If you asked me a few months ago if I had ever heard of Roseville, Minnesota I’d have told you no. Granted, as a Canadian, my US geography isn’t exactly top notch (I’ve really only spent time in New York City, Oahu, and Orlando area) but having just been invited by the tourism board to spend a weekend on a press trip to this little-known destination, let me be the first to say: Roseville needs to be on your radar if you are planning on visiting the Twin Cities of Minnesota because, just like the motto says, it really is perfectly positioned.
How to Get to Roseville
So, where is Roseville? Well, it’s pretty much right in the middle of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the Twin Cities of Minnesota. And when I say right in the middle, I mean a ten-minute drive from each making it easy to explore both during your stay. How’s that for perfectly positioned?
For those flying, the closest airport in the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport which is about a thirty-minute drive from Roseville. Once you land, your best bet is to rent a car so you can really get around and explore. If this isn’t an option, your next best option would be to make use of Uber and Lyft- both of which are very popular in this area. Public Transit isn’t very well connected in Roseville and can not only be a bit tricky, but very time consuming as well.
Where to Stay: Hotels in Roseville
Compared to the nearby Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Roseville doesn’t have a ton of hotels to choose from. However, that almost works to your advantage. Most people will choose to stay in one of the bigger cities which means a higher price tag, more traffic, and paid parking that you can expect to cost around $20 per day.
Not the case in Roseville. Hotels in Roseville tend to be cheaper with the added bonus of free parking. Meaning you can save those precious dollars on something way more exciting like craft beer, delicious food, or fun local shopping (don’t worry, I’ll get to all of that later). Sure, Roseville hotels may be lacking in skyline views but, really, are you visiting this area to look out your hotel window? Or to explore everything it has to offer?
We stayed in the Courtyard by Marriott in Minneapolis/St. Paul Roseville which was perfect for our itinerary. Regular travellers will know that the Courtyard by Marriott is a reliable brand when it comes to clean and comfortable hotels, and this one is no exception. I had a spacious room with a (very) comfortable bed, desk, and couch facing a widescreen tv. The bathroom was also a good size and was stocked with essential toiletries that were restocked as required. Another big perk was the mini fridge perfect for storing my snacks (ahem, carrot cake and Summit beer).
The bar/bistro was open in the morning for breakfast, and again in the evening for dinner. Breakfast consisted of a selection of hot and cold items. From acai berry bowls to omelettes, scones or breakfast sandwiches, there was a good selection. What our group loved most was the fact that it also was a Starbucks which meant that we could all get our morning coffee fix (or hot chocolate in my case) before we started the day.
Friendly staff, quiet rooms, and fitting into Roseville’s ‘perfectly positioned’ motto; the Courtyard by Marriott in Minneapolis/Saint Paul Roseville really is the ideal base. You can book your own stay here.
Things to Do Near Roseville, Minnesota
‘Perfectly Positioned’ may be a motto, but it’s so true when it comes to those looking for things to do in the Twin Cities and surrounding area. Roseville has a few gems of its own, but it truly is an ideal base from which to explore both Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
As for suggestions, there’s no shortage of them but I think we got really lucky in our experience in getting to see the local favourites. Sure, some of them are on the big lists as well but there were definitely a couple stops that I would have missed without the tourism board’s guidance. Here are my top suggestions.
Cruise Down the Mississippi River
I still remember learning to spell Mississippi as I kid (it was a HUGE achievement) so I was kind of nerding out a little knowing that I would get to go down it. Padleford Riverboats offers a scenic cruise down the Mississippi that starts with the skyline of Saint Paul and runs to just before Fore Snelling up on the bluff before turning around. It’s especially beautiful during the fall with the autumn colours and is the perfect way to relax and enjoy the view for a couple of hours. You can check out Padleford Riverboats here.
Bike by the Lakes
Minnesota is known for its lakes and around Saint Paul and Minneapolis is a great area to get to see and enjoy them for yourself. Perhaps the best way to really get the most out of the lake area is to rent a bike (Nice Ride Bikes have stalls across the cities that you can rent for a day by swiping your credit card) and peddle the trails around Chain of Lakes Regional Park. Lake of the Isles, in particular, is absolutely gorgeous. You can visit here to learn more about the park.
Check out the Sculptures at The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
You may be familiar with this cherry on a spoon sculpture; it’s one of many curious and interesting pieces of art to be found at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden which is the perfect place to visit on a nice day. Admission is free so you can stroll along this park-like space and admire an array of weird and wonderful statues including a giant blue rooster, a love sign, and a funny looking giant. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is in front of the Walker Art Center which is also worth a peek if you are an art enthusiast. You can learn more here.
