You don’t have to be crazy to visit St. Paul in the winter. It’s a great way to discover what it feels like to experience zero degree weather and have tons of fun at the same time. You just have to remember to bring your long underwear, some wool socks and, if you have it, maybe your ski wear. And, certainly a nice long scarf to wrap around your neck. Don’t forget a wool cap that also covers your ears.
The reason for emphasizing the warm clothing is simple. Winter Carnival in St. Paul is a lot of fun, but I’m pretty sure you won’t enjoy it much if you feel like you are freezing to death. One more hint - those little hand and foot warmer packets . . . they are greatly improved over the last time I used them. Someone gave me a couple to stick inside my gloves and they stayed warm for more than six hours. Next time I’ll put them in my shoes, too.
If you can manage to get to St. Paul during Winter Carnival you will be amazed at how much there is to do in the middle of the winter. Your first task for a successful visit should be to find a comfortable hotel that is right in the middle of all the action. That’s an easy task, however, because the ready solution is the St. Paul Hotel, a beautiful, centrally located hotel that truly is the center of much of St. Paul’s Winter Carnival activity.
Directly in front of the hotel and across the street you will find the ice carving venue. These beautiful and sometimes quite delicate productions glimmer in the sunshine in the daytime and reflect the glow of the many lights strung throughout Rice Park in the evening. The park is open – and free – at anytime and you can leisurely stroll through viewing the artistic works and taking photos to your heart’s content. This past year there was even a large, beautiful chair carved from the ice on which you could sit and have your picture taken.
At the neighboring Landmark Plaza you will find the winter ice skating rink that is also open to the public. During December a program called Rock The Ice takes place and music performers are center stage on the ice as skaters dance, skate and enjoy the music on the refrigerated ice rink. And, if you are there on just the right day, Macy’s On Ice presents its Winter Weather Fashion Show.
If you venture out and get a little chilled you can just duck back into the St. Paul Hotel, warm up a bit and put on another layer for your next venture. The St. Paul has 254 very comfortable and nicely decorated rooms, 31 of which are suites for those needing a bit more space. Having earned a AAA 4 Diamond rating for 29 consecutive years it is also the only hotel in Minnesota on the Conde’ Nast Travelers Gold List. You will also discover a very impressive fitness center with all the up-to-date equipment you could possibly need, so, if you really need to get warmed up there need be no excuses. And, you won’t have to stand in line – there is plenty of equipment.
And, if you need to check your email or print your boarding pass, the business center is easy to find and ready for use with high speed computers and printers. There is even an available board room if you need to have an important meeting. But, let’s hope you’re here on vacation and find you need the excellent dining facilities more than you need meeting space.
The M Street Café will get your day off to a great start with breakfast or maybe lunch if you stayed up too late the night before and the St. Paul Grill with its award winning chefs will take care of your evening dining needs. In between you’ll want to visit the Lobby Bar for drinks, light snacks and a bit of socializing in a pleasant atmosphere.
You may be interested in knowing that the St. Paul Hotel is also the headquarters hotel for the spectacular Red Bull Crashed Ice event, and where you’ll spot the royalty for the Winter Carnival. The central location makes the hotel an important part of major events in the city. And, they don’t take that responsibility lightly. During the Winter Carnival Parade which passes directly in front of the hotel it was impressive to see that the hotel’s participation extended to the general public attending Winter Carnival as well as to its own clientele. A large banner indicated that inside the lobby of the hotel anyone could come in and have hot chocolate, coffee, soft drinks, snacks (including some terrific giant brownies) for only 75 cents each. Don’t you usually see these items for $2 or more? Think about it. For only 75 cents you could step inside out of the cold, have a hot beverage or a snack and a full body warm-up.
Another event during Winter Carnival is the Beer Dabbler, a very large and very well attended beer festival. It is so popular that it sold out this year. It’s great fun with over a hundred brewers displaying their wares – more than thirty from Minnesota. With live music, a few interesting Minnesota games in which to participate and all the beer you can possibly drink could you ask for anything more?
Keep on Traveling!