St. Paul, Minnesota is known for cozy cafes, an off-the-charts foodie scene and breezy summer nights perfect for catching an outdoor concert. One of the city’s lesser known attributes is its incredible urban trail system. Ambassador Stephanie Dar gives us the scoop on the city--and yes, we do mean ice cream.
Best Places to Run
Minnesotans are notorious for spending every conceivable moment possible outdoors, which means regardless the weather, you’re likely to see at least several other folks on the trails when you venture outside— even in the dead of winter. If you’re looking to log some easy miles while also catching some sick views of the St. Paul Skyline, check out the Mississippi River Trail, which runs through the heart of both downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis (the cities are separated by the Mississippi River). The trail also connects to the greater US Bicycle Route 45, which runs for hundreds of miles along the length of the state. Multiple trailheads exist along the route; check out this map to see which one is closest to you.
If pavement isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. The city of St. Paul does not disappoint. Battle Creek Regional Park offers over ten miles of trails to choose from, with cross country skiing options in the winter. The trails are extremely runnable, with gently rolling hills and some sweet views of the surrounding city. Parking and restrooms are available near the Battle Creek Rec Center and near the Battle Creek Water Park.
Crosby Farm Park also offers several miles of trails, with a combination of paved and unpaved surfaces. On a nice day, you’re likely to encounter a number of other pedestrians, so be kind and share the trails. If you’re looking to tack on some extra mileage, take the paved connector trail to Hidden Falls Park. In the winter, you’ll see some amazing views of the falls.
Looking for even MORE mileage? Combine the Battle Creek Regional Park, the Crosby Farm Trails AND the Hidden Falls trails with Minnehaha Park across the river in Minneapolis. You’ll see some gorgeous waterfalls along with a plethora of other runners, joggers, and walkers enjoying the great Minnesota outdoors. You’ll also walk away with some seriously worn out legs.
Best Running Group
The Minneapolis Hash House Harriers (MH3) is one of the best running groups in the Twin Cities. For those unfamiliar, hashing dates back to the World War II era and consists of “kennels” nationwide. A “hare” sets a trail, and the other runners try to find it by following markings. The hare also hides beer along the way which leads to great opportunities for socializing and making new friends.
The MH3 group meets regularly on Sunday afternoons and occasionally on Friday nights during the full moon for a late-night run. Through this group, I made a few friends and also found some consistent running buddies with whom I would meet during the week in between hashes. The group usually socializes or grabs something to eat post-run, so don’t forget to bring some extra cash if you’re interested in having a meal.
Post-Run… Ice Cream?
No trip to St. Paul is complete without a stop at the Grand Ole Creamery. This quaint little ice cream and pizza shop is nestled in the heart of Grand Avenue, a lively street filled with restaurants, bars and shops. The shop boasts plenty of flavors, so there’s something for everyone. My personal favorite is the Sweet Cream with Sprinkles.
What about REAL Food though?
Where to begin? Grand Avenue offers a wide smattering of options from traditional American bar food fare to sushi to more upscale French cuisine. The options are endless! If you’re willing to venture a couple of miles up the road to the scenic Cathedral Hill neighborhood, you’ll find a few of my personal favorite restaurants.
The Happy Gnome has one of my favorite outdoor patios in the Twin Cities area. It’s super cozy, even in the cooler fall and spring. Additionally, they also have some amazing appetizers. Try one of their flatbreads; you won’t be disappointed! I’m also enamored with the Red Cow; they have some of the best burgers in the Twin Cities— in my opinion.
Best Running Store
The Running Room in St. Paul (also on Grand Ave) has a wide selection of road shoes and gear available. They also have a few varieties of gels and chews, but don’t really sell things in bulk. If you’re looking to grab a few essentials while in town, this is an excellent place to do it.
Unfortunately, the last time I went in they didn’t have the best selection of trail shoes available. At most, they had one or two Hoka One One styles which only had light lugs. I haven’t been able to find a place in town which boasts many, if any, trail shoe options and have stuck to ordering things online.
The Running Room staff are knowledgeable when it comes to different shoe brands, options, and models. I’ve picked their brains before for information on the different styles and their recommendations. Also, they’re super friendly.
Have YOU run in St. Paul, Minnesota before? Which trails or routes do YOU love? What’s YOUR favorite post-run haunt? We’d love to hear your thoughts!