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Destination St. Paul in Summer or Winter

Updated on October 18, 2014
Gold horses on State Capitol.
Gold horses on State Capitol.

Twin Cities

High up on the cliffs of the mighty Mississippi, St. Paul is defined by its side of the river and its twin city, Minneapolis, is across. Two separate cities, yet one large metropolitan area intricately connected through a series of bridges and freeways. St. Paul retains its older historic character, while Minneapolis is the more modern, vibrant city. St. Paul is revered for its Winter Carnival held in January and the Minnesota State Fair, one of the nation’s finest, held in August. You pay less for a hotel in St. Paul than in Minneapolis, but both cities have miles of skyways, (covered walks above ground level connecting to shopping and downtown locations) to beat the heat in summer and the cold in winter.

Historic buildings in St. Paul

History buffs enjoy St. Paul’s downtown area near Rice Park, surrounded by the Landmark Center, a restored Romanesque Federal Courthouse, where many prohibition gangsters were tried and is now a historical center, St. Paul’s Central Library of 1916 Italian Renaissance style, and the grand St. Paul Hotel, built in 1910, a premier hotel of St. Paul, that overlooks Rice Park, that is especially beautiful during the Winter Carnival when fantastic ice sculptures grace the park.

On the river terrace that overlooks downtown St. Paul, sits the State Capitol, and riding on its roof, a chariot with horses and driver, all golden. The dome was copied from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in 1905. Standing near the Capitol, another great dome is visible up on the famous Summit Avenue, the Cathedral of St. Paul. You can walk up the hill to this street of historical mansions from Kelly Inn, located right between the two domes, and with astounding views.

Fun Things to Do in St. Paul

At Como Park children can go to the zoo, ride the restored antique carousel, and enjoy paddle boats on the lake. This 450 acre park boasts plenty of picnic grounds, a conservatory, and Japanese garden, and outdoor concerts and music. The nearby Bandera Square shopping area conveniently hosts a unique hotel and restaurants, themed around the railroad tracks that run through the building.

Mall of America is just outside of St. Paul, near the airport, is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States, with indoor amusement park, over 500 stores and restaurants, and nightclubs, on several levels. One of the most popular tourist areas in the state, there are family hotels just outside the Mall.

Interesting Hotels in St. Paul

The St. Paul Hotel boasts the most luxurious stay in the city. It is the center of town and is known for its fine restaurant and hotel staff. You’ll enjoy the old world charm and the views to Rice Park, and be right in the center of the Winter Carnival and connected to the Skyway. The Embassy Suites, located seven blocks from the heart of downtown, presents ducks and a waterfall in the atrium, and furnishes the comfort of fine two room suites.

The Hilton Garden Inn is conveniently located on the downtown Skyway and is medium high priced hotel with a modern setting and excellent reviews. Best Western’s Kelly Inn stands by itself between the State Capitol and St. Paul’s Cathedral and offers excellent medium low rates. Although it’s a mile from downtown, there is a hotel shuttle. Ask for a room with a view of the dome of the cathedral and enjoy a walk up to Summit Avenue’s mansions or across to the Minnesota History Center.

Days Inn Midway is one of your best buys in St. Paul and although it’s far from downtown, busses out front on University Avenue, run to both St. Paul and Minneapolis. You’ll be a mile from the University of Minnesota campus and the Minnesota State Fair. Summer fun can also be enjoyed at Holiday Inn Express at Bandera Square, right next to Como Park. This train themes hotel is great for the budget minded with kids and is close to the State Fair.

Important Travel Tips for St. Paul

Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport actually has two different terminals, Humphrey and Lindburgh, and they are connected by light rail, but you will want to check your ticket carefully if you are getting picked up or are heading there on public transportation. St. Paul has excellent bus service to the airport and suburbs and there is also light rail to the airport from Minneapolis.

Driving in winter weather is a challenge in St. Paul, hence the downtown Skyways. The Twin cities have a good freeway system, but there are many of them to become familiar with before driving. Public transportation is your best bet.

Destination city St. Paul offers much more than the State Capitol. Reasons to visit include the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State Fair , the Winter Carnival, the Mighty Mississippi, and Minnesota itself, the Land of 10,000 Lakes.


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