While Minneapolis, MN is often the attention grabbing “other half” of the Twin Cities, St. Paul is much more than just the seat of the state capitol. If you’re in town for a weekend or even an extended layover, explore the adventures that abound in the city on the other side of the river! St. Paul has it all when it comes to family fun; here’s how to make the most of a brief stay.
There are a host of things to do while spending 48 hours in St. Paul. You can visit museums, hit the riverfront, and check out a brewery, all while remaining within the city proper. If you spend a small bit of time ahead of your trip planning a Twin Cities weekend itinerary, you can land yourself at the best hotel in the city, to make a fantastic base camp for all of your St. Paul adventures. Why not start there, then? Eh?
48 Hours in St. Paul – Where to Stay
Stay in a room with a view! The InterContinental St. Paul Riverfront Hotel is less than a mile from the best of downtown St. Paul. With luxury and convenience, you can’t lose. Make sure you request a top floor, facing the river if available, to get the best of the unmatched views. Even in the winter, the upper floors afford guests spectacular views of the green (and blue) spaces within the city.
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Located on Kellogg Blvd (one of the main streets in the downtown area), you’re literally at the heart of St. Paul and have the city at your fingertips (or the tips of your toes if you’re walking for the weekend!). It’s easy to grab a cab or order an Uber from the front of the property. Take it from a local: this is the hotel from which you want to wander if only for a weekend. Ample parking makes a stress-free stop, while on-site food and libations at Citizen restaurant make phenomenal foodie favorites.
Twin Cities Weekend Itinerary – Prominent Pit Stops
Only 48 hours in St. Paul? No problem. You’ll want to find time in your Twin Cities weekend itinerary for these fabled favorites. You may not know it, but the city has roots steeped in history, including formerly being called “Pig’s Eye” — though it’s an unflattering nickname derived from a booze peddler, NOT from pork!
You’ll find interesting tidbits along the way at some of these premier Saint Paul pit stops, all of which are only about a mile or less from the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel.
Xcel Energy Center – Catch the Wild as they take on an opposing team for the puck drop or see a favorite performer. This venue is a little more intimate but doesn’t lack luxury. If you want to view your power plays from a posh perch, grab a ticket in a box suite and enjoy a slightly warmer, cozier experience.
Science Museum of MN – If you want to spend a few hours letting the middle school-aged kids have a blast and learn a bit too, this is the place to be. To be sure, grown ups and kids of all ages marvel at dinosaur skeletons and even the smallest tykes can appreciate the musical staircase. Everything is pretty “hands-on” and it’s easy to sink a few hours into this outing, but it’s well-worth your time. Furthermore, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Visitor Center is located in the lobby of the Science Center. It’s free to dive in to the splendor of our Great River.
Just a Little Bit Further
The MN History Center is right at about the one-mile mark from downtown. The rotating exhibits are incredible and this Minnesota Historical Society site encourages you to “start seeing history.” It is worth the extra walk. You want to hit your steps anyway, right? Some exhibits have included Chocolate, Prohibition, The Year 1968, and upcoming First Avenue, to name a few notables. The kids will enjoy some of the interesting facts and displays, but this one is especially intriguing for those grown ups in the group who are history buffs.
Saint Paul Stops – Beyond Downtown
If you have the ability to get a ride, or if you’re road tripping with your own wheels, these two sites are fantastic for those who aren’t limited to sites within walking distance of home base.
Summit Ave – What was once dubbed by a famous Minnesotan as something along the lines of “miles of monstrosities,” Summit Ave. is a fun drive where you’ll see Victorian era homes which were not the most extravagant in their time. Today, however, this stretch of 4.5 miles of the impressive structures is the best-preserved avenue of opulent homes from that period in the country. An interesting sight for those enthusiastic about architecture from bygone years.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory – This is an all-time favorite stop for our family. There is no set charge, so donate what you feel you’re able. Most of all, we love that this facility is part of the community and the kids enjoy stuffing bills into the glass cubes manned by volunteers at the entry. With polar bears and African hoofed animals, it’s a fabulous respite, especially during winter. Make it a stop on your list if you’re able!
Where to Eat in Only 48 Hours in Saint Paul
Citizen – This revamped restaurant has a delicious new menu and serves all three meals, including late night. This is a convenient choice if you stay at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel. The menu includes smaller plates, fresh and interesting sides, and app boards with local meats and cheeses.
Great Waters Brewing Company – Hand-crafted beer and burgers are served at this hip spot which is walkable from a downtown basecamp. The restaurant is especially convenient for pre-event eats, being close to several venues. It was built over the site of the old Saint Paul Cathedral.
Tongue in Cheek – Offering brunch, Tongue in Cheek is a great stop for sample-sized cocktails and finer dining. Definitely more geared toward grown-ups, this is a modern, trendy eatery in your weekend fun!
Twin Cities Weekend Itinerary – Winter’s Best
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
This celebration (a.k.a. “The Coolest Celebration on Earth”) runs annually in February. Since the Super Bowl was held in their sister city in 2018, St. Paul went big, with a huge multi-story ice palace. This was the first the city has had since the early 90s! Thia carnival began in 1886 in an effort to prove one could go outside during winter AND have fun! The concept this year was collectively called the Bold North. It’s the oldest winter festival in the United States! Enjoy vendors selling craft beers, local wines and hot drinks, plus so much more fun. Even if you’ve been there before, you’ll find new surprises, as events and activities change a bit each year.
A Twin Cities weekend itinerary can warm your heart to the idea of visiting St. Paul, even in winter. Though it’s cold, this is a four season destination–even if you’ve only got 48 hours.