Eye brows were raised just after the New Year when USA Today named Saint Paul, MN as a nominee in their Best Romantic North American Getaway category through their tourism division, 10best.com. (http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-romantic-n-american-getaway/)
With the likes of Honolulu, HI, Naples, FL and Santa Fe, NM as competition, it seemed, at least through comments across online news stories that Saint Paul had been improperly categorized.
Halfway through the online voting competition, Saint Paul has a clear lead on Santa Fe and Naples with the voting coming to a close on January 27, 2014.
So is USA Today as crazy as many online commenters have noted? Is this just an uneducated major news outlet trying to stir the pot or are they on to something? On the website, 10best.com describes Saint Paul as, “…the smaller, quieter and, many say, the more sophisticated of the Twin Cities. While not an obvious choice as a romantic getaway, couples love it for its diverse romantic offerings, like leisurely paddle- wheeler rides along the Mississippi, beer tastings, or ice skating. St. Paul also has a thriving performing arts scene.”
What better time to put this description and Saint Paul’s romantic reputation to the test than with the upcoming Valentine’s Day. The following are just a few ways to enjoy Saint Paul leading up to and through Valentine’s Day.
Eat Your Heart Out
Saint Paul is full of a wide range of restaurants to tantalize even the trickiest of taste buds. You can literally travel the world within the Saint Paul city limits and taste the dishes that are renowned in many different cultures from Ethiopian to Nepali.
Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, in the Frogtown area, is a modern Vietnamese restaurant specializing in French-Vietnamese food while using fresh, local and sustainable ingredients. Beer lovers will enjoy their exclusive focus on Minnesota craft beers. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and a great place to start your Valentine’s Day. (http://www.ngonbistro.com/)
Wine lovers will truly enjoy W.A. Frost and Company in the beautiful Cathedral Hill neighborhood. Wine Spectator magazine has recognized this fine dining establishment for the past 11 years as having one of the country’s premier wine lists. Several of these wines will be paired with a special tasting menu for two on Valentine’s Day. (http://www.wafrost.com/)
Making reservations at a strip club for Valentine’s Day may sound risqué, unless of course they are made at the Strip Club Meat & Fish in Saint Paul’s Payne Phalen neighborhood. This award-winning restaurant focuses on the farm to table concept and has an incredible mixologist in Dan Oskey behind the bar. The restaurant is big on taste but small on space so make your reservations early. (http://domeats.com/)
Out and About
Giving flowers on Valentine’s Day is one thing. Eating a sumptuous, double entrée meal amongst the vibrant pinks, yellows, reds and purples created by azaleas, cyclamen, velthemia, amaryllis and cineraria is something else. On February 14 and 15, enjoy a candle-lit, table for two dinner throughout the three gardens of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. There will be two separate seatings per evening at 5:30pm and 8:00pm. The cost for this all-inclusive event is $165 per couple, a portion of which is tax deductible. (http://www.comozooconservatory.org/news/treat-your-sweety-to-a-valentine%E2%80%99s-day-dining-experience/)
Celebrate Valentine’s Day (7pm-9pm) the old fashioned way by enjoying classic poems of the 19th century in the elegant drawing room of the Hill House at the James J. Hill House: Victorian Poetry Slam. Actors wearing 1890s eveningwear will perform a wide range of humorous and stirring poems. Guests will hear works by Dickinson, Poe, Longfellow, Browning and others dealing with love, romance, temperance, sports, war and even poems about James J. Hill himself. Audience members are invited to bring a short Victorian poem to read aloud. The one-hour program will be followed by light refreshments and tours of the Hill House. (http://www.visitsaintpaul.com/Events-Calendar/James-J.-Hill-House-Victorian-Poetry-Slam)
If you’re looking for some outdoor fun as Valentine’s Day approaches, head to beautiful Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul to view the intricately detailed ice sculptures celebrating the 2014 Saint Paul Winter Carnival, January 23-February 2. Every year this competition brings out the best and produces some incredible frozen art. Enjoy a beer or glass of wine from the temporary Ice Bar in Rice Park while wandering through the sculptures. (http://www.winter-carnival.com)
Diagonally across 5th street is the Wells Fargo WinterSkate rink, a temporary rink in the heart of downtown Saint Paul through February 2. Enjoy skating (free skate rental with a Wells Fargo check card or bring your own), a cup of hot cocoa and the beauty of the illuminated downtown. (http://www.wellsfargowinterskate.com/)
Spend the Night
With so much to do, and so many delicious wines and craft beers to taste, staying the night in Saint Paul should be a priority. There are several hotels and bed & breakfasts to enjoy but none bring the romance more than The Saint Paul Hotel and the Covington Inn Bed & Breakfast.
The Saint Paul Hotel was recently named to Travel + Leisure’s Top 500 hotels in the world – the only hotel in Minnesota to garner the award. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places and is beautifully elegant both inside and out. Enjoy a delicious dinner at The St. Paul Grill or just grab a quick drink at The Lobby Bar before heading out for the evening. Enjoy a wonderful breakfast in the M St. Café located downstairs in the hotel. (http://www.saintpaulhotel.com)
The Covington Inn Bed & Breakfast is the only moored B&B on the entire stretch of the Mississippi River. Sitting within the reflection of downtown Saint Paul’s towering skyline, visitors must simply cross the Wabasha Street Bridge to reach the State Capitol, Cathedral of Saint Paul, museums, theater, fine dining and shopping. Offering a place for both quiet getaway and city spree, the Covington does it all. The four uniquely different rooms fill up fast and should be reserved weeks in advance. (http://www.covingtoninn.com/)
While Saint Paul’s reputation as a frigid capital city may precede itself, those who take a step beyond the cold will find a beautifully welcoming city full of fine dining experiences, enthralling museums and romantic accommodations. If USA Today’s nomination of Saint Paul as the best Romantic Getaway in North America raised your eye brows, come experience the “diverse romantic offerings” firsthand.
For all information regarding a romantic getaway in Saint Paul go to www.visitsaintpaul.com