The first time I visited New York City, I fell in love with the SoHo (South of Houston) neighborhood. It was trendy without being too exclusive and artsy without being too eccentric. So it doesn’t really surprise me that I also love The Lowertown area of St. Paul. LoTo has a similar vibe as SoHo but there is one big difference…it is very family friendly. If you find yourself with some free time, here are some fun things you can do with your kids in this vibrant Capital City neighborhood.
The St. Paul Farmer’s market is a must on a weekend morning. This market has been around for 150+ years and offers quite a variety of local food and flowers from loyal vendors. Our favorites are the fresh summer string beans (the kids eat them raw straight from the bag) and the pumpkins, gourds and fall decorations available later in the season.
Adjacent to the Farmer’s Market is the lovely Mears Park. One year we stumbled upon the free Twin Cities Jazz Festival and we haven’t missed it since. If Jazz isn’t your jam, the park hosts Music in Mears throughout the summer where you can set up your lawn chair, get some grub from a food truck on site, and enjoy local bands in the beautiful surroundings.
Nearby is one of our favorite urban parks called Fourth and Sibley (named after its street location). This park has a transportation theme, which is perfect since it’s nestled in between tall downtown buildings right next to the Union Depot.
Speaking of Union Depot, you definitely will want to check out this completely renovated, fully operational transportation hub. The stately architecture of this place is indescribable and your kids will love the wide open space. Check out the schedule for a variety of events hosted by the Union Depot including dance nights, daytime yoga sessions and our family’s favorite – board game night where you can play giant size versions of Jenga, Checkers and many more.
Lowertown is home to a plethora of artist’s studios and several art galleries. In the fall, the neighborhood hosts an art crawl that was a favorite of my pre-kid days and would be perfect for a special date night. Since our boys break everything within arm’s reach, we tend to gravitate towards an activity that is more kid proof, like a baseball game at the brand new CHS (can’t hurt somethin’) Field.
Seriously, this brand new ball park (sponsored by Cenex Harvest States) is home to the St. Paul Saints. More quaint than the equally stunning Target Field, it may seem more “doable” for younger children than a Twins game. The Saints are a super fun team that host themed games (like bring-your-dog-night) and occasional firework shows. On Sundays, kids can run the bases after the game which is a really memorable experience when you are a little kid. These games are just all around entertaining and worth the admission price.
If you are looking for a place to eat before or after the game, LoTo has plenty of fabulous options. The Bulldog has tasty pub grub and you can’t go wrong with the kid-friendly pasta buffet at Trattoria da Vinci, but my favorite place to dine is The Buttered Tin. Everything on the menu is made-from-scratch and your kiddos will go crazy for the copycat Hostess Cupcakes and other sweet treats. If the weather is right, grab a sidewalk table and take in the sights and sounds of this lively neighborhood.
And if you really want to feel like you’re in NYC, jump on the
subway green line…it takes you right into the heart of LoTo.