You might assume the West Side of Saint Paul is so named because it is on the west side of St. Paul, but it's because at the time of its inception, it was on the left side (and down, to be specific) of the Mississippi River. In fact, it was the only St. Paul city on that side of the Mississippi at the time.
This area has always been welcoming of immigrants, and it currently is home to a very active Latino community. The West Side's Cinco de Mayo is one of the ten largest celebrations in the United States. The most notable district is the District del Sol, which is in tribute to the Latino influences in the community. It's a solid middle-class neighborhood, quiet in nature, with many job opportunities and plenty of diversity.
There are many businesses and attractions that have called the West Side their home, including breweries, the Wabasha Street Caves, and the Covington Inn. It is also notable for Harriet Island, on which there are several major events throughout the year.
The West Side is located on the left ('west') and down side of the Mississippi, and it took some time before it before it fully integrated into the city of St. Paul. It was established in 1851, and it has grown and change in several different ways since then. In the beginning, there was a booming ferry business to help carry people across the river. However, with the threats of flooding, many people moved to the bluffs.
In the early years, there was a split between who lived in the sandstone bluffs and who lived down below. The wealthy tended to build up high, whereas the working class stayed down below. Over the years, however, this dynamic has leveled out somewhat, and there is a more even distribution of who lives where throughout the city.
The West Side was attractive to breweries such as Yoerg Brewing Company (Minnesota's first brewery) and Bruggemann Brewing because of the caves in the bluffs were favorable for aging. There were other manufacturing companies, too, which appealed to the working class community who resided in the West Side.
Nowadays, the West Side is known for several things, including their strong Latino community, mostly of Mexican heritage. The District del Sol is a nod to this part of the community, and the West Side's Cinco de Mayo is one of the ten largest in the United States. The West Side has always been filled with immigrants, starting with Germans (thus, the plethora of brewing companies), French-Canadians, and the Irish.
The Mississippi River to the north, east, and west, and Annapolis Street to the south,
West St. Paul, Lowertown, Dayton's Bluff, Battle Creek, and West Seventh.
Here are some crime statistics for the West side.
Alice Park (31 Alice St., 651-266-6400) is a small, neighborhood park that is the perfect place for some quiet contemplation. It offers a break from the hustle and bustle of your daily life, and a moment for you to breath.
Baker Park (209 Paige St. W, 651-266-6400) is notable for one thing--it's steep hill that is perfect for sledding on a crisp Minnesota winter day. It also has other amenities, such as a baseball field, a football field, two softball fields, two tennis courts, and a basketball half-court. It also has a playground for the kids to enjoy.
Bluff Park (678 Brown Ave., 651-266-6400) is not a park, per se, but a collection of naturally elevated land that has trees, trees, trees. It's a great place to take a walk with your friends or family and take in the gorgeous vistas that surrounds you.
Cherokee Regional Park (700 Cherokee Heights Blvd., 651-266-6400) is one of St. Paul's most popular parks, seeing over 300,000 visitors a year. It boasts a hundred acres of land, and it has two large open-air shelters that are popular for outdoor events. It also has tennis courts and basketball courts, playgrounds and BBQ grills, not to mention hiking and biking trails. It's a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon with family and/or friends. It participates in Fitness in the Parks, which is a free outdoor exercise program.
Douglas Park (328 Stevens St. W, 651-632-5111) is a park with a hidden work of art embedded within the trails. From the ground, they may not appear to be too much to the naked eye. However, when viewed from above, they are noticeably shaped in an artistic way. They have a practical function as well as they all lead to a centrally-located playground. The park also has a picnic area and benches, so it's a great place to relax and have a picnic.
Harriet Island Regional Park (200 Dr Justus Ohage Blvd., 651-292-7010) is one of the best-known and most popular parks in St. Paul, if not the Twin Cities. It's much-beloved among the residents, and with good reason. The Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion, 5,000 square feet, hosts many events a year, including weddings, receptions, and so much more. The park itself is home to fun and festivities throughout the year, and it has several amenities including paddle boats, playgrounds, and cruises on the Mississippi.
Kidd Park (22 Prospect Blvd., 651-632-5111) is a small neighborhood park that is high atop the bluffs. There are benches so you can sit and take in the majestic view. The park is known for its mugo pine, which is next to a bench.
