Blake Walsh

16 Free Things to Do in St. Paul, MN

  • Published 2022/11/25

Located in Ramsey County, Saint Paul is the capital city of Minnesota.

This city, named after Saint Paul the Apostle, is in an area where you can see the Mississippi River.

The Sioux and Ojibwa were the first settlers of St. Paul.

It became the capital of Minnesota in 1858.

Saint Paul comprises 51.98 square miles of land and 4.20 square miles of water.

Water has become the defining physical characteristic of this city mainly due to its location near the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.

Since this is one of the oldest cities in Minnesota, St. Paul has several historical landmarks and destinations which attract locals and tourists to this place.

You can visit and enjoy most of them without spending a penny.

If you ever get the chance to visit, why not try the free things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota?

See Adorable Creatures at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Exterior of the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory


Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is on Estabrook Dr.

This is one of the few remaining zoos in the country with no admission fee.

Here, you’ll see and bond with a selection of wild animals.

You and your whole family will enjoy Como Park Zoo & Conservatory’s bear exhibit called Polar Bear Odyssey, which is home to twin polar bears named Buzz and Neil.

This zoo also features 13,000 square feet of outdoor habitat.

A giraffe at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Adam Tremel /

Check out its large cats, wolves, primates, sea lions, birds, and other amazing aquatic animals.

Also located inside the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, which boasts six indoor gardens and several outdoor spaces.

You can see thousands of plant and flower species all year round.

This zoo also has a carousel and other kid-friendly attractions.

A pond at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory


Appreciate Art and History at Landmark Center

Exterior of Landmark Center

EWY Media /

Landmark Center is on West 5th St.

It was built in 1902 and used to be home to the Federal Court House and Post Office of the upper Midwest.

This building is managed by the Minnesota Landmarks and is owned by Ramsey County.

Facade of Landmark Center

oleprophoto /

It now serves as an art and cultural center that hosts exhibitions and public forums.

Landmark Center aims to keep cultural diversity and history alive and close to the people.

Some attractions you can see here are Anita’s Cafe, the AAW Gallery of Wood Art, museums, and shops.

Water fountain in front of Landmark Center

EWY Media /

Take a Tour of Union Depot

Exterior of Union Depot

McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Union Depot is a historic railroad station on East 4th St.

You can enjoy the place via a walking tour or trail ride tour.

Due to its historical significance, Union Depot was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1974.

Interior of Union Depot

August Schwerdfeger, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Union Depot will teach you about the city’s transportation hub’s rich history and recent renovation.

Aside from that, this place also hosts some public events and arts and cultural festivals.

You can also attend fun concerts, yoga classes, scavenger hunts, and other events here.

Directory in Union Depot

Runner1928, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out Works of Art at the Minnesota Museum of American Art

Exterior of the Minnesota Museum of American Art

Appraiser, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota Museum of American Art is a visual arts museum on North Robert St.

It is one of the oldest visual arts organizations in the state.

It was founded in 1894 as a school and was incorporated in 1927.

This is where you can find over 5,000 artworks created by the country’s artists from the 19th century up to the present.

Minnesota Museum of American Art aims to help people discover themselves through art.

You’ll surely marvel at its art exhibitions and an array of paintings, sculptures, and educational programs focused on art preservation.

Spend a Peaceful Moment at the Cathedral of Saint Paul

Exterior of the Cathedral of Saint Paul

Photo Image /

The Cathedral of Saint Paul is a Roman Catholic cathedral on Selby Ave, spanning 306.5 feet in length and 216 feet in width.

The Cathedral of Saint Paul’s exterior walls is decorated with Saint Cloud granite, while its interior is made of American Travertine from Mankato.

Interior of the Cathedral of Saint Paul

Joseph Creamer /

There are also beautiful paintings and other artistic decorations inside the cathedral.

Besides a cathedral, this place also serves as a civic landmark within the busy and lively city of Saint Paul.

This 3,000-seater cathedral welcomes people from all religions and beliefs.

Grand interior of the Cathedral of Saint Paul

Joseph Creamer /

Check Out Fresh Produce at Saint Paul Farmers’ Market

Carrots at Saint Paul Farmers’ Market

Jim Parkin /

Saint Paul Farmers’ Market is on East 5th St.

For over 165 years, the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market has welcomed visitors, operating under the St. Paul Growers’ Association, Inc.

It is famous for selling 100 percent locally grown produce directly from farmers to buyers.

You can spend your morning or afternoon here checking for ingredients for your next meal plan.

Saint Paul Farmers’ Market covered you covered from organic fruits, vegetables, poultry products, jams, pasta, honey, and more.

You’ll have a great time checking out this market’s other non-food products, like home decorations, clothes, and jewelry.

See Old Victorian Mansions at Grand Avenue & Summit Avenue

A mansion at Summit Avenue

Joseph Creamer /

Grand Avenue & Summit Avenue is home to the best preserved Victorian mansions in the country.

The APA once listed this area as one of the 10 Greatest Streets in America.

Three hundred seventy-three of 440 original Victorian homes still stand at Grand Avenue & Summit Avenue.

A house at Summit Avenue

enjoy.the.image /

The former homes of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nobel laureate Frank B. Kellogg, and railroad tycoon James J. Hill are included in this list.

This tree-lined district also boasts exciting shops and restaurants.

You can also find flower shops, music stages, and other fun destinations at Grand Avenue & Summit Avenue.

An old house at Summit Avenue

enjoy.the.image /

Experience Culinary Diversity at Keg and Case Market

Keg and Case Market is in the iconic Schmidt Brewery on West 7th St.

They were voted as the #1 Food Hall by USA TODAY.

