Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in St. Cloud, MN

  • Published 2022/11/15

The tenth-largest city in Minnesota gets its name from the French city of St. Cloud, which also got its name from the 6th-century French monk named Clodoald.

As the county seat of Stearns County, Minnesota, St. Cloud has a huge metropolitan area.

It’s the fifth-largest metro in Minnesota, only behind Rochester, Duluth-Superior, Fargo-Moorhead, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Two years after Minnesota became an official US territory in 1849, the St. Cloud area opened up to settlers.

The Maine native John Wilson gave this new settlement its name, after the Parisian suburb where Napoleon built his favorite palace.

Five years after its opening, St. Cloud became a city.

Today, the city of St. Cloud boasts a vibrant artistic and cultural scene, with a healthy dose of historical landmarks.

Its Central Business District, for example, belongs to the National Register of Historic Places.

Do you want to know more about St. Cloud, MN?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in the city:

Smell the Flowers at the Munsinger Clemens Gardens

A water fountain and colorful flowers in Munsinger Clemens Gardens

Randy Runtsch /

Since the 1930s, the Munsinger Gardens have delighted visitors with its well-designed paths and beautiful gardens.

The 14-acre garden hosts tall pines looming over footpaths bordered with colorful flowers.

Stone steps in Munsinger Clemens Gardens

Akerri /

Likewise, the manicured glass flows river-like around the islands of flower beds.

Next to the Munsinger Gardens are the Clemens Gardens, developed in the 1990s.

This 7-acre garden is a terrific counterpoint to Munsinger.

Compared to the former, Clemens Gardens have a formally styled collection of six gardens.

Colorful flowers in Munsinger Clemens Gardens

Sara Koivisto /

Clemens also sits on a sun-kissed hill over Munsinger.

Both gardens are across the street from St. Cloud State University, along the Mississippi River.

A flower pot with a mini garden

Akerri /

Check Out Masterpieces at The Whitney Gallery

This newly established gallery operates out of the Whitney Building, a historic structure in downtown St. Cloud.

In 2021, the public artist Heidi Jeub took over and turned the Whitney into The Whitney Gallery, a space for local artists to showcase their work.

You’ll find a clear emphasis on featuring works by artists from Central Minnesota and the nearby region.

This gallery will give you a sense of how Minnesotans see themselves and the world.

The Gallery hosts various exhibitions and musical performances throughout the year.

Likewise, the gallery is open to the public; it even encourages the public to visit often.

Stop by during your tour of downtown St. Cloud and let your eye and imagination wander.

See a Show at the Paramount Center for the Arts

Exterior of Paramount Center for the Arts and the buildings beside

JamesThomasHofmann, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to experience the thrills of local theater, visit the Paramount Center for the Arts in St. Cloud.

Various community groups put on a wide selection of shows at the Paramount, where everyone can have a good time.

Likewise, the theater also hosts live performances from musicians on tour or professional theater troupes.

View of the Paramount Center for the Arts and the road in front

Lorie Shaull from St Paul, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Besides putting on shows, the Paramount also hosts exhibit spaces for artists to show their work.

The theater also hosts the Paramount Visual Arts Studios, a fun environment for guests to experience visual arts.

You can enroll in classes in their new studio under an experienced artist so you can also create art as you learn.

Even complete beginners are welcome to participate.

Name sign of Paramount Center for the Arts

Lorie Shaull from St Paul, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Hiking along Beaver Island Trail

This asphalt trail stretches for a bit more than five miles, presenting terrific views of the Mississippi River, St. Cloud State University, and the River Bluffs Regional Park.

You’ll need to bring a camera to appreciate this trail to its fullest.

Likewise, you can take this path back toward downtown St. Cloud, crossing natural woods before opening up to the busy metropolis.

During your hike, you might also want to follow the St. Cloud Riverwalk, which runs for half a mile over the Mississippi River.

You’ll need to make quite the effort to reach the Riverwalk, but its views are worth it.