Parque De Castillo (149 Cesar Chavez St., 651-266-5111) is a family-friendly park with a playground for the kids, a picnic area, and BBQ grills. It's next to the new Gilbert de la O baseball field (which can be used for other purposes as well). It also is near the El Rio Vista Recreation Center, which offers many programs. The park has benches so you can just take a minute to rest.
Prospect Park (180 W. Delos St., 651-632-5111) is situated so visitors have a great view of downtown Saint Paul. It is a quiet neighborhood park with a relaxed vibe to it. It has a playground area for the kids to enjoy as well as tennis courts, benches, and a picnic area. There are hiking trails that connect the park with Cherokee Regional Park and Harriet Island Park.
Prospect Terrace Park (71 Prospect Blvd., 651-632-5111) is known for one thing--a great view of downtown St. Paul. It has benches on which you can sit as you take in the spectacular view. Do not confuse it with the similarly named Prospect Park--this is a different place altogether.
Wabasha Street Caves (215 Wabasha St. S, 651-292-1220) are manmade sandstone formations that have a long and rich history in St. Paul, starting in 1840. In the 1920s, they held a speakeasy called the Wabasha Street Speakeasy, which was said to be frequented by well-known gangsters such as Ma Barker and John Dillon. Nowadays, it's an event hall in which there are a variety of events, including weddings. They also have several tours, the most prominent being the gangster tour.
Babani's Kurdish Restaurant (32 Fillmore Ave. E, 651-602-9964) was the first Kurdish restaurant opened in the United States in 1997. They were excited to bring Kurdish cuisine to Minnesota, and they've been a popular destination ever since. It has a bright and warm atmosphere, and the staff is really friendly. Try the dowjic soup while you're there, paired with a warm, crusty chunk of homemade Kurdish bread, or the kubey sewar, or the vegetarian dolma. They have several vegetarian options, and you just have to ask your server if you have any questions.
Black Market StP (220 Isabel St. W, 651-560-0227) is a restaurant that is all about the Minnesota BBQ. It's not Southern BBQ or NC BBQ--this is all local, including the wood used to smoke the BBQ (Black Cherry Wood). They have a unique system in which you order online (and you better order early if you want to ensure you get the meat of your choice) throughout the week, and then you pick up your meat on Friday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, and you'll have a hard time deciding which is your favorite. Maybe the beef brisket or the whole pork shoulder. Why not try both?
Boca Chica Restaurante Mexciano & Cantina (11 Cesar Chavez St., 651-222-8499) was opened in 1964, added the taco house in 1975, and has been a family-owned business that serves traditional Mexican cuisine throughout the decades until today. It has a hacienda-like decor with cheerful colors and a friendly staff. The menu includes guisados de puerco con chile verde, tacos de pescado, carne asada con nopalitos. They also have a buffet and catering.
Boca Chica's Taco House (407 Wabasha St. S, 651-222-8226) was opened in 1975 after the original restaurant was met with resounding success,and has been a family-owned business that serves authentic Mexican cuisine ever since. It is a beloved neighborhood restaurant that has some renown throughout the Twin Cities. The restaurant has a colorful decor and a casual atmosphere, and the staff is friendly. The menu includes barbacoa flautas, tamale pork, and a chicken crisp taco. You can wash it down with a coconut water while you're at it.
Citizen (InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel, 11 Kellogg Blvd. E, 651-605-0190) is an upscale super club that focuses on what they call Modern American Cuisine. The digs are swanky and slick, and the servers are professional and knowledgeable. The food ranges from a classic eggs Benedict for breakfast to a lobster club sandwich for lunch and seared lemonfish for dinner. They are just as serious about their drinks as they are their food, and they feature cocktails such as the Prairie Pink Lemonade. They also have a weekend brunch.
El Burrito Mercado (175 Cesar Chavez St., 651-227-2192) is an authentic Mexican restaurant in the heart of District del Sol, dishing up delicious fare such as cactus salad, the huarache platter, and cochinita pibil. It's more than a restaurant, however, as there is also a market that sells Mexican arts and crafts, a deli, and groceries. The staff is friendly and eager to help, whether you're browsing through the crafts or ordering dinner. It has been opened for over thirty years, and it's a family-run business. They have plenty of vegetarian options, and they do catering as well.
