The Twin Cities: A St. Paul guide

Calling St. Paul and Minneapolis the Twin Cities is a bit of a misnomer, unless you’re talking about fraternal twins. Ask locals about the rivalry and you’re likely to get an earful: There are even self-proclaimed “St. Paul People” and “Minneapolis People.” The capital city, St. Paul is the older, quieter, labyrinthine sister to the flashy, gridded Minneapolis. But don’t let the Minneapolis People’s pride for their city fool you – there are hundreds of great places to discover in St. Paul, from the urban to the natural. Take a look at our St. Paul guide for some of the city’s best local spots.

A St. Paul guide

A view of the downtown St. Paul skyline from one of the bridges spanning the mighty Mississippi River © Nattapol Pornsalnuwat

Also called the “City of Neighbourhoods,” St. Paul’s sprawl comprises several worlds, from the classically staid row of Summit Avenue mansions to the bustling, vibrant Hmongtown market in Frogtown and the up-and-coming arts and entertainment district of Lowertown.

 

Here’s just a sampling of the neighbourhoods to see on your next visit to St. Paul:

 

Lowertown

A St. Paul guide | Mears Park

Mears Park is an oasis in the midst of growing Lowertown © Robert Ferdinandt

Just steps from the mighty Mississippi River, Lowertown is one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, where the bohemian mix with the local fashion set for a uniquely hip vibe.

 

A studio-artist’s haven, Lowertown has always been popular for the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, one of the world’s greatest weekend Farmer’s Markets, regularly scheduled art crawls, and its stunning centrepiece, Mears Park, which boasts a manmade creek and beautifully maintained gardens. (Pro tip: If you happen to be there on Thursday nights during the summer, you’ll be treated to the free Music in Mears events, which includes performances by local musicians and food truck refreshments).

A St. Paul guide | CHS Field

Catch a game at the Julie Snow-designed CHS Field, home of the beloved St. Paul Saints minor-league baseball team © Robert Ferdinandt/Visit St. Paul

But over the last few years, Lowertown has gotten a bit of a makeover. The nexus was the oasis-like Mears Park, which saw bars and restaurants move in around it – check out Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market (a James Beard-nominated chef runs the restaurant here), and Amsterdam Bar and Hall for live music and a Dutch-inspired menu. The ultra-modern CHS Field is also a great local spot for sports fans, and a picturesque place to take in the beloved minor-league baseball team, the St. Paul Saints.

 

East Side

 

Another area in our St. Paul guide that’s experiencing a renaissance (particularly within the food arena), make sure to visit East Side while you’re in town. The buzz began at The Strip Club, a matchbox-sized dining room serving up gigantic flavour with locally sourced sizzling steaks and craft cocktails, washed down with downtown skyline views.

Don’t miss the adult milkshakes at Ward6, which is located in a historic building with a giant oak bar (built in 1885) that even survived Prohibition. Everything at the American-diner-inspired, Korean-fusion influenced Cook St. Paul is made from scratch or locally sourced, while over at Tongue in Cheek you’ll find a chef-driven menu known for its charming $2 bites.

A St. Paul guide | Phalen Park Falls

The East Side’s Lake Phalen has lots of fun features, including the man-made falls © Robert Ferdinandt

After all those calories, get some fresh air and take a walk around St. Paul’s biggest lake, Phalen. Part of a regional park system, with a fishing pier (one of Minnesota’s greatest pastimes), a swimming beach in the summer, and skiing and skating in the winter, this is one of the finest outdoor spots in the city.

 

Selby Avenue & Dale Street

A St. Paul guide | Cathedral of Saint Paul

The Cathedral of St. Paul is the bookend to a lovely lane filled with top-notch restaurants, bars, and shopping © Jeremy Jordan

New meets old in the historic Cathedral Hill neighbourhood, so named for the popular Cathedral of St. Paul – an icon at one end of Selby Avenue. Reminiscent of NYC’s Greenwich Village, the neighbourhood is lined with charming Victorian homes, brownstones, and a smattering of shops and restaurants. The stalwarts include the delicious W.A. Frost & Company (if the weather permits, this is one of the most beautiful patios in St. Paul) and Moscow on the Hill, which offers Russian comfort food and an extensive vodka menu.

A St. Paul guide | W.A. Frost & Company

This St. Paul landmark handily wins Best Patio awards time and again, but a drink and dinner inside is equally as lovely © Visit St. Paul

Newer kids on the block include American bistro Cheeky Monkey and beer haven The Happy Gnome. Shoppers, meanwhile, will be kept busy with fine high-end fashion at idun, American-heritage at BlackBlue, and budget-friendly threads at Primp.

 

Como

 

The Como neighbourhood is full of charm and lovely sights, starting with the picturesque Lake Como. A peaceful local spot, a new Louisiana-inspired eatery, Como Dockside, is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the scenery alongside a light lunch. There’s also a packed programme of live music here most nights of the week.

 A St. Paul guide | Como Conservatory

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is one of the lushest spots in the state © Dan Anderson

Just a short jaunt from the lake, you’ll find plenty of shopping, food and entertainment opportunities over on Como Avenue. Check out local institution, Bibelot Shop for great gifts, Complexions on Carter for a first-class facials and Colossal Café for some easy, tasty eats – don’t miss the decadent Apple Walnut Brie Flapper at breakfast.

 

A couple of other must-see neighbourhoods include the long stretch of Grand Avenue starting at Dale Street – cool and unusual shops line the avenue, including Grand Hand Gallery, the artist-driven Charlemagne Jewelry, and Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books. In between shopping, stop off at day spas, coffee shops, and restaurants to relax and refuel.

A St. Paul guide | Wabasha Street Caves

Visit ghosts of gangsters past in the Wabasha Street Caves © Wabasha Street Caves

For insight into the seedier side of St. Paul, take the Gangster Tour at the Wabasha Street Caves of St. Paul and learn all about Al Capone and Ma Barker’s hideouts.

 

Partnering with Delta allows us to connect you to and from a selection of destinations across the United States and Canada, making it even simpler to discover St. Paul with flights to Minneapolis.

 

Have you been to any of the local spots in our St. Paul guide? Where would you recommend in the city? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Written by Katie Dohman

About Katie Dohman

Katie Dohman went into journalism due to her insatiable curiosity and innumerable interests, her tendency to overshare, and her never-ending love for entertaining people with a good story. As a style editor, she’s covered fashion, beauty, health and wellness, fitness, home décor, and trends. But she also loves pop culture, parenting relationships,—and, of course, travel. Her favourite trips? Maui to get married (and Kauai to honeymoon), and a three-week criss-cross of Thailand. Find her at @katiedohman
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