Spend the Day at the George Friedrich Park

St. Cloud’s George Friedrich Park was once a popular swimming destination, but today it has become a premier outdoor activity hub.

You can hike along its many trails during clear days.

In the winter, the park turns into an excellent spot for skiing and snow-shoeing.

Otherwise, it’s simply a unique nature area that rewards exploration.

This 50-acre park gets its name from George Friedrich, who taught biology at St. Cloud State University.

He helped the school buy the land from Gottfried Hilder, who operated a granite quarry at the site.

Under the care of the university, the park evolved into a tourist attraction.

The school held numerous diving and swimming competitions at the park back in the day, but today swimming is banned.

The city of St. Cloud eventually bought the property and made some renovations.

In 2015, the park opened to the public.

Learn Local History at the Stearns History Museum

Exterior of Stearns History Museum

McGhiever, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1936, a group of St. Cloud citizens banded together to form the Stearns County Historical Society.

The Society made considerable efforts to establish the Stearns History Museum, which bore fruit in 1973 with the construction of a museum building.

Front exterior of Stearns History Museum

Myotus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Construction started in 1982, and the building continues to keep pace with the rapid changes of modern life.

Every year, the museum opens its exhibition space for displays from its archives or for traveling exhibits from partners like the Smithsonian.

Likewise, the museum sits beside a spacious 80-acre nature park that contains thriving wildlife, colorful walking trails, and even a skateboard park.

Back exterior of Stearns History Museum

Myotus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Practice Your Kick-Flips at the Heritage Park Skate Plaza

Spanning roughly 20,000 square feet, the Heritage Park Skate Plaza contains various amenities to satisfy every manner of skater.

It’s got a multi-depth bowl, whose depths vary from 4.5 to six feet, with its deepest pocket created from a 7-foot extension.

Likewise, this skate plaza also offers varied skate lines and terrains to keep skaters on their toes.

Challenge your skating skills by trying out the plaza’s stair set, ledges, rails, return walls, and manual pads, all laid out in a visually striking pattern.

Don’t even worry if you don’t have skates.

Bikes and scooters are welcome to play here, too.

Sample Craft Beer at the Beaver Island Brewing Company

Firmly rooted in St. Cloud, the Beaver Island Brewing Company offers guests an unforgettable taste of their beloved city in a single pint.

Unwind from a busy day of doing touristy stuff by chilling over a pint of beer in their welcoming and pleasant taproom.

You might even want to book an advanced spot on a brewery tour or rent the taproom for your next gathering.

The brewery also offers filling meals to pair with a cold beer.

Otherwise, you can go to the food truck regularly parked outside the patio.

Beaver Island brews various types of beer, such as ales, lagers, stouts, and IPAs.

Explore an Urban Paradise at Lake George

Lake George name sign

Anh Luu /

It might sound truly incredible, but the bustling city of St. Cloud has a lake, called Lake George.

You just need to take a few steps outside downtown St. Cloud to reach this urban oasis.

Take a breather from your downtown exploration to walk down leisurely walking paths, snap photos of the lake, or sit down on the beach.

The lake becomes a fine place to enjoy a relaxing breakfast or a quiet conversation with someone.

You can also eat your lunch there.

Likewise, you can rent canoes, paddleboards, and paddle boats from the Boathouse, located at the southeastern shore of Lake George.

After all, who visits a lake and doesn’t go on the lake?

Practice Self-Care at the Bella Vita Salt Caves

Do you want to relax but find th_e_ old techniques are boring and played out?

Head to St. Cloud and look for the Bella Vita Salt Caves, a new but effective relaxation spot.

The salt caves should be perfect for starting your day with zero stress. What do these salt caves offer?

The caves provide dry salt therapy, a centuries-old means to treat skin and lung conditions that affect people globally.

You might know this treatment as halotherapy, which is quickly gaining steam among the public.