Take a stroll in this marketplace, and you’ll taste the city’s most exciting and diverse culinary experience.

You can find local chef entrepreneurs, craft beer breweries, and delicious regional goods here.

Keg and Case Market also hosts live music, movie, and other entertaining events.

Take a Photo Souvenir at Rice Park

The grounds of Rice Park

Jon Platek, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rice Park is a public park on West 4th Ave.

This park is perfect for relaxation and sightseeing.

You can take a photo souvenir near its famous fountain.

Aerial view of Rice Park

Bri Weldon, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sculptures of the characters from the Peanuts cartoon also surround Rice Park.

This park also becomes a Christmas wonderland during winter.

Rice Park is surrounded by the Landmark Center, Saint Paul Hotel, and the Downtown Central Library, which you can visit afterward.

Sally and Charlie Brown ssculptures at Rice Park

oleprophoto /

Enjoy a Picnic at Como Lakeside Pavilion

The waters of Como Lakeside Pavilion

McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Como Lakeside Pavilion is inside Como Regional Park on North Lexington Pkwy.

This pavilion itself is on the shore of Lake Como.

You can stroll along the lake or rent a kayak, paddleboard, or pedal boat.

The pavilion has ample seating areas, and you can bring your food and drinks.

You can also enjoy free outdoor concerts and musicals at Como Lakeside Pavilion.

This pavilion is also a favorite venue for weddings, birthdays, corporate meetings, and other important events.

Start Your Fitness Journey at Mears Park

Daytime view of Mears Park

Iris van den Broek /

Mears Park is on East 5th Street, famous for its Fitness in the Park program, a free exercise program you can join every summer.

This program is also open to everyone, and there’s no age restriction.

Mears Park is also home to seasonal flower gardens and a stunning stream that runs diagonally through the park.

Trail at Mears Park

Shaded0, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also enjoy festivals, concerts, and other fun events year-round.

This park is never crowded, so it’s perfect for your much-needed “me time.”

You can also bring your camera and practice nature photography at Mears Park.

Street clock at Mears Park

Tony Webster, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Hidden Falls Regional Park

Cascades at Hidden Falls Regional Park

Gabriel Vanslette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hidden Falls Regional Park is on Hidden Falls Dr.

It is ideally situated along the Mississippi River bluffs.

Hidden Falls Regional Park is perfect for bird-watching, biking, and fishing.

You can also bring your family and friends here for a picnic.

This park has barbeque grills, benches, biking and hiking trails, a fire pit, and restroom facilities.

The trail measures 6.7 miles and will lead you to the most picturesque areas of the park.

You can also bring your skates and skateboards, but you may only use them in designated areas.

The sight of the Mississippi River also welcomes you as you walk along the shady trails.

Since it has access to the Mississippi River banks, the park contains various fish like walleye, northern pike and muskie, sauger, and more.

Go for a Run at Crosby Farm Regional Park

Trail lined with trees at Crosby Farm Regional Park

Joe Ferrer /

Crosby Farm Regional Park is in the floodplain forests near the Mississippi River.

Its exact location is on Crosby Farm Rd.

It was named after English immigrant Thomas Crosby.

The land was purchased by the Saint Paul Port Authority in the early 1960s and is currently being leased to Saint Paul City.

Crosby Farm Regional Park’s paved trails are perfect for morning or afternoon walking, running, or biking.

Its trails have shady parts that run along Crosby Lake.

Its picnic areas also offer picture-perfect views of the landscape and the Mississippi River.

Crosby Farm Regional Park is also an excellent spot for fishing.

The park offers a fire pit, coffee pots, and a barbeque grill.

Remember the Fallen at Minnesota Vietnam Memorial

Daytime view of Minnesota Vietnam Memorial

Myotus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Minnesota Vietnam Memorial is a memorial to Vietnam war soldiers on Aurora Ave.

You can spot this memorial in the northern part of the Veterans Service Building.

It was designed by architects Jake Castillo, Nina Ackerberg, Stanton Sears, and Rich Laffin.

You’ll see a red granite map of Indochina at the entrance of the Minnesota Vietnam Memorial.

The central plaza is designed with 68,000 granite squares which represent the names of each Minnesotan who served in the war.

Meanwhile, 1,120 granite squares represent the hometowns of soldiers who died in the war.

Take a Step Back in Time at Indian Mounds Regional Park

Burial mound at Indian Mounds Regional Park

McGhiever, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indian Mounds Regional Park is an indigenous burial ground on Mounds Blvd.

This sacred burial site plays a significant part in the lives of Native Americans.

Indian Mounds Regional Park is now one of the most visited parks in the city.

It has a large shelter which a seating capacity of up to 80 people.

Indian burial mound at Indian Mounds Regional Park

m_e_mccarron, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re going with a smaller group, you can stay at the park’s smaller shelter that accommodates up to 30 people.

From here, you’ll also have a scenic view of the city’s tall buildings alongside green and luscious trees.

Playgrounds, barbeque grills, and two tennis courts are free for public use at the Indian Mounds Regional Park.

Read a Book at Saint Paul Public Library

Exterior of Saint Paul Public Library

EWY Media /

Saint Paul Public Library is on West 4th St.

It is composed of 13 library buildings as well as a bookmobile.

The Bookmobile is a library in a vehicle that travels through the city.

People of all ages and cultures are welcome here.

Saint Paul Public Library has almost every book you could ever imagine; prepare to spend the entire day here reading and learning.

Steps leading to Saint Paul Public Library's entrance

Joe Ferrer /

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to break the bank to experience the best Saint Paul offers.

Make sure to include this city in your future vacation plans.

So what are you waiting for?

Reward yourself for all your hard work and try the free things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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