It is unfortunate really, that one is unable to do anything of note here inside South St. Paul, but what about the places outside it? Or more specifically, a hop, skip, and a car ride away? In the neighboring city of the same name.
In winter months, Saint Paul hosts the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, a tradition that began in 1886 when a New York reporter called Saint Paul “another Siberia.” Attended by 350,000 visitors annually, the event showcases ice sculpting, an annual treasure hunt, winter food, activities, and an ice palace. The Como Zoo and Conservatory and adjoining Japanese Garden are popular year-round. The historic Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul hosts cultural and arts organizations. The city’s notable recreation locations include Indian Mounds Park, Battle Creek Regional Park, Harriet Island Regional Park, Highland Park, the Wabasha Street Caves, Lake Como, Lake Phalen, and Rice Park, as well as several areas abutting the Mississippi River. The Irish Fair of Minnesota is also held annually at the Harriet Island Pavilion area. And the country’s largest Hmong American sports festival, the Freedom Festival, is held the first weekend of July at McMurray Field near Como Park.
The city is associated with the Minnesota State Fair in nearby Falcon Heights just west of Saint Paul’s Como Park neighborhood and southeast of the University of Minnesota Saint Paul Campus. Though Fort Snelling is on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi River bluff, the area including Fort Snelling State Park and Pike Island is managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquartered in the city.
Saint Paul is the birthplace of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts), who lived in Merriam Park from infancy until 1960. Schulz’s Snoopy cartoon inspired giant, decorated Peanuts sculptures around the city, a Chamber of Commerce promotion in the late 1990s. Other notable residents include writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, playwright August Wilson, who premiered many of the ten plays in his Pittsburgh Cycle at the local Penumbra Theater, painter LeRoy Neiman, and photographer John Vachon.
The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts hosts theater productions and the Minnesota Opera is a founding tenant. RiverCentre, attached to Xcel Energy Center, serves as the city’s convention center. The city has contributed to the music of Minnesota and the Twin Cities music scene through various venues. Great jazz musicians have passed through the influential Artists’ Quarter, first established in the 1970s in Whittier, Minneapolis, and moved to downtown Saint Paul in 1994. Artists’ Quarter also hosts the Soapboxing Poetry Slam, home of the 2009 National Poetry Slam Champions. At The Black Dog, in Lowertown, many French or European jazz musicians (Evan Parker, Tony Hymas, Benoît Delbecq, François Corneloup) have met Twin Cities musicians and started new groups touring in Europe. Groups and performers such as Fantastic Merlins, Dean Magraw/Davu Seru, Merciless Ghosts, and Willie Murphy are regulars. The Turf Club in Midway has been a music scene landmark since the 1940s Saint Paul is also the home base of the internationally acclaimed Rose Ensemble. As an Irish stronghold, the city boasts popular Irish pubs with live music, such as Shamrocks, The Dubliner, and O’Gara’s. The internationally acclaimed Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is the nation’s only full-time professional chamber orchestra. The Minnesota Centennial Showboat on the Mississippi River began in 1958 with Minnesota’s first centennial celebration.
Saint Paul hosts a number of museums, including the University of Minnesota’s Goldstein Museum of Design, the Minnesota Children’s Museum, the Schubert Club Museum of Musical Instruments, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Traces Center for History and Culture, the Minnesota History Center, the Alexander Ramsey House, the James J. Hill House, the Minnesota Transportation Museum, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Twin City Model Railroad Museum.