Top 12 Things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota

Saint Paul, the capital of Minnesota, is a beautiful city with a rich history and vibrant culture. Nicknamed the “Last City of the East”, Saint Paul has plenty to offer visitors.

Cathedral of Saint PaulA Romanesque and Renaissance-style cathedral with stunning architecture and historical significance.
Minnesota History CenterA museum showcasing Minnesota’s geological, Native American, and 20th-century history.
Minnesota State CapitolHistoric building with guided tours highlighting its architecture and history.
Como ParkAn urban park with gardens, trails, a zoo, conservatory, and amusement park.
Riverboat CruiseSightseeing cruises on the Mississippi River offering city views and dining options.
Mears ParkA downtown park with live music, surrounded by cafes and restaurants.
Grand AvenueA vibrant thoroughfare with boutiques, galleries, and dining options in historic buildings.
James J. Hill HouseA mansion tour showcasing the lavish lifestyle of railroad tycoon James J. Hill.
Ordway Center for the Performing ArtsA venue for Broadway musicals, plays, concerts, and dance performances.
Historic Fort SnellingA fort offering insights into frontier-era military life and Minnesota’s development.
Minnesota ZooA large zoo featuring diverse species and exhibits like the Tropics Trail and African exhibit.
Mounds ParkA park with ancient Native American burial mounds, trails, and river views.
Saint Paul Curling ClubAn opportunity to learn and play the sport of curling in a historic club setting.

From world-class museums and historic sites to fantastic dining and entertainment options, there are many great things to see and do in this charming Midwestern city.

Visit the Cathedral of Saint Paul

Name and Location: The Cathedral of Saint Paul is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: This elaborate Romanesque-revival cathedral was constructed in the early 1900s. It is known for its grand dome, elegant details, and fine art. It serves as the mother church of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

What to Expect: Visitors can admire the ornate architecture and decor including intricate woodcarvings, marble columns, stained glass, and murals. Guided tours provided.

Visitor Information: Open daily. Free admission. Mass held regularly. Wheelchair accessible.

One of the top things to do in Saint Paul is visit the grand Cathedral of Saint Paul. This impressive Romanesque and Renaissance-style cathedral overlooks the city from its location on Summit Hill. It has the distinction of being the largest church in Minnesota and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the country.

Marvel at the stunning architecture, soaring dome, intricate carvings, and gleaming marble floors. Be sure to see the high altar and the bishop’s chair carved from a single block of Vermont marble. The cathedral also has lovely stained glass windows and a magnificent pipe organ. Attend a service or concert to fully experience the cathedral’s splendor.

Explore the Minnesota History Center

Name and Location: The Minnesota History Center is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: This museum opened in 1992 and houses exhibits about the history, cultures, and people of Minnesota. It provides education and preservation of state history.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore engaging multimedia exhibits, artifacts, and displays spanning Minnesota’s past and present. Family-friendly hands-on areas too.

Visitor Information: Open daily. Reasonable admission fee. Research archives onsite. Wheelchair accessible.

To learn about the history and culture of Minnesota, spend some time at the Minnesota History Center. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum houses extensive exhibits that cover everything from the state’s geological formations and Native American heritage to European settlement and 20th century life.

Don’t miss the features on Minnesota’s timber, mining, and flour milling history. Other highlights include a vintage train car, a recreated 1920s main street, and an exhibit on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum hosts timely temporary exhibits on facets of Minnesota history.

Tour the Minnesota State Capitol

Name and Location: The Minnesota State Capitol is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: Built in 1905, the Minnesota Capitol houses the state’s legislative branch. It is known for its grand classical architecture with marble and imported stone throughout. Offers insight into state government.

What to Expect: Guided tours showcase the rotunda, legislative chambers, governor’s office, and other ornate rooms. Exhibits about the building’s art and history. Observation deck available.

Visitor Information: Free guided tours offered daily. Closed holidays. Accessible to wheelchairs.

The magnificent Minnesota State Capitol is a must-see when visiting Saint Paul. This striking building was constructed between 1896 and 1905, and was modeled after Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Thesparkling marble exterior and gilded quadriga sculpture towering over the dome are impressive sights.

Guided tours provide a close-up look at the Capitol’s fine details, including intricate woodwork, paintings, statues, and chandeliers. Make sure to stop in the Rotunda to see the mesmerizing murals depicting important events in Minnesota’s past. Spend some time on the Capitol grounds admiring the monuments, fountains, and floral displays.

Spend an Afternoon at Como Park

Name and Location: Como Park is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: Como Park encompasses 400+ acres of gardens, trails, and attractions including a conservatory and zoo. It offers recreational and educational activities to the community. Established in the late 1800s.

What to Expect: Visitors can stroll the Japanese Garden, tour the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory’s diverse botanical displays, visit the free zoo, and enjoy picnics.

Visitor Information: Park free and always open. Conservatory and zoo have fees and hours. Wheelchair accessible.