Stroll Through a Historic Neighbourhood
I love exploring by foot. I also love beautiful streets filled with tall trees and gorgeous houses. Summit Avenue in Saint Paul offers just that. It’s lined with stunning Victorian houses and buildings that look like they belong in the pages of a magazine. If you get a nice day, this area is definitely worth a wander.
Visit a Museum or Two
Museums are a great way to explore any city and this area has no shortage of Museums to choose from. We took a peek through the Bell Museum which is relatively new and located just outside of Roseville. There are some great interactive exhibits as well as a planetarium. Although I have to say, the highlight for me was the woolly mammoth. You can learn more about the Bell Museum here.
Other museums in the area that you may be interested in include:
- The Minneapolis Institute of Art
- The Science Museum of Minnesota
- The Mill City Museum
- Fort Snelling
Take a Mob Tour
I had no idea that Saint Paul has a crazy mob/gangster history but I was absolutely fascinated to learn that it’s actually a pretty important part of the city. I lucked in with having local guides to tell the tales, but if you are interested in learning more about this dodgy bit of backstory, then take a mob tour. There are a couple of options for mob tours, you can learn more here.
No doubt the first thing you think of when you pair the word shopping with Minnesota is The Mall of America- the largest shopping mall in the USA. By all means, go shopping and check out the roller coasters and aquarium, but save a little time for the Rosedale Mall in Roseville itself. Specifically, for the shop Rose and Loon. This adorable store showcases artwork, clothing, and products from local craftsmen and women. Some you probably are familiar with while others are small, local artists who work from home. From reclaimed wood pieces to bath and body products, there’s something for everyone. My pick? A bangle type bracelet with a charm that reads: ‘Be Badass Everyday’.
Learn more about Rose and Loon here.
Snack Your Way Down Minneapolis’s Eat Street
What is travel without food?
Don’t answer that because I’m pretty sure it’s the stuff of nightmares.
Thankfully, Roseville and the Twin cities have tons of great food options, many of which I will discuss below, but when it comes to things to do then a walk down Nicollet Street in Minneapolis is a must. This street is nicknamed ‘Eat Street’ and is lined with bars, cafes, restaurants, and baked good shops. From German fare to brunch to donuts and more, you definitely won’t be hungry by the time you get to the end.
Insider Tip: Try Glam Doll Donuts for a sweet treat!
Check out the Street Art
Street art is everywhere and Minneapolis is no exception. From adorable dogs to famous figures. Ghost ships and Disney Princess-esque looking girls, there’s plenty of great murals spread across the city. So take a walk, bring your camera, and see what you find.
Where to Eat Near Roseville, Minnesota
Calling all my foodies! Perhaps even better than staying in ‘perfectly positioned’ Roseville for the attractions is the fact that you get to enjoy the best food from the Twin Cities as well. And trust me, you will want to enjoy this food. So come hungry and be sure to add these amazing restaurants to your list.
Be still my pasta-loving heart because I am still drooling over the family-style meal we got to try at Chianti Grill. Lasagna with bubbling cheese, fresh Ahi Tuna, melt-in-your-mouth butternut squash ravioli…this is somewhere you want to go with someone who is willing to share. Or you just need to be willing to order a couple of different dishes and go home with lots of leftovers because there was no way I could recommend a favourite- it was all SO GOOD. But, leave room for dessert (or takeaway dessert like we did) because their carrot cake is 4 layers of deliciousness that you will regret missing.
Learn more about Chianti Grill here.
The Copper Hen
My fellow brunch enthusiasts, you cannot come to this area without having breakfast or brunch at the Copper Hen. Fresh farm-to-table ingredients, a super cool interior, and delicious cocktails (because no weekend brunch is complete without one!) make this one of the coolest and most popular restaurants in Minneapolis. Must haves include the soft pretzels with cheese dip (get in my belly now) and the cute and totally insta-worthy Flamingo Holiday. Oh, and you can’t go wrong with any of the baked goods either. Drool.
Learn more about The Copper Hen Kitchen here.
La Casita Mexican Grill and Cantina
If you’re in the mood for Mexican, then La Casita is the place to go. Tacos, fajitas, chimichangas, burritos, fresh salsa and crispy chips for dipping. Yum. It’s the kind of place your whole family will love. Especially the adults when they see the size of the margaritas! Insider tip: Thursdays are $5 margarita days- you can thank me later.
Learn more about La Casita here.
Keg and Case Market West 7thMarket
For a super local foodie experience, head to Keg and Case to grab a bite to eat. Or several bites. Better to come hungry because there are lots to try. Keg and Case is located in what used to be the Schmidt Brewery site. The historic blonde, brick building is now home to an awesome market where you can buy all kinds of delicious foods. Cotton candy in dozens of flavours? Check. Creamy ice-cream in handmade waffle cones? Double scoop… I mean double check! Smoked meat, donuts, coffee, mushrooms (grown on site!), juices, pizza, craft beers…the list goes on and on. It’s a fun, social atmosphere and a must-go for any foodie.
