The Cathedral of St. Paul was designed by French architect Emmanual Masqueray. The visionary for this grand cathedral was Bishop John Ireland, who believed that the Minneapolis-St. Paul Archdiosese needed a "great cathedral".
Work began in 1906 and the exterior was completed in 1915. Although, much work continued on the interior for years. The Cathedral of St. Paul is one of the largest cathedrals in the US. The exterior is made of granite and is topped a bronze dome.
Over time the bronze dome had become tarnished and had turned an algae green. A massive restoration process was completed in the 90's. Many craftman and artisans from all over the US and the world were brought in to complete this effort.
Tours are available.
The James J. Hill mansion is open to the public for guided tours and also contains an art gallery.
James J. Hill was one the pivotal figures in pushing for a northern rail passage to the Pacific. The Great Northern Railroad, which today is known as Burlington Northern, became an industry leader with there rail links to the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
The rail route that Hill was successful in building is still used today. Amtrak runs a train from Chicago to Minneapolis to Seattle called appropriately enough the "Empire Builder".
Starting off on the Mississippi River and ending at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Summit Ave is a picturesque avenue of mansions. It's been the home of St. Paul's most elite and powerfull.
The oldest part of the street begins near the Cathedral of St. Paul. The mansions here are immense victorian structures built for the powerful elite of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Here you will find the majestic Cathedral of St. Paul and the JJ Hill mansion, which overlooks downtown St. Paul.
As you head west on Summit Ave. , you will run into William Mitchell Law School and bit further the Governers mansion. A bit further as you cross Snelling Ave. you come upon Macalaster College. This is the college that Kofi Anan, the Secretary General of the UN graduated from.
About a mile further you will come to the University of St. Thomas, which in it's ever hungry growth has taken over several the mansions near it's campus to meet the demand for more buildings and land. From here it is only a few blocks until you run into the Mississippi River.
The Pavillion on Como Lake is used in the summer months for concerts and private parties. Sitting on the shores of Como Lake, a small recreational lake in the northern park of St. Paul. Surrounding the lake is a large park area with wilderness, athletic fields, picnic grounds, golf course, zoo and conservatory.
The lake is also a popular place for winter activities such as skating. The golf course near by is converted into a cross country ski area and is a popular sleding area as well.
Inside the Pavillion is a restaurant and coffee shop and is a popular place to get a bite to eat or a nice warm cup of cocoa after a day of walking or ice skating.
They offer several different tour options, including: Cave tours, Gangster Tours, Politically Correct Tour, Twin Town Tacky Tour, and in October the Ghosts and Graves tour. Check out their website for a complete listing.
Prices are very reasonable. The Cave tour is only $5 for a tour that lasts 45-60min.
Located in downtown St. Paul and can be combined with visits to the Minnesota History Center....the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Museum of Art which are all within a few blocks of each other.
Tours are available Mon-Wed-Fri @ 1 p.m.
Step back in time and take a visit to an 1820's fort. There are some very interesting exhibits here...and of course costumed actors in character. They have different events and programs going on all the time. Sometimes they have spelling bees...sometimes they fire off the BIG cannons. My oldest won the spelling bee against children & grown adults and was the "last man standing" when they finally got her with "silhouette"....but she was ONLY 7 at the time!
Our capitol building is beautiful inside and out.....and if you take part in the Art Treasure Hunt program or a guided tour,you'll learn alot. Our favorite piece is downstairs in the "basement" : a beautiful painting of our former governor Jesse Ventura who coined the phrase:
"It's A Joke Joke Joke!"
This is a smallish zoo but it's free(suggested donation of 2.00 per adult and 1.00 per child)and it's attached to a beautiful conservatory, a historic carousel,and a small amusement park.
There is a brand new exhibit called : Tropical Encounters that is inside the brand-new visitors center on the opposite side as the gift shop.
Located just outside of downtown St. Paul and housing many interesting ongoing exhibits...this is a great place to go if you have an hour or two to kill...
Our favorite ongoing exhibit is the WEATHER PERMITTING exhibit that lets you explore what weather used to be like in Minnesota when we still had winters. You can experience a rather violet tornado that ripped through the area in the late 1960's. You go into this little house and it's like your hiding down the basement...the radio is playing the weather & news,the house is shaking,it gets dark,the wind blows and you actually feel like you're in the storm. It's freaky...a must visit. There is a spinning windblown tornado replica outside the house...so you can't miss it.
Science Museum of Minnesota
We spent all day at this museum. The museum has three floors of exhibits ranging from the natural history of the Minneapolis - St. Paul area to how the body works (they have a real human heart to view) to how to transform energy - a real hands-on place.
We enjoyed it - actually the worst thing about the museum was the thousands of school kids that were swarming around.
We viewed the Omnitheatre IMAX show and the 3D theatre. You have to pay separately for each activity (museum, IMAX and 3D theatre). IMAX is always interesting (we saw Wolves), in this one the screen rolls down and envelopes you. On the otherhand, the 3D theatre was geared to children - my teens found it boring.
Bring your own snacks - a hamburger in the cafe costs $5.
We spent about an hour walking through this conservatory. It is a typical conservatory - much like ours in Winnipeg. I found the bonsai room disappointing - there were just a few little trees - very little of the bonsai shapes I've seen in other city's displays. I enjoyed the colour of the flower garden which while we were there had bulb plants (daffodils, tulips, amarylis, etc.) in full bloom.
In 2001, cost was $1 per person
Extending nearly 5 miles, Summit Avenue is the longest remaining stretch of residential Victorian architecture in the United States.
Notable stately homes on Summit Avenue include the 1891 mansion of James J. Hill, founder of the Great Northern Railroad, Garrison Keillor’s house and Jesse Ventura’s governor’s mansion complete with the state of Minnesota carved in granite on the lawn.
Excellent indoor conservatory that has 5 different gardens, including everything from bonsai, ferns, flowers, and tropicals. It's a great place to go anytime of the year (it's especially welcoming in winter), and admission is only $1.
St. Paul is such a charming city with fantastic architecture and so much to see and do. My St. Paul page has tips on the following:
Minnesota State Fair
State Capitol Building
Cathedral of St. Paul
James J. Hill House
Science Museum of Minnesota
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
Snoopy & Friends
GO TO ST. PAUL PAGE