For a relaxing outdoor afternoon, head over to Como Park. This huge urban park encompasses gardens, trails, a conservatory, zoo, amusement park, and more. Stroll through the peaceful Japanese Garden or Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and admire exotic plants and flowers.

Visit the free Como Park Zoo and see big cats, primates, aquatic animals, and other wildlife. Youngsters will enjoy the rides and attractions at Como Town amusement park. Other park highlights include a carousel, biking and walking trails, picnic areas, and sports fields. Don’t miss the large bronze statue of the park’s benefactor, entrepreneur and explorer Ignatius Donnelly.

Take a Riverboat Cruise

Name and Location: Riverboat cruises depart from Harriet Island in St. Paul, Minnesota and tour along the Mississippi River.

History and Significance: Riverboat tours showcase St. Paul attractions and scenery along the mighty Mississippi. They provide a unique sightseeing perspective and entertainment on the river.

What to Expect: Visitors can enjoy informative riverboat tours and relive history. Cruises like dinner boats, sightseeing tours, and live music available. Seasonal schedules.

Visitor Information: Various cruise options from May to October. Advance booking recommended. Ticket prices vary.

To see Saint Paul from a different vantage point, embark on a riverboat cruise along the mighty Mississippi River. Several companies such as Padelford Packet Boat Company operate sightseeing cruises from downtown Saint Paul. You’ll glide past riverfront parks, ornate bridges, and beautiful vistas of the city skyline.

Multi-hour lunch and dinner cruises are also available, many with live music and dancing. For an extra special experience, book an evening jazz or moonlight cruise. Relax on the deck and gaze at the sparkling city lights reflecting on the river.

Wander Through Mears Park

Name and Location: Mears Park is located in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: Mears Park dates back to the 1840s and today serves as a lovely oasis and gathering spot in the city. It hosts summertime concerts, art fairs, and winter activities.

What to Expect: Visitors can relax by the fountain, stroll tree-lined paths, play lawn games, enjoy lunch from food trucks, take in free performances, and people watch.

Visitor Information: Open daily. Free admission. Some parking available nearby. Pet friendly.

In downtown Saint Paul, step back in time with a visit to Mears Park. This lively green space was once the site of the city’s main railroad depot. Today, the park boasts winding paths, a charming gazebo, and a turn-of-the-century bandstand. On certain days, you can catch a local musician performing.

Surrounding the park are trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars, many located in refurbished nineteenth century buildings. Stop for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee and do some people watching, soaking up the neighborhood’s ambience. Thursday evening brings free music and entertainment to Mears Park during the summertime.

Shop and Dine on Grand Avenue

Name and Location: Grand Avenue is a vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment district in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: Grand Avenue has been a popular retail corridor since the late 1800s. Its historic charm, indie boutiques, restaurants, and creative vibe draw visitors.

What to Expect: Visitors can shop art galleries, home décor shops, boutiques, and more. Diverse cuisine options for meals or snacks. People watching on bustling sidewalk patios.

Visitor Information: Shops and dining open daily. Metered street parking. Walkable and wheelchair friendly.

Trendy Grand Avenue is a top spot for shopping, dining, and strolling in Saint Paul. This vibrant thoroughfare stretches for miles and features a fabulous array of boutiques, salons, galleries, antique shops, cafes, and restaurants housed in historic brick buildings. Find gifts at Golden Fig and Bibelot, browse trendy duds at Traditions, and pick up local artisan wares at Northern Clay Center.

Refuel with a burger and shake at Grand Ole Creamery or try upscale dining at The Lexington. Grab a pillowy empanada at World Street Kitchen or SIP iced tea at Nashville Coop. Don’t forget to check out the adorable bookshop cat at Common Good Books.

Tour the James J. Hill House

Name and Location: The James J. Hill House is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: This mansion was built in 1891 for railroad tycoon James J. Hill. It serves as a historic house museum displaying the lavish Victorian era lifestyle of the Hill family.

What to Expect: Guided tours of the three-story mansion. Visitors see original interiors like the ornate reception hall, music room, and furnishings. Interpreters share family stories.

Visitor Information: Open for guided tours. Nominal admission fee. Reservation required. Not wheelchair accessible.

History buffs will love a tour of the James J. Hill House in downtown Saint Paul. This elaborate mansion was built in 1891 for railroad tycoon James J. Hill and was once considered the most luxurious house in Minnesota. The stunning Romanesque Revival-style home has 36,000 square feet of living space.

Marvel at the ornate architecture, oak woodwork, and intricate brick, stone, and iron details. The interior contains original furnishings, art, and personal artifacts belonging to the Hill family. Costumed guides help bring the era to life and share stories about the family members who once lived here.

Catch a Show at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

Name and Location: The Ordway Center is located in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: Opened in 1985, the Ordway is a premier performing arts venue hosting Broadway shows, concerts, and productions by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Schubert Club.

What to Expect: Visitors can see world-class musical theater, dance, music, and more in the elegant 1,900-seat main hall with orchestra and balcony seating.

