While sitting at a red light driving through St. Cloud, Minnesota, a few tween kids caught my eye as they were crossing the street. In one hand, they each had an Icee, and one kid was tossing a football as they sauntered across the street, effortlessly. They were walking barefoot and headed to the park, it looked like. This, I thought to myself, is why I love Minnesota’s “second” cities; the cities that are pretty big population-wise but just small enough to be intimate and comfortable, and the ones where food, culture and entertainment options are plentiful, not but overwhelming. The Icee kids, with their contented, small town manner, confirmed my theory that these cities are the ones I should be spending more time in.
St. Cloud has just the right amount of stuff happening. From new restaurants and bars popping up to greet me with each subsequent visit, to edgy boutiques; from historically significant buildings finding new uses, to the always bustling college campus; from beautiful settings in which to be active to equally amazing ways for enjoying a sunset and a pint; I never get bored here.
Early summer might be the most perfect time to pay St. Cloud a visit. This time around, I stayed downtown at the Courtyard Marriott (which happens to have amazing views from the elevator) and spent most of my time here restaurant-hopping. In addition, I found that visiting the area’s breathtakingly serene Quarry Park at sunset was the best way to wind down after a busy day. And of course, I had to follow that up with a taproom visit. I earned that flight! My time in St. Cloud included old-timey donuts, authentic Irish fare, a lobster rollover at the classic Anton’s on the river, shopping, art, boba tea, cocktails and a general sense of well-being that comes to me every time I escape the Cities, even only an hour away.
Thank you, St. Cloud, for reminding me that bigger isn’t better, but just big enough is a perfect compromise. See you soon, lovely.
*Shout out to Visit Greater St. Cloud for being so incredibly helpful in giving me ideas of places to check out this time around.