A Route for Every History Lover
Distance: 16.5 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
This next ride is specified for history lovers, but it’s also an architecture tour and a touristy jaunt through St. Paul. I started down by the Capitol—both because there’s a parking lot and a Light Rail stop nearby and it’s a pretty impressive starting place, even when it’s under construction (which is always). The Capitol building is rather grand, but its grounds shouldn’t be missed either. There are a handful of memorials, statues, and gardens that are worth a stroll before you begin the ride.
Once you do begin the ride, your first main objective is to get from the Capitol down to the river. There are a handful of ways to do this, but pretty much every way involved riding in city streets (St. Paul isn’t as daunting as Minneapolis in this way, but if you’re planning a ride with young kids, you might want to walk your bikes down the sidewalk.)
Take a right on the MRT, following until you get to the 35E bridge. This time, turn right to go under the tunnel; you’ll stay riding along the Mississippi, and there are plenty of fascinating little plaques along the way detailing historical odds and ends. Plus, you get to ogle the houses lining Mississippi River Boulevard.
About eleven miles into the ride, you’ll come to Summit Avenue, which has pretty generous bike lanes and the St. Paul Seminary and the University of St. Thomas, which both possess stunning buildings.
Once you get into the Cathedral Hill neighborhood, you’re in for a treat. You’ll ride by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s home, the James J. Hill House, and, of course, the Cathedral of St. Paul itself—not to mention all of the mansions in between. A short jot down from the Cathedral of St. Paul (on what has turned into John Ireland Boulevard) is the Minnesota Historical Society, which offers quite an impressive array of records, among other interesting tidbits. Once you’re through examining the beginnings of St. Paul, hope back in the bike lane on John Ireland Boulevard and ride on until you hit the Capitol building once more.