St. Paul, MN
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I'm going to be there this coming January for the US Figure Skating National Championships being held at the Excel Center
my question is - what is around the ExCel Center (preferably indoors as winter in St. Paul is as bad as Alaska in winter... which while I'm used to the weather, I don't really like it lol) worth viewing? I'm not planning on any big shopping sprees or anything, but any out of the way fun kinda shops would be cool...
I'm big on photography so any great places for photography in that area'd be cool too...I'm not sure where we'll be staying yet... but once I know I'll be asking for info on the stuff around it too...
also, what sort of public transportation is there around the excel and what's teh average cost ?
Oh, I love St. Paul! I lived right downtown when I first moved to the Twin Cities in 1994. When I lived there, it was pretty much dying out except during business hours, but from what I hear, there have been some additions to the area that have livened it up a bit.
The Metro bus system is decent -- Metro Transit is the home page; the map of downtown St. Paul is Metro Transit - Twin Cities Area map. The bus to downtown Minneapolis is the 94B; the bus to Mall of America is the 54. Both run pretty frequently until about midnight. I don't remember what the cost is -- maybe $2.75 per ride? (Need exact change.)
The Science Museum of Minnesota is right across the street from the Xcel -- Science Museum of Minnesota - Minnesota's Favorite Museum -- well worth a visit. There's also an Imax theater there. You'll just miss the Pompeii special exhibit (runs through January 5), but there's always something worth seeing.
There are some great parks in the downtown area -- check the skyway map above. Rice Park and Mears Park are my two favorites, and both would have some fun photo ops if the weather is decent. Right around Rice Park are some absolutely gorgeous buildings -- the Ordway Theatre, the Library, and the Landmark Center would all have some photo-worthy angles, lines, etc. Rice Park on a blue-sky winter's day is well worth a visit. The Xcel isn't far from the Capitol building MNHS.ORG | Minnesota State Capitol and the Cathedral Cathedral of Saint Paul - Home -- your photographer's eye might like those!
There are some beautiful old mansions on Summit Avenue, including the governor's mansion, not far from downtown, just past the Cathedral. That runs parallel to Grand Avenue, which has some of the best one-of-a-kind shopping in the area. Those would both require walking, unless you had a car. I'm not sure if the buses run on either of those streets.
If you like antique shops, there are a couple on 7th Street, just west of the Xcel -- that's all outdoor walking, though. There's also a fun restaurant/market on 7th Street you might want to try -- great Italian! It's called Cossetta's. Can't find a website for their restaurant, but their catering website is at Cossetta Eventi.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Last edited by whoSEZ; 10-10-2007 at 03:08 PM..
Reason: added a couple websites
Sandy - thanks so much! I will definitely pass this on to the girls and see what we can come up with (there's more down time this trip due to some new policies on the event - which I won't rant about here) so we're looking for cheap things to do
Sandy's suggestions are great. As a newcomer to the Twin Cities, I second them all!
Portions at Cossettas are big enough to share. We also like Great Waters Brewing Co, which is on the "far" side of Rice Park from the Excel Cntr (I get my north & south mixed up around here, so I won't even try!) Even DD7 likes it, because the waitresses play rock paper scissors with her!
The Peanuts statues in Rice Park are one of DD's favorite photo ops in the cities.
Will the figure skating overlap the Winter Carnival? I liked the WC better when it was right downtown, but the snow and ice sculptures can be really impressive and Harriet Island isn't hard to get to.
Have not been to the one in St. Paul but have stayed at several other in Minn., WI and Sarasota,. Fl. Some are bigger than others but they were all nice and clean and had good breakfast with make-your-own hot waffles. Nothing fancy but not cheapy either. A decent value for your money. The best one was in Sarasota which seemed a cut above the rest. We usually only use them for one night stays when passing thru. Bigred
anyone know anything about this place... and what would be the best way to get to the arena as we're not renting a car!
My sister lives in Woodbury; I'll ask her if she knows anything about this place.
As far as getting to the arena without a car, that might be a challenge from there! I see the hotel offers a free shuttle to any location within 5 miles of the hotel, but the Xcel is definitely farther away than that. You might need to get them to drop you off at a park-and-ride or other location where you can take a bus to downtown. I'll do a little checking and let you know. If I forget to post, PM me a reminder next week!!
Okay, I just called the hotel. (Figured that would be fastest.) Tim at the front desk told me that their shuttles are for business purposes only, and they don't offer shuttle service to downtown, which is kind of silly considering that's where most "business purposes" are around there. They do have a list of phone numbers for cab companies, but it would probably be cheaper to rent a car if you can. If you didn't want to drive downtown, you could at least drive to a park-and-ride and get a bus.
There is a bus stop about 3/4 of a mile from the hotel, but it's a commuter bus that only runs during rush hours, and I'm not sure that will fit with your schedule at the Xcel. And I think this particular route is actually a reverse commuter route, with the buses running the opposite direction that you'd need.
While I was at it, I called my sister. She knew right where it was; she said there isn't much in the way of public transportation in that area, and your best bet would be taking cabs or renting a car. According to the hotel's website, it's only 4 miles from downtown, so I guess a cab wouldn't be horrendous. According to the website of Green & White Taxi (I've used them quite a few times -- Suburban, Green and White Taxi Mpls MN Metro Area), the base fare is $2.50, plus $1.90 a mile, plus $21.00 per hour of waiting time. My guess is with traffic, you'd be looking at about $15 per ride to/from the Xcel.
I stayed at that Country Inn this past June when I was in the area for a wedding.The staff was very accomodating. They had a wonderful courtyard and good breakfast. There were quite a few of us staying there and we found several places to congregate and visit. I had reserved a standard room and was out toward the end of the property. All of the rooms that I saw had either a balcony or a patio. There were upgraded rooms that were a little bigger and closer to the main areas. It is very easy to get to by car. There isn't a lot to do within walking distance. I'd probably get a rental car if I were staying there. It's about 20-25 minutes from the airport to the hotel. Enjoy your stay - The twin cities are great!
Sandy has pretty much hit all areas of St. Paul--- nice job Sandy The Winter Carnival is right across the bridge (about 1 block) from Excel & Science Museum. For the photog in you, they usually have snow sculptures and various happenings. Rice Park is beautiful & they have it lit up w/ lights during Winter too. Yummy restaurants and just in case it's needed, there's about, oh, 4 or more hospitals in the downtown area too! The Capitol is beautiful (largest dome or something) as is the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Too bad it's not happening in June.... the Science Museum is hosting the Star Wars exhibit for about 10 weeks starting June 13th -ish.... Definitely worth a visit to here!
Metro transit is pretty easy to use & get around the cities with, and they have maps of the skyway systems of St. Paul & Mpls too!