High Bridge over the Mississippi and downtown Saint Paul
High Bridge over the Mississippi and downtown Saint Paul / iStock / culbertson
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Saint Paul, Minnesota

Our Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

The smaller of the Twin Cities has come a long way since it was founded in the 1830s by a French fur trapper and bootlegger known as Pig's Eye — earning it the name Pig's Eye Landing. The low-key Minnesota capital, now home to almost 300,000 residents, sprawls along the north bank of the Mississippi, a few miles downstream from Minneapolis.

What We Love

Landmark Center: The old pink granite post office, completed in 1902, has found new life as an eclectic arts center offering concerts, plays, dance performances, exhibitions, and lectures.

Hill House: This 36,500-square-foot, five-story Victorian mansion overlooking downtown was the brainchild of Great Northern Railway magnate James J. Hill. Guided tours of the National Historic Landmark take in many of the 22 fireplaces and 13 bathrooms, and point out new (at the time) home conveniences such as electric lights, indoor plumbing, and central heating.

Best Known For

Cathedral of Saint Paul: Completed in 1915, the third largest completed church in the United States — and the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul, the city's namesake since 1841 — features a granite Beaux-Arts exterior and seats 3,000 people. 

Science Museum of Minnesota: This outstanding waterfront museum houses everything from dinosaur bones to space rockets, as well as a superb Mississippi River Gallery.

Who It's Best For

State Capitol Aficionados: Completed in 1905, Minnesota's Italian-Renaissance-style capitol building is one of the nation's more impressive, especially the dome (both inside and out) and the golden chariot statue above the south entrance.

Culture Vultures: The Minnesota Opera and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra both offer a year-round slate of performances at the modern Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

The River Is Basically Look-Only: Even though the National Park Service's Mississippi River Visitor Center is in Saint Paul, you'll need to go quite a way up or downstream to canoe, kayak, or swim in the famous waterway.