Dancing marionettes and a wall of Mexican masks reflect this taqueria and tequila bar’s energy.

The Blue Door Pub Try one of nine 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 The reinvented diner has pulled off the seemingly impossible, building a menu that’s inventive enough (a Korean burger) for a special trip but unpretentious enough (mac ’n’ cheese) 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

Grand Catch Savor traditional Louisiana seafood boils with an Asian twist, plus starters like Chinese Shrimp Toast.

J. Selby's The vegan fast-casual restaurant serves reinvented American favorites, such as cauliflower buffalo “wings” and soft serve N’ice Cream.

Keg and Case Go hungry to this stylish food hall in an old brewery. The rock-star vendor lineup includes Revival Smoked Meats (for killer brisket), In Bloom (for fire-cooked fine dining), and Clutch Brewing Company (for small-batch ales and lagers).

Meritage The chef-driven French brasserie serves the best fries in town plus tempting dishes like Crispy Roasted Chicken Thighs.

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.

Mickey's Dining Car

Mucci's Italian Old-school Italian—spaghetti with meatballs, lasagna, deli sandwiches—shares the menu with seasonal gnocchi and creative pizzas.

Revival Southern hospitality comes to St. Paul in the form of juicy fried chicken, tender pork shoulder and creamy mac ’n’ cheese.

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.

Celeste St. Paul Hotel + Bar The new 71-room boutique hotel reclaimed a former convent that also housed the city’s first fine arts school. Expect both modern comforts and historic architectural details.

Hotel 340 The lodging occupies three upper floors of the St. Paul Athletic Club—a renovated 13-story, 100-year-old brick building. Solo travelers enjoy efficiency rooms; 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, lobby cocktail bar and indoor palm trees.

The Saint Paul Hotel

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