How to Spend 48 Hours in St. Paul, Minnesota

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48 hours in St. Paul
Mississippi Riverfront of Saint Paul, MN near Xcel Energy Center; Photo credit: Pixabay

St. Paul, Minnesota, the quiet sibling in the Twin Cities, has many things to do too. Minneapolis brings the flash, but St. Paul, the state capital, also has much to recommend. Whether you are looking for new Twin City adventures, an add-on to a Minneapolis stay, or just more of a low-key experience, you can fill your two days in St. Paul with lots of fun activities.

Visit museums, explore the riverfront, and check out a brewery, all while remaining within the city. 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.

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.

Xcel Energy CenterCatch the Wild as they take on an opposing team for the puck drop or see a favorite performer. This venue is 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 MNIf 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 into the splendor of our Great River.

Read More: Best Dinosaur Museums in the US

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 the 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 that were not the most extravagant in their time. Today, however, this stretch of 4.5 miles of 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 can. 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!

48 hrs in Saint Paul
Salmon and Asparagus with Beets and Blackberries at the upscale Citizen restaurant in-house at the InterContinental Riverfront Saint Paul. Photo credit: Amanda Williams

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. The menu includes smaller plates, fresh and interesting sides, and app boards with local meats and cheeses.

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 for your weekend fun!

twin cities weekend itinerary
Mississippi River near Saint Paul, Minnesota – a great place to spend part of a Twin Cities weekend itinerary! Photo credit: Pixabay.

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 had had since the early 90s! This carnival began in 1886 in an effort to prove one could go outside during winter AND have fun! 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.

48 Hours in St. Paul – Where to Stay

Choose 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.

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.

Amanda Williams is a journalist in rural Minnesota. Her stories have been published in Matador Travel Network, Midwest Living, Family Handyman, and several other publications. A solo mother of two young boys, she writes about adventures from National Parks to waterparks. She loves sharing tips and insider information for others to use to make their trip just a little bit better. She and her kids scuba dive and live for new experiences and thrills. Road trips are always on the horizon and she’s embraced van life and has driven from the Midwest to Alaska (via Canada) with her kids encompassing 32 days of wild adventures. Amanda is classically trained as a wildlife biologist and has worked as a National Park Ranger, in addition to other exciting jobs like being a wildland firefighter and even playing the part of a living historian, as a cook in a turn-of-the-century logging camp. Because of these outdoorsy experiences, stories relating to outdoor adventure are often a focus of her writing. She hopes to inspire other solo parents to take on Disney, camping, and trips abroad with their families with the confidence to make those memories, even as the lone adult in the mix! Her most recent obsession is photographing adventures from the land, water, AND skies, as a licensed small unmanned aircraft system (drone) pilot. Learn more about her at or follow her on Instagram, @WayfaringMandy.
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