Where to stay/what to do on a visit to Macalester?

D22 and I are doing a short tour of a few colleges in the midwest in a couple of weeks. She is participating in the admitted student day at U Michigan on 3/21 and we are staying at the Graduate hotel right in the middle of things in Ann Arbor.

We are also going to an admitted students event at Macalester (it’s a morning tour, lunch and classroom visit on 3/23–not an official admitted students day, but what we can make work with our schedule). Where should we stay and what should we do to see the best the area has to offer? We only have one day/night, so want to be in a great spot to maximize what we see.

What are your general interests? Foodies? Shoppers? Arts, fashion, architecture, history, outdoorsy…?

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D22 is into live music, independent bookstores, thrifting (clothes, records), theater, food, pretty architecture.

The Macalester website lists a handful of hotels very close to the school and another group that look to be closer to downtown St Paul. I’d like to be in a place that gives us a little taste of what’s accessible to her, and what’s most charming.

I was looking at this B&B—Historic District B&B https://hdbbsaintpaul.com/

And also here: https://www.saintpaulhotel.com/

The St. Paul hotel is in downtown St. Paul and the B&B appears closer to Macalester but I’m not sure if there’s much to see right around there.

Since we are only there a short time, I’d like to be in a good spot.

I’m afraid I don’t have any accommodation recommendations in St. Paul proper…our Mac visit trip was centered around food so we ended up a little ways away for dinner reservation reasons. Campus is compact and in a cute area; downtown St Paul is also cute in a different way, so I don’t think you can go wrong. It’s an easy area for driving around despite being urban.

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We stayed at the Hyatt in downtown St Paul with a Mac discount, but the parking situation is a total pain there. And frankly downtown is very lonely in the evening. We had a hard time finding restaurants to walk to from that location. Different areas downtown may be different but we didn’t stay downtown on our next visit. We actually stayed at a Hyatt out by the airport. Many Mac families do. It’s kind of souless but free parking and easy access to Mac and convenient for airport.

There is a strip of restaurants that all the Mac kids go to on Grand. Good Mediterranean, French places. You all could try that. Also a few shops right there. On Selby a few blocks north of campus is a used record store called Cheapo Records. Go a little further and there is a lovely patisserie for an afternoon snack.

If it were me, I’d stay at whatever hotel looked nice and affordable and not plan to do anything near hotel. Drive to Mac and just walk everywhere for the day so your kid can see what all is doable in the immediate vicinity. Check to see the Mac calendar for a piping or other concert or art display.


I would stay in the B&B if it fits your budget. I love that area. Fun little shops, antique stores etc.

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Much of the year the walk along the River a few blocks away is really nice (north toward st Thomas/u of M). The end of March you might get a nice warm day with clear sidewalks but likely not though, could be icy/snowy. And trees aren’t green yet. During spring/summer/falls walks along the river are very pretty (east and west river roads). Tons of
people walking, particularly north of St Thomas University on east side which is close. Downtown St. Paul is really dependent on what is happening at the Ordway, Xcel Center, RiverCentre etc. I think Waitress is playing at the ordway. I’m not a fan of B&Bs (I like more
privacy) but maybe that’s the closest thing to campus. St. Paul Hotel is nice probably pricey depending on the day. Business area of
Downtown st paul is really quiet/not a lot happening. Summit Avenue is a fun drive to see the big old houses/mansions. The area around the school has some cute stuff–small area though. Thrifting…hmm…that probably requires a car. Ther are many great thrifting spots in Minneapolis and st Paul and suburbs. Grand Avenue area in St. Paul has some fun shops and restaurants. My daughter loves the dessert section of Cosseta - that’s near downtown St. Paul, we always walk there when we go to hockey game or
other event at Excel. Lots of fun little neighborhood coffee shop places in St. Paul. There are hotels between airport and mall of america which are all the typical chain hotels. Very driving/suburbs vibe (not walking) and suburban, but a pretty easy drive to the St. Paul colleges (20 min non rush hour) if you just want a decent hotel by the airport with free parking.


Estelle for dinner is fantastic and very close to school.

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Stay at an Airbnb by campus - there are a number of them. Go to Groveland Tap for a jucey lucey, Cecil’s for Jewish deli food, or Estelle for Portuguese tapas.


There is not much going on in DT St. Paul.


As others have said, with a car it doesn’t really matter where you stay. Grand Ave has a lot of small shops and restaurants. A lot of students like Shish on Grand. Downtown St.Paul can be a bit sleepy. If the weather is nice you could visit Minnehaha Falls. Easy walk to the actual falls.