Perched on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, Saint Paul offers groups an unbeatable mix of history, outdoor activities, sports and animals too.
“Saint Paul is a great place for groups because our experiences and activities highlight our city’s authenticity, heritage and diversity,” said Nick Cusick, marketing and media relations manager at Visit Saint Paul.
Its top-ranked local food scene, parks and neighboring amenities, such as the Mall of America, make Saint Paul and the surrounding area a destination like no other.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory offers an unusual combination of experiences.
“Como is an urban oasis in the heart of the Twin Cities and the country’s last completely free metro area zoo and botanical garden,” said Matt Reinartz, marketing and public relations manager.
Groups see exotic animals including gorillas, sea lions, tigers and orangutans in habitats that allow up-close observation. Groups may arrange special behind-the-scenes tours where they meet a zookeeper and come face-to-face with a hungry (and friendly) giraffe.
At the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, groups see seasonal flower shows, tropical gardens, orchids, bonsai, ferns and the amazing Japanese Garden.
Groups may arrange for box lunches. Parking is available on the street.
James J. Hill House
The home of James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railroad, offers a glimpse of the grand life of the one of the wealthiest and most powerful men of America’s Gilded Age. A 75-minute tour covers four of the massive Romanesque mansion’s five floors.
“Groups really enjoy seeing the lifestyle of James J. Hill, his family and their servants as well,” said Jessica Sutherland, program supervisor.
Groups also may arrange a step-on bus tour or walking tour of Hill’s Summit Avenue neighborhood, which is one of the loveliest Victorian neighborhoods in the country. On-street parking is available for motorcoaches.
Minnesota State Capitol Building
A 1905 beaux-arts-style masterpiece, the Minnesota State Capitol Building has undergone an eight-year renovation. Now visitors see the Capitol as bright and fresh as it was 100 years ago.
During 45-minute tours, groups visit the Rotunda, Governor’s Reception Room, and House, Senate and Supreme Court Chambers. Weather permitting, they’ll also see the Quadriga, which is the gold-leaf statuary group on top of the roof (available for viewing in August 2017).
“Groups especially enjoy seeing the newly restored art work, which is one of the most visually stunning parts of the project,” said Brian Pease, site manager.
There are multiple places for dining at the Capitol and at the nearby Minnesota History Center. There is a visitor drop-off area with motorcoach parking in front of the Capitol.
On Padelford Riverboats, groups see the Twin Cities from a rare Mississippi River vantage point.
Spring through fall, the company operates several boats including the Jonathan Padelford, an authentic stern-wheel riverboat, departing from Saint Paul’s Harriet Island. Groups may choose from multiple types of cruises including sunset dinner cruises and lunch-and-lock cruises with live Dixieland music.
Along with city skylines, groups enjoy seeing plenty of nature, said Rachel Lundquist, event manager.
“There’s great bird-watching on our cruises,” she said. “We see bald eagles, egrets, heron and animals such as beaver.”
Free motorcoach parking is available adjacent to the boat landing.
Saint Paul Saints
Groups will find tire races, dizzy bat competitions and a ball pig, Little Red Porkette, who delivers baseballs at a Saint Paul Saints minor league game at CHS Field. And of course, baseball.
“It’s all about fun,” said Sean Aronson, Saints vice president and director of media relations. “The entertainment value alone is worth the price of admission.”
CHS Field offers hourlong stadium tours, photo opportunities on the field, the group’s name on the video board and a chance to participate in zany activities on the field during breaks in the game. Groups may arrange catered picnics or find plenty of great food and a craft beer area around the ballpark. Motorcoach parking is available nearby.
Visit Saint Paul
Article by Terri Peterson Smith