Besides treating your lungs and skin, halotherapy also helps improve your mood and alleviate behavioral conditions.

Sit inside the dry salt cave to feel the effects, such as lower blood pressure, better heart health, pain relief, weight loss, increased metabolism, and better brain function.

Treat your friends to a day of relaxation and pampering at the Bella Vita Salt Caves!

Learn Quirky History at the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame

Interior of Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame

McGhiever, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t think only the pros get into a Hall of Fame, because St. Cloud shows you even amateurs can leave a legacy, too.

Visit the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, inside the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center.

The museum contains various artifacts and memorabilia gathered from decades of Minnesota’s amateur town-team baseball.

Likewise, the museum celebrates players from the minor leagues, college, high school, as well as the VFW and the American Legion.

You’ll also find artifacts from Minnesota natives who made it to the Major Leagues.

These exhibits contain caps, photographs, game programs, gloves, balls, bats, and complete uniform sets.

Enjoy the Company of Nature at Rockville County Park

This 284-acre park should give you a whole day’s worth of fun nature adventure in St. Cloud.

During your visit, you can admire the Sauk River stretching 1.2 miles barely beyond the park limits.

Likewise, the park contains diverse wildlife, which the Minnesota County Biological Survey also recognizes.

Go all the way to the easternmost section of the park to find the enormous granite outcrop, another gorgeous photo opportunity.

Explore some more to find the tamarack swamp and the lowland hardwood forest inside the park.

Besides hiking and picnicking, you can fish, join an eagle nest viewing, or pitch a tent inside the park’s campground.

The park is also open all year, so you don’t need to rush.

Ride Your Bike along the Lake Wobegon Trail

Named after the popular radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” the Lake Wobegon Trail offers a relaxing route to explore the charming rural towns of central Minnesota.

The city of St. Cloud and the communities to its north inspired the Lake Wobegon area in the radio show.

It’s a bike trail, so don’t leave your bike at home.

This 62-mile Y-shaped trail takes you through rural Minnesota, with its various dairy farms, streams, and lakes.

Enjoy a peaceful bike ride with friends or family and soak in the country air.

If you want to escape the city, the Lake Wobegon Trail is your best bet.

Go Shopping or Walk around the Crossroads Center

The biggest mall in Minnesota beyond the main Twin Cities metro region is Crossroads Center, located in St. Cloud.

In September 1964, construction on the 40-acre Crossroads Center property began.

In 2004, the center underwent renovations that included the addition of new skylights, a 700-seat food hall, family toilets, better parking and traffic patterns, a simplified common space, and a soft play zone for kids.

You can check everyone off your checklist at Crossroads Center because everything is conveniently located onsite.

Visit them for their wide selection of nationally known brands, then stay to savor their Food Court and experience a great shopping day.

Prepare for a Day Filled with Entertainment at Pioneer Place on Fifth

Street view of Pioneer Place on Fifth

Elkman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pioneer Place on Fifth, initially constructed as an Elks Club in 1913, has evolved into the heart of the central St. Cloud entertainment area.

From the minute you walk through the doorway, the cozy atmosphere makes you feel welcome.

The structure was a landmark at the time thanks to its imposing granite pillars and royal stairs.

Initially, the building’s upper had chambers, which were modest spaces where other Elks may spend the evening.

The Veranda Lounge is housed within the immaculately renovated structure of Pioneer Place on the Fifth.

Pioneer Place on Fifth welcomes guests to drop by any night of the week.

Experience and delight in anything from expertly made drinks and locally produced music in the Veranda Lounge to sophisticated theatre and sold-out performances on the central stage.

Jump, Bounce, and Play at AirMaxx Trampoline Park

A fun & healthy exercise for just much everyone of any age, size, or ability is bouncing at AirMaxx Trampoline Park!

A sizable trampoline area for jumps, a dodgeball area, and a foam pool are all available at AirMaxx.

It is an exciting activity for people of any age and a good workout.

