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5 stops: Saint Paul, Minnesota


Saint Paul, the older “twin” of Minneapolis by 13 years, serves as an ideal destination for student tours.

“Saint Paul is full of amazing diversity — not just represented by our residents and visitors, but also by our activities, history, tours and educational opportunities,” said Nick Cusick, marketing and media relations manager for Visit Saint Paul. “We have a wide range for student groups to choose from and welcome them to experience it firsthand.”

The Mississippi River cuts right through Saint Paul, with the downtown on one side above the limestone bluffs and the West Side flats area on the other.

As the state’s capital city, Saint Paul is home to the grand Minnesota State Capitol. When students visit the restored 1905 building, they learn about government processes while taking in its architecture, art and history.

The Landmark Center, originally a Federal Courthouse and Post Office, has been transformed into a cultural center. “Uncle Sam Worked Here,” an interactive exhibit, gives students a glimpse into federal courts, Prohibition and immigration activities that occurred in the building through history.

1. Padelford Riverboats

Padelford Riversboats Saint Paul

Photo: Padelford Packet Company Padelford Riverboats

Padelford Riverboats introduces students to the Mississippi River on 90-minute cruises. The cruise can be tied into nearly any subject — from literature, history and social studies to math and science. Groups depart from Harriet Island, conveniently located across the river from downtown Saint Paul, and travel up river through Great River National Park. This area is steeped in the history of early Minnesota settlers.

2. Circus Juventas

Circus Juventas, Saint Paul, Minn.

Photo: Dan Norman Circus Juventas, Saint Paul, Minn.

Circus Juventas, a nonprofit organization, is the largest youth performing arts circus school in North America. A visit helps students explore multiple cultures through circus arts. The adventure begins with a tour of the facility. Before students advance to the equipment, they are given training in safety procedures, and a discussion on safety rules and techniques. Aerial, acrobatics, balancing, juggling and theater are the five rotation areas.

3.Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minn.

Photo: Visit Saint Paul Science Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minn.

Science Museum of Minnesota exhibits and Omnitheater films engage students in fun and educational hands-on activities that complement classroom instruction. Educators are able to create a directed and memorable experience that integrates their goals and standards. All field trips include admission to the museum’s world-class exhibits, Science Live Theatre performances and educator guides.

4. Wilderness Inquiry

Wilderness Inquiry canoe

Photo: N. Linck/Wilderness Inquiry Wilderness Inquiry

Wilderness Inquiry’s middle school adventures include half-day paddle experiences in 24-foot handmade voyageur canoes, overnights in a local park, or multiday adventures in a national or state park. For high school students, half day, overnight and multiday adventures tend to be a little more action-oriented and may include service components. The company collaborates with teachers to design and implement place-based education curriculum.

5. Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling, Saint Paul, Minn.

Photo: Minnesota Historical Society Historic Fort Snelling, Saint Paul, Minn.

Historic Fort Snelling is located on Dakota homeland at the sacred confluence of rivers known as Bdote. Explore the voices and stories of the Dakota, Ojibwe, enslaved people, immigrants, soldiers and fur traders who crossed paths there. During a 90-minute tour, students learn the story of Bdote and Fort Snelling through hands-on activities, demonstrations and conversations about the area’s long history. Allow extra time to climb the Round Tower.

Visit Saint Paul


About Author

David Hoekman, Managing Editor

David Hoekman is a former newspaperman on a quest to tell the stories of the world’s various places and cultures in compelling ways. He especially enjoys learning and writing about the business of group travel. His favorite destination is wherever he is going next and his travel tip is to always pack an emergency granola bar or two.

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