Got a sweet tooth? We’ve got you covered! Check out these St. Cloud treats.
Cold Spring Bakery has been around since 1946, offering every amazing baked good you could possibly need. Cakes, donuts, buns, breads, cookies; it’s all excellent. The original bakery is located in Cold Spring, about 15 miles SW of St. Cloud, but luckily they’ve got a second branch: the Cold Spring Connection (103 2nd St S, Waite Park).
ViVi Bubble Tea is a chain with a new branch in St. Cloud. If you haven’t had bubble tea before you’re in for a treat; a wide variety of flavors can be ordered in hot or cold versions. (305 5th Ave S)
Kay’s Kitchen is the place to go for delicious pie. Yes, they’ve got a nice lunchtime buffet and their breakfasts are good and filling, but the pie is the star of the show. Dutch apple, French silk, lemon cloud; you can’t go wrong. Check the chalkboard to see what’s on offer when you walk in.
Now that MLA is only a week away, let’s get to the important stuff: where should you eat while you’re in town? We’ve listed some of our favorite places in St. Cloud that you should check out.
Giliberto’s is in an unassuming storefront in a strip mall, but in the few years it’s been open it’s been a favorite for St. Cloud residents looking for great Mexican food. Try the pozole, the Mexican corn, or pony up to the salsa bar to add spice to whatever you order, which will definitely consist of more food than you could possibly eat. (2301 W Division St)
Star of India offers both regular meals and a lunch buffet which are a great deal. Plus they’ve got a wide variety of spice levels for those with Minnesotan palates and the more adventurous. The paneer tikka masala is excellent; consider finishing your meal with gulab jamun, the delicious milk dessert balls (2812 W Division St).
Quarks American Bento is a great option for Asian fusion tastes and healthy options, including gluten-free meals. Quarks is close to the convention center and great for a quick, filling meal. Create your own delicious masterpiece with one of their bowls combining protein, salad, and a variety of available sauces. (125 5th Ave S)
The Pickled Loon is a good choice for solid American food with some interesting twists. Some of their dishes include deep fried avocado burgers, portobello sandwiches, fish tacos; but really, you want to try their amazing tater tots or the chips served with homemade grilled pineapple guacamole. (715 W St Germain St)
Val’s Rapid Serv has been a St. Cloud institution since 1959. If you’re a fan of old school hamburger stands you’ve come to the right place. When you order fries, it’s like there’s an explosion of fries in your bag, as though they have a terrific surplus of fries they’re desperate to give away. The shakes are amazing. There’s no seating so plan to eat outside if it’s nice! (628 E St Germain)
Interested in seeing a show while you’re in town? You’re in luck, since St. Cloud and the surrounding area has a variety of theaters and performing arts spaces.
The Paramount Center for the Arts on Saint Germain is an arts complex featuring a theater, a visual arts complex, and exhibition space. Classes on visual and performing arts are frequently on offer, and a gallery and shop featuring the work of local artists make it an incredibly valuable community space. During the time of MLA, the Paramount will have a number of interesting shows on offer, including TEDxStCloud, featuring six speakers from the area discussing the theme of “cultivating,” as well as illusionist Vitaly Beckman.
Pioneer Place on Fifth, just half a block from the convention center, is home to two stages: the Veranda Lounge, where you can sip a handmade cocktail while listening to live music, or the main stage, where a wide range of theater, film, and concerts entertain visitors. Pioneer Place is home to Granite City Radio Theatre, now in its sixth season of radio drama & comedy, and a frequent stopping place for local favorites such as the Fabulous Armadillos as well as Justin Ploof & The Throwbacks. While MLA is happening, Justin Ploof & The Throwbacks will be performing a tribute to The Doors.
The Fine Arts programming at CSB/SJU is always worth the drive; they bring a wonderful assortment of performers to Collegeville and St. Joseph. During the MLA 2018 weekend, performances include Storm Large (a vocalist whose performances are described as “sultry, sublime and sophisticated”) and the St. John’s Boys’ Choir performing Shrek The Musical.
