A Booklover’s Escape in Saint Paul

A Booklover’s Escape in Saint Paul

This literary tour will take you across Saint Paul’s literary landscape from the west side of the city to the east.

We’ll start on the Mississippi River. Although Jim and Huck didn’t spend any time in Minnesota, Mark Twain fans can still appreciate the significance that the river has in the history of American literature. Walk the Mississippi River Trail any time of year for stunning views of the river, and explore the banks for a great reading spot.

On Grand Avenue, find Red Balloon Bookshop. In this spacious bookstore, you’ll find a range of books that will appeal to your child. There are frequent readings from book authors, themed arts and crafts opportunities and other imaginative events to complement your search for a new children’s book.

As you make your way closer to downtown, make a stop at Nina’s Coffee Cafe. With its plushy couches, wall-to-wall windows and giant coffee mugs, this is a booklover’s dream coffee shop. Still, as if that wasn’t enough, it’s rumored that F. Scott Fitzgerald often came here.

Of course, if you want to trace the steps of Saint Paul’s most famous author more closely, Saint Paul offers plenty of opportunities. Visit the Romanesque Brownstone home where he wrote one of his breakout stories, Winter Dreams, on the famed Summit Avenue. The neighborhood’s 1920s bar The Commodore, which reopened its doors in 2015, is a spot that Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda (who needs no introduction for lit fanatics), often visited. Make your way downtown to the Saint Paul Hotel, where their portrait now hangs behind one of the bars. For more on the Fitzgeralds in Saint Paul, see the walking tour map embedded below. 

Subtext Books used to be underneath Nina’s Coffee Cafe, but it moved in summer 2015 to become an independent store and downtown’s only bookshop. Here, you’ll find a range of books from adult coloring books to local poetry.

Looking for a book that highlights Saint Paul? Check out the following:

Freedom: A Novel - Jonathan Franzen

Vestments - John Reimringer

Saint Mudd - Steve Thayer

The Latehomecomer - Kao Kalia Yang

The Florist's Daughter by Patricia Hampl

The St. Paul Conspiracy - Roger Stelljes

We'd love to hear your favorite Saint Paul literary connections. Share with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #MYSAINTPAUL

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information & Resources