One of Minnesota's twin cities (with Minneapolis), Saint Paul is more sedate and laid back than its sister city. But it has a lot going on, with literary landmarks, great museums, interesting architecture, and fine food to enjoy.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the greatest American writers, and he grew up in Saint Paul. See his birthplace and childhood home, and find out where the creator of Jay Gatsby found his inspiration.
Saint Paul's Science Museum is one of the best in the Midwest, with great exhibits for kids, while the Landmark Center offers a fascinating window into the 1920s, when Saint Paul saw numerous gangland prosecutions.
Saint Paul is very much a beer city, with flourishing craft brewers like Flat Earth and Summit competing with the best in America.
The city has a magnificent 19th-century cathedral, luxurious mansions like the James J. Hill House, and the Minnesota State Capitol, and all are worth a visit.
Head to theater shows at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown, follow the Saint Paul Art Crawl, see live music in Mears Park, or buy tickets for world famous musical acts at the Xcel Energy Center.
Towering more than 300 feet over the ground, the Cathedral of St. Paul is the perfect beginning to any sightseeing tour of the city. With stunning stained-glass windows and walls finished in Italian Botticino marble, the structure hearkens to the glories of European capitals yet it's also uniquely American in its neo-Classicist touches. With stunning statues and a massive organ, it's got all the finery that you would expect from a great cathedral.
Recognized for its incredible variety of animal life, the Como Park Zoo is the perfect place to take youngsters in St. Paul. Housing everything from the Anaconda to the Zebra, the zoo has both exotic and familiar animals to delight animal lovers. Take the little ones on a jungle-themed carousel ride, or explore the delicate flowers of the Sunken Garden. At night, you may want to stick around for Music in the Park, a summer series that brings music and musical theater to the outdoors.
Recently restored to its full glory, the State Capitol is a fantastic monument guarded by golden horses. That's right: the Quadriga will greet you as you mount the steps into the main entrance. Once inside, the magnificent dome and governor's reception room bear homage to the history of the state. The Senate Chamber is open for viewing -- in fact, much of the building can be experienced for free as part of a guided tour. If you're hungry, be sure to visit the Rathskeller Cafeteria, created to look like a German dining hall.
A historic venue in its own right, the Minnesota Museum of Art is sure to be hosting an exhibit to charm your creative sensibilities. The museum is known for its significant collection of purely American artists, with over 4,500 pieces that span the entire landscape of this country's creative capacities. Masters such as Joan Mitchell, Louise Nevelson and Paul Manship grace the museum walls. The museum also focuses on more authentically Minnesotan artists, many of whom create exhibitions that take the guest on journeys across the state's history, landscape and cultures.
Recognized as one of St. Paul's defining structures, the James J. Hill House is a massive 36,000-sqare-foot mansion on a hill overlooking downtown St. Paul and the Mississippi River. Today, the house functions as a museum exhibiting the Hill family's collection of art as well as antique furniture and musical instruments including a pipe organ. Perhaps the most arresting quality of the house is its stunning and delicate woodwork, which fills the rooms with warmth even on cold winter days.
Summer is the best time to visit, with reliable temperatures over 80 degrees in July and August.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) has plenty of domestic connections. When you get there, take the Blue Line light rail link ($1.75-$2.25). Taxis cost around $35.
Saint Paul Union Station is on Amtrak's Empire Builder route, connecting it to Chicago and Seattle.
From Chicago, take I-90 northbound and change onto I-94 at Tomah. I-35 runs into Saint Paul from the south.
Bus companies serving Saint Paul include Greyhound, Megabus, and Jefferson Lines, so you shouldn't have trouble finding a cheaper route to the city.
High-end hotels abound in Saint Paul, including the Saint Paul Hotel (built in 1910) and the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront, which has a lovely riverfront location.
Downtown - Saint Paul's hub, Downtown is home to the State Capitol, theaters, and fine restaurants like Handsome Hog.
Lowertown - next to the Mississippi, Lowertown was once down at heel, but it's now an artistic center and sporting destination thanks to CHS Field, home to the Saint Paul Saints baseball team.
Dayton's Bluff - packed with stunning 19th-century homes, Dayton's Bluff is like a timewarp, offering a portal into the Gilded Age.
Metro Transit runs the Green Line, which links the Twin Cities, and METRO buses run across Saint Paul (single fares are $1.75).
If you need to take a taxi, expect to pay a flag drop of $5, followed by $3 per mile.
Car rental options in Saint Paul include Avis, Hertz, and Budget, and rates will be around $20 per day.
There are hundreds of small craft stores in Saint Paul. Seek them out in areas like Summit Avenue, Cathedral Hill, and Downtown.
Supermarkets in Saint Paul include Cub Foods and Aldi, and as a guide, expect to spend around $2.65 on 12 eggs.
Some of the finest eateries in town include the Italian pizzeria Mucci's, the Mexican maestros at Pajarito, and the ever-reliable Saint Paul Grill. Prices vary considerably, but as a rule meals should come to around $20-30 per head.