Next time you’re in town, be sure to visit Cold Spring’s community theater, Great Northern Theater Company, as well as keeping an eye out for the fantastic shows put on by GREAT Theatre (Great River Educational Arts Theatre), which performs at the Paramount as well as Waite Park’s Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre. You can find a clearinghouse of all the interesting arts events happening in the St. Cloud area by browsing AroundTheCloud.org.
The area around St. Cloud has a great variety of indie coffee shops! Just a few blocks from the Rivers Edge Convention Center is Central Cafe (formerly known as Central Perk). With its comfy chairs and range of sandwiches and snacks, it’s a great place to sit and people watch on Saint Germain Street. Check to see if they’ll have any events like music or poetry readings while you’re in town!
Liquid Assets, a few miles away in Sartell, is another delight for coffee lovers. Their decor is funky and their paninis are delicious. If the weather’s nice, enjoy their outdoor patio space while you sip.
St. Joseph’s Local Blend lives up to the “local” in their name with many locally sourced food and drink options, as well as live music and arts & crafts made by Minnesotans. Try one their fantastic soups along with your favorite coffee drink for a quintessentially autumn experience.
Just up the road in Avon, a former Great River Regional Library employee owns a coffee shop called Gathering Grounds. Recently celebrating their two year anniversary, this charming spot is a community hub that serves delicious drinks (their chai is amazing!) and has a small selection of books for young visitors.
Please be sure to support one of our local shops while you’re in town!
St. John’s Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located only 14 miles from the St. Cloud Convention Center, but which feels like a world apart in many ways. One of the largest Benedictine abbeys in the Western hemisphere, St. John’s Abbey was established at its current location on the banks of Lake Sagatagan in 1865.
The centerpiece of Abbey life is the Abbey Church, with its striking Brutalist design by Marcel Breuer. Visit the small gift shop inside the Great Hall to purchase items made by the monks such as music, candles, and artwork.
Just 40 miles south of St. Cloud, in the town of Darwin, Minnesota (population 350), exists a true gem. When you think of American innovations, you might consider the Internet or the light bulb to be top of the list, and sure, they’re up there. But let’s not forget the good old Made-in-the-U.S.A. ingenuity evinced by roadside attractions, those creations designed to lure people in from their long summertime road trips. The “largest ball of twine” is now a hotly contested title, but it got it start in Darwin with a very dedicated man, Francis A. Johnson. Johnson spent twenty nine years creating this ball of twine. Ours is not to ask why, but to marvel in his dedication.
Darwin’s Twine Ball, twelve feet in diameter and 17,000 pounds, has a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and an annual Twine Ball Day celebration every August. Twine Ball Day is similar to many small town festivals but during the parade spectators might be tossed a mini “twine ball” (i.e. a small ball of yarn). It’s just as delightful as it sounds. There’s a multi-room museum dedicated to Darwin history, and the gift shop sells twine ball merchandise.
If you’re not convinced of its legendary status, Weird Al Yankovic sang a nearly seven-minute song dedicated to “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota“. How could you pass up seeing it yourself??
In the late nineteenth century, this spot along the banks of the Mississippi River was a sawmill. Today, a walk in Munsinger Gardens will demonstrate the skilled groundskeeping that makes it one of St. Cloud’s most popular destinations. Take time to meander along rock-lined paths to discover fountains and plenty of places to rest and soak in the scenery. If you hear a loud hooting sound, it may be coming from one of the garden’s resident peacocks!
Just across the street, don’t miss out on seeing Clemens Gardens as well. Where Munsinger is meandering and wild, Clemens feels like the gardens of European royalty. Lush and showy, each separate area of Clemens garden has a distinct centerpiece fountain. It’s a popular place for wedding photos in the summer. Together, the gardens give you many chances to surround yourself with beauty. If you see nothing else in St. Cloud, please give yourself the opportunity to visit these botanical treasures!