St. Paul is one of the best cities to visit in the Midwest. Those who are interested in the local social, cultural, and natural history will be pleasantly surprised to find that the area offers plenty of historical sites to explore.
From the birthplace of a famous writer to multiple National Historic Landmarks, in no particular order, here are the top places to visit in St. Paul, Minnesota:
Minnesota State Capitol
Built in 1905, after the previous capitol buildings were either burnt down or too small for the growing population, the Minnesota State Capitol boasts ornate architecture. The building was originally designed by architect Cass Gilbert, and he had a grand vision for the layout and construction of the new building.
He drew inspiration from the Renaissance, specifically St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The result was a remarkable structure that received attention from all over the country. Over the years, the building began to deteriorate from natural wear and tear, so a restoration project was completed in 2017 to restore the building to its original state.
Today, it’s easy to see that a lot of hard work went into making this structure both structurally sound and exquisite to look at. Not only is the exterior mesmerizing but the interior is also equally as impressive.
Be sure to check out the Rotunda room on the first floor to catch a glimpse of some relics from the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Or, visit the Senate Chamber, House of Representatives Chamber, and the Supreme Court of Minnesota. Tours are also offered here, which can be guided, self-guided, or with a group.
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155 | 651-296-2881 | mnhs.org/capitol
Landmark Center is hard to miss with its beautiful, unique architecture. The building was primarily used as a courthouse and post office when it was originally built in 1902. Losing its charm over time, in 1972, a handful of devoted activists helped to revive and restore it.
Today, this building serves as a cultural hub in the area, offering many activities to guests. Visitors can attend one of the many cultural events offered, such as Irish dancing performances or historical plays. Various walking tours are available, including an interactive history tour that offers a glimpse into the history and events that took place in the building.
Additionally, throughout the month, the center also provides opportunities to visit numerous museums and art galleries including the American Association of Woodturners Gallery of Wood Art, the Heritage Organization of Romanian Americans in Minnesota, and the Landmark Gallery.
75 W 5th St, St Paul, MN 55102 | 651-292-3225 | landmarkcenter.org
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Birthplace
Lovers of F. Scott Fitzgerald who have a little extra time can stop by the famous author’s childhood home. Still standing today, the beautiful yet simple building is easy to miss if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Nonetheless, it’s still a noteworthy piece of history in St. Paul.
While it’s not open to the public, it’s still worth admiring and perhaps taking a stroll through the quaint neighborhood. Moreover, the home where Fitzgerald resided as an adult is not too far away from this location. Similarly, this building is not currently open to the public either, but it’s still fun to check out.
481 Laurel Ave, St Paul, MN 55102 | saintpaulhistorical.com…
Burbank Livingston Griggs Mansion
The Burbank Livingston Griggs Mansion is an exquisite historic home that was originally built for and owned by a man named James C. Burbank. One of the oldest homes in St. Paul and sprawling over 8,000 square feet, visitors can only pass by as tours are not available.
Currently leased out to private residents, the luxurious interior was beautifully designed with pieces of décor that were shipped from both Italy and France.
432 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55102 | 6| 51-265-2255 | griggsmansion.com
James J. Hill House
Dating back to 1893, James J. Hill House is by far one of the most impressive historic homes in Minnesota. It was designed, built, and owned by James J. Hill and his family from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. A perfect example of fine Victorian architecture, the surrounding areas are equally as impressive.
The interior of the home sprawls across 36,500 square feet throughout five floors. There’s even a pipe organ that traverses three floors and it’s still available to view today. In 1961, the home was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Open to the public, tours are available year-round, however, it’s best to check in advance when they are offered. There are even walking tours of the neighborhood available in the spring and summer.
240 Summit Ave, St Paul, MN 55102 | 651-297-2555 | mnhs.org/hillhouse
Historic Fort Snelling
Fort Snelling has a long, varied history spanning over 10,000 years. It began as a gathering place and as a resource of natural goods for Native people before transforming into a hub for trade, both between Native tribes as well as European settlers.
In the decades following, it became a military post and played a pivotal role in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. Decommissioned after World War II, the fort became a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Today, the site is open to the public and offers educational resources, group visits, and much more.
Be sure to check out the natural landscape and the many walking trails this site has to offer. In addition to learning more about the incredible history here, you’ll also be able to spot plenty of native flora and fauna. Some native plants and animals you may be able to spot include sweetgrass, white-tailed deer, and maybe even an eagle.
200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111 | 612-726-1171 | mnhs.org/fortsnelling
Wabasha Street Bridge
In 1859, the Wabasha Street Bridge stood in this spot and was one of only a few that hung over the Mississippi River. While the original bridge no longer exists, a newer version was built and offers views of the Mississippi River as well as access to a small island known as Raspberry Island.
Both driving and walking are permitted, as there’s a road and a walking path across the bridge.
1-77 Wabasha St S, St Paul, MN 55107
The Cathedral of St. Paul
Dating back to as early as 1904, the magnificent Cathedral of St. Paul was the result of a vision Archbishop John Ireland had to expand the reach of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. There were previously three other Cathedrals in the area, but as the congregation steadily grew, the need for a bigger space was apparent.
Designed by E. L. Masqueray and hosting the first liturgy in 1915, it took nearly 50 years to fully complete the construction of the building. In 1974, the Cathedral was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings. Tours are offered here during the week and are free to anyone who would like to join.
There’s also a museum within the Cathedral that’s open at various times. The museum hosts various works of art and historical documents that are related to the church.
239 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102 | 651-228-1766 | cathedralsaintpaul.org
Hidden Falls Regional Park
For those looking to escape into nature, Hidden Falls Regional Park offers scenic trails, picnic areas, and even a bit of history. The area was first established as one of the city’s main parks in 1887 by Horace Cleveland. Over the years, some improvement was made to the land in order to make it what it is today.
Now, both locals and visitors can come to enjoy the many activities this park has to offer. There are biking trails, walking trails, and even a boat launch that feeds into the Mississippi River. Fishing is permissible, but there are regulations so be sure to review these before heading out to the river.
There are also picnic areas available, so this would be the perfect spot to grab lunch and sit down to enjoy the scenery.
1313 Hidden Falls Dr, St Paul, MN 55116 | 651-632-5111 | stpaul.gov…
A wonderful place to visit, although overwhelming at times due to having too many options, St. Paul, Minnesota is a thriving hub for history and culture, and the city offers a lot for both children and adults. From the native plants and animals that reside at Fort Snelling to the mesmerizing architecture at the James J. Hill House, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.