Learn more about Keg and Case here.
How to Spend a Night Out Near Roseville, Minnesota
Looking for a fun night out is easy around the Twin Cities. Minneapolis is known more for its nightlife in terms of dance clubs and bars but, for those looking for something a little lower key you’ll probably want to head to Saint Paul or even stick to Roseville. We went for the low-key social options which are definitely my style. (If you are looking for more of a dance/party scene, then check out this list of the top clubs in Minneapolis).
Catch a Game
There are four major sports teams in this area: The Minnesota Wild (hockey), The Minnesota Timberwolves (Basketball), the Minnesota Vikings (football), and the Minnesota Twins (baseball). Catching a game is a great way to spend an evening and get more of a local experience.
Drink Cocktails While Mini-Putting
For a fun night out with friends, head to Can Can Wonderland. Order a delicious and boozy cocktail from the bar then grab a neon coloured golf ball and club and see who is the mini-putting master. The holes are all cute and quirky featuring everything from a pink and purple Heffalump type creature to a twister complete with a flying cow. All the sets and the artwork on the walls were created by artists which adds a fun and unique appeal to the venue. When you finish your games be sure to order some celebratory pizza!
Learn more about Can Can Wonderland here.
Drink Beer with Canine Companions at Bent Brewstillery
I love beer and I love dogs so you can imagine how excited I was to know that there is a local craft beer brewery that lets you bring your dogs in. Granted, you may not be travelling with a dog but the locals like to bring their furry pals in and, at least when I went, were more than happy to share and let people play with them.
Of course, the dogs are only half the excitement. The other half is the beer. Bent Brewstillery is a small, local brewery/distillery that makes a number of different craft beers as well as spirits. The beers can be enjoyed on site, however, the spirits cannot be served but can be purchased.
My pick: Raspberry ChamPOW which had a tart, fruity flavour. It was refreshing and different.
Bent Brewstillery is located in Roseville (a 20-minute walk from the Courtyard by Marriott!). Learn more about them here.
Throw Back a Cold One at Summit Brewery
Craft beer lovers will also have to check out Summit Brewery; a local favourite. Summit has been in business for over thirty years now and prides themselves on their tried, tested, and true recipes. They have a large selection of craft beer on tap including some seasonal picks and limited release options. It’s a fun place to come and hang out for a couple of drinks after a busy day exploring. Summit Brewery also offers tours during the day- the schedule can be found on their website.
My pick: Dark Infusion which is brewed with cold-brewed coffee. Heads up: it’s a limited release!
Summit Brewery is located in Saint Paul. You can learn more about them here.
Fun Facts about Roseville and The Twin Cities of Minnesota
How much do you know about this area of Minnesota? I’ve got a few fun facts that may surprise you.
- There’s a stereotype here known as ‘Minnesota Nice’. Locals will tell you that there are two forms of that: the genuine welcoming kind of nice and that annoying fake nice. However, I’m pleased to report that I really only experience the genuine ‘Minnesota Nice.’ As a Canadian, I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly I found the locals to be. From those in the tourism industry to the few random people I met and chatted with along the way.
- Saint Paul used to be a haven for mobsters. I was fascinated to learn that, back in the 1920s and 1930s Saint Paul was almost a protective zone for some of American’s most notorious gangsters. Basically, the police chief of the time figured if he could protect them, they would protect the city. So essentially these high profile criminals could rob a bank a couple of towns over, and come back to Saint Paul without worry of facing any penalties.
- Saint Paul has a famous winter carnival that has its own royal family. The celebration started in 1885 after visitors called the area “another Siberia unfit for human habitation”. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival became an annual event in 1946.
- The late musician, Prince, was born and raised in Minneapolis.
- Minneapolis has an Internet Cat Video Festival. No, I’m not joking.
- The Mall of America, just outside of Minneapolis, is the largest shopping mall in the USA. Bonus for the shoppers: Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing and accessories.
- Rice Park in Saint Paul is older (though much smaller) than Central Park in NYC
- Saint Paul is the ‘capital’ of the Mississippi River; it has the most shoreline of the river than any other city that lie’s on the Mississippi’s banks.
- Saint Paul’s Summit Avenue is the longest stretch of (beautiful) Victorian houses in the USA.
I didn’t know what to expect in Roseville and the Twin Cities, but I had a blast. This area has a lot of charm and so much to offer. Whether you’re into the shiny, skyscraper scene of Minneapolis or the old historic capital of Saint Paul, Roseville truly is the perfect place from which to explore the best of both.
*Big thank you to Visit Roseville for hosting me for this trip! For more Roseville tips and inspiration be sure to check out their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. As always, all opinions are my own.