St Cloud, Minnesota, is a city full of natural beauty and plenty to offer residents and visitors alike. From its vibrant downtown area to the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone in this charming Midwestern town. Here are 7 things to love about St Cloud.
1. Munsinger and Clemens Gardens
With over 30 parks and more than 100 miles of trails, St Cloud offers a plethora of outdoor activities for everyone. Whether you’re looking to take a hike, bike ride, kayak or fish, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the great outdoors!
My favorite outdoor offering is Munsinger and Clemens Gardens, two separate botanical gardens, one on the banks of the Mississippi River. You’ll find an arsenal of annuals, perennials, and shrubs that’s colors accent the shaded landscape, where the sound of the river lends a soundtrack.
Across the street, the Rose Garden is dedicated to Virginia Clemens by her husband Bill, while five separate gardens (Rest Area, Formal, White, Perennial, and Treillage) help complete the property. Stroll along the red brick paths and discover the stunning array of sculptures, fountains, flowers, and trees. A few benches are tucked around the area for soaking up the scenery.
See the Renaissance Fountain with Cranes at the Rest Area Garden, with one of Minnesota’s tallest outdoor water fountains.
2. Arts & Culture
St Cloud is home to a variety of arts and cultural offerings. From the Stearns History Museum to the Paramount Theatre, there’s something for all ages here in Central Minnesota. I was in St. Cloud for a travel conference at the Paramount Theatre, and let me tell you, it is gorgeous inside.
Stage events at the theater run from musical acts, plays, comedy shows, and family-friendly acts.
If you are a fan of murals, head over to Be The Change Butterfly mural for a great Instagram shot. It is in the alley behind 619 W Saint Germain Street in downtown. The St Cloud Attractions mural (behind the Metro Transit Bus Station) is another showstopper.
Don’t miss the Write On pencil sculpture in front of the Paramount Theatre.
3. St Cloud’s Friendly Locals
St Cloud is a friendly and welcoming city filled with some incredible people! Not only are you sure to find some great conversations around town, but you’ll also likely find a friend or two here too. I had my hair cut at Mantra Salon & Spa while I was in town, and the staff treated me like I was family.
Even the restaurant employees welcomed me to their town and shared their favorite things to do.
4. Tasty Local St Cloud Restaurants
St Cloud offers a wide variety of local restaurants and eateries, including Jules’ Bistro, which serves fantastic French-inspired cuisine. I went for breakfast and lunch. The Shakshuka breakfast dish (eggs baked in a savory tomato stew, topped with feta, served with naan) is excellent; I was quite surprised to find this dish (one of my faves) in Minnesota.
For lunch, the Grilled Turkey Artichoke sandwich or order one of the cleverly flatbread pizza creations. You’ll find options for vegan and gluten-free meals at Jules’, too.
Dolsie’s Lunchbox Grille is a beloved eatery great for those looking for something a little different. From barbeque to gourmet cheesesteaks and burgers, Dolsie’s tasty eats and giant portions make it well worth the trip! A gourmet cupcake is the perfect finisher to your dining experience.
Note: Dolsie’s staff was exceptional!
Val’s Hamburgers is a St Cloud institution. Val’s has been serving up delicious cheeseburgers and fries since 1954. Even if you’re not a fan of burgers, you can still enjoy the great atmosphere at this classic diner. I loved the milkshakes — try the cherry cheesecake. They also make Reese’s Pieces and Butterfinger shakes.
5. The Mighty Mississippi River
St Cloud is located directly along the mighty Mississippi, providing residents and visitors with plenty of opportunities to take a stroll or boat ride down the river. The riverside also makes for some gorgeous views of the city skyline and sunsets that you won’t soon forget.
Just the sight of this cute pup leading the way on his boat ride made me smile.
6. A Walkable Downtown
From its lovely parks to the walkable downtown, St Cloud is a scenic city that’s sure to impress even the most seasoned traveler. Whether you’re here for a day or an extended stay, there are plenty of wonderful sights to take in! I found the planter boxes of flowers so beautiful.
Take in the boutique shops, like Books Revisited or Baby’s on Broadway, or indulge in a relaxing therapy session at Bella Vita Salt Cave. I’m also fond of sharing chips and salsa with a tasty margarita at Mexican Village.
Drink a cold beer at Beaver Island Brewing Company or a gourmet tea creation from Spice of Life Tea Shop, one of the more impressive tea shops I’ve seen around the country. Tell them what you like and let them give suggestions about drinks that you may want to try.
7. Summertime Concert Series
St Cloud is especially great to visit during summertime, for those who want to enjoy all of the downtown activities and take advantage of the natural beauty that this city has to offer. One of the most popular events is Summertime by George Concert Series at the pristine Lake George Park.
This event, sponsored by the Rotary Club of St Cloud, takes place every Wednesday throughout late June through late August. It features a variety of musical acts from local bands to national headliners, local vendors, artisans, and a kid’s fun zone.
My favorite part was the food truck offerings, namely at ODB’S Meat & Greet. Yum!
Need a Place to Stay in St Cloud?
The Best Western Plus Kelly Inn is conveniently located near all the downtown attractions, including Munsinger and Clemens Gardens. Offering a variety of amenities and services, it’s one of the best places to stay when visiting St Cloud.
Rooms are spacious and have all the modern conveniences, but the lobby is the real focal point. I haven’t been to many hotels with knick-knacks and glassware decorating modern shelving. It is really pretty.
Don’t miss the lilac trees that line the street by Best Western Plus Kelly Inn’s parking lot.
Read more about Midwest towns we love at these posts:
A Rural Kansas Road Trip (You Won’t Want to Miss)