Icy Cup (63 George St. W, 651-222-3596) is an ice cream shop with a chill atmosphere and a welcoming vibe. It's a fun place to hang out with a bunch of friends on a steamy summer afternoon. Grab a burger or a tamale if you're hungry, then finish your meal with a tasty ice cream treat. Maybe you're a traditional kind of person who likes the classic dipped twist cone, a strawberry malt, or a banana split. If you want to try something different, there's the icy blast.
Joseph's Grill (140 S Wabasha St., 651-222-2435) is a colorful and casual restaurant with friendly service that focuses on American comfort food. They have been at their current location for seventeen years, and they built up their client base for fifteen years before that at another location in the West Side. They are a family-run business that will welcome you with open arms. They use the freshest ingredients in their homemade dishes. Try their flatbread pizza or one of their burgers, and don't forget their homemade salsa if you go for the street tacos. They also have a breakfast menu that includes a Cajun breakfast, Joseph's combo, and omelettes.
La Costa Mexican Sports Bar + Grill (194 Cesar Chavez St., 651-330-8743) is a big and airy sports bar with 9 big-screen TVs, signature cocktails, Mexican cuisine, and an upbeat vibe. It's a great place to watch a game with your friends while you dine on tampiqueña, camarones empanizados, a torta ahogada. Sip on a mojito a la diabla or a vampiro as you eat. They also have private events, karaoke, and catering.
A-1 Tattoo Company (450 Robert St. S, 651-455-3496) has a relaxed and almost retro vibe, and a professional and friendly staff. Their are colorful art pieces on the wall, which adds to the welcoming atmosphere. In addition to tattooing, they also do body piercing. They have experienced artists who are willing to work with you to ensure that your body art is exactly what you want.
Capital Deals Bike Shop (710 Smith Ave. S, 651-222-8380) is passionate about bikes. It's a no-frills store with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. Not only will they build you the perfect bike (for you), they'll give it a tune up or overhaul when needed. They also have plenty of pre-built bikes you can choose from, both new and used. In addition, you can rent a bike from them if you're not ready to buy yet.
The Little Carpet Shop (246 Fillmore St. E, 651-222-4096) is serious about covering your floors. They have a full service that includes them going to your house if you would prefer to plan things out from home. If you prefer to go into their store, they will help you will all your flooring needs. They have an abundance of samples that you can browse through, and they are eager to answer all your questions. They have carpet, hardwood, laminate, and vinyls, so your choices are nearly endless.
The Nomadic Press (878 Stryker Ave., 651-291-1454) has over 25 years of experience in the printing business. They are eager to help you with whatever you need, printing-wise. Whether it's business cards, certificates or awards, or a special hand-bound book, they will help you make the finished product look as polished as possible.
Shadey's Bar (674 Dodd Rd., 651-493-4660) is a West Side tradition and a neighborhood favorite. It has a casual, family-oriented atmosphere and a friendly staff. They have meat raffles, bingo, live music, and tacos among other activities. It's a great place to go with your friends to have a pint or two along with several laughs.
Blue Harbor Center for the Arts (559 Humboldt Ave., 651-340-2196) is a haven for emerging artists who want a contemplative space in which to nurture their creativity. It's a collaborative experience if you wish it to be, and it's a place that encourages adventuring outside your comfort zone, artistically speaking. In addition to proving a space for creating, they also host performances of the finished creations. They also have meetings throughout the week in which the writers gather to exchange ideas and offer each other support.
Electric Machete Studios (private location, email@example.com, 651-560-5115) is a Twin Cities art and music production company focused on artists of Latinx and Xicanx from las Americas backgrounds. They work around the Twin Cities, performing, collaborating, teaching, hosting, and educating as they go. They are contemporary and experimental, and they promote the works of local Latinx/Xicanx/Indigenous artists. Take a look at their online shop for a sample of the work they produce.
El Rio Vista Recreation Center (179 Robie St. E, 651-789-3692) is also known as the Wellstone Community Center. They offer plenty of activities, including after-school programs, sports, educational classes, and much more. Their classes include Boxing Instruction--Beginner, Healthy Cultural Nutrition, Adult Open Volleyball. They have field rentals and space rentals, too. Their indoor amenities include two computer labs, a dance studio, and a theater. Their outdoor amenities include a baseball field, a soccer field, a football field, and two softball fields. They participate in Free Summer Meals, Rec Check, and Summer Blast.
Schaffer Fine Arts Services, Inc. (315 Morton St. W, 651-225-1373) was founded in 1990 and has garnered a reputation for being highly professional within the museum community for the care they take with the art they handle. They work with museums, corporations, and private collectors. They handle everything from exhibit preparation to transporting and storing the art, and everything in between.
Cinco de Mayo West Side (Cesar Chavez Street between Wabasha and Hwy 52, 651-223-7400) is one of the ten biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the country, and it's all in celebration of the rich Mexican heritage that the West Side boasts. It's a highly-anticipated annual community tradition, one in which everyone can find something to enjoy. There is a parade at the start of the festivities, followed by margaritas, tacos, live music, and live Lucha Libre. There's Zumba, Bachata, and Latin hip hop. There are eating contests, including jalapeno ones. It's a grand festival for the entire neighborhood, so bring all your friends and family when you go.
You can use Metro Transit to get to and from the West Side, including routes 67 and 75.
Cherokee Heights Elementary (694 Charlton St., 651-293-8610) is a Montessori school that serves students in grades Pre-K through 5. They believe in allowing their students to reach their greatest potential through nurture and supportive guidance. They believe in a collaborative approach and that children should be encouraged to be involved in the planning of their own education. They also believe in playing to their students' strengths in order to inspire confidence, paving the way for their students to succeed.
Guadalupe Alternative Programs (GAP School) (381 E Robie St., 651-222-0757) is an alternative high school for at-risk youths in grades 9-12. They understand that the strains of the real world can be an overwhelming pressure for their students, and they strive to create an environment that is safe and nurturing. In addition, they focus on equipping their students with the skills and tools necessary to succeed economically in life. They provide assistance to their students in seeking out jobs, too. Because they have a low student-to-staff ratio, they can give individualized attention to their students that might not be possible in a more traditional setting.
Humboldt High School (360 Colborne St., 651-767-8100) is the only magnet school in the district for Environmental Science. They serve students in grades 6-12, and they believe the best education is a hands-on one. They provide several quality extra-curricular activities, including athletics, adapted sports, arts, but their main focus is making sure their students graduate with the skills they need to success in real life. They have AP programs and other college prep programs, and they have a staff that support their students in every way possible.
Open World Learning Community (360 Colborne St., 651-767-8100) was opened in 1971 and has been serving students in grade 6-12 ever since (formerly Open School). It's a small school with only 450 students, so the staff members can focus on each student individually. The curriculum is crafted around Learning Expeditions--projects that allow the students to explore issues that affect their school, their community, and the world. The school believes that students learn more by asking questions, and they encourage their students to express themselves respectfully.
River's Edge Academy (188 Plato Blvd. W, 651-234-0150) is a public charter school that focuses on one-on-one interaction and serves students in grades 9-12. They believe in hands-on learning and community service, so their students are involved in both. They believe in connectivity and creativity, as well as diversity and accountability. They have their students set up in Crews, and each Crew develops a sense of camaraderie as they discuss, learn, and go on adventures together.
Riverview West Side School of Excellence (160 Isabel St. E, 651-293-8665) is a two-way Spanish-English immersion school with a Dual Language immersion program for students in grades K-6. The education is delivered in both English and Spanish, and the goal is for the children to be fluent in both languages by the end of the sixth grade. They have partnerships with many agencies in their community, including the Urban Teacher Education Partnership, Common Bond AmeriCorp Multicultural Communities in Action, Minnesota Reading Corp, and more. They believe that it takes a community to help a child succeed.
West Side Summit (497 Humboldt Ave., 651-200-4543) is a public charter school that has children in grades K-8. They provide individualized curriculum to each of their students, and they welcome kids from all different walks of life. They provide free breakfast and lunch for their students who need it, and they work with each family to ensure that all students have the materials they need to succeed in school and beyond.