The dynamic projector entertainment on BEAM is also available to visitors.

Any real location may become a virtual playground thanks to the multi-award-winning BEAM family game system.

If you’re searching for a place for younger kids to have fun, AirMaxx also has a “Mini Maxxers” court where kids under five may jump alongside their parents.

Before getting jump tickets and accessing the park, all guests must sign a valid AirMaxx Trampoline Park agreement.

Watch a Sports Game at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center

Exterior view of Herb Brooks National Hockey Center

Xylem22, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the southern grounds of St. Cloud State University sits the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, a hockey rink with around 6,000 seats in the house.

The primary rink is dedicated in memory of the former university president Brendan J. McDonald, who supported the team’s ascension to Division I hockey, and the building debuted in December 1989.

Interior view of Herb Brooks National Hockey Center

Ryan Herrboldt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was renamed in April 2013 to pay tribute to the old St. Cloud State University and U.S. Herb Brooks, an Olympic coach.

The arena has a lower and higher deck on either side, with a few seats on the western end and none on the east side.

The rink serves as the home of the Ice Hockey Division teams for St. Cloud State University and hosts academic, club, public skate, and recreational hockey games for students.

Game at Herb Brooks National Hockey Center

Paulkman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Try Something New at Star of India

Immigrated to the United States of America twenty years ago, Mr. Singh hopes to achieve the American Dream.

Mr. Singh, from Punjab in northern India, was passionate about introducing Indian cuisine so that others might experience its exquisite flavors.

He wants to readjust the ideas and views of the privileged Minnesotans towards Indian food with a group of carefully chosen cooks.

You may find appetizers, vegetarian entrees, beef and chicken entrees, tandoori specialties, biryani, and more on their menu.

Taste one of their specialty dishes, including the Vegetable Samosa, Chicken Madrasi, or Garlic Naan.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Immerse Yourself in the Quarry Park & Nature Preserve

Body of water in Quarry Park & Nature Preserve

Mishka Grey /

You can find this massive 684-acre park and nature reserve at Waite Park, Minnesota, just seven minutes away from St. Cloud.

Among the entire Stearns County Parks system, the Quarry Park & Nature Preserve is by far the largest.

If you love the outdoors, then you’ll love this park.

Still body of water in Quarry Park & Nature Preserve

Mishka Grey /

Explore the gorgeous woodlands, the scenic open prairies, the wetlands, and the untouched bedrock areas.

Stop and look at the diverse plant life in the park, from imposing oaks, Indian paintbrushes, prickly pear cacti, to yellow ladyslippers.

Likewise, the remains of the long-closed quarry have produced big hills that accentuate the natural environment.

The park also offers two swimming areas made out of two old quarries, so bring your swimming gear.

The sun and sky reflecting on Quarry Park & Nature Preserve water

Mishka Grey /

Enjoy Shows at the Benedicta Arts Center

Just 14 minutes away from St. Cloud lies the city of St. Joseph, Minnesota, where you can find the Benedicta Arts Center.

You’ll need to enter the College of Saint Benedict campus to enter the center.

Since 1964, this art center has become a cornerstone of the art scene in Central Minnesota.

Every year, the Minnesota Orchestra performs three annual concerts at the center.

Likewise, the building also hosts art galleries, alongside six classrooms and a music library.

The center hosts the Escher Auditorium, a 974-seat concert hall and performance space.

The Escher Auditorium also shares a stage house with the Gorecki Family Theater; the Gorecki is one of the few uniquely designed theaters in America.

Students from the College of Saint Benedict theater department hold performances at the 292-seat hall.

Lectures also take place here, along with smaller performances.

Final Thoughts

St. Cloud is a gateway to new experiences in history, culture, arts, and nature.

Imagine a bustling downtown with a lake in the middle of it!

This uniqueness and charm push St. Cloud into the top tier of vacation destinations in the United States.

Book your trip to St. Cloud today!

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