Visitor Information: Season runs September to July. Ticket prices vary by performance. Wheelchair seating available.

Experience world-class performing arts at the magnificent Ordway Center in downtown Saint Paul. This premier venue hosts Broadway musicals, plays, classical concerts, and dance performances. Attend an opera or musical in the glitzy main hall or check out jazz, folk, or pop acts in the intimate concert hall. Productions feature many local performing groups as well as touring shows.

The Ordway also schedules classes, workshops, and free concerts. Stop in the lobby to admire colorful art and ornaments before the show. Enjoy a drink or meal in the on-site eateries either before or after you catch a spectacular performance.

Tour Historic Fort Snelling

Name and Location: Historic Fort Snelling is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: Built in the 1820s, Fort Snelling is one of the most well-preserved frontier forts. Today it represents Minnesota’s diverse cultures and the origins of the state.

What to Expect: Guided tours of the restored fort showcase the barracks, round tower, and more. Living history demonstrations provide a glimpse of 19th century military life.

Visitor Information: Open daily, late May through September. Nominal admission. Not fully wheelchair accessible.

Just south of the Twin Cities, visit one of the area’s most important historic sites: Fort Snelling. Established in 1820, this strategic outpost safeguarded early settlers and played a pivotal role in the development of Minnesota. Today, it’s part of a state park offering visitors a glimpse into frontier-era military life. Wander through the restored fort grounds and original buildings.

Highlights include the Round Tower, Guardhouse, and quarters used by soldiers and their families. Catch a musket firing demonstration and chat with costumed interpreters. The excellent visitor center houses artifacts and exhibits on the fort’s history. Be sure to walk over to the original Fort Snelling site across the river for more explorations.

Spend a Day at the Minnesota Zoo

Name and Location: The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just south of the Twin Cities metro area.

History and Significance: Opened in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo is a renowned zoo focused on conservation and research.

Families will love spending a day at the renowned Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, just south of Saint Paul. This huge zoo spans over 400 acres and houses more than 4,700 animals from around the globe. Get eye-level with orangutans and gorillas in the indoor Tropics Trail.

See native wildlife like gray wolves, black bears, and bald eagles. Don’t miss the aquarium, butterfly garden, dolphin show, and 70-foot high bird dome. Zebras, giraffes, rhinos, and ostriches roam the open-air African exhibit. Other highlights include a prairie dog town, seals and penguins, camels, and a fun-filled amusement park. Grab a bite at one of several cafes and restaurants located in the park.

Explore Mounds Park

Name and Location: Mounds Park is located in St. Paul, Minnesota along the Mississippi River.

History and Significance: Mounds Park contains Native American burial mounds dating back over 2,000 years. It offers beautiful bluff views and nature trails along the river valley.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk trails to view the well-preserved mounds and appreciate the area’s ancient history. Scenic overlooks, fishing access, and picnic spots.

Visitor Information: Park open daily 6am-11pm. Free admission. Some trails are wheelchair accessible.

Just east of downtown Saint Paul lies scenic Mounds Park, situated along the Mississippi River. This 67-acre park contains Native American burial mounds that date back over 2,000 years. Along with the historic mounds, the park features limestone bluffs, wooded areas, a pond, and river overlooks.

Spend the afternoon picnicking and flying kites in the open fields, hiking the park trails, and admiring views of the downtown Saint Paul skyline across the river. Kids will enjoy the playground and spotting turtles in Swede Hollow pond. Bring your camera to photograph the sparkling gravel beaches below the bluffs and sweeping river vistas.

Tour the Saint Paul Curling Club

Name and Location: The Saint Paul Curling Club is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

History and Significance: Founded in 1885, it is one of the oldest and most prominent curling clubs in the United States. The sport has a rich history in Minnesota.

What to Expect: Daily “Learn to Curl” sessions teach beginners curling skills and allow them to participate. Visitors can tour the ice arena and curling museum onsite.

Visitor Information: Open seasonally November to March. Reservations required for curling and tours. Accessible facility.

For a truly Minnesota experience, check out the Saint Paul Curling Club, home to one of the oldest curling organizations in the country. Their expansive facility offers public curling and lessons during certain open ice times. Try your hand at delivering stones down the ice and sweeping frantically with other novices.

Afterwards, enjoy the Curling Club’s warm ambience and full restaurant and bar. If you get hooked, sign up for one of their leagues. Don’t be intimidated if you’re new to this icy sport, the club welcomes beginners. Curling is a longstanding Scottish tradition with a fun and social vibe.


With its beautiful river setting, wealth of cultural attractions, historic landmarks, and abundance of fun things to do, Saint Paul makes for an engaging getaway. The city seamlessly blends its frontier past with a hip, modern vibe. Spend your days exploring world-class museums,picturesque parks, and buzzing neighborhoods.

Catch a show or concert downtown, sample innovative cuisine, and stroll the tree-lined streets. From family activities to outdoor adventures to unique attractions like curling, Saint Paul offers visitors endless options for creating wonderful memories.

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