It might be smaller and less popular than its sibling to the west, but Minnesota’s capital city has a spirited side that is unrivaled by its twin.
By Melanie D.G. Kaplan Oct. 9, 2019
When I visited St. Paul this summer, I was vaguely aware of another city nearby. I saw skyscrapers in the distance and heard mention of a twin — a sparklier, sassier, busier, bigger city slightly to the west. A city that gets first billing and all the love.
I registered that other city in my mind and then dismissed it altogether. Because St. Paul, I discovered, is more fun than second fiddle and too important to be an afterthought.
St. Paul is the capital of Minnesota, the older and smaller of the Twin Cities. It’s quieter and more relaxed, wholesome and family-friendly, with an air of romance, as though it’s winking at a bygone time. It’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthplace and boasts one of the country’s best-preserved neighborhoods from the Gilded Age. St. Paul is hardly a sleepy town — it attracts big-name entertainers, goes hockey crazy in the winter and this year opened Allianz Field, a gleaming world-class soccer stadium. I ran out of time during my visit before I ran out of highly recommended restaurants.
St. Paul may be accused of being the buttoned-up sibling, but it doesn't take long for a visitor to see the city's silly and spirited side: Take the baseball team's SpongeBob SquarePants promotion; the croquet group that plays in Victorian dress; the watering hole called Bad Weather Brewing Company; or the beloved Winter Carnival, featuring a legendary fight between King Boreas and the firetruck-riding Vulcanus Rex. Of course, if a SpongeBob-celebrating, croquet-playing, Vulcan-fighting city isn't your jam, there's always the other city. For the rest of us, there's St. Paul.
Don’t let the jargony name scare you away from the 15Creative Enterprise Zone15Creative Enterprise ZoneGoogle Map: Halfway between St. Paul and Minneapolis, between Emerald Street and Prior Avenue, I-94 to the south and the railroad yards to the north.Website: creativeenterprisezone.org, a neighborhood of artists, makers and entrepreneurs near Raymond and University avenues, between downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. Shop for records at Aghart and Barely Bros., vintage clothing at Shag Studio, and mid-century modern at MidModMen+friends (if you love the colorful handmade lamps, also check out Modilumi) and Succotash. Fuel up at Caffe Biaggio, a simple, old-school Italian restaurant. If you’re ISO a taproom, visit the Lab, a new test facility for alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks; Dual Citizen, a kid-friendly brewery where you can order food from the Naughty Greek; and Urban Growler, which hosts, along with Dual Citizen, a monthly public book club called Books & Bars. Stop at Can Can Wonderland for a vintage arcade and mini-golf like you’ve never seen. This walkable neighborhood is accessible by light rail, so be green and hop on the Green Line.