MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Where's a good place for an outdoor party in or around St. Paul?

Would you happen to know of good outdoor locations (with indoor backup in case of weather) in or very near St. Paul for a small gathering of people to celebrate a wedding? This would not be for the wedding itself, but a place for an informal party with family, friends, some kids; a place that has some fun outdoor options with space for a catered luncheon/picnic, cake, etc. It would be in late August with maybe 30 or so people. Thanks for your help! - Sharon, St. Paul

Well, there are the usual suspects picnic shelters in Como Park in St. Paul, Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, or any park. If you want to get out of the city, Washington County rents picnic shelters in Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park, Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park.

For a little more scenery, you could go to Bay Point Park in Red Wing and pick up box lunches at Smoky Row Cafe or to Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls and order lunches from Eichten's or Rocky River Bakery; for details, see Great places for a picnic.

But here's the idea I like best: Treat your guests to a cruise. In Taylors Falls, the paddlewheelers offer a two-hour lunch cruise for $21, and you get a free ticket for every 20 people. They take care of everything, and you've got shelter if it rains. Afterward, you can explore the potholes and rock formations in the state park.

On the Mississippi in St. Paul, Padelford Riverboats offers a lunch cruise for $30, with group rates for 25 or more.

And in Minneapolis, across from downtown, you can take a cruise on the Minneapolis Queen. It has a Sunday brunch cruise for $30.50, but you also could reserve one of the picnic pavilions in Boom Island Park, which is where the boat docks.

Have fun!

Last updated